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The Inaccuracy and Danger of Political Polls
By John Disque

john disqueIt doesn't matter who conducted a political poll, they never tell the whole story. They can be very counter-productive and they're notoriously inaccurate.

In regards to the new Knoxville mayoral poll, I had trouble finding out who conducted it. One website lead me to another and that one lead me to another until I gave up, yet the questions remained.

Did they go door to door? Did they call people? Was it conducted on the net? Did they get an equal representation of everyone in Knoxville? Were a select few asked to participate? I wouldn't know because I certainly wasn't asked. In fact, I've asked hundreds, if not thousands, of people and no one asked them to participate either.

Let's say that a poll was conducted and the pollsters went out of their way to be unbiased. They gathered an equal amount of voters in each part of Knoxville. Instead of wishing and hoping that an equal representation will get out and vote, let's look at reality where you will see that 65% of the entire voter base (the ones that really show up and vote) is in one part of Knoxville. With that, the result of the poll is useless.

The question now becomes: What areas of Knoxville represent what percentage of the voter-base? There's no way to answer that question. It changes with each election and depends on the campaigns, the economy, and many other issues.

Sociology experts have dissected the whole subject of political-polling and they agree: It's impossible to get accurate numbers. One of the main reasons is that an increasing number of Americans refuse to be polled. Another issue is that most polls are rushed and often leave out an entire population/representation of people. Certain candidates can also have a support-base that is more willing than another's to participate.

The latest Knoxville Mayoral poll put one of the candidates far ahead of the others. My first question was: If you guys know the results what's the sense in standing in line all day to vote? According to this poll, my vote doesn't mean anything. What's the sense in even having an election? While the polls are rarely accurate and often biased, a lot of people don't know that and the result is: It discourages the voter.

Published July 28, 2011

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