Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We are halfway through the silly season of the never-ending campaign for president and it is time to take a look around at all the damage that has been done. How do we do that? Well the media and politicians use a clever technique called polling to keep us informed of what we think and the big question is does it really do that? No!

Wake up media and stop trying to sway the American public opinion. It has been 40 years since I started developing campaign polling and demographic databases and the one constant through eight presidents is nothing has changed. The American people will always make up their own mind and if you try to influence them your polls will be the same disaster as always.

So why should the news media care? Because the credibility of the media is just as poor as the credibility of the president, congress and corporate America and those reporting the news should not be considered a joke. If I didn’t care about the reputation of the media I would not care, although the extreme efforts of some media to distort the public will does provide some form of entertainment.

News reporting is a protected privilege in America, it is even protect by the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. But along with such privileged status comes responsibility, the responsibility to not abuse your rights and many of the media seem to forget.

What is the purpose of polls? Polls are a snap shot at that moment of time in reaction to a specific question. No more no less. The more objective the question the more objective and honest will be the answer. The more scientific the pool of people polled the more accurate the results.

Every day political news reporters try to apply the results of daily polls to what will happen in the future. For example, they tell us McCain is equal to Clinton or Obama in the fall election. Such extrapolation is nonsense and the media knows better. When you hear such things just know there is a hidden agenda by those making such silly reports.

This is May, not November, and many people have not even started thinking about the general election. We don’t even have the final candidates for the general election. My years of polling experience have shown people wait until September to start thinking seriously about the general election.

Any poll done at this time when the final candidates are not selected and they are not running against each other could be 20-25% inaccurate. So why does the media continue reporting these results? They know better.

The only polls accurate right now are those concerning the public sentiment and they foreshadow serious change this fall. More than two-thirds of the public think the country is headed in the wrong direction, more than two-thirds think Bush is doing the wrong things, and more than two-thirds think congress is just as misguided. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe no Republican can win the presidency this year.

If McCain is running even at this time it is only because the public does not know Obama well enough and know Clinton too well. When two-thirds of the public is opposed to the direction of the country and to President Bush, and McCain is the Bush standard-bearer, Hillary should be light years ahead of McCain, not just even in the polls. Obviously the public knows her too well.

Also, there is no way the results in one state mean the same thing will happen in another state as the people of West Virginia are far different than those in Mississippi or Iowa, just as New York is different than California. Polls can also be very distorted if the people surveyed are not registered to vote, or even if they are registered does that mean they will actually vote.

If a poll is of “eligible voters” it will be wrong for 50% of eligible voters are not even registered to vote. If a poll is of “registered voters” it could also be 50% wrong for half of the registered voters are not going to vote. If a poll is of actual voters based on their actual voter record then it is getting close to right but very few polls ever attempt to identify those most likely to vote, thus polls are consistently off though the media would have you believe otherwise.

There is a final distortion of poll results if the caller identifies who employs them for if they say it is a Washington Post poll for example some people are going to be inclined to answer the way they think the “media” wants them to answer. People do not want to feel stupid so they might just make up answers, especially on issues they do not know.

As a result the economy will always be the number one issue and specifically jobs within the economy. Gas prices will follow closely. Many people will list the environment as a key issue having no clue why that is so. Global warming and related issues are too complex for most people to understand. Foreign policy will always be way down the list unless there is a war with a lot of deaths and still it will remain far behind the economy and crime.

Immigration is a quite disruptive issue as the media loves to play up the controversy but in truth it is not much of a real issue because 85% of all American citizens identify themselves as a person of foreign ancestry for example French-American, Irish-American, German-American, Hispanic-American, and African-American. That means only 15% of our citizens consider themselves genuine Americans and that is really how it should be and is. How could a nation of immigrants hate immigrants? Only the media can make that happen.

The bottom line is this. If you believe the polls published by the media you are as crazy as the media. On the other hand, if you really want to see a meaningful poll the following are the latest results from a Harris Poll on the Confidence of the American Public in our institutions.

The Harris Poll® #22, February 28, 2008

(Percent of the public having a great deal of confidence in the major institutions.)

The Military 51%, Small Business 47%, Major Educational colleges & universities 32%, Medicine 28%, The US Supreme Court 25%, Organized Religion 25%, Public Schools 20%, The Courts & Justice system 16%, Television News 16%, The White House 15%, Major Companies 14%, Organized Labor 11%, Wall Street 11%, The Press 10%, Law Firms 10% and Congress 8%.

It would appear the general public already know what they think of the media and their polls when 84% of our citizens do not have a great deal of confidence in Television news, and they have even less confidence in The White House, Major companies, Organized Labor, Wall Street, The Press, Law Firms, with Congress bringing up the rear in terms of the American institution with the least confidence of the American citizens.

No comments: