So here, in a very timely piece, is Jon Stewart’s take on polls.  (Many, many thanks to the student who sent me this clip.  You know who you are.)  It’s pretty clear where Stewart comes out on this topic.  But do you think that the election can be overanalyzed by statheads?  Or do you think that the more data, the better?

13 responses to “I’M ADDICTED TO POLLS!!!!!!”

  1. andreaj7 says :

    Even though I’m not old enough to vote in this election, I’m even exhausted from hearing news anchors argue/support polling outcomes. It doesn’t matter so much to me that Governor Romney is leading President Obama in “10 of the Latest Polls” or VP Biden is leading Congressman Ryan in a group of undecided voters. The polling time frame is TOO ambiguous.

    If I were to vote at this time (as a decided voter), a 47% to 49% lead on the SAME polling question as data from another source with a 46% to 44% lead would not sway my vote. Rather, I would disregard numbers and re-watch parts of a debate that brought up interesting, personally relevant questions.

    However, it is fair to say that undecided voters could be swayed by polling outcomes. Because polling questions that cater to a certain candidate may skew the results, undecided voters need to carefully analyze the wording of each question before making any judgements.

  2. AkhilP7 says :

    I think its clear that recent polling is over the top and unnecessary. Its practically impossible to keep track of all the polls and when polls come out on the same day, they tend to have varied results. This can caused by several things such as varied sample sizes, wording of the question, or even a nonrandom bias as mentioned in the video. Though all those polls may introduce different information, for the average voter, it would more confusing rather than helpful.

    Now if I was a voter, I probably wouldn’t pay much attention to the polls. Some are unreliable while others provide extraneous info. I would instead spend more time studying the policies supported by each candidate, judge how consistent they are, and see how well they can portray themselves during debates. But for the average citizen who may work long hours or who is uninterested in politics, polls can be an easy way to judge the status of the public opinion of the candidates. So if there were fewer polls conducted with greater accuracy, then their importance is justified. Otherwise, they are just more bad attempts at trying to get one candidate to appear more popular than the other.

  3. KunaalP7 says :

    I think Americans are somewhat repulsive to all sorts of political polling. It starts from Gallup to all the lesser-known like Rasmussen. It seems like anyone with a telephone and Internet access can promote their own poll. Many of these polls are not objective and are run by political partisans or special interest groups. There is so much data online that we have lost control and interest. Many pollsters collate the major polls and announce the averages while some goes deeper with its forecasting model. The seesaw nature of the endless number of polls using a variety of methodologies spurs the poll-obsessed nature of media coverage.

    The major problems with these polls are that people like to tell pollsters they plan to vote but in reality, about one-third of those people do not show up on Election Day (National Review Online). The other problem is that the idea that 1000-1500 people can make a prediction on what all people think in the country is crazy. Sadly, in 2012 election so far the public’s suspicion of polls is greatly increased by what we are seeing and hearing by these zillion polls.

  4. mattgiannottione says :

    The issue we face is if we believe the massive sea of polls or not. The flood of polls seem to be somewhat competitive amongst themselves in this election. Recently, polls have been accused of oversampling from predominately biased locations, such as New York or Texas. We’d all love to believe that polls are above that, but we find that just isn’t the case. The solution to this problem is to look at a vast array of polls to get an overall feel of the election.

    The polls benefit the candidates and their parties astronomically more than us as voters, die hard right or left, or the “middle.” I see the polls through the candidates perspective of how much ground needs to be covered and the impact of certain events such as the embassy attack. The over polling becomes tiresome but it is always important because we can predict what Romney or Obama has to do to change the numbers.


  5. Adam7 says :

    My main issue with polls is that they turn politicians into weathervanes. If our Founding Fathers wanted the fickle impulses of the people to dominate our nation, we would have a direct democracy. But, instead we have a representative democracy, and a representative democracy works best when its leaders use their heads and convictions (not necessarily those of their constituents) to make decisions.

  6. Adam7 says :

    I just realized that I failed to specify that I was taking issue with daily and issue polls in my last post.

  7. benjamin1 says :

    Polls shouldn’t affect voting, but there is evidence to support that it can, and does. More dispersed regulated polls would give too much credibility to the polls. Allowing people to poll as often as they please creates ambiguity, and prevents any one result from being definitive or truly relevant. This, I believe, reduces the number of people whose opinion is swayed by the polls, and is therefore the best possible system. That with the assumption that you should not be able to prevent someone from taking a poll.

  8. Jonas1 says :

    My problem isn’t with the number of polls out there, but with how they are conducted and presented. I would be fine with the media’s poll obsession if the ones it reported were well done and didn’t misinform the American people with skewed numbers. It’s a case of quantity over quality. Issues like under-sampling and loaded questions are all too common. It would be better if there were fewer, more accurate polls instead of this mountain of questionable data.

  9. Crawford4 says :

    Until there is one polling company and that company has a proven system that is known by all polling is irrelevant. Like he said on one day obama is behind ahead and tied. So really no one knows where he is. Although i suppose this could counteract the bandwagon effect if people saw all of these polls. One company needs to create a poll that is nationally respected and used although that would mean nothing to the news outlets who have their own agendas and support it through the polls they use. I think the problem lies in the media.

  10. thetuck1 says :

    As this election season has progressed, I have ignored the polls more and more; they carry little to no significance to me, especially when in the same day, Romney can be up by a significant amount of points in one poll, and Obama can have a commanding lead in another. With so many different sources of data constantly saying contradicting things, how are we supposed to know what the truth is? To me, since all of these polls are constantly saying different things, and since every day political tides are changing due to events and debates, the polls are not worth too much attention, because from them, we cannot draw any conclusions that we can be sure about.

  11. Chad4 says :

    I think that the high volume of polls in the media is hurting politics. When there is such a high volume of polls, it creates a wide range of numbers that all give a reader a different idea of how an election is going. If there is a low volume of accurate polls, it ensures that the reader is able to interpret the election well and not have to worry about inaccuracy, but it is hard to require a poll to be accurate since they all have different methods of collecting information.

  12. nicoleb7 says :

    I think there should not be so many polls during elections. Most polls are not accurate, and therefore throw off the election and many people still cannot tell who is winning. I agree with Ford when he says there should be one national poll that everyone can trust and go to for actual information. The crazy amount of polls that are out there are is just confusing to everyone and actually has a rather big effect on the outcome of the election. This many polls can also throw off the candidates because they act differently if they think they are ahead or behind and if their information is wrong it is not useful to them.

  13. langston4 says :

    Personally, I believe polls in politics simply aren’t the most effective way of gathering data during elections. There are so many factors that could lead to the inaccuracy of these polls, and having so many of them doesn’t help much other. To me, it seems like certain polls have certain agendas in politics, as if they are trying to give fire power to a candidate or a party rather than to simply provide accurate data (or at least the media uses polls in this way). I, too, agree with Ford, that if we had one national poll from a very non biased source thats very accurate, then polling could be a useful way to gather data.

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