Category Archives: exit polls

>TIDBITS: What do the polls really show?

>1. If you believe in polls, the latest news from Michigan is that Barack Obama is ahead of John McCain by 53 to 37. So sayeth the Detroit Free Press/WDIV-TV poll. The so-called “margin of error” is plus or minus 4 percent. The poll shows non-blacks dividing evenly and all blacks voting for Obama (except a few undecideds). Yep! According to the poll, no black voter is casting a ballot for John McCain … not one in the whole state of Michigan. If there is any validity to this poll … and I would give it precious little … you can draw one conclusion. Blacks are a lot more racist than non-blacks.

2. This bring up another point. Almost all national discussion on the Bradley Effect centers on non-blacks lying to pollsters because they don’t want to sound like racists if they vote for McCain. Up until now, it has been a black and white issue. However, this year we have a new wrinkle. Little has been said about the awesome intimidation of black voters who prefer McCain. The Michigan polling shows the black side of the Bradley Effect very clearly. McCain will get black votes from those who are pro-life, pro-gun ownership. Affluent blacks have the same concerns as affluent non-blacks over taxation. If the poll shows McCain at zero, some people are lying — and you will see it on Election Day.

3. Gallup just released a poll (Sunday evening) that gives Obama a ten point lead, 52 t0 42. Just four days earlier, Gallup called the race for Obama 49 to 47. This latest would mean that at least 5 percent of those who were voting for McCain a couple days ago changed their minds. I say “at least 5 percent” since it is likely higher to offset some undecideds who have decided for McCain in the meantime. Gallup can call it a shift, but basically, one of these polls is just … wrong. Maybe both. We’ll find out in a couple days.

4. About the same time Gallup was showing Obama breaking away in a romp, the poll that claims to have been the most accurate in 2004, the IBD/TIPP poll, claims the race is closing in with Obama’s lead shrinking to 46.7 to 44.6. While Gallup has the undecideds stampeding to Obama, IBD/TIPP has them flowing to McCain. If they are right, the 8.7 percent undecides will put McCain over the top. Stay tuned.

5. They say that there maybe be around 130 million voters this election. The typlical poll registers the opinion of between 600 and 1000 of them. Using the higher figure, this means that each person being polled stands for 130,000 voters. So, when I fib and say I am voting for Obama, but I actually go in and vote for McCain, my impact on the election is a 260,000 vote difference — the 130,000 I take away from Obama and the 130,000 I add to McCain. (If I use the 600 sampling, the impact is more than 430,0000 vote difference.) If you have a 5 percent error in the sample population (including fibbers, like me), the projected error is between 13 and 22.5 million votes.

6. Wonder why pollsters usually say an election is closing in at the end? Because you can’t be wrong in predicting a close election. If you give both Obama and McCain 50 percent, with a margin of error of 4 percent, the election can go to 54 percent to 46 percent either way and the pollster will pat himself on the back for an accurate prediction. And how many presidential elections are outside the 54 to 46 range? Damn few.

So … you can see why I think polls are a bunch of hogwash.

>OBSERVATION: The polls are wrong … as usual.


We soon will have completed voting for the 2008 Presidential Election. There is a reasonable chance that we will know who the next President of the United States will be sometime on Wednesday. There is also a chance we may be in a prolonged 2000-like ballot counting tug-o-war right up to the time the Electoral College convenes to settle the matter to the satisfaction of the law, if not the satisfaction of the voters – at least half of them. We are, after all, a “house divided.”

As I write this, a flurry of pollsters are attempting to justify their existence by predicting the outcome.

Before we address the current numbers, there is something you should know about polls. They are all bullsh*t. Yep! They are about as accurate and scientific as newspaper horoscopes. If you think I am being too harsh, ask your self these questions.

Why do different polls taken at the same time get such widely different results? Where is the “science” in that?
Why are the results of an election often outside the “margin of error.” That should be impossible. Obviously, the margin of error is as bogus as the poll itself.

You also have to keep in mind the tricks pollsters use to allow them to claim legitimacy.

First, there is the margin of error, itself. If you have a poll showing the candidates at 52 and 48 percent respectively, with a margin of error of 4 percent, the pollster can claim accuracy if the race is 56 to 44 – or even 48 to 52 with the “other” candidate winning. Even I can predict elections within that range without getting anyone else’s opinion.

You don’t believe me? Okay. I think John McCain will win 49 to 48 with 3 percent going to other candidates. My margin of error is 4 percent. So, if McCain wins 53 to 44, I’m right. If Obama wins 52 to 45, I’m right. Check back with me on Wednesday.

