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Oh, Those Polls...

Mark Tobola

Oh, Those Polls...

Columns
2 mins
August 24, 2020

Lately I don't have near as much time to spin through the news headlines as I did before.  But thanks to it being an election year, there are often articles about "surveys say" or "polls show" one thing or another. And this summer, those headlines are all over the place, about a lot of topics that have nothing to do with politics.  

Hang Up or Engage

I know that my house is one of a great number who simply hang up on survey callers.  Or we tell them to remove us from their calling list.  At one point, we were getting 2-6 calls every night about surveys for all sorts of things, and we just had enough.  So, I have to wonder how many people really do participate in these surveys?  And how do these surveys provide any type of true information if the majority of their intended targeted survey sample is telling them not to call any more, or hanging up on them?  

And if most of their sample is choosing to not participate, how can the company who is providing the survey really claim that their survey results are accurate at all?  I realize that they have to prove, mathematically, that they got a random "sample" of the people they are calling.  But at some point if they aren't taking note of the way that their results will be skewed by the non-participants, then what good IS that survey?

The Election

Case in point is still a topic of hot debate, and that is the 2016 Presidential election. I'm not here to discuss politics, but just discuss pure facts. The FACT is that it is publicly acknowledged that even the current President's team thought that Hillary Clinton had the election completely won. I think it was assumed she was the winner, by a huge margin. And the final nails in the coffin of that debate were - you guessed it - survey results. "The Polls say this is the case."

Well, that time, the Polls were not exactly accurate!

What about Now?

And as of late, there are polls being cited in the news left and right all over again.  And I'm starting to scratch my head and wonder if these polls are also going to be way off from the actuality.  I see how many times we get called for a poll, and we just hang up, or ask to be removed from their call list.  If you have enough people who do that, at some point I have to wonder how accurate the results are.  I mean, if you have a certain number of homes spread across your call setup, and a number of them just don't participate, how do you know which way that will push your result?  And do the companies conducting said polls account for this?

Who knows?  All I know is that, after 2016, I don't trust much of anything cited in "polls."


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Mark Tobola

Mark Tobola is a resident of Thorp and weekly columnist.

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