Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stage-managing a poll

From The Washington Post:

High on the list of superpowers a campaign might wish for would be the ability to manipulate opinion surveys, and on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, Republican presidential contenders will get to live that dream through the Iowa straw poll.

The event, a tradition in election cycles in which there is no GOP incumbent, is billed as an indicator of how party members will vote in the Republican caucus in January. But while no one can stage-manage a random telephone poll, it is open season when any voting-age Iowan or Iowa college student with a $35 ticket has a say.

The WaPo article is about how the campaigns lure people to participate in the Iowa straw poll by paying for their tickets and providing free transportation, food and even entertainment. This is to warn us not to take the results too seriously.

What attracted my attention, however, was the statement that ". . . no one can stage-manage a random telephone poll". Anyone who follows political campaigns in America will know at once how completely false this is.

How else do you suppose that poll results in presidential races always and I mean always show a greater support for the Democrat candidate than the actual election results? Ever since conservative talk radio has been around taking polls apart and looking at the internals (exactly what questions were asked and exactly who was called) has been a staple.

The fact is that most polling companies use two methods to get a result which artificially favors Democrats. One is to over sample Democrats. They will look at the voter registration data for an area and see what percentage of the registered voters are Republican and what percentage are registered Democrat and how many are Independent and then rather than call voters in proportion to their registration to get their opinions they will call about 10 to 15 percent more Democrats than their numbers would indicate.

The other way that telephone polls are "stage managed" is to have the poll takers call homes on the weekend. The availability of effective and inexpensive birth control along with the legalization of abortion coupled with the left's rejection of any kind of religiously based moral code (other than the perversion of Christian charity which causes them to want to give generously of other people's money to the "poor") has created a demographic trend in the US which sees significantly more conservative Republicans settling down and raising families than Liberal Democrats. Married people with kids are more often than not out doing family stuff on the weekend than single people. For a pollster to call on the weekend guarantees an oversampling of liberal opinion.

Polling companies use these tactics to generate poll results which favor the Democrat Party. This pleases the mainstream media companies who are their primary customers and allows for the crafting of a narrative of any campaign season which has the nation "trending Democrat". This is intended to energize the Democrat base while depressing the Republican base. It is also intended to influence the fence-sitting moderates who constantly have their moistened finger stuck in the air so that they can run to be on the winning side.