Most political polls this election season are untrustworthy. How can you take any of them seriously -- when we've seen such dramatic swings once the votes are counted? Take this week's primaries. According to CNN.com, here's where the race stands:
A "poll of polls" calculated by CNN indicates competitive races in both states. The Texas poll of polls of likely primary voters has Obama with a slight lead over Clinton -- 47 percent to her 45 percent, while 8 percent said they were undecided.
In Ohio, the poll of polls showed Clinton at 48 percent, Obama at 43 percent and 9 percent undecided.
"Poll of Polls ..." an interesting concept, until you read the fine print ...
The Texas poll of polls averages five surveys conducted February 26 - March 1: American Research Group, Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle/Zogby, MSNBC/McClatchy/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram/Mason-Dixon, Fox News/Opinion Dynamics and Belo/Public Strategies.
The Ohio poll of polls averages four surveys, also conducted February 26 - March 1: American Research Group, Reuters/CSPAN/Houston Chronicle/Zogby, Cleveland Plain Dealer/Mason-Dixon and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics.
The problem being, some of the polls included are known to be complete and utter crap. American Research Group polls are notoriously misleading as are Zogby. You might as well invent your own numbers!
And then there is this analysis of past polls from primaries in comparison to the actual turn out from a blogger over at the dailykos.com:
State Clinton Clinton Obama Obama
(# polls) Avg Actual Avg Actual
SC(20) 27% 0 41% +14
AL (7) 45% -3 44% +12
CA (8) 46% +6 40% + 3
GA(10) 34% -3 50% +16
MO (6) 45% +3 44% + 5
NJ(12) 47% +7 40% + 4
NY (6) 53% +4 36% + 4
TN (6) 52% +2 33% + 8
MD (6) 34% +3 53% + 7
VA (7) 37% -2 55% + 9
WI (8) 43% -2 47% +11
Clinton performance vs average of polls= +1.36
Obama performance vs average of polls= +8.45
The real issue is not the fact that these polling companies are making millions based on surveys that have no real merit. The problem is the fact that people listen to them and begin to buy into whatever the poll "is telling them." Polls were meant to be tools for political campaigns to determine where they were in an election -- now they can be used as opinion leaders and end up giving voters the easy way out. Voting on the perception that your candidate is a "winner" rather than whether or not a candidate actually represents your ideological interests is not the best way to select a leaders of the free world. But most American voters love taking the easy way out.