The Art of the Poll

We received four Rasmussen polling robo-calls in 2008 with the first early in the year and clearly designed to classify me politically.  It was a curious thing and I expected to be called back given the nature of the questions.  During the primary season two more calls came and were focused on the candidates, but the final call did not happen until we were within two weeks of the Presidential election and it was sharply focused on the contest.

During that election I learned Rasmussen had the most accurate polls, and while I thought it was because of “robocalling” where people would be more inclined to tell a machine what they really thought, the real reason appears to be dropping out of something that is happening now.

The USC Dornsife/LA Times poll has consistently shown Donald Trump to be leading Mrs. Clinton by about six points regardless tax returns, fumbles, “fat gals” or flatulence. The poll is showing:

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Donald Trump increased his nationwide lead over Hillary Clinton since the first presidential debate. The results are: Trump: 46.7 percent, Clinton: 42.6 percent. Trump held the lead since Sept.13, peaking Sept. 18 by 6.7 points.

Trump’s ride has been bumpy with the USC Dornsife/LA Times  folks, slipping to 1.4 points Sept. 23 so he is on a learning curve in this game and looks a little like Porky Pig playing Daffy Duck’s sidekick in a takeoff of the Lone Ranger.  It’s a rough ride!

The most volatile voting bloc is those under 35 who a few weeks ago backed Clinton by ten points but have switched horses at full gallop going to Trump by eight points recently, but have slipped back to a 5.5 point lead for “The Donald.”  Who knows where this will end?  “The Shadow knows…”

Trump’s support with high school education or less folks stands at 19.2% Trump over Clinton as they apparently see his ideas more to the improvement of their futures than Hillary’s “More of the Same,” sung to the tune of “Stand By Your Man.”  These young folks are playing their country and western tunes backwards to get back their pickup trucks, girlfriends and guns with Trump’s tunes.

Mr. Trump has a 20-point lead over Hillary among males. His lead was only ten points earlier this month.  He has also leapt forward in black support, only three percent in September, but now as high as 20 percent and currently at 18.2 percent.  Hillary has 74.3 percent support among blacks, but that could crumble with ObamaCare.

The USC Dornsife/LA Times poll is updated daily which means the results have fewer surprises than other surveys. This poll is based on a simple idea that appears to be shockingly valid.  It includes 3,000 voters who are called and recalled daily as opposed to the usual 1,000 entirely random sampled voters or citizens who may, or may not even vote!

Non-voters include almost half the eligible voting population, thus “scientific” random sampling stands a 50/50 chance of having half of its’ sample people who do not care a whit about the election, will not vote and are everything but representative!

Furthermore, the polled 1,000 people are 0.00076% of the 131 million voting population!  If the standard “scientific” pollers got very lucky and snagged only voters they still only have a one in 1315 chance of getting a truly representative sample.  By their own methodology their potential is only half that good! There are more reasons not to believe anything they say than there are to put credence in their conclusions.

Meanwhile back at Rasmussen I continued to wonder why he was carefully classifying those called.  Pollsters are in business and they have every reason to boost business any way they can.  With a stable of classified subjects any pollster could control his sample to produce the desired outcome for his business, i.e. more polls by producing results that goad candidates to do more polling.

Pollsters are usually in the campaign’s “Situation Rooms” mixing it up with the really evil operatives and if they can confirm that a new, snarky ad campaign is working, or not, they can say, “We really need to do a new poll.  Now here’s what I have in mind…”  Could it be another big poll and another big paycheck?  Oh pshaw….

In the last two weeks they have to play it straight or risk polling themselves out of the business by producing an answer that is “Off the wall!” and misinforms the candidate.  Then they have to play it straight.  The truth of the matter is that we live in a time when the political poll has become a campaign and news selling tool subject to manipulation, but the USC Dornsife/LA Times “Daybreak”poll appears to be the lead chapter in a book to be called, “The Art of the Poll.”


Adrian Vance

Adrian Vance is a writer and producer of educational films, filmstrips and audio programs with over 325 productions from script to screen. See a partial list of my credits at . And, have written for ten national magazines, been on the masthead of two as an Editor, done a dozen books and am an FCC licensed broadcaster with ten years of on-air experience in radio and television. See my blog, "The Two Minute Conservative" at where you will find over 3200 daily pieces, enough material to produce 25 novel length books.

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