After a few weeks spent tracking down and questioning pollsters and the reporters of polls, I can assure the reader that pollsters are the modern-day alchemists. They promise to turn numbers into predictive gold. We'd all like to believe these magical powers exist, but we shouldn't. The pollsters of 2012 just don't know who is going to win in November any more than did the pollsters of 1980 know that Ronald Reagan was headed towards a landslide in that late-breaking year.
Pollsters are businessmen who must sell their product to survive. There are fundamentally two types of political polls. One is as valid as possible in order to allow the candidate to a) focus on the most productive issues and b) direct resources to those states where the electoral college "bang for the buck" is greatest. These polls must be as accurate as possible. Rarely are the results of these publicized, partially because the data they has utility to the opposition as well. The second type of poll is for public consumption. It is designed to rally the faithful (or discourage the opposition). These polls are the least credible as they are not in the service of objective truth but are to advance the objectives of the sponsor.
- Quotes of the day Allahpundit 6 hours ago
- Hensarling: It’s time to end the Ex-Im Bank Ed Morrissey 8 hours ago
- Got room for one more crisis? In Pakistan, protesters threaten government’s stability Noah Rothman 10 hours ago
- Engel: Military officials “apoplectic” over Obama’s “no-strategy” comment Ed Morrissey 12 hours ago
- The Democratic revolt continues: Key senator calls for Obama to arm Ukraine Noah Rothman 14 hours ago
- Nearly two years after Benghazi, American embassy in Libya’s capital falls to Islamists Noah Rothman 16 hours ago