Why Polls Now?
Why are we so beset with polls so long before an election? An election whose candidates are still unknown? Just to be clear, these are not opinion polls, nor election polls; they are variants of push polls. These polls are used not to reflect public opinion, but to try to shape opinion or grow an audience.
The viewership or readership of “news outlets” is valuable property, and the size of the pie is surprisingly fixed. Oh, there is the occasional banquet, when a disaster occurs, but the devoted news followers are a very small percentage of the public.
Thus, the outlets are trying to win converts, and they are all fishing in the same pond. But most importantly, they must hold the faithful, by creating a climate, which stimulates them with sensationalist stories. In this environment, the sensationalism must be staged during lulls in actual news. So, the shocking, surprising, unexpected, breaking news is staged by using polls. Most people sorta get it.
Polls aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but they are one of the few subjects where the MSM doesn’t have to fear being contradicted. The value of the poll is nothing without the ability to shape opinion, or lure viewers. So the pollsters sorta get it, too.
What is the purpose of the polling firm -- not the poll, but the polling firm? Profit. Without income, they no longer exist, and all entities try to find ways to endure. So, to understand the polls they publish, one must ask how a poll enhances the polling firm’s revenue.
Like any other item that appears in the media, profit is connected to clicks on the internet, channel selection, or the bolstering of the editorial position of the outlet sponsoring the poll. Thus, a poll that says what CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NYT, WaPo, Yahoo, and even FOX use to entertain their audience has great commercial value, while a contrary poll does not. Maddow cannot talk about a poll that shows Trump beating all Democrats. It is a conversation stopper. If you are selling the poll to MSNBC, you are keenly aware of this. They need evidence that the cause is succeeding, in order to keep the faithful coming back for reinforcement. And they use it to convince the sheeple that they should join the winning side.
Under this theory, polls become nothing but sales tools, and the polling firms damn well know it. Results are baked into the pie. So, with expert manipulation, the Made as Instructed polls are churned out. How can they be altered, you ask? How is Global Warming Theory promulgated? Lying.
One doesn’t have to be able to define the internal workings of the polling firm to know when something isn’t true. Sample sizes, sample selection, weighting of the respondent’s demographic, and a dozen other tools are available, as is simply altering results. How important is the answer of an LGBT Black Male from Ethiopia, living in Minnesota? Does he represent the state, his color, his sexuality, his gender, his career field, his income level, or all of the above? Someone must decide how important is the response, and that person knows what answer is sought.
All the shenanigans are conveniently not subject to test. There is no possible verification, and the customers are happy with the product, so the charade goes on. People keep giving money to the candidates, MSM outlets keep to the proscribed path and all is right with the world. It works right up until it doesn’t.
As the Election Day approaches, these phantom leads narrow. The polling firm begins to protect its only asset -- its reputation for accuracy. Like a stopped watch, it needs to be right twice a cycle, and the adjustment begins. Again, it is not about accuracy, it's about the perception of accuracy. The polling firms apply better methods, watch cohorts who actually do use honest methods, and trim the sails of the ship they have been sailing. The farther from the election date the polling firm is, the safer they are from scrutiny. On Election Day they suddenly are “so close."
Polls on issues are even more suspect, as there never is a need to verify them through actual voting. It seems that on the rare occasions that controversial subjects are put to a referendum, the polls are always wrong. That little fact should be running on the chyron of CNN, MSNBC, et al, when they report on polls -- “Polls such as this are notoriously wrong” -- but of course it won’t be.
The best advice may be to disregard the polls, and see the outlets that tout them as the liars they are. They can lie to themselves, but it doesn’t change the facts.
Gordon Wysong is an Engineer and Entrepreneur, who has served as a County Commissioner in Cobb County, Ga.