Tired of the corporate-run media spinning the 2020 election narratives based on their precious polling, I wanted to see how said precious polling is done. As you will see most of us either choose not to participate or aren’t asked to participate. Unsurprisingly, most of those not chosen to participate are young, poor, and people of color. So, political polling isn’t nearly as useful as the corporations want us to believe.
The next time you see a poll, try and figure out the following:
- Was the poll done over the phone? Most of them are conducted over the phone.
What percentage of respondents were cell phone users?
What was the response rate?
With most polls I have looked at, getting answers to the above questions ranges from difficult to impossible. The reason for that is simple: they don’t want us thinking about inaccurate their polling is when they want us to rely on it.
The most important question deals with the number of respondents. Pew, maybe the most well-known survey company, released a report saying its phone responses were down to nine percent. In the mid ’90s, their response rate was nearly 40 percent. This means that far fewer people respond to Pew’s phone polls than did 20 years ago.
In most instances, getting a response rate from pollsters is impossible; in fact, I haven’t found a poll tonight that clearly shared the response rate.
Pollsters argue that the response rate doesn’t matter. As long as they wind up with the number of responses and a degree of geographic difference, their poll is statistically valid. I strongly disagree.
When 91 percent of the public refuses to participate, you have to ask what are the psychological traits shared by the small number who participate? My guess is that telephone polls disproportionately consist of people who are older, lonelier, and less busy than is the population as a whole. I say that because most of us don’t answer because we can’t be bothered. We don’t want to waste time on the phone with someone we don’t know. If the call comes to our cell, we know the number isn’t in our contacts. So, we realize it’s not someone we know and it could be bad news.
The number of survey participants who used a cell phone is absolutely critical. If most of the respondents use landlines, the poll is most likely demographically skewed This is because younger people, people with less income, and people of color are more likely to only have a cell phone. If a poll relies on landline responses, its respondents are likely to be older, wealthier, and whiter than the population. In that case, the poll is very likely to have a conservative bias.
The bottomline is that telephone polling is irrelevant because the vast majority of us choose not to participate or the systems pollsters use have the same tired biases and exclude the same groups of people the establishment always excludes.