Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Yes, I know that many folks dont pay attention to polls, but here's one that matters.


This is one I keep tuning in to, and comparing month after month. This poll is really gonna matter come November.

Just a few notes when looking at this poll.

First off, this is a battleground state poll. A battleground state is a state where based on history, the race will be very close, and a lot of electoral votes will be up for grabs. In other words, Wyoming has only 3 electoral votes and is predominantly Republican - not a battleground. California has 54 electoral votes but is not competitive - not a battleground. Florida - as we all found out last year - has 25 electoral votes (a lot) and is always on the edge - could go both ways.

One more thing about the electoral college. The reason this gets so panicky is because most states have an "all or nothing" electoral vote system. This means that even if a candidate wins by only one vote over his opponent, he/she will recieve ALL the electoral votes in that state. This also means that just because one candidate is doing better in the national polls, he may lose in a battlground poll, and mathematically, may lose the election - see Al Gore.

A few things about polling in general:

A.) I only trust a "scientific poll". That is, the polling data is collected either on a random basis, or based on demographic composites. Most polls like these turn out to be very accurate, and predictive. Gallup is by far the most accurate - if you compare past gallup polls with election results, it turns out to be extremely accurate.

B.) Every poll is just a photograph - a snap-shot. Polls are only accurate for the moment they are given. People change. Events change. Demographics change. Therefore, even over a few days or hours, polling numbers can change too. Just because you see a poll that gives the war in Iraq a 75% approval rating, does not mean things will stay that way. Just because you see a poll that gives W a 90% approval rating, does not mean that people wont change their minds.

C.) Polls are only important because in a democratic republic, the voice of the people (every once in a while) is important. Remember, that just because you disagree with the majority does not mean your wrong, out-of-step, or that your opinion is not valuable. On many occasions, "the word gets out", and people change their minds. In America, our laws protect EVERYONE - not just the majority, the popular, the 75% that support a war, or the 90% that support a president. Germany did not have these laws, and we all know what happened.

The main reason I love checking-in is because I like to see how (and if) certain forms of communication - media sources - affect people's minds. With talk-radio dominated by one point of view, their "words" still dont have a huge affect: books, documentaries, and online sources compete for attention too.

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