In this age of instant gratification, political polling serves as the trailer for a movie no one wants to see. Gratification is not instantaneous when it’s provided ahead of time.
Does a wish to know the future mean being unwilling to accept that future when it arrives? Does a reliance on polling to tell us what will happen mean that what does happen, didn’t?
Think about the utter hysteria caused in some by Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016.
Wouldn’t the American public have been better served to cast their votes and await an outcome rather than be assured she would win by her party and a partisan press?
Democrats, liberals and some in the media were so certain of her victory that they refused to accept Clinton’s loss. As a result, they’ve thrown the biggest tantrum in U.S. political history.
In any sporting event. sometimes the underdog wins. “The Miracle on Ice” in 1980, Leon Spinks defeating Muhammad Ali and the NY Giants victory over the Patriots in 2008 are good examples. The Patriots went into those playoffs a perfect 16-0 and were installed as favorites to win the Super Bowl by nearly three touchdowns.
The Patriots don’t have a seventh Lombardi Trophy, nor is Hillary Clinton’s name on the White House mailbox. In both cases actual victories were necessary, victories that couldn’t be guaranteed before the contest.
When doubt exists about an outcome, what good comes from predicting the victor?
In sports, the gain for a correct prediction comes from the profit won in placing a winning wager. In politics, no profit exists in prognostication.
Instead of seeing into the future, it seems political polling is intended to affect it.
Inside a political campaign, polling can offer voter insight on the candidate’s image, likability and how the public views their positions on the issues. If a candidate requests a poll to help decide their likelihood of success, let them go ahead.
It’s an entirely different thing when the press finances and/or breathlessly reports the results of any poll with the intention of influencing the outcome. Academic- and press-funded polling seeks to cause a national fever, not take the voters’ temperature.
For example, a Fox News poll from Oct. 8 shows Joe Biden with a 10-point lead over Trump. This poll reveals the inherent flaws in modern polling. It oversamples Democrats and ignores data that rejects the poll’s conclusion.
In the poll, respondents were asked whether a president should appoint a Supreme Court justice in an election year. By a 54% to 44% margin respondents said “no.” This is the reverse of results to the same question in 2016. If the results are the exact opposite of four years ago, it suggests the same people are being polled, and that they are Democrats.
More telling are responses to a question that undermines the notion of a theoretical Biden lead.
When asked who they thought their neighbors were voting for, Trump comes out on top by 11 percentage points, 49% to 38%. This data demonstrates a trend strongly in favor of Trump, and thus calls into question the validity of the poll’s conclusion.
The 2016 presidential election demonstrated that polling means nothing. No greater proof of this exists than in the person of President Donald J. Trump.
What polls don’t tell us is that they are guesses reported as fact.
Ignore polls seeking to tell you who will win on election day, and instead trade it for a day of voting at the polls to decide who actually wins.
Steve Piccirillo is a longtime resident of the Wenatchee Valley.