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mke717spotter
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Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:00 pm

Although Trump has lost the election, the polls were still wrong to predict a landslide win for Joe Biden. It comes on the heels of the polling failure in 2016 when Trump shocked the pundits to claim the White House. We kept hearing over and over again after 2016 that they had fixed it. Well, its not fixed and I don't know how you fix it. Take a look at the aggregation of polling data in battleground states provided on the website RealClearPolitics:

Arizona - RCP average Biden +0.9, actual result Biden +0.3
Florida - RCP average Biden +0.9, actual result Trump +3.4
Georgia - RCP average Trump +1.0, actual result Biden +0.3
Iowa - RCP average Trump +2.0, actual result Trump +8.2
Michigan - RCP average Biden +4.2, actual result Biden +2.7
North Carolina - RCP average Trump +0.2, actual result Trump +1.3
Ohio - RCP average Trump +1.0, actual result Trump +8.2
Pennsylvania - RCP average Biden +1.2, actual result Biden +0.8
Texas - RCP average Trump +1.3, actual result Trump +5.8
Wisconsin - RCP average Biden +6.7, actual result Biden +0.7

Most shocking was an ABC News/Washington Post poll released a week before the election that had Biden winning my home state of Wisconsin by 17 percentage points. I mean, don't you have to go to tremendous lengths to be that wrong so close to the election? In terms of the popular vote, CNN's "Poll of Polls" had it 52%-42% for Biden. I know there are probably still some votes to be added to the final tally, but as of now Biden is only up 3.4 percentage points. And the published polling was wrong not just for the presidential race, but also for House and Senate races. In Maine, Democrats expected Gideon to win an easy victory (final result Collins +8.8), Tillis was behind Cunningham in virtually every poll in North Carolina (final result Tillis +1.7), and Lindsey Graham's race in South Carolina was considered a "toss up" (final result Graham +10.3). Democrats also lost seats in the House of Representatives despite widespread predictions that they would reinforce their majority in the chamber:

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/11 ... ction.html

"Cook projects Democratic gains of “10 to 15 seats as the likeliest outcome, with anything from five to 20 seats well within the realm of possibility.” Sabato’s Crystal Ball shows Democrats with net gains of 10 seats. And Nathan Gonzales of Inside Politics is slightly more bullish on the Donkey Party, projecting net Democratic gains of 14 to 20 seats."

Polls continue to drive coverage of US politics and yet their relevance as a predictive tool is in serious question. One could argue the media are complicit in this debacle. One analyst had even gone so far as to say that the polls were actually underestimating and not overestimating Biden's support. Journalists live in their bubbles in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and they are disconnected from American citizens. For the last four years we had been told that Trump's win was a fluke attributed to Vladimir Putin or James Comey. The failure of the polls leaves Americans with no reliable way to understand what people think outside of elections and this threatens the ability to make choices.
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rfields5421
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:22 pm

Most of the examples you have cited - the result was within the margin of error of the poll, so that cannot be considered failures of the system.

Personally, I've found polls have a negative impact upon the prospective winner more serious than upon the prospective loser. Prospective winner supporters not bothering to vote because their vote is not needed for victory. Oops!!

I also believe people think polls are more important than they are. At best they are a GUESS, with some math behind them. Nothing more. Not a prediction. And the people are aware and like to play games with pollsters, giving them answers opposite their intentions.
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DLFREEBIRD
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:26 pm

Several thoughts, 1.Pollsters don't call me, so who are they calling? 2. I think people look at the polls, and decided they better get out and vote because their candidate of choice is behind. The other side of the coin of course, is potential voters may see that their candidate has a big lead and decided to stay home.
 
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T18
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:00 pm

DLFREEBIRD wrote:
The other side of the coin of course, is potential voters may see that their candidate has a big lead and decided to stay home.


I still think that was one of Trumps greatest allies against Clinton
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c933103
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:11 pm

A while ago one of my relatove received a call from pollster. But the call was automatically blocked by the phone as phone apps have identified the call as unwanted. That might impact the ability to poll through phone call.
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mke717spotter
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:18 pm

rfields5421 wrote:
Most of the examples you have cited - the result was within the margin of error of the poll, so that cannot be considered failures of the system.

It should be noted that RCP uses the most recent handful of polls to calculate their average, and near the end of the campaign there was a slew of polls coming out daily.
DLFREEBIRD wrote:
I think people look at the polls, and decided they better get out and vote because their candidate of choice is behind. The other side of the coin of course, is potential voters may see that their candidate has a big lead and decided to stay home.

