Litkicks Message Board Archive

Polls are dangerous

Posted to Poetry and Politics

From the website:

Results are based on telephone interviews with -- 602 -- national adults, aged 18+, conducted March 20, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

Phone polls are dangerous, especially when conducted in a single night, as the article states. It depends on the time of night, how they get their numbers, etc... Pollsters don't pick up a phone book and start dialling, necessarily. Some buy their telephone lists. So if a list salesman sells Gallup a list of, say, 50,000 names, the pollster can't determine whether they have a true random sample without knowing where the phone numbers came from. They might be a collection of customers of 'Ye Olde Gun Shoppe National Chain' and 'Young Conservatives of America'. Who the hell knows? So these things should never be treated as fact.....the info is only as good as the methodology, and a true quantitative analyst would likely call these results inaccurate.

Noentheless, scientific methodology aside, I think the numbers are more or less accurate, although maybe a bit high. Just personal opinion.