Monday, February 1, 2016

Sick of the Polls

The so called 'news' on TV these days, with all the debates and poll results are so tiresome.  No one talks about the statistical validity of their polls.  The average person who makes political decisions based on what they see on TV likely would neither listen nor comprehend how polls are conducted.  What is the universe of the data?  What demographic was polled?  How large was the sample?  What is the margin of error?  Is the result cumulative, the mean, the mode, or the median?

To get current worldly news, you must go to an alternative source like the BBC, or other international sources

I realize that this appears to be erudite ranting, but I don't have the confidence that people who go to the election polls really understand the process.  A couple of points to keep in mind when you go to vote:

  • In the primaries, you might think you are voting for the candidate, when in reality you are voting for the delegate that will vote for the candidate at the parties convention.
  • At the convention, many delegates are committed to their candidate only on the first ballot, or for a limited number of ballots.  Then they can change their vote to support someone who you might have opposed in the primaries. Or the delegates can place the name of a 'favorite son' from their state who didn't even participate in the primaries. The party conventions are a Political carnival.  And understand that not only the Democrats and Republican are convening, so are the Green party, The Libertarians, and other obscure political interests.  And their names might well be on the ballot come November
  • Even after the party's nominee is chosen at the convention and runs in the general election in November, the ultimate choice of a President is in the hands of the Electoral College.  So it is possible for a candidate to get a majority of the popular vote and still lose the election.
I'm no expert.  Your neighborhood Political Science professor can explain the process much better than I am able.  All I am saying is, 'Do your homework, Americans'  Understand and participate in the process.  Go to the polls and vote according to your values and not based on what you hear in the media.   You can make a difference.