Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Polls, polls, polls, polls

Push Polls
Just plain evil. Masquerading as polls, when in reality they're only "Vote for X" ads. That little deception is bad enough, but the scary thing is: people fall for them. Even scarier, otherwise smart people are stupid enough to believe that nobody falls for the messages in push polls.

Popularity Contests
Then there The Polls, the popularity contests, the ones everybody watches. Candidates want to know if they are popular enough to get elected. Voters want to know how everyone else is planning to vote so that they'll know how to vote too. The Media, drama queens to the bone, keep themselves center stage by recounting to us, with pretty pictures and fulsome words, every moment-by-moment change in the numbers.

Exit Polls
I'm for free speech as much as the next person, and maybe more so, but exit ought to be outlawed, as electioneering. Can anybody say Florida 2000? And if that didn't convince you of the futility of letting media moguls tell us who our next President is, how about this discussion? Pardon me, but I want the news people to go back to reporting the news, like who actually won, based on the actual number of votes.

Place Your Bets
The polls of the future? And the policy decisions of the future? OK, so people with real or fictional money backing their guesses are more likely to [collectively] guess correctly, are best guesses the best way to decide important questions? Don't ask me, I only live here.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't only two years ago, we got a whole healthy overdose of "don't you mind those exit polls, they don't mean nothing, nothing to see here..."? You'd think that might have put a damper on the practice, and maybe, a little, it did on the early calls.

But not on the neverending and near-pointless analysis. Did you know that 11.7% more midwestern female little people over the age of 40 voted Democrat this year? They must hire the same nerds that trot out the equally pointless sports stats at game time (the winningest team on the road on artificial turf under northwesterly winds against teams with losing records).

Anyway, yeah, they're annoying.

K (never been exit polled)

hipparchia said...

useless sports trivia! oh man, i live for that stuff. which made me think about ...

you know what i miss?

listening to baseball games on the radio, especially while driving.

and dating myself here a bit, back when i first got cable tv, the weather channel was a looped doppler[?] radar view of the area, the local weather conditions and forecast a scrolling line across the bottom of the screen, and the sound was the noaa weather radio broadcast [also "looped"].

i wish all those "analysts" on tv [and in the papers] would analyze the ISSUES, not the polls, and REPORT THE NEWS, instead of infotaining me.

oh well, i can always wake up in the wee hours of the morning and listen to bbc radio on my local npr station.

back on topic.

i did the early voting thing in 2004 and got exit-polled --- while waiting in line to vote.

why the heck not? the line stretched through 2 buildings [connected by a walkway] and the wait was so long [about 3 hours] that the pollers changed shifts and we got polled twice.

Anonymous said...

I've got to think the issues (or as often, the "issues") are (a) harder to understand, (b) harder to communicate, and (c) have a tendency to make you look like you have a side when you talk about them, the taboo of journalists. It's a lot easier, if less responsible, to provide annoying and pointless horse-race commentary and political strategizing.

(How badly that dates you, that depends on who was paying for the cable.)

(Also, I've heard that baseball is best on the radio. It's gotta be--I certainly find it unwatchable. But for the sports I do enjoy, the radio play-by-play remains a cool thing.)


hipparchia said...

[i'm not telling]

football, meh. listening to it on the radio is good, but i find it unwatchable.

unlike baeball, which i find exceedingly watchable, in all its forms: in person, on tv, little league, softball [slow-pitch and fast-pitch], you name it....

i agree with you about "issues" and the laziness of falling into pointless horse-race commentary [nice phrasing, btw] but i dunno if i agree so much with the rest of your analysis.