If you’re like me, you’ve always stared at political polls in amazement and wondered how they differ so much. Sites like PollingReport further magnify that by displaying them all in once place. You basically find one you like, find a way to convince yourself it’s the right one, and then just go on believing.
Well, that doesn’t work. Especially if you’re a politics junkie and you just need to know what’s going on behind the scenes. Enter Slate magazine with an interesting article on the different parts of a poll as well as detailed information about the background of each major poll. Good stuff to know, some of it you just usually don’t think about.
Hyped up about learning new things, I decided to take my newly learned poll studying skills and head on over to my favorite news station, Fox News. Their poll, available in pdf, was pretty cut and dry. It seemed like they did a good job of wording the questions so that there was no total confusion arising. However, I wasn’t so sure about the final outcome:
Bush – 48%
Kerry – 43%
Now it seems to me that in an election this “close”, it would be a lot closer than 5%. Maybe not, who knows… Then I noticed two questions that I wasn’t so sure of. The first question:
“Would you say George W. Bush is a liberal or conservative?“
This came back with 11% of likely voters claiming that they thought he was a liberal. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Bush doesn’t seem too liberal. Is it possible that 11% of likely voters across the nation honestly believe that our president is liberal? I highly doubt that. This makes me start to question the final results from this poll.
The other question that raised my attention was:
“In the days before the election do you plan to use a mail ballot, an absentee ballot or some other form of early voting?
Now, that doesn’t seem like a bad question, but when you look at the answers, you find that 14% had already voted! Ok, I know that you can cast your vote early by mail and what have you, but still. Does anybody honestly think that 14% of the people who are going to vote this year have already voted?
Either way, I am now off to look at the full results for more polls. Hopefully others have asked that “vote early” question. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong about that. If every poll shows the same thing, then maybe I have to start trusting Fox News.
Until they become consious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.