Before I go to a movie, I’ll take a look at the movie reviews. I want to know what it’s about (of course), who’s in it, who directed it, whether it’s good and worth my time. I trust the judgement of some reviewers more than others, and I don’t always agree with them in the end. Thing is, these days I’ve stopped reading any movie reviews very closely, beyond grabbing a few key facts; I want to experience the story uncorrupted by someone else’s perspective so I can make up my own mind. I also want the thrill of unexpected twists and turns.
Political polls are not movie reviews. They don’t depend on the view of one person. They attempt to assess a variety of people—who they are, what they are thinking and feeling, and whether their thoughts and feelings are likely to translate into them actually getting out and casting a ballot. Some polls are better than others.
We all know what happened in 2016: The polls strongly favored Hillary Clinton. They underestimated white Trump voters who did not go to college. Most failed to factor in late-deciding voters in critical swing states and undercounted how many people would show up. And they likely discouraged some people from voting altogether, convinced that their individual vote wasn’t necessary. Why vote if my candidate is a lock? In every election, I suspect, there is some significant percentage of eligible voters who don’t vote because they think they already know how the story will turn out…as if they already read the whole movie review before even going to the theater.
The polls for the midterms on Tuesday show quite a few razor-thin races. In these instances, you can probably find a poll that supports your candidate and one that shows voters tilting toward their opponent. The uncertainty is maddening. Just thinking about it is enough to make your blood pressure go sky high. After all, the results could determine the survival of democracy itself. (No biggie.)
So here’s the question: Do you rely on the polls? Do they influence your decision about who to vote for or whether to vote at all? Do you rely on them to calm your nerves when you can find a poll showing that your candidate is in the lead? Have you stopped looking at the polls because they’re too stressful? Or perhaps you no longer trust that they know how the story is going to end?
I look forward to learning your thoughts—and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other. As always, I ask you to be respectful of each other.
*Photo Credit: Malerapaso via Getty Images
Polls are only as accurate as the neutrality of the poll takers, the group polled, the size of the group, among other variables. I'm sure we're not the only ones who never answer the phone anymore unless we recognise the number, thanks telemarketers, consequently we've never been polled. I don't trust the majority of polls in the least in these polarized times and even if I did, I'm not looking to a poll to help me make a choice, thats a job for my brain, after paying attention to politics all along, researching and vetting unfamiliar candidates using critical thinking instead of emotional response. I have to say, at this point it's not one party or the other, it's preservation of democracy vs fascist authoritarianism - a very easy choice for me, no poll needed.
I have heard more than one report of right-wing pollsters trying to make the case that a red wave is coming, thereby laying the groundwork for another "election was stolen" cry. Personally, I believe the democrats are going to prevail, despite a few really thin margins. The republicans promise to end social security, medicare, and support the end of abortion rights seem so out of step with what Americans need and want that I can't believe voters won't make that clear. There will be fights ahead, but the voters' choices will be clear. Prove me right and vote!
I stopped looking since 2016 because they can be so wrong as well as stressful......just make it a point to early vote and encourage those around me to do the same and then on election night I pray democracy survived another "silly" season because the majority saw though the unethical maneuvers and lies.
No I don’t like polls. I know how I will vote and I really don’t care what the talking heads think about anything
I take them with a huge grain of salt. I trust Tom Bonier and Simon Rosenberg's opinions/data/decades of experience and don't pay attention to any other takes on polls. The polls do NOT influence me at all (though of course one can't help but be happy if they favor one's own choices): I vote no matter what & I am clear how I want to vote. It's rightwing fascism or democracy, so the choice is very clear. BTW, Rosenberg addresses the myth (so far) of the "red wave". But no one really knows how this will go. It's quite the knife's edge. However, I am actually feeling hopeful, logical or not. Already voted. When I walked out of the local community center where I voted, I got tears in my eyes, and said a little prayer: let this NOT be the last time I can exercise this precious right to vote.
No. Just as you would review a movie, I rely on staying up-ro-date on current events. What the politicians are doing compared to what they are saying. Paying attention to opposition media sources and the propaganda they spew out. When the GOP informs me that they are going to continue to eliminare more of my rights, I believe tham. They have proven the character of the Supreme Court.
“Any appeasement of tyranny is treason to this republic and to the democratic ideal.”
