Days of Change

Is a Trump Upset a Good Thing? | October 16, 2016

After the Perot bubble from 1992-1996, presidential polls have been maddeningly close. In 2000, people thought there may be an Electoral College crisis, but one where Bush would get the majority vote and Gore would take the Electoral College. 2016 is not so much close, but a victim of the margin of error.

A wired “landline” phone is demographically skewed toward the elderly or middle aged people set in their ways. Cell phone users don’t want to get polling calls when they are about their business. Internet polls tend to bring out people with a vested interest. The LA Times has tried something different, using a large cohort of people and sub-sampling them on a regular basis. Those polls are pretty favorable to Donald Trump.

The polls people hate the most are the ones that counter their own interests. There’s also a psychological aspect to polling where the observer effect influences the outcome of an election. Predictions of Gore winning before most states closed their polls may have reduced Bush’s overall vote and made him the popular vote loser. The Clinton campaign has made full use of data mining, defining each American adult to a score of how easy it is to get them to press the button for Hillary.

I’m all for a set of randomness in the electoral process. If Donald Trump wins, that’s not what will happen. Remember, in 2008, big data was inaccurate at best. A lot of the Obama campaign was selling Barack Obama as an idea. He was the guy who would bring both sides together. He was cool and calm and didn’t inflame passions, except for those who wanted to vote for him. The media created that narrative because McCain was more qualified and an outsider was the best sales job available.

In the case of Trump, the metrics that defined him were buzz, Twitter mentions and free air time. If that becomes the new model, loudmouths will be the standard bearers of democracy. Donald can run with the likes of Hoard Stern (who briefly ran for governor of New York) or the late Morton Downey Jr.All in all, I’d rather have the polls.

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    2016 Polls

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