Well, Trump seems to think polls which show him considerably behind are meant to discourage people from voting for him because they give the impression he has no chance to win.

https://www.usnews.com/news/elections/a ... iden-ahead

"We have poll numbers in Wisconsin where we're up one, and yet I see ABC comes out, ABC-Washington Post, of course they had us 12 down last time … and we ended up winning," Trump said. "So, you know, one of those things. But they came out with one down 17, and we have one where we're plus one, and most of them have us pretty even in Wisconsin. They're just suppression polls."

He seemed to indicate that the poll numbers would not shake his base.

"It's a shame they can get away with it. If you think about it, it's almost like a campaign contribution to the DNC," Trump said, "The good news is our people understand it. They understand it very well. They went through it four years ago, and it was actually worse four years ago."
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:27 pm

538 as usual has the best discussion on all of this. Nate Silver saw Biden winning somewhere between a cliff hanger and a landslide. So polls were saying just before the election just how uncertain things were.
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scbriml
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 8:13 pm

mke717spotter wrote:
Although Trump has lost the election, the polls were still wrong to predict a landslide win for Joe Biden.


We’re they? Biden is projected to win (trying to save some hurt there!) by the exact same margin that Trump did in 2016. Trump called his win “a landslide”
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ltbewr
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:15 pm

It appears that the Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll was the most accurate national poll.with Biden winning by 4%, about his margins at this point in the counts.
https://news.yahoo.com/ibd-tipp-retains ... 00053.html
Apparently they are a conservative leaning poll that asks those most likely to vote and made demographic adjustments that were closer to real numbers. They also seem to be more in tune to economic factors, that many who felt financially secure were more likely to vote for Trump..
It is clear that modern political or other polling is way off due to factors discussed here and elsewhere and needs to make adjustments to make guesses taking into account economic factors.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:19 pm

ltbewr wrote:
It appears that the Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll was the most accurate national poll.with Biden winning by 4%, about his margins at this point in the counts.
https://news.yahoo.com/ibd-tipp-retains ... 00053.html
Apparently they are a conservative leaning poll that asks those most likely to vote and made demographic adjustments that were closer to real numbers. They also seem to be more in tune to economic factors, that many who felt financially secure were more likely to vote for Trump..
It is clear that modern political or other polling is way off due to factors discussed here and elsewhere and needs to make adjustments to make guesses taking into account economic factors.


Just to be mathematically clear - the polls are not ‘way off’ - but some of them like ABC and Rasmussen need to just admit they are partisan and don’t aim for accuracy, rather they try to move the needle. The serious polls can always improve their demographic targeting and response rates, but they the averages were basically within the MOE of this election’s results.
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:52 pm

Some polls typically error in a particular direction, but oddly enough, they might be more useful continuing with those protocols. Say a particular polling favors a party by two or three points over eventual results. But in the next election it notices a particular change in those it interviews. Better that it does not change its protocols, that change is all the more significant if it does not change. 538 adjusts for those historic and systematic errors.

It has been reported that Biden's private polling was showing a much closer race than most polls. Interesting.
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DLFREEBIRD
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:57 am

scbriml wrote:
mke717spotter wrote:
Although Trump has lost the election, the polls were still wrong to predict a landslide win for Joe Biden.


We’re they? Biden is projected to win (trying to save some hurt there!) by the exact same margin that Trump did in 2016. Trump called his win “a landslide”



exactly, a landslide, when Trump lost the popular vote. Here is the thing that needs to be noted. Trump Administration bragged that they were making 2020 the most secure election ever. Then when Trump lost, he said it was rigged. You can't make this stuff up.
 
Alias1024
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 4:18 am

mke717spotter wrote:
Most shocking was an ABC News/Washington Post poll released a week before the election that had Biden winning my home state of Wisconsin by 17 percentage points. I mean, don't you have to go to tremendous lengths to be that wrong so close to the election?


Every pollster is going to have a severe outlier from time to time. That’s a simple fact from sampling a relatively small group and multiplying it across a state’s population based on various traits. That’s why experts implore people to look at polling averages and not any single poll to get a feel for a race.

When ABC/WaPo published that poll they knew it was far from the polling averages, but good pollsters don’t bury their outliers or massage them to get closer to the herd. They accurately report their results. At the time you never know if the poll is way off or the early signal of a real shift in the race.

What’s curious to me is that two similar neighboring states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, were so divergent in polling accuracy. I feel there’s probably an interesting story in there about slight demographic differences or turnout models that let polling averages nail Minnesota yet miss by several percent in Wisconsin.
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Sokes
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 5:01 am

I only believe predictions by the Simpsons.
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Aesma
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:21 am

"in the US" should be added to the title, polls work fine in my country.

With Trump out of the picture I expect things to work better in the US too.
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illinoisman
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 1:40 pm

mke717spotter wrote:
Florida - RCP average Biden +0.9, actual result Trump +3.4

The same thing happened in Florida two years ago. Gillum was up a couple of points in the polls in the governor's race but then DeSantis ended up winning. With my parents living in Florida I tend to follow the political situation down there.
 
