Matt Towery

I didn't set out in life to be the CEO of a company that conducts public opinion polls. Heck, I stunk at math back in school. And polls are all about numbers.

I was trained to be a lawyer. Then I practiced law and spent years as a political strategist. I ran campaigns, served as an elected legislator and then ended this particular career as the head of a political organization that belonged to the speaker of the U.S. House.

Next -- and the story is too long to tell -- I found myself in the world of polling. It turns out that many who gain a name in polling start out the same way, almost by chance.

I've always prided myself on conducting polls fairly and squarely. Oddly, this exaggerated sense of objectivity caused me to fail to see how earth-moving the about-to-be Republican electoral avalanche across the nation was going to be.

While speaking in forums and on talk shows during the winter and even spring, I listened to other proclaimed Washington experts say the GOP might take majority control of the House. I'll freely admit I was more reserved in my own judgment. Once I even publicly predicted it would be "close but no cigar" for the Republicans. Now it looks like the cigar may be the exploding kind before it's over, lighting up the American political landscape.

Many pollsters will have it that polling is solely a science. Not so. It's just as much an art. The best of these "artists" know that most important of all in polling may be trying to figure out how many people at a given time and in a given place identify with which political party.

Some polling operations try to pull the wool over our eyes by over-representing -- or "over-weighting" -- those polling respondents in a given survey who share the pollster's partisan affiliation. (Some pollsters do this purposely. Others probably do it unconsciously.)

With this in mind, I've been quite cautious this election season not to overestimate the intensity of Republican voter turnout, or underestimate that of Democrats.

But survey after survey in 2010 has shown that GOP voters are far more enthused about going to the polls than are Democrats. That's a big reason why it's expected that the Republicans on Nov. 2 will likely win back control of the House, and possibly even the Senate.

In 2008, it was the reverse. The Democrats benefited by a rush to the polls especially by African Americans and Latinos, but also by independent voters who were persuaded that the Democrats were offering "change we can believe in."

But in the two years since then, America has seen the national debt soar past our ability even to conceive of such astronomical numbers. Unemployment has grown worse, not better.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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