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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Everybody out of the poll!

Frankly, I'm surprised even 9 percent cooperate:

For decades survey research has provided trusted data about political attitudes and voting behavior, the economy, health, education, demography and many other topics. But political and media surveys are facing significant challenges as a consequence of societal and technological changes.

It has become increasingly difficult to contact potential respondents and to persuade them to participate. The percentage of households in a sample that are successfully interviewed – the response rate – has fallen dramatically. At Pew Research, the response rate of a typical telephone survey was 36% in 1997 and is just 9% today.

The general decline in response rates is evident across nearly all types of surveys, in the United States and abroad. At the same time, greater effort and expense are required to achieve even the diminished response rates of today. These challenges have led many to question whether surveys are still providing accurate and unbiased information.

There have been a lot of "don't trust the polls" commentaries lately -- because they oversample Democrats, or conservatives don't express their true feelings, or pollsters haven't caught up with the new mobile-phone technology -- etc., etc., etc. But this low level of cooperation is something I haven't seen anything on yet, and it's a big deal.

And I think the main reason is just that polls are a pain in the butt and are becoming more and more intrusive. As polling has become so omnipresent, the number of polls we're asked to participate in keeps growing. A poll is just one more junk phone call intruding on our time, so I just say no, every time.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:34am

Funny how conservatives suddenly think the polls are biased. I wonder if they'd feel that way if Romney weren't losing. Limbaugh even has a Conspiracy Theory, to the surprise of no one.

tim zank
Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:31pm

Did you trust the polls with Carter and Reagan? How'd that work out for you?

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 6:46am

I don't know what you're talking about, Tim. Carter and Reagan see-sawed in the polls, with Reagan strengthening shortly before he won the election - as the polls predicted.

How did Reagan work out for you? He cut income taxes, increased military spending, and gave us record deficits. He gave us the Iran-Contra scandal that would have gotten a less popular president impeached. We now know he had Alzheimer's in his second term, which explains a lot.

Yeah, Reagan was swell.

BTW, how's your ham sandwich doing? You still sticking by your prediction that he'll win, or are you looking forward to Ryan (or whoever) in 2016?

tim zank
Tue, 10/02/2012 - 8:37am

Reagan never led in polling against Carter, and as for how things worked out with Reagan for me they worked out well..., as a broker/builder I've been through two housing crashes, one was under Jimmah Carter, the other under Barack Obama....I recovered from the first under Reagan, I see no chance of that under Obama...

tim zank
Tue, 10/02/2012 - 10:28am

Sorry LittleJohn, but that's just re-written and highly nuanced history...

Christopher Swing
Wed, 10/03/2012 - 1:41am

Shorter Tim Zank: "Nuh-uh!"

Once Zank picks a myth to believe in, no amount of mere facts will stand in the way of that belief. Fact-checkers certainly won't interfere with his life.

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 10:46am

The sound we just heard was Tim moving the goalposts.

tim zank
Wed, 10/03/2012 - 2:19pm

Read your own link from the New Republic, it's all supposition....no facts in it whatsoever...they reference internal polls without a stitch of proof...

Fact is, Reagan was clearly thought to be on the losing side of that matchup damn near to the end..I know it, you know it, hell everyone knows it but you just keep farkin' that chicken boys, your base loves it...

Harl Delos
Thu, 10/04/2012 - 8:03pm

There sure are a lot of points plotted on that graph, Tim, for having "not a stitch ofproof".  When have you ever seen a pollster offer access to their underlying data?

And in any case, most political polls are fairly meaningless, since the only people who actually vote for president are electors.  If Romney were to win 97% of the Indiana instead of 51%, it wouldn't change anything.  You need state polls in the eleven states that are being contested to predict a winner - even in those states, most voters have already decided their preference.

Romney shook the Etch-A-Sketch, as his handlers predicted, and is now trying to sound like a liberal to appeal to the ignorant voters.  The ones who have been paying attention have already made up their minds.