Monday, September 08, 2008

A political poll pondering…

Happy Monday, y’all!

Shall we?

This bitch has never been asked to take a political poll. I only know two people who have. So, I am always amazed when polls of likely voters come out.

Are these polls really of likely voters or just likely voters who pick up the phone and answer questions?

Hmmm.

Its not as if they release the wording of the questions with the poll numbers on the telly…or even explain what the margin of error means when they release that shit…and they certainly do not explain the math behind that shit or how many folks made up the sample size or how diverse the geography or how they account for dips in that geographic diversity to make sure that all the respondents aren’t from the county or city or rural areas.

Blink.

Politics remains local and this Voter Education teacher knows that what motivates one voter doesn’t mean shit to another…that where a voter lives influences how they vote…that the demands of a voter’s life influence how likely their ass is to vote…and that most motherfuckers make up their damned minds on who they will vote for in November in October.

Late October.

Pretty much the weekend before the election.

Sigh.

A bitch doesn’t think that the late deciding of voters is a bad thing. As a political junkie my ass knows that all manner of shit comes out in the final weeks of an election. Plus, waiting and pondering means that folks are thinking…and that’s a good thing.

I just hope that they are thinking about their lives and what this election will mean to them…

…and not waiting for a poll of likely voters to tell them where to find the rest of the +/- 3% herd.

6 comments:

bbgcmac said...

I heard that! I haven't been asked to do one of those polls either... perhaps they don't know where we live~

The Lazy Iguana said...

If you really want, I can dig out my statistics books from the college days, brush up on the theory, then attempt to explain it.

But it would be VERY BORING. Just so you know. It is really hard to make math exciting. This is why it is called "math" and not "happy hour".

But Ill take a stab at it anyway. A non violent stab with a Nerf implement. Safety first!!!

1. Statistical methods work very well. On things like cars and steel bars. I can randomly pick 15 or 20 steel bars out of a lot of 15,000, test them for tensile strength, then tell you with a 99.99% confidence that the entire lot meets whatever specification I am testing for. Something called a standard deviation is involved, as well as a "z score" or "mu score" or "phi score". There may be other scores too, I can not remember.

Likewise I can crash test one car, then sell you the same type of car - that was never ran into a wall - and tell you with confidence how messed up you can expect to be in a 40 mph crash.

The key here is that with steel bars and cars and concrete blocks, every member of the population has an equal chance at being selected for testing.

2. With people, I have my doubts as to the validity of statistical methods. For one, not everyone has the same chance of being sampled. Take me for example. I never answer polls on the phone. I have better thongs to do. Plus, you are not going to pay me for my opinion, but you ARE going to sell someone else data you collected using my opinion.

so you want me to give you something for free, so you can sell it to someone else? NO! Pay me and then we will talk.

Second, I have a cell phone. I have a house phone but there is no phone plugged into it. It is only there because of the DSL. So when someone asks for my phone number, they get the DSL number. Call it, nobody will ever answer because there is no phone plugged in.

Since I stand a 0% chance of being sampled, and I am a member of the population, the results are not valid.

So the error margin comes in. They figure this out with pure math. Sample size, estimated population size, and standard deviation.

But is just a guess. You do not know how many people stand a 0% chance of being sampled. And you do not know if those sampled lied. You do not even know if they are who they claim to be!!

So in short, it is all bullshit. I suspect the margin of error is probably higher than the polls claim. You have to make so many assumptions that by the time you are done I do not know how you can come up with any valid data.

Yet somehow it is valid. Or so it seems.

Your point about the question asked not being revealed is a good one too. For example:

Fox news poll sample question.

Would you vote for a communist muslim with known ties to terrorists, who hates America, and who wants all Americans to die?

NO! Of course not!!! Who would!??!

Makes me a McCain supporter!!!

Uhhhhhh........

My head hurts now. And my blood pressure probably went up.

Dusty said...

The only thing I know for sure about polls is how easy they are to manipulate based on the questions asked and the order they are asked in.

Anonymous said...

I want to know why the media becomes so unfocused and wraps itself up in things that are speculative. I wish they would focus and tell us what these people are standing for, what is being said and what is being left out. Especially what is being left out. McCain and crew are pumping surge swill into the mix and the supposed inexperience of Obama but have said little about their policies. This is 2004 all over again. They have come out swinging with just a bunch of bullshit and the media is buying it. How does the surge matter in an immoral war against innocent people who had nothing to do with 911? Why is the US more concerned with bombing Iraq than with finding Bin Laden? Where is Carl Rove and how is he controling this election as well. It seems the Republicans are willing to take just a part of the entire story and run on that. They ignore most of the facts and turn minor points into major ones by feeding fear and anger. Don't have any real policy just pretend we are winning the war and the other guy was against winning the war. Pretend the world is dangerous but you had no point in creating that danger and are just there to clean up the mess and make everything shiny and pretty again. They are deluded and the media is playing into that by not scrutinizing the delusion.

Obama and crew are going to have to start really controlling the media by focusing the topics.

Cheryl said...

I feel you Shark-fu. Sarah Palin is the Clarence Thomas of women in politics. The McCain team did not vet her because she does not matter except as a symbol. She is a diversion for potential voters and the media. The issues are boring and hard and our lazy media are not willing to wade into them. Unfortunately we will all suffer from the result.

Bsquared86 said...

I'm still waiting on a phone call for one of these polls. I don't trust them, if they want to poll america then they need to CALL america and not just whoever's on this mysterious list, lol.