Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Pollsters hired to influence elections?

Did you ever get the impression that a poll was done more to influence the vote rather than to measure voter opinion? Did you ever wonder what exactly was asked, and who was polled?

A group of campaign pollsters has posted an open letter on that very subject. A snip:

The practice of judging polls by their accuracy in the closing weeks of an election rather than by the professionalism with which they were conducted is unfortunate. Public polls have the capacity to shape media and donor reactions to election contests, especially in late summer and early fall when organizations and individuals are making such decisions.
Public polls differ on whether they release their likely voter screens, sample frames, demographics of the sample, on inclusion of cell phones, bilingual interviewing as appropriate, and even whether they asked other potentially biasing questions prior to the horse race

The letter proposes standards.

We sure could use some.

Suppose also that the media routinely asked questions such as this one, taken from the standards in the letter:
The exact wording of questions asked, including the text of any preceding instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondents that might reasonably be expected to affect the response.
If the commercial media won't ask, perhaps the blogosphere might.


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