Polling has captured the news as never before during the current presidential primary season. But at the same time that polls are more popular than ever before, their reliability is lower than ever. As you know from Chapter 8 on Survey Research, the use of cell phones has complicated polling, answering machines have made it easier to avoid polling, and nonresponse is not distributed randomly. It remains hard to determine how likely it is that people who are polled will actually vote, and of course in a rapidly changing political scene, findings are quickly outdated. Is the fascination of both candidates and the public with poll results “insane,” as New York Times columnist suggested?
- Have you participated in a political poll? Would you if you received a call from a pollster? Why or why not?
- What function does the reporting of political poll numbers serve? Do you think media should force improvements in methods or lessen their use of polls?