Sunday, February 03, 2008

Don't let the polls sway you...

I've complained for years about political (and other) polls and surveys. I've always thought they were slanted, and I've always wondered why they never called our house so we could participate. It seemed suspect that all the surveys touted numbers for the average American and yet they never managed to talk to anyone in our household, or anyone I knew. (Yes, it did cross my mind that maybe we were just a strange household, completely outside the norm... ;-)

I suppose part of the reason we never got to participate could be, probably is, that once we added caller ID to our phone some years back we pretty much stopped answering toll-free calls. (duh) Now we're on the do-not-call list so there are fewer, but we still ignore the majority. Our fault we're not polled!

Today on a whim I answered a call and got to participate in a survey paid for by McCain's campaign. I gather they're calling all the registered Republicans, or maybe just the so-called "super voters" (those who religiously vote in every election).

I'll be picking up the phone from now on. It was short, sweet, fun and slanted. Very slanted.

Three questions (not exact, but close enough). Keep in mind they didn't say who was paying for the survey up front, they waited until AFTER the survey to do the legal notice. No problem on my end, wouldn't have affected my choices but I can certainly understand not wanting to taint the response by saying so up front.

Question #1 - If you were voting today who would be your number one choice for President. Press 1 for Ron Paul, 2 for John McCain, 3 for Mitt Romney.

Question #2 - Who would be your second choice. Same three candidates.

Question #3 - Which of the following issues is most important in your selection (or something to that affect): Economy, Terrorism (or war on terrorism, can't remember exactly), Immigration, character of the candidate, Values, other... I may have missed one in the mix, but the choice was between a group of hot-button issues.

Did you catch the obvious? Where was Huckabee in the questioning? He's number 3 in the national polls yet they didn't give him as a choice.

I would bet there will be a press release at some point from McCain sharing the results of the poll. It's going to put him as the number one or two choice for Republicans in Georgia.

In Georgia Huckabee has a strong following. By leaving him out of the mix it totally skews any results in any state, but particularly in a handful of southern states.

If the McCain camp paid for the poll simply as a fact-finding mission, they are being steered in the wrong direction by their pollsters.

Regarding the choices in question three. What would you answer? Is the war on terror less important to you than immigration? Do you discount values or place them lower on the scale when making a decision than the economy? I had a difficult time with that question. My choice for the Republican nominee is not based on one factor, it's a mix of factors. Again, I suppose people will do like I did and just punch one.

For those out there who are making their choice for the Republican candidate based on polling that shows one person has a better chance of beating the Democratic winner, beware. You have no idea who's conducting those polls and what kind of questions they're asking.... and what they're leaving out when they poll. How many of those polls are sponsored by the media? How many are made by Democratic leaning groups? What if we're being steered like a herd of cattle toward the candidate of choice? What if it's true that Republicans win when they stick to their conservative values when voting? What if fear of Hillary and Obama leads to a choice that gives us heartburn for four years or longer?

I would suggest that you think long and hard about why you're making the choice you're making.
Look carefully at the candidates, their beliefs, values, past actions, character, stances on the issues and other factors but don't let the press bamboozle you into thinking that the results of their polls should factor into your decision. If you like the candidate in every other way and those erratic polls are not a factor, great, vote your conscious.

Note: I wrote a blog a while back on an on-line political poll I took. Same problem, choices that left you no choices. I'll see if I can find a link and will post it for those who have signed on since then and may not have read it!

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