General Question

flo's avatar

How much should polls before political elections be trusted? And should the results be kept secret till after the election or not?

Asked by flo (12974points) August 23rd, 2012

How often has it has been proven that they don’t mean anything? Sometimes the days before the election polls say something and the day of, we find something else. Do you have dramatic examples?

Should all kinds of media put a gag on themselves until after the election since they actually sway the result?

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Polls tend to be self-serving. Gather your information carefully and use your judgment.

They have never swayed me.

flo's avatar

@gailcalled But this is about the people who don’t use their judgement. If the polls aren’t out there, they would be forced to do their homework and not be swayed.

wundayatta's avatar

It has been shown that if you put all the polls together, they turn out to be quite accurate. Real Clear Politics does this. I believe the Huffington Post also does this. So yeah. Polls are very accurate these days. Which is scary, because things are very volatile right now. They should steady down as we get close to the election. They usually do.

In case you were wondering—things are too close to call. Although Obama is ahead in the electoral college polls. He’s got 221 EC votes, but he needs 290. Romney has 191. 126 are considered too close to call. If you force it to call the race, Obama wins 303 to 235. This link will change over time, of course.

flo's avatar

@wundayatta I thought I heard Romney was quite a bit ahead yesterday.
Anyway do people need to know what the polls are saying?

josie's avatar

If polls meant anything, there would be a movement to suspend the election, and go with the poll result.
And people would take the movement seriously.
The only poll that matters is the election.
Polls are a media event. The people who believe in this bullshit are the same ones who think reality TV is actually real. (The problem is, there seems to be more and more of them. Good luck, USA.)

wundayatta's avatar

@flo new polls come out every day. Several a day. Some show Romney ahead and some show Obama ahead. If you average the polls, you get a larger sample which will be more accurate. That’s what RCP does.

But what happens in national polls isn’t really all that important. What really matters is who takes which state. Remember, we don’t vote for the president directly. We go through the electoral college. So what matters is who is winning in each state, and how many electoral college votes they represent. That’s what you should be following if you are really interested in what the election is looking like.

flo's avatar

@josie I agree, so not needed at all. Even after the electon I don’t need to know.

flo's avatar

@wundayatta I would rather spend my time learning about the issues instead of finding out who is going to voting for who.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sorry. I misunderstood the purpose of the question. I thought you were asking about the accuracy of polling. I see now that you meant to ask for ways to express some kind of anger or frustration with polling.

Sorry. I disagree. I find polls to be very helpful, but then, there is no lack of clarity about who I am voting for, nor who I want to win. So I’m interested in how things are going.

You don’t seem to know who you want to vote for yet, so you just want information about the candidates/issues and you don’t want to be distracted by the horse race.

I think we can both be happy. You can ignore the polls and I can follow them.

Jaxk's avatar

I also like the polls. They give us some insight into both how the race is shaping up as well as what people are thinking on various issues. Election polling has proven to be fairly accurate and the results can be verified by the election. Issues polling, not so much. Still it gives a way to measure without relying on who shouts the loudest.

keobooks's avatar

I can’t find the link I want, but maybe someone else has seen it? One of my Facebook friends posted something that came from a group that uses multiple polls and has correctly predicted the last 7 elections. It shows Romney winning by a substantial margin.

flo's avatar

Some people vote for the wrong side partly because of polls, and extremely biased pundits, though.

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