Exit polls are the most common type of political polling. These surveys measure public opinion by interviewing many respondents about their reaction to a specific candidate or idea. The results are often relied on by media outlets to predict the outcome of an election. In-depth polls are more comprehensive and can provide the best picture of a political race.
Straw Polls Provide a Portrait of a Political Race
Straw polls are impromptu votes conducted by people not involved in a political race. These votes do not count toward a final tally, but they provide a snapshot of the political race before election day. They are often used to gauge support for an issue or an idea. They are also used to identify different sides of a controversy.
While straw polls portray a race, they are not scientific and often over-hyped by political reporters. This can give unwarranted boosts to fringe candidates while prematurely eliminating severe candidates. However, it is essential to remember that straw polls are an indicator of the general tone of a political race and thus provide a snapshot of how the party’s core activists feel about a candidate. In a presidential race, straw poll results can predict the primary process’s next steps.
IBD/TIPP Polls are Biased
The Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP tracking poll shows that Trump and Clinton are at about even in the race for the White House. The poll puts Clinton at 41 percent and Trump at 40 percent. The poll shows that the margin of error is about five or six points. This gap is systematic.
This poll is based on a national survey of 939 adults. Live interviewers conduct the survey. Landline and cell phone numbers were used. The results show that there is the majority of Americans are optimistic about the economy. The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index, a leading national consumer confidence indicator, rose 2.8 percent to 58.0 in August from 56.4 in July.
The IBD/TIPP poll found that 62% of Americans believe the U.S. is currently in a recession. This is a tripartisan majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Only 18 percent do not think so in a recession. The remaining 20 percent are “unsure” whether the U.S. economy is in recession. The findings are consistent with other polls. However, the current recession is unique because the U.S. and many other countries deliberately locked down their economies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in a deep recession.
Straw Polls Should Use a Statistical Adjustment
To ensure that political polls are as representative as possible, in-depth political polling should use statistical adjustment. These adjustments are based on the sample size of each survey. For example, if the sample size for a single poll is only one hundred respondents, then the margin of error will be more significant than it is for a different sample size. Another type of statistical adjustment is the use of a weighting scheme. This method uses sample sizes that are weighted by various variables.
Statistical adjustments help to correct the effect of the sampling distribution. For instance, the Telegram Messenger poll of 1824 indicated that Andrew Jackson was ahead of John Quincy Adams. However, Jackson ended up winning the popular vote. This is because the pollsters used the results from previous elections to weigh the results of the new surveys. However, the 2008 election was a very different event from other elections. Therefore, the model used to consider the results of the recent poll was inaccurate.
Gallup’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom had a historic moment in 1945 when it predicted Labour’s victory in the general election. At the time, most commentators thought the Conservative Party would win. The Allied occupation powers had encouraged survey institutes in the Western occupation zones of Germany to guide the nation toward de-Nazification. By the 1950s, various types of polling had spread throughout most democracies.
The 1945 general election returned a Labour government with a majority. A Gallup poll released two years before the election showed Labour leading the Conservatives by around eight percent. Most commentators and politicians expected the Conservatives to win a second term under Churchill. However, the result of the 1945 general election showed a dramatic swing of 12% to Labour. The post-war war had radicalized the British public, and post-war politics reflected these changes.
Ugly Polls are Legitimate
There is an inherent difference between good polls and ugly polls. The former is often sloppy and has gonzo questions, while the latter is serious and professional. It is easier to spot good polls by their design and question format.
Legitimate polls will provide the questions, the number of participants, and the sampling error. They also offer a news report based on the poll results. However, you should avoid relying solely on polls.