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On Polls

Thursday, November 2, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Geraghty, The Indispensable, has a post on the latest polling nonsense out of Maryland which ought to be read by every GOTV volunteer at work in a race in which their candidate is said to be behind by a pollster or former pollster (Zogby).

Perhaps, Geraghty suggests, “[p]ollsters are not geniuses, they know the behavior of the public and voters is changing and haven’t figured out how to adapt; they can’t cope with response rates of about 20 percent, cell-phone only voters, cranky respondents who tell them to go to hell, voters who are tired of their phone ringing during election season, and people who say they are certain to vote but who are not, and as a result they are going to be as far off as Zogby was in 2002 and 2004.”

When you look at the plummeting circulation of newspapers, you see the most obvious sign of old media’s inability to figure out the new, networked America.  My strong belief is that most pollsters, like publishers, are lost in a world they never imagined would exist, afraid to announce that they don’t have a clue.

We will all sort through the ruins on Wednesday, but Geraghty has underscored what we already know:  Some polling is just junk.  Profitable for the pollsters, worse than useless for the public.

This will be the last cycle where pollsters can hide from their errors as the eyeballs watching and recording their predictions has increased dramatically, and post-mortems on their quality will be abundant and archived.  Yes, we know Zogby is simply awful and not to be believed.  But who else gets that reputation will be Thursday’s story.

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