Judging Polls by the Company They Keep

Jim Yardley
Rick Moran's recent post "Push calls in Ohio ask 'How can you support a 'Mormon' who does not believe in Jesus Christ'" is another in a series of pieces here at American Thinker, as well as nearly every other alternative media site that I've visited in the past week to ten days, that question the validity of polling data, the methodology of the polls, the objectivity of the polling organization, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

During this same period, other articles have revealed the abysmally low number of people who respond to polls of any type.  The number of those that actually do respond is something on the order of only 9% to 10%. 

It makes you wonder why the response rate is so low.  Perhaps pollsters should examine whom they deal with.  As the old saw that we all heard from our parents goes, "You are judged by the company you keep."

The mainstream media, particularly television, has been rated consistently well below 50% in terms of public trust in what they are communicating.  A recent Gallup poll put that confidence level at about 21%.

Since the MSM is the largest customer/consumer of polling data, one can infer that the polls themselves are included in that 21% evaluation.

It would appear that the number of people willing to cooperate with polling organizations seems to be at least at the same general level of those who have confidence in the mainstream media.  Not a one-to-one correlation, to be sure, but in the same general proportion of "many" versus "very few."

Why would that be?  Are the people who have confidence in the MSM and transfer that trust to polling organizations all liberals?  Are they all clueless about alternate sources of news, information, and analysis?  Are they disengaged from the political discourse reverberating around the country?  Is it some combination of these factors? 

Sadly, I don't happen to have a research department with a major polling organization in my back pocket, so these questions will remain unanswered until after the election.  One hopes that someone in academia (with some integrity) will research these issues.  At best, polls should be the large-scale equivalent to asking a neighbor or co-worker "So, whaddaya think about...?"  At their worst, they are a tool of a political party or agenda and are used to create a propaganda message.

Personally I never respond to pollsters, and I will confess that my reasons are selfish.  I never want to give a politician the idea that he has my vote sewn up.  I want them all to work for it.  And I will never tell pollsters what I think is important.  All that does is tell politicians exactly how to craft the lies that they're going to keep telling us for months prior to the election.  Again, why would I want to help them?  If they are so smart that they believe that they can draft laws to protect us and help us, why should they need us to tell them the answer?  They should already know it, shouldn't they?

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a Vietnam veteran, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, and he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.

Rick Moran's recent post "Push calls in Ohio ask 'How can you support a 'Mormon' who does not believe in Jesus Christ'" is another in a series of pieces here at American Thinker, as well as nearly every other alternative media site that I've visited in the past week to ten days, that question the validity of polling data, the methodology of the polls, the objectivity of the polling organization, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

During this same period, other articles have revealed the abysmally low number of people who respond to polls of any type.  The number of those that actually do respond is something on the order of only 9% to 10%. 

It makes you wonder why the response rate is so low.  Perhaps pollsters should examine whom they deal with.  As the old saw that we all heard from our parents goes, "You are judged by the company you keep."

The mainstream media, particularly television, has been rated consistently well below 50% in terms of public trust in what they are communicating.  A recent Gallup poll put that confidence level at about 21%.

Since the MSM is the largest customer/consumer of polling data, one can infer that the polls themselves are included in that 21% evaluation.

It would appear that the number of people willing to cooperate with polling organizations seems to be at least at the same general level of those who have confidence in the mainstream media.  Not a one-to-one correlation, to be sure, but in the same general proportion of "many" versus "very few."

Why would that be?  Are the people who have confidence in the MSM and transfer that trust to polling organizations all liberals?  Are they all clueless about alternate sources of news, information, and analysis?  Are they disengaged from the political discourse reverberating around the country?  Is it some combination of these factors? 

Sadly, I don't happen to have a research department with a major polling organization in my back pocket, so these questions will remain unanswered until after the election.  One hopes that someone in academia (with some integrity) will research these issues.  At best, polls should be the large-scale equivalent to asking a neighbor or co-worker "So, whaddaya think about...?"  At their worst, they are a tool of a political party or agenda and are used to create a propaganda message.

Personally I never respond to pollsters, and I will confess that my reasons are selfish.  I never want to give a politician the idea that he has my vote sewn up.  I want them all to work for it.  And I will never tell pollsters what I think is important.  All that does is tell politicians exactly how to craft the lies that they're going to keep telling us for months prior to the election.  Again, why would I want to help them?  If they are so smart that they believe that they can draft laws to protect us and help us, why should they need us to tell them the answer?  They should already know it, shouldn't they?

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a Vietnam veteran, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, and he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.