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janbb's avatar

Would the electoral process be better off if we didn't have any polls?

Asked by janbb (42850 points ) October 12th, 2012

It seems like we the sheeple are all running around happy or sad depending on the results of the most recent polling and where they indicate our candidate stands. Just wondering if the whole process would be cleaner and less anxiety producing if there weren’t hundreds of poll results printed each time a candidate farted. What do you think?

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18 Answers

tedd's avatar

Ehhh, I think it may actually be more anxiety filled. People will always be nervous about their guys standings. If you take away the indicators for how your guy is doing, at no point are you calm until the actual election is over.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s a stupid process but it does keep us focused and possibly more likely to vote. if I didn’t see the polls and see them so close I might think my choice is a guaranteed winner and possibly make less effort to get to the booth election day.

wundayatta's avatar

@janbb That’s a crazy idea to me! If there weren’t polls, we’d have to invent them. If they were made illegal, we’d have to break the law to do something similar.

You have a problem that isn’t a problem. It is not a problem to be happy or sad depending on how you think your candidate is doing. This is normal. This is human. To try to “protect” us from normal emotions is not a good idea.

Anxiety is good. It means we care. Passionately. It means this matters. If we were successful in outlawing strong feelings, I think we’d be successful in outlawing humanity.

zenvelo's avatar

There is a bit of manipulation created by the polls and they do feed on each other. Perhaps if there were a way to keep the partisan polling out of the press, and just publicize polls that ask balanced, non-leading questions with a lot of transparency based on who is polled.

And if we could cut the whole electoral process down to about 90 days, the whole thing might make a lot more sense.

janbb's avatar

@wundayatta I understand your point but what if we weren’t so concerned about reading what the polls say about who “won” the debate and more concerned about the content that each candidate expressed. Just musing; I don’t have a huge dog in this fight.

@zenvelo I agree – a shorter campaign period would be cheaper and more efficient.

Qingu's avatar

The parties would still pay for polls. They need polls to judge the effectiveness of campaign tactics.

janbb's avatar

@Qingu But do you feel we have an excessive amount of them?

Qingu's avatar

Well, some polls are better than others obviously. I only look at 538 for polling data so as far as I’m concerned, any additional poll is just another data point.

wundayatta's avatar

@janbb If we weren’t so concerned about who won, then we wouldn’t care and there wouldn’t be polls. That is not the reality we face. Many people care a great deal. The polls are for us. If you don’t care, they you won’t pay attention.

We do care about what the candidates said, but we don’t know what other people made of what they said. That’s what makes polls so important. They are a way of judging the candidates effectiveness in conveying their message and in convincing people they have the right message.

YARNLADY's avatar

What I think is odd is that no one has ever called me or polled me. Doesn’t that mean they are fake?

janbb's avatar

@YARNLADY Good question – how do they pick their samples?

wundayatta's avatar

They pick them randomly. Each poll typically polls 1000 people out of the 300 million or so in the country. It is likely that you will eventually get polled, but it is not unlikely that you will never get polled.

It also has to do with whether you answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number.

CWOTUS's avatar

Polls are fine. Just get rid of the pols.

janbb's avatar

@CWOTUS But what about poles?

ucme's avatar

I thought Lech Walesa did a fine job.

Buttonstc's avatar

Perhaps the best answer to the question would be to ponder how we ever managed in the times before polling was so widespread and the results available so instantaneously.

Did the absence of numerous daily poll results cause voters to be more apathetic? That’s absurd. Obviously not. And the same would be true today.

But unforttunately it’s too late to close Pamdora’s box. People would be outraged.

At least they did manage to (years ago) curtail the TV results of exit polling in the East being broadcast on TV or radio until the polls had closed in ALL of the time zones because that had caused some folks to stay home thinking their vote was superfluous cuz they figured their candidate was so far ahead. For unlike many other types of pre-election polling, exit polling has proven to me quite accurate.

But there really is no practical way to put the genie back in the box for polls prior to election day itself. People just won’t stand for it.

Ya know…that thing about freedom of speech and all :)

janbb's avatar

@Buttonstc I know, just idle speculation on a post-debate day.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yeah, I know what you mean. Polling nowadays is so ubiquitous (to an annoying degree) that we now discuss the polling process as well as the results :)

Apparently, merely agonizing about the results no longer suffices :)

If they all disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me a bit. One can only wish…

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