KlimaBXsst
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:58 pm

People generally do not
donate money
to candidates
polling extremely low.

Polls have NOW been weaponized and are not useful for the purposes of truth any more.
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Aaron747
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:58 pm

KlimaBXsst wrote:
People generally do not
donate money
to candidates
polling extremely low.

Polls have NOW been weaponized and are not useful for the purposes of truth any more.


This statement is made in complete denial of how math works - averages are quite useful.
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KlimaBXsst
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 5:07 pm

Aaron747 wrote:

This statement is made in complete denial of how math works - averages are quite useful.


Averages are useful when not used to distort or manipulate.
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seb146
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sat Nov 14, 2020 7:42 pm

mke717spotter wrote:
Although Trump has lost the election, the polls were still wrong to predict a landslide win for Joe Biden.


First, I love your profile pic.

Second, I think a big problem is the sample size is skewed. People who tend to take polls are people with time on their hands. I don't know if the rule about only calling home phones is still there. Also, I wonder if some PACs or groups do their own polling of their own members? I still get emails and texts from Human Rights Campaign. I have donated to them a couple of times.
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Aesma
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:06 am

Online polling is more common nowadays.

KlimaBXsst : chicken and egg situation, when money is so important in politics. No money, no exposure, no good polls. No manipulation needed.
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slider
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:43 pm

They're not broken, the system worked exactly as it's geared to. Pollsters are political vehicles at this juncture, and that's quite clear. Don't know why anyone would be surprised at this point. Or why anyone even bothers to pay attention.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:45 pm

KlimaBXsst wrote:
Aaron747 wrote:

This statement is made in complete denial of how math works - averages are quite useful.


Averages are useful when not used to distort or manipulate.


Are you saying right-leaning RCP was 'distorting' or 'manipulating' by publishing the combined average of other polling averages? If so, I'd say you need to (re)take Stat 101.
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mke717spotter
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:22 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
538 as usual has the best discussion on all of this. Nate Silver saw Biden winning somewhere between a cliff hanger and a landslide. So polls were saying just before the election just how uncertain things were.

Yes, it was interesting to see Silver defend the 2020 election polls while at the same time state "I’m not a pollster, although I’m often misidentified as one on TV."

scbriml wrote:
We’re they? Biden is projected to win (trying to save some hurt there!) by the exact same margin that Trump did in 2016. Trump called his win “a landslide”

Yes, Biden ended up winning, it seems decisively, but the race was far closer than the polls indicated. Keep in mind there were two outlier polls that continued to post decidedly pro-Trump results: Trafalgar Group and Insider Advantage. Many dismissed these as illegitimate, but if you toss them out then the averages ended up missing the mark even further.

Aesma wrote:
"in the US" should be added to the title, polls work fine in my country.

The problem with polling is not just confined to the US. Just take a look at the example I included below where bad polling has lead to misguided policies.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... sures.html

"Dramatic evidence of a growing revolt against the coronavirus lockdowns emerged last night. The public think the rules won't work, they will break the law if necessary to see their loved ones and believe it is time to 'get Britain back to normal'.

These are among the key findings from focus groups that suggest traditional opinion polls have failed to spot a decisive change in attitudes toward the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic most polls have suggested voters support lockdowns and, if anything, want the Government to impose even more stringent curbs."
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LCDFlight
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:16 pm

The polls were pretty accurate. How you deal with this is something called "calibration" or instrumentation. If the survey says 35%, but the true answer is 55%, then next time your survey reads 35%, you know it really means 55%, and you report 55%.
 
winginit
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:20 pm

Two things on this:

1) While there were loads of polls that were notably outside the margins of error, it's interesting to me that the betting odds, measured by those offered by Bovada the day before the election, got every single state correct. All of them. Full stop. I'd always assumed that their inputs (apart from where the money is moving) was polls, but would be interested to learn what else goes into those odds

2) The physical process of polling is, for obvious reasons, flawed, but I'm perplexed as to why a Facebook doesn't step in and totally revolutionize the polling industry. Yeah your far right-wing Grandparent might refuse to answer the phone or even lie to a poller, but their Facebook engagement will make it clear as day, for example, that they're going to vote for Trump if they're constantly liking or commenting on right-wing articles on Facebook, and that data is both enriched and geo-targeted.

So why can't Facebook just come in and put pollers out of business across the board?
 
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casinterest
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:35 pm

Looks like the people that have less ties to those around them may be the reason for the polling issues. These are also the folks least likely to talk on the phone.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/co ... ump-again/

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bennett123
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:41 am

No poll will be 100%. Not possible.