— William Allen White
I voted Blue in my Blue state. I gave some small amount of money to candidates across the country. The polls terrify me. Now is my weekend to put my head in the sand, cross my fingers, implore God and / or the universe for sanity and Democracy to prevail. I hope to wake up on Wednesday with proof this nightmare is waning.
I haven’t been watching the polls since I haven’t been watching the news (2 scary). Except for you Mr Beschloss - the glorious exception /wink
Polls are like statistics. You can make them come out anyway you want depending on what questions are asked ,how they are asked & who is asked.My congressman, Vern. Buchanan emails a political one sided question .. You know he is followed by Republicans,.so you know their % of agreement will be higher.
A poll on Roe v Wade will show different conclusions if young women and older women are asked.
I read, think, inquire & make up my own mind. No matter if cats are favored, I prefer dogs.
This time around, I believe there are very few who question a preference in political races. Poll conclusions are just another email to delete.
Polls can be useful in helping craft election messaging but should never be used as a substitute for voting. The link below illustrates why not. I will always remember it.
I think polls discourage voting. I think they're malign. I have, however, no solution for the problem that does not restrict people's freedom of speech and activity unreasonably. I'm guessing people who spend their working lives thinking about these issues may have thought of ways to deal with this. But I've got nothing.
I rely on very specific polls, Steven. Harry Enten at CNN and the folks at FiveThirtyEight, but I read even their prognostications with a jaundiced eye. I don’t trust any other polls.
I do not rely on the polls. I am a veteran activist and know who I am voting for well before polls. They do, however, create angst if they are against my candidates...but never do they create peace of mind. I will work just as hard regardless.
I will no longer trust the polls. The only poll that matters is the final count after the election. I will definitely vote.
Polls may perhaps make me hopeful or virtually suicidal, but they don't change how I vote. This year I have absolutely no hope of anything but a monstrous wave of red, but I voted early and straight blue across the ticket. Now I am doing research on how to live under Christofascist rule, because I believe that's where we are going to be for the foreseeable future. I hope I'm wrong -- but I don't think I am.
I don't rely on polls, because they can be made to say whatever who's paying for them wants them to say. The only poll that matter is the one on Election Day, so VOTE, DAMNIT!
No. From what I've seen we all need to discount the polls and the very predictable options of the television pundits especially. We got this thing!
And like "DEWEY WINS"
Don't trust polls but I do glance at them.
Polls have become unreliable and pollsters can’t seem to adjust their methods to the new realities of populations that are mobile and diverse. And with a “news” media that seems more interested in titillation and conflict than reportage, it is hard to discern what is real.
Principle and informed voting, not polling numbers, are my basis for voting. Always. What I do find especially problematic is that both parties literally weaken the honesty and effectiveness of their messaging because it is driven by public and internal polling. We end up with the political Frankenstein monster that we have had since Gallup first emerged as a force, but which is worse now because partisan emotionalism has eclipsed genuine policy and governing discussion to such a degree. Democrats are guilty of too much message juggling (rather than persistently selling their principles); Republicans are simply off the rails because they are now the MAGA Republican Party, which under Trump is deeply fascist. You are an historian, and I can see that you understand this very well. I regularly reference the Enabling Act vote by the German Reichstag in 1933. That is exactly where today's MAGA Republicans would have us go. Sorry for my rather lengthy response!
I haven't purposely looked at any poll. I've voted, reminded others to vote, contributed to numerous campaigns, sent letters and postcards to voters. I will say, I have never been asked to participate in a poll.
I will never again "take my eye off the ball" by which I mean, I inform myself, and I vote, regardless of what the polls say.