Also, pollsters often claim to have missed the mark due to a major last minute change of heart by the voters. Now … ask yourself: How many people do you know who change their mind the last weekend before an election? I have been involved in elections for more than 40 years, and I find very few undecideds in the last month. Rather than say their last poll was WRONG, pollsters invent this fake phenomenon of last minute voter switches.

You see, pollsters always claim their polls are right at the time they are taken. They can do this because they are comparing them to an unknown – the REAL sentiment of the electorate.

Another trick is the “undecides.” Now place close attention. After the election, the pollsters will say that most of the “undecideds” broke for McCain. They almost always break for the Republican. You know why? Because the polls are almost always erroneously biased in favor of the Democrats. So to explain the wrong prediction, the pollsters say that the “undecideds” all went to the GOP. Again, based on my experience, there are very few “undecideds” at this stage. Those who say they are, are lying. They may tell the pollster they are undecided, but they know damn well who they are voting for. Hmmm. Maybe more Bradley Effect.

To more fully appreciate the uselessness of voting surveys, take a look at the exit polls. There are no undecideds in exit polls. If there is any validity to the “science” of polling, then these should be spot-on predictors. But noooooo! Based on exit polls, the media gave the 2004 election to Democrat John Kerry in their rush-to-judgment early reports. When the votes were counted, George Bush won by a wide margin. Even in exit polls, the science is flawed and the public fibs. I mean … if you decided to lie about who you are going to vote for, why would you ‘fess up who you did vote for?

(Die hard liberals like to say that the 2004 election was stolen, but there is no evidence that GOP shenanigans tipped the scale – and of course, they overlook the counterbalancing Democrat shenanigans. Yeah folks, the Dems are gold medalists when it comes to stealing votes. I come from Chicago, the Harvard of vote fraud.)

Now that we know opinion polls are nothing more than semi-educated manipulated guesses, let’s take a look at this year’s offerings. Since even a good guess requires reliance on past experience, we can conclude that the polls will be based on more b-s this year than usual.

There is no history to draw upon. We have never had a black candidate, a woman candidate, the oldest candidate. Never before has one candidate had such enormous financial resources. The economy has tanked. Though biased, the media has never been so determined to influence the outcome. Can they? These issues cut in all directions.

At this moment, the pollsters mostly give the election to Barack Obama. This has led liberal Democrat pundits and partisans to express optimism to the point of anticipating a blowout or landslide. Methinks this is not sound thinking.

There are some things that may not have changed in this historic year. Polls are almost always wrong, and the GOP almost always does better with the voters than the pollsters. Since polling bias is driven by media bias (the pollsters’ clients), and since the media bias is particularly acute this year, the polls maybe be much to generous to Obama than even past Democrat candidates.. If this is still the case, then this election is very close indeed. It is also true that black candidates poll better than their final vote totals – that old Bradley Effect. Will this again be the case?

The great assumption in this election is that a huge turn out the voters clamoring for Obama’s promise of change. The campaign and its supporters have so idolized the candidate, that they project their rabid enthusiasm on the general public. They also site some early election exit polling as evidence of this trend – not appreciating that those lying to the pollsters last week will lie on their way out of the polling booth.

I expect there to be a Bradley Effect in this election, and it may become quite significant. I say this because the media has so glamorized Obama, and demonized John McCain, that a lot of people don’t want to wear their vote on their sleeve. Right or wrong, people worry about there cars being vandalized or windows broken for supporting such a seemingly unpopular candidate as McCain.

Hey! I’m one of them. I usually put on a bumper sticker and display a window sign for my candidate, but this year I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Keep in mind, I live in Illinois. If a pollster calls me, I will say I am voting for Obama just because I think undermining the pollsters is a patriotic duty. Now I figure, if I am doing that, there are probably a lot more like me out there. Conversely, there is little reason or evidence to suggest that Obama voters are lying to pollsters.

I recently attended a Chicago Democrat fundraiser. Sure … the speakers spoke well of Obama, but the more intimate chat around the room revealed a surprising number of white Democrats – even some office holders – who were not voting for their “favorite son.” You can bet this folks would be lying to pollsters for sure.

So … what does all this mean? For me, it means that the polls are untrustworthy in general, and more so this year. It is impossible to know who is winning this race at this moment … and I would not completely rule out a McCain/Palin victory. The theory right now is that McCain needs to win all the so-called “battleground states.” But, what if one or two of those perceived solid blue states, like Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Mexico, etc., comes in red? Remember, they are only solid blue becasue the pollsters say so.

Always remember what it is called when a pollster is right. Luck.