Pollsters

So. What does everybody think about the polls?

They have been completely wrong on everything many times.

Are the pollsters complete idiots who practice voodoo science?

Are they wrong because they are guided by what they think the results should be?

Was it a conscious attempt to sway the election?

12 thoughts on “Pollsters”

  1. There’s definitely a possibility they are deliberately trying to sway the election; I wouldn’t put it past some of the left-leaning ones — eg, 538 and so on.

    A more charitable explanation is that they are way too dogmatic with their methods, and they do not realize there are inherent biases in the data. The reason the Trafalgar polls were so much more accurate than all the others is that they accounted for the fact that people lie to pollsters about who they would vote for, and the lies in the current political climate tend to swing one way. I’m willing to bet the rest of the pollsters did not account for this enough.

    If I may add: I personally have some experience with statistical data analysis and I have been following the covid statistics very closely. Many highly respected people who are doing this stuff do not even realize how messy, biased and strange the data is. All that stuff goes into their analysis, and what comes out is really at best garbage — and these predictions are touted as the state of the art! It’s not implausible that the same dynamic is playing out here as well.

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  2. I think they were still within the margin of error, it’s just that the margin of error consistently went for Trump. Biden might end up winning the popular vote by over 6 million votes, that’s still a huge lead by any measure. This may indicate that polling just sucks outside major population centers, which is where most Trump supporters live.

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  3. I think they are based in major cities and do not realize what most of the country is like. I don’t think it’s malicious or manipulative, I think they do not realize.

    I am more seriously left wing, not “left” like the New Democrats and not rigid like the U.S. Marxist-Leninists, but democratic left, like in Europe or South America. I live where people are hard right and vote Trump. I knew perfectly well that Trump would have a good showing in this election.

    It is very hard to believe if you do not live where people are Trumpers, do not interact every day with more Trumpers than not, do not have the opportunity to hear their reasoning.

    I do not agree with the said reasoning, but I know it exists and has lots of adherents. The pollsters do not realize this and this is why they do not design questions that could even capture it, much though they may try to be accurate and scientific.

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  4. Well, who answers most polls nowadays, anyway?

    During election season, my landline rings at least a half a dozen times a day, and I NEVER pick it up unless I hear a voice coming through the speaker that I want to respond to. And I certainly don’t open unsolicited text messages from unrecognized sources on my cell phone — just opening them would cost me $1 each.

    The only “polls” I get by snail mail are from Republican sources asking for donations at the bottom of the letter. Nice try!

    in 23 years, I’ve never had a single pollster or any other political volunteer knock on my front door in my quiet Arizona suburb.

    So where are all these people who actually respond to pollsters?

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    1. Yes, there’s also that. I do actually sometimes pick up my landline and get a poll. And as a professor of literature, attuned to rhetoric, I can analyze the questions. They are, from whatever perspective, completely designed to elicit the responses the pollster wants. This is not as it was when I was a child, when polls were more scientific and neutral, designed to gauge actual opinions. When you have polls as manipulative as the ones we have now, you just can’t expect them to be reliable predictors, etc. — they seem mostly constructed so as to change opinions, not find out what people are thinking

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      1. Polling that is designed to change opinion through some kind of interaction or leading is called push polling.

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  5. Polls are basically tools used in intrigues more than they are honest tests. You can understand them better by thinking of the difference between political polling and how real estate is valued by a bank. Each is commissioned in conditions where there is more than one party, where each is trying to take advantage of the other.

    To illustrate, in regards to a house, the buyer will commission a valuation that is skewed to show a low price, while the seller commissions one to show a high price, while the bank commissions a valuer who is often instructed to inflate or deflate a valuation depending on bank policy.

    Obviously, each party offering up a valuation is lying, which is necessary since each party is seeking advantage over the other. Anyone who was actually being honest would see their position worsened by the other parties, with buyers being told that their already high offer wasn’t high enough, or sellers being told that their already low price wasn’t low enough either.

    The same thing happens with taxes – everyone tries to claim as many deductions as possible, while the tax office applies an unfair number of taxes in the hope that a fair equilibrium is reached.

    Polling is works in the same way, which means that you have to look at who is doing the polling in order to adjust for whatever bias is built into their position. Some polling companies have a reputation for favouring the left, and so left leaning politicians go to them. Others produce polling that is favourable to the right, and so get work from the right.

    Just my experience btw.

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    1. Cliff Arroyo, what do you think of the idea that some professions do not quite fail, but rather are deliberately transformed into industries or vocations via the withdrawal of professional standards and commodification of jobs within it?

      To explain, in your article, you mentioned that the health system is a criminal money grab operation. I wont comment about that beyond saying that my qualification is in one of the main primary health professions, and also that I chose not to work in the profession due to my belief that it no longer existed.

      In my case, I think that the profession didn’t fail exactly, but rather that professional standards were withdrawn from it so that the object of work was practically only to make money. In turn, that meant that the right word to use to describe it could no longer be profession, but rather only industry or vocation. After all, industrial and licensing standards were the only ones that were applied.

      The term “professional failure” that you used implies that the failure happened due to some internal shortfall (like an oversight by the professionals themselves), or accident, or something becoming obsolete – while I contend that these kinds of destructions (not failures) are more often deliberate, and come from without rather than within.

      After that, in my experience, jobs within the now destroyed profession become commodities, which are then gifted to those who are compliant, rather than those who are competent. In turn, incompetence spreads etc etc until there is some kind of collapse or major event (eg Chernobyl).

      Just curious what you think, since it all seems to be accelerating and I’d like to understand it better.

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      1. ” professions do not quite fail, but rather are deliberately transformed into industries or vocations”

        Just thinking with my fingers… don’t read too much into the name literally. And it partly doesn’t matter if the professions themselves failed or if outside forces caused the profession to implode. The result is the same – failure to carry out the original mission and the transformation into a money harvesting mechanism populated and controlled by by psychopathic grifters.

        Another part of me thinks that it’s an inevitable consequence of elite failure (again maybe not the best name – maybe system failure which starts with the elites and then filters down to the skilled professions).

        Part of it comes from Reagan-Thatcheristic bean counting – like the old saying ‘knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing’. It’s one thing to complain that institutions cost too much money but then they’re dismantled for parts without realizing the other unaccounted for services they provide.

        Schools educate and socialize children but also are a way for the state to keep tabs on at risk children and to give their mothers some breathing room, serve as mini-community centers and other stuff. Once you close down schools to save money and move everything online then all those other… benefits disappear and will create new costs.

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  6. It was a conscious attempt to sway the election.

    Who was paying them? What were they getting paid for?

    They did exactly what they were paid to do. And this is why none of them will lose their jobs over it.

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