I guess over the years, being a news junkie, and especially a domestic politics news junkie, I have come to feed on the polls that tv and newspapers provide me, especially when it is not a poll of 1 organization, but a poll of polls of several respected organizations. Trying to think back to my college and grad school statistic classes, I remember to factor in what differences between 2 candidates are statistically significant and how large the sample size was. Then I start thinking: how do the pollsters randomly find the people in this poll because I have never been polled in my 51 years of voting. OK, I must admit that I don't answer calls that don't say from whom the call is coming. Yes, that caller id feature is useful in helping me avoid SPAM calls, such as the ones who want to sell me anything and everything, such as landscaping or roofing services which are irrelevant to me because I live in a condo community. or promising me that I will win millions if I enter their contest. Were some of those calls I didn't answer, and which didn't leave a message on my answering machine, possibly polling? If they had just left their numbers, and a brief message saying they were poling, I would have called back and given my opinion, and then some. And when my blood pressure starts to spike, like just now when I saw a news report on tv with 45 at his rally last night saying he ran twice and won twice and very very very soon he just might have to run again and the cult started chewing behind him, at those moments I try to say maybe the polls are wrong. And now there's that Kari Lake person in AZ from her latest rally making me shake. At these moments I try to tell myself maybe the polls are wrong. However, they always say that not just individual polls, but trends that matter. Not only do the polls look badly now; but the trend of the polls, going in the wrong direction (per my wishes for the safety of democracy), just ended my sleep on this night/morning where we are supposed to get 1 extra hour of sleep. And now they are reporting about problems in mailing out ballots inn PA and GA. This is just more food for the election deniers to use after election day. Something they will use for claiming that the voting was rigged. And actually, why are these absentee ballot problems happening. They could hurt the candidates I support as well. I see that I have veered away from your topic of polling., So, sorry, but your provide this great forum, and your provide a topic for discussion; and I end up using it for all election related topics for which I feel the need to vent. Thank you for being my political news support group.
I pay no attention to political polls. I consider them to be junk science.
Not on the surface headline. Until you check out the cross tabs, who and how many were polled etc. do you stand a chance of assessing the accuracy of the poll.
I do not vote based on any polls. I am poll-skeptical. I feel each poll report should include the number of people polled, the date, and the geographic area. It would often be helpful to see the way questions are worded as well!! Ironically, as a registered active voter for 48 years, who has volunteered on campaigns, and at the polls off an on for years, I have never once been contacted for a political poll.
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings!
Polls do not influence my decision in the least. I don't trust the polls - the reporting entity seems to choose poll results that match their stance; margin of error is usually the difference between candidates so there doesn't seem to be value in that only what we already know - this country is divided. I am hopeful for my candidates success because that's all I have but I am very concerned for negative outcomes and the path we are on.
Nate Silver had me convinced in 2016 that Hillary would win. I have refused to look at another poll or read another pollster since then.
This is a good topic to consider, Steven. While Polls provide statistics from a selective or limited group of people, it is not gospel. Like many others in this conversation, I have never been included in a political Poll. When Media outlets obsess about numbers, highlight the crucial swing States and predict a Red wave, I find it off-putting. I hope that people who possess reason and integrity, and believe in democracy and the best future for America, will vote for candidates who represent their values. How ludicrous is it that the twice-impeached Donald Trump, who is facing multiple criminal investigations, believes he can run for the Office of President again? That prospect should inspire Democrats to turning out and vote, en mass!
I've grown increasingly frustrated by the polls. Results seesaw daily, it seems, and the media spends way too much time parsing each one. We can't really know which ones are reliable and which aren't. Polls absolutely do not influence my vote. I think we ought to adopt a variation of the French system: elections take place on Sundays, and campaigning ends the Friday before. No polls can be published on election day, and the media goes dark in terms of predictions. Given the colossal failure of polling accuracy in 2016, 2018 and 2020, I believe polls are no longer relevant.
Polls are increasingly a joke. It's much like all other political discourse, often spread by our enemies (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Qanon) and conspiracy creators. What did the polls say about the vote on abortion in Kansas. I doubt if any of them saw a 60/40 win supporting abortion.
The polls are driving me crazy.
With so much on the line the indecipherable trends, the see-saw results, the contradictions between so many of them I've simply stopped paying attention to them for my own sanity.
Overall, the general consensus is that Republicans are going to gain in these mid-terms. The bounce Democrats enjoyed just a month ago seems to have evaporated. As we near the actual day of voting it looks like attitudes and decisions have gelled. Still, ambiguity abounds. So, I stop at the headlines and don't read further.
Early reports of record-breaking early voting are encouraging. For me this means that there are sizable portions of our eligible voters paying attention. I just hope they're paying attention to the threat Republicans pose to our democracy and not paying as much attention to inflation and high gas prices.
I'm waiting for the actual vote count now. I'm hoping for the best. Not sure what I'll be able to do should the outcome be the worst.
I don't rely on polls. I take them with a grain of salt. Different people or groups fund polls & that can skew the results.
