Archive for the 'polls' Category

Why it is so easy to be misled by polls

Pat Caddell, the former adviser to President Jimmy Carter, accused the mainstream media (here) of using polls they know are inaccurate as weapons against Republicans. “When I have polls that have the preference of Democrats over Republicans higher than it was in 2008, which was a peak Democratic year, I know I am dealing with [...]

Alberta election results: 19 times out of 20 (if they don’t change their minds)

The election result this week in Alberta, Canada confounded a lot of people and cast the art of polling in a bad light.   The polls  predicted  that the Wildrose Party would win, but they were trounced by the PC Party.  Two days before the election, one poll gave the Wildrose 38% versus the PCs 36%. [...]

What polls, police radars and the Hawthorne experiments have in common

There is an election campaign in my home province of Ontario. As often happens during elections, somebody raises the issue about whether public opinion polls influence the outcomes of elections (such as in this article). If only measurements involving people could produce objective information. People and the way they react to measurements make this very [...]

Sometimes polls mislead, but that’s life.

Opinion polling is used in business for market research. Can businesses rely on such polling numbers? Or do they mislead? The answer is yes to both questions. To understand why, it is important to understand what the word “error” means, and the difference between sampling error and inferential error. In the 1948 presidential election, pollsters [...]