Monday, October 30, 2006

Poll Problems

More great commentary from Michael Barone, this time on the problem with polls. My favorite part, about the 2004 Exit Polls:

Serious pollsters concede that there are some problems with polling. Americans have fewer landline phones than they used to, and the random digit dialing most pollsters use does not include cell-phone numbers. Larger and larger percentages of those called are declining to be interviewed.
Interviewers can inject bias in the results. The late Warren Mitofsky, who conducted the 2004 NEP exit poll, went back and found that the greatest difference between actual results in exit poll precincts and the reports phoned in to NEP came where the interviewers were female graduate students -- and almost all the discrepancies favored the Democrats.

The polls really don't concern me. They is far too much disagreement in their results for me to be convinced about anything other than the fact that November 7th will be another long night. Indeed, the prevalence of early and absentee voting may lead to problems. From John Fund:

If the present trends continue, we will become a nation where half of us vote on Election Day and the other half . . . well, whenever. While that may not bother some people, it won't be good for democracy if a flood of absentee ballots means the country will have to endure a slew of lawsuits and recounts that could delay the final results of next week's elections for weeks. Election Day could become Election Month before we know who will control the 110th Congress.

It's a great explanation of the trend and its possible pitfalls.


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