Friday, September 19, 2008

A few thoughts on polls

I have a problem. I'm addicted to politics. Even when they depress me so much that I cry myself to sleep over the disastrous policies of the current administration, I can't tune out. I'm addicted to information and I know there are a lot of people out there with similar inabilities to disconnect. Luckily, I'm connected to people like Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olbermann; people who care more about the truth than partisan party politics -- and all three will attack Democrats when they do something wrong; their counterparts on the right, your Drug Addled Gas Bags, Sean Hannities, Ann Coulters (anyone ever notice how the right-wing pundits vastly outnumber the left-wing ones in our "liberal" media?) don't do that. They don't. Limbaugh still supports Bush. So does Hannity. So do O'Reilly and Coulter. But that's not my point.

I begin with this rather rambly preface because I've been, through a twitching eyelid (work stress+political stress= twitching eyelid) checking in with Gallup's Election 2008 Coverage daily, despite being fully aware of their incompleteness and fallibility. And, of course, McCain got a bump in the polls during the Palin thing, proving once again, as Rachel Maddow reported last night, that McCain does well in the polls when no one is talking about him. Then the market crashed.

Since Monday, Obama has been gaining. On Friday McCain was ahead by 1. By the end of Tuesday, Obama was up by 2. Yesterday he was up by 4. And today, the Obama lead continues to increase because people aren't as stupid as the Republican party wants them to think they are. Americans realize that the economic collapse is beause of the policies of the current president, who is a Republican, the current leader of the Republican party; ergo, Americans are coming around to the idea that this shit is mostly Republicans' faults.

Now, polls like Gallup, whose daily poll calls up 500 Democrats and 500 Republicans, are not a reliable source for absolute numbers -- and it's not because of the "Bradley Effect" which states that people will tell a pollster (out of guilt) that they're going to vote for the black guy, but then go and vote for the white guy out of sheer racism; I think with the economy the way it is right now, people are going to pay more attention to the issues and less attention to the whispers behind closed doors of "did you know Barack Obama is black?" (Noting of course, that if Hillary had won the nomination, the screams about her feminine instability -- despite the fact that she is passed menopause and her testosterone levels have gone up dramatically in relation to the estrogen and progesertone levels, hormones that sexists like to attribute female instability to -- and screaming "she's a woman! what if she starts crying?!" rather than whispering about the color of her skin. The media is tainted sexist and always has been -- but the racism exists too and is much more subversive; just look at how they're treating Michelle Obama.)

Ahem, getting very rambly today. Gallup, by polling 500 of each registered party is, in effect, skewing results toward the Republicans because, while a majority of voters are registered as Independent (and in Washington, you don't register as affiliated with a party), 11% of the country are now registered as Republicans, and 30% (or thereabouts) are registered as Democrats. That means, that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 19%, making the Gallup Daily skewed because it's not taking an accurate sampling of voters.

The other issue is that poll companies like Gallup only call landlines, and most people under 30 (the demographic who support Obama by the greatest margin) only have cell phones. That means a huge demographic of people aren't being represented accurately in these polls. These two factors combined predict that Obama's numbers are actually a LOT higher than the Gallup Daily would have you believe. (I won't get into the stupid questions, because the questions pollsters ask often skew toward Republicans as well.)

So, if the polls aren't acurate, why am I compulsively checking the Gallup Daily? Because they do accurately represent (well, sort of) shifting trends amoung Americans. The poll numbers have indicated that Obama's lead is gaining momentum because of the economic collapse. The media is telling people about just how shitty things are right now, and Americans are waking up and saying "you know, things are shitty right now, and Republicans are lying to me about it not being shitty", and that results in gains for Democrats in general, and the Obama/Biden ticket in specific. (The "how can John McCain fix an economy he doesn't acknowledge is broken" ad didn't hurt either.)

The trend here indicates that Americans aren't as stupid as Republicans want them to believe they are. That's a good thing.

1 comment:

Peter said...

While it's never a good time for market madness, there certainly couldn't have been a better time. Politically speaking.