Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Article: Message from Pollsters - Ignore all polls

Mystery Pollster has a good post up about 2008 Presidential polling. He walks us through the statistics of why polls about elections in 2008 are completely meaningless in 2005 (and 2006, and 2007). Interesting read if you're a numbers dork like I am.

A larger point that he doesn't mention is that unless an opinion is directly linked to an imminent social action (such as voting in the near future, or purchasing an item) that opinion is essentially meaningless quantitatively.

Most polling is done by newspapers and television in order to generate news. In general, it is poorly done from a statistical perspective and often utterly useless because it isn't linked to an imminent social action.

It does, however help shape public expectations in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way. But that's a post for another day.
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