I have never skipped an election. I care not what the pills say. Just like a suspenseful movie or a field goal as time runs out, a brilliant catch that dashes a home run rally in the 9th inning, or even coming back from 16 down at halftime to win a National championship. It’s always possible if we but do what we do best. One person one vote can change any outcome if we each do our part. I don’t listen to the polls. I believe that all the negative mud slinging deception doesn’t help when people are uninformed about the candidate. A lot of people will say what they think you want to hear, but in the privacy of the voting booth we each hold the fate of democracy in our hand as the clock runs down. I’ve always tried to vote for that person who seems most sincere, and goes not make threats or issue empty promises.
I no longer trust polls. For that matter I’m not sure who our trusted source is. I am a former Republican and now an Independent leaning Democrat. My sincerest hope is that we are not held captive by the far right insanity currently infecting us and can preserve our Democratic Republic. It is now up to the constituents of each state to vote with a clear view of what constitutes patriotism.
Don’t look at them don’t read them just vote for who ever is the best person for the job! Remember it is a job and being qualified for it should really matter as our lives are invariably affected by the decisions of these people. Civics 101 is sorely needed in this country at every grade level. But the polls nah not interested why get my blood pressure up when it’s just a guessing game sorta like a crap shoot a gamble only this time if you bet on the wrong horse ya better say good bye to everything you thought you knew about your inalienable rights!
I do watch polls, but I think the polling is so bad (e.g. Kansas) that I’m not relying on polls this year. I am holding out hope that Democrats will keep the House and Senate. #VoteBlue
Polling, if accurate, requires dealing with statistics. Results are dependent on how the question or questions are worded & the size of the samples. It’s harder to get accurate polling than most people think it is. Years ago I tended to believe the polling, because there weren’t many pollsters. Lately, every Tom, Dick & Harry are doing polling and I doubt many of them care about accuracy. Plus, just like everything else having to do with elections, polling is being manipulated by by people with agendas. I don’t pay a lot of attention to them.
I look at them at early stage of campaign to get a ballpark idea of where it is and follow whether it's going up or down. If the candidates are close, I quit looking bc it is too stressful and at this point it's useless. It will simply go back and forth.
At this time there is no way to predict bc it all depends on who shows up on election day. Simply are too many variables to predict. There is no way to know how the weather will affect turnout, whether your voters will have a death in the family or some other emergency that will prevent them going to vote etc. etc.
I do not trust the polls at all. I find The New York Times and Washington Post to be at many times lacking in credibility , deep research and editing. I get better news from you & others I subscribe to on Substack & email newsletters.
I watch the polls, get upset when they don't tell me what I want to hear. But ultimately, I vote the way I've decided despite the polls. When Hilary Clinton didn't win, I stopped believing in them. Now I believe that they're not only incorrect but being manipulated.
I looked at the polls maybe, twice. I screenshot them a week ago just because I want to see how they match-up with real world outcomes. (I don't read movie review either though. I just watch and see.)
There is a role for polls. For instance if a big upset, look at ways polling got it wrong. At some level of miss it’s then worth asking if the election was fair. Beyond that I try to ignore. It’s too much covering the horse race instead of the candidates.
Seems a commonly held opinion - good!
Polls can have rich data. Currently they are being used to push the agenda of the right wing. So to me--worthless. The questions are slanted and the participants are skewed to respond favorably to the right wing.
It’s a no brainer - our Freedom vs. Fascism. More Violence vs. Peace and Democracy!
I Pray God our Democracy Prevails and we can return to Peace and hold people accountable for Violence and chaos. Polls never influence my Vote. I always Vote Blue and commend Biden for all he has accomplishments despite the GOP.
I look at polls (how can you avoid seeing them when they’re blasted everywhere?) but don’t take them seriously. Aside from the fact that they are reliably inaccurate, they’re biased by the way questions are asked. I sense that many are conducted to solicit specific results.
On the other hand, regarding reviews… I always read restaurant reviews, the bad as well as the good. I was once considering a Japanese restaurant near the hotel in which I was staying. One criticism was that the nigiri pieces were too small. For me, that was a sign that this was a real Japanese restaurant. The food was great!
But back to the polls. At this point, I’m not even watching the news. I barely read the substacks (my serious apologies) because I just don’t want to think about this anymore. However, I will be staying up late on Tuesday night!
No. No poll watching for me. I don’t care to know what the polls say. I refuse to even watch TV in these pre election days because political ads are so obnoxious. I’ve never voted for anyone based on an ad. I look for headlines online. That said, my ballot has been received by the Clackamas County Election office in Oregon. I have several good mysteries to read for the next week or so.