Why Polls Matter – NOT!

CNN (online) is currently running an article showing McCain and Obama are in a dead heat according to the polls.  But if you look at Zogby, who also took a poll over the weekend, you’ll see Obama with a slight lead (2%).

I took several statistics classes as an undergraduate student and learned how simple it is to make data look any way who want it to.  Here’s why I think it’s dangerous for us to pay attention to the polls.

Most of the time you never hear about the methodology of the polls, and even when you are told, how many Americans do  you think even understand what a margin of error is?

John Zogby, a prominent pollster, authored this article back during the 2004 campaign to explain why, after the Republican National Convention, his polls were showing Bush with a 2% lead, but Newsweek reported a poll showing an 11% lead.  That’s a significant difference.

I’m going to get my tin foil hat out of the closet and I’ll be right back.

Okay, here’s what I want to suggest.  I think it’s clear that there has a significant consolidation of the news media over the last several years, and the bulk of this media is now owned by a few corporations who have a vested interest in keeping Republicans in the White House.  That being said, isn’t it possible these “news” organizations are cooking the polls and keeping them front and center so that it will be easier for Diebold to do its thing once again and steal the election?

You see McCain only has to win by what?  Even 5,000 votes would be enough that a recall probably wouldn’t take place and once again the public will be duped into believing it was a very close election.  If you don’t think this is possible, check out Black Box Voting or read this previous post about the problems with the Diebold machines in Ohio.  The media will be jawing for days about how the country simply isn’t yet ready for a minority president, blah, blah, blah.

Do you wonder how pollsters reach the people included in their polls?  Do they have access to cell phone numbers?  Do they ever text people or do they have to be sitting at home by their land line phones just waiting for that call?  If so, then it’s easy to see that the polls are being skewed towards a less technologically, older audience, who most likely would favor McCain.  Duh!

One more point.  This information isn’t being talked about all that much in the news, but I have seen a couple of references to how many people are leaving the Republican Party and how many more are signing up as Democrats.  If this is true, and I don’t doubt it for one minute, then how in the world can this election possibly be that close?  It can’t.

Earlier in the month the New York Times published an article discussing these numbers and I think it’s worth reading. 

Remember these things in November if John McCain magically gets elected.  I want to see rioting in the streets if it happens and people storming their County Clerks offices demanding proof positive that McCain won fair and square.


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