Opinion

Who gets polled anyway?

The headlines all read “Obama Ahead in the Polls.” In fact, the polls currently suggest he has a seven-point lead nationwide. But who are these organizations polling? Who is commissioning the polls? I’ve never been polled to see who I’m voting for nor do I know anyone who has been. What are the chances that someone whose opinion was solicited in a poll actually turns out to vote on election day?

Not all of the polls you see represent the views of likely voters or even the views of registered voters. According to Gallup Daily, “Obama’s current advantage is slightly less when estimating the preferences of likely voters, which Gallup will begin reporting on a regular basis between now and the election.” The Gallup poll currently has Obama leading by seven points. The poll was calculated using the likelihood that someone will vote and on their past voting history (I must mention only 50% of those solicited were likely voters). Gallup warns that question wording may lead to errors or bias in its findings.

So how does this solicitation work? Do they call you and ask: “Are you planning on voting for Barack Obama?” Or “Who are you planning on voting for in November?” By asking the latter, you will be more likely to produce a neutral unbiased survey, however by hinting at one candidate’s name over the other, you are giving that candidate an advantage.

An article in Sunday’s New York Times by Kate Zernike, reverberates, “[pollsters]can’t be sure how accurately polls capture people’s feelings about race, or how forthcoming Americans are in talking about a black candidate.”

Former popular Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, according to many polls appeared the likely winner of California’s governorship. When the election was over, pollsters began using the term “Bradley effect” to explain the phenomenon that black candidates for high office have a more favorable response in poll results than in an actual secret ballot.

Thomas Prieto laid out a four-part article in the Miami Hurricane, identifying the results of the polls and how they indicated that Obama was going to win. But Mr. Prieto’s source, realclearpolitics.com, fails to identify who was being polled. Before you trust the accuracy of polls, make sure you can verify their sample questionnaire and the sample population.

October 15, 2008

Reporters

Victoria San Pedro

Contributing Columnist


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

The Miami Hurricanes will have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball this season, and four play ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

University of Miami law and political science professors weigh in on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. ...

Research bioclimatologists with the UM Synoptic Climatology Lab counsel cities on how to manage risi ...

A UM-led study is examining how children’s play behavior at beaches could impact their health. ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

The University of Miami's volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (A ...

University of Miami head golf coach Patti Rizzo announced the 2018-19 schedule, featuring nine tourn ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.