I’m a political junkie, I live and breathe politics. I’ve run election campaigns (school boards), worked in election campaigns and I love to talk electoral politics, I read as much as I can.
In the polls Trump is far out in front, albeit with about 25% of the polled Republicans, and, Trump plus Carson is in the 40-50% range. Polls don’t predict elections: a poll is a photograph of a particular group of people at a particular time and place.
While the election is eleven months away we are two months away from the Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary and Super Tuesday on March 1.
A month ago I attended a panel discussion at the New School, a number of party insiders who had run or played major roles in presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle. Ninety minutes of a deep dive; :the discussion centered around rapid response teams, building trust, policy papers, targeting voters by gender, race and ethnicity, campaign organization, the endless bumps along the road as the voting public begins to concentrate on the candidates.
The panelists shrugged at the leaders: Trump and Carson would fade away; Rubio, Cruz and Bush would battle it out, the panel was divided: a few thought Rubio would emerge, others, Bush.
On the other hand as Trump makes one outrageous statement after another and Carson appears clueless over policy neither one of them fades away.
Will the uninformed voters carry the day and nominate Trump?
Numerous polls and interviews conducted on the streets and various college campuses clearly indicates that a large majority of the American people are very uninformed about major issues
Scary and true; American voters know very little about the major issues: healthcare, immigration, tax reform, foreign policy, you name it and potential voters only have a vague understanding.
Polling is a complex skill; polls must identify the potential voters, which may not be easy. The goal is to identify prime voters , voters who voted in most previous elections and are therefore likely to vote in future election.
Whenever I start getting nervous about polls and the polling process I turn to Nate Silver at his blog: “fivethirtyeight”
Newspapers and the media need viewers, eyes on the tube, and the way to paste them on the screen is simple, “…if it bleeds, it leads.” Sex, violence, catastrophe, get the most “clicks” and clicks, viewership, drive advertising revenue. The more outrageous the comment the larger the audience, electoral politics has become a reality show.
Silver parses the polling numbers,
“Right now, [Trump] has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked“
Pollsters have a difficult time sifting through “Republican-leaning adults” and creating numbers that have more than shock value.
… most surveys cover Republican-leaning adults or registered voters, rather than likely voters. Combine that with the poor response rates to polls and the fact that an increasing number of polls use nontraditional sampling methods, and it’s not clear how much overlap there is between the people included in these surveys and the relatively small share of Republicans who will turn up to vote in primaries and caucuses.”
The long history of polling elections is consistent, public interest spikes as the primary elections approach,
” …public attention to the race starts out quite slow and only gradually accelerates — until just a week or two before Iowa, when it begins to boom. Interest continues to accelerate as Iowa, New Hampshire and the Super Tuesday states vote”
Silver sticks with “the chalk,” if the past is a predictor of the future Trump will not be the nominee.
“So, could Trump win? We confront two stubborn facts: first, that nobody remotely like Trump has won a major-party nomination in the modern era. And second, as is always a problem in analysis of presidential campaigns, we don’t have all that many data points, so unprecedented events can occur with some regularity. For my money, that adds up to Trump’s chances being higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent. Your mileage may vary. But you probably shouldn’t rely solely on the polls to make your case; it’s still too soon for that.”
While Silver is sanguine, other polling experts are more concerned. Polling methodology has moved from knocking on doors and asking questions to calling a landline and asking the questions; both methods are slow and expensive. Today much of polling is either by cellphone or online. The pollster has no direct contact with the subject. The online survey results are fed into a computer and the programmed algorithm spits out the data points.
Nate Cohen, writing in the NY Times mused over polling accuracy, “Online Polls Are Rising. So Are Concerns About Their Results”
Ready or not, online polling has arrived. Political analysts and casual poll readers now face a deluge of data from new firms employing new, promising, but not always proven methodologies. Nowhere is the question of the accuracy of the new online polls more evident than in the survey results for Donald Trump. He fares better in online polls than in traditional polls, and it’s not clear which method is capturing the public’s true opinions.
Are the subjects of polling more honest when face-to-face with a pollster or does the anonymity of online polling lead to more honest responses?
The world of social media, (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the world of cyber data (Internet analytics) both drive political campaigns and drive the public opinion of candidates; every time you click on your computer the click is “analyzed” by a complex algorithm.
Campaigns target the potential voters utilizing the analytics: mobilize core constituencies that believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim, actually born in Kenya, a Black militant, the issues that “trigger” Republican primary potential voters.
The Republican debates were more reality show than actual debate – the one-liner, the masked insult, very little about actual polices.
Have we provided the voting public with a “sound basic education”?
The CFE v NYS lawsuit defines an adequate education,
” … preparing students to exercise citizenship duties;, ‘Such an education should consist of the basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills necessary to enable children to eventually function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury.’ 86 N.Y.2d 307, 316 (1995)
Sadly, as I listen to the voting public I begin to doubt that the education of our citizenry complies with the court-defined definition of a sound basic education.
Polling guru Nate Silver thinks that Trump has a “less than 20%” chance of gaining the Republican nomination; however, no other candidate has better odds.
The Iowa caucus, thee New Hampshire primary and the dozen March 1 Super Tuesday primaries can come and go with the same five Republicans vying for the top spot.
I fear that “the Donald” has a shot at the November ballot.