Firstly, you only take a sample. How you select the sample will skew the answer. Doesn't need to involve deliberate bias.

Secondly, people lie for a whole range of reasons.

Some due to embarrassment, there was a survey down about newspapers people read, seems they all read high brow papers. However, this was not bourne out from the sales figures which showed the best figures went to somewhat low brow papers.

Some people are also just cussed and lie. Particularly if they are hostile to the people asking the question.
 
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DL717
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:44 pm

mke717spotter wrote:
Although Trump has lost the election, the polls were still wrong to predict a landslide win for Joe Biden. It comes on the heels of the polling failure in 2016 when Trump shocked the pundits to claim the White House. We kept hearing over and over again after 2016 that they had fixed it. Well, its not fixed and I don't know how you fix it. Take a look at the aggregation of polling data in battleground states provided on the website RealClearPolitics:

Arizona - RCP average Biden +0.9, actual result Biden +0.3
Florida - RCP average Biden +0.9, actual result Trump +3.4
Georgia - RCP average Trump +1.0, actual result Biden +0.3
Iowa - RCP average Trump +2.0, actual result Trump +8.2
Michigan - RCP average Biden +4.2, actual result Biden +2.7
North Carolina - RCP average Trump +0.2, actual result Trump +1.3
Ohio - RCP average Trump +1.0, actual result Trump +8.2
Pennsylvania - RCP average Biden +1.2, actual result Biden +0.8
Texas - RCP average Trump +1.3, actual result Trump +5.8
Wisconsin - RCP average Biden +6.7, actual result Biden +0.7

Most shocking was an ABC News/Washington Post poll released a week before the election that had Biden winning my home state of Wisconsin by 17 percentage points. I mean, don't you have to go to tremendous lengths to be that wrong so close to the election? In terms of the popular vote, CNN's "Poll of Polls" had it 52%-42% for Biden. I know there are probably still some votes to be added to the final tally, but as of now Biden is only up 3.4 percentage points. And the published polling was wrong not just for the presidential race, but also for House and Senate races. In Maine, Democrats expected Gideon to win an easy victory (final result Collins +8.8), Tillis was behind Cunningham in virtually every poll in North Carolina (final result Tillis +1.7), and Lindsey Graham's race in South Carolina was considered a "toss up" (final result Graham +10.3). Democrats also lost seats in the House of Representatives despite widespread predictions that they would reinforce their majority in the chamber:

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/11 ... ction.html

"Cook projects Democratic gains of “10 to 15 seats as the likeliest outcome, with anything from five to 20 seats well within the realm of possibility.” Sabato’s Crystal Ball shows Democrats with net gains of 10 seats. And Nathan Gonzales of Inside Politics is slightly more bullish on the Donkey Party, projecting net Democratic gains of 14 to 20 seats."

Polls continue to drive coverage of US politics and yet their relevance as a predictive tool is in serious question. One could argue the media are complicit in this debacle. One analyst had even gone so far as to say that the polls were actually underestimating and not overestimating Biden's support. Journalists live in their bubbles in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and they are disconnected from American citizens. For the last four years we had been told that Trump's win was a fluke attributed to Vladimir Putin or James Comey. The failure of the polls leaves Americans with no reliable way to understand what people think outside of elections and this threatens the ability to make choices.


Yes. It’s really a joke. How all of these statistical geniuses can be so wrong is amazing. Maybe they need another day job. Or maybe pull out the liberal bias they build into the polling data.
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ltbewr
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:05 pm

The Georgia US Senate runoff election polling should be interesting vs.the final. It is likely to be extremely close, and pre-election polling doesn't work well with close elections. I expect Trump leading the call for complete recounts and do as much as possible to try to reject votes of Democrats, especially from non-White districts in the state.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:40 pm

VOX reported that one pollster has said it takes more than a thousand calls to get one person to answer. That totally skews results, it is astounding they do as well as they do.
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Vladex
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:01 pm

Polling is as fake as political punditry and fake news. It's all about projection and misinformation in order to create a fake ruling class.
 
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DL717
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Re: Is the political polling business broken?

Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:21 pm

Vladex wrote:
Polling is as fake as political punditry and fake news. It's all about projection and misinformation in order to create a fake ruling class.


Imagine an election cycle so difficult to predict that the polling companies stand no chance of being useful. It’s called apportionment. They simply won’t have the money to get a feel for how an election is going other than a popular vote estimate. They wouldn’t have enough funds to poll every congressional district effectively, nor would they have the resources to call an election on election night. Wouldn’t that be something! Wouldn’t it be nice for your vote to matter in a state with single party dominance?
Funny. It only took one pandemic for those who argue endlessly about natural selection to stop believing in natural selection.

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