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