Saturday, September 20, 2008

I disagree

A somewhat convoluted editorial in today's Daily Press, which covers the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, argues that the emergence of cell phone only households has made polling so undependable that we should all just go out of business.

Their idealistic (naive would be a better way of describing it) solution is that then the only way politicians would have to find out what their constituents really think about things is to:
"Hold lots of "town hall" sessions in which candidates don't just deliver a stump speech — they listen. And not just to landline subscribers."
That's a pretty good way to ensure that the only opinions elected officials would ever hear would come from the squeakiest wheels of society, probably representing about 1% of the population, and more often than not representing extreme views on both sides of the spectrum. There aren't a lot of moderates who would rather go mouth off at a town hall meeting than spend time with their family or watch tv at night.

Certainly polling is not perfect and we face challenges as the way Americans communicate change, but it's a much more representative way of gaging public opinion than listening only to the voices of those who show up.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on - I go to plenty of these meetings at local level and except for a few of us, it tends to be people who are retired, homemakers, and crotchedy! Fine, but they hardly represent the populace. Pollsters try to do good work and usually do. The media does tend to distort the polls, but that is not the pollsters' problem.

Andrew Perrin said...

Tom, a technical question: don't you work from the listed phone numbers of registered voters anyway? If so, why would CPO households matter, since you'd be calling each voter's preferred number? I would think CPO would only be a problem when cold-calling, e.g., with RDD and similar.

 
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