1. Today it is quite easy for anyone to have their landline or cell phone set up to not receive annoying solicitor calls from pollsters. A majority of the population has chosen to do so. Thus, a representative sample of the total universe is no longer available when conducting a traditional phone survey. Phone surveys are the major platform for most political surveys; aside from focus groups which are not projectable unless hundreds of people participate in numerous groups across the country.
2. Imagine those people who are still now accessible for telephone surveys and how they might differ from the general population as a whole. They will tend to be older, stay at homes versus employed and live alone. And they are not as time pressured as the majority of the people in this country are today. Worse yet, the likelihood of their actually leaving their homes to vote is questionable. When a survey sample is flawed the results will be too.
3. How might this be corrected? Pollsters need to supplement their telephone efforts with online surveys to capture those people not accessible by phone. And these online surveys need to be brief and offer some type of incentives. Google could easily become a major political pollster. Google has the insight and reference points to not only know about a potential voters political leanings but the possibility of the person actually voting. Google could become a major research supplier on just about everything. Maybe a major research supplier such as MediaMark or Nielsen should team up with Google.
4. The upcoming Presidential election will be decided as have all Presidential elections in the past by independent voters or the vast middle i.e. those people who are not extremists of either party. These people are the most difficult to measure given the many factors that will impact their eventual decision. For example, how much will race or religion play in a person's voting decision? People tend not to say what they feel is politically incorrect. Thus, when asked if they have any concerns about a Mormon becoming President most college educated, supposedly liberal open minded people will say "of course not". The same is true for a candidate's skin color.
5. What all this means is that those people who will decide the next Presidential election, independents/vast middle, are not easily reached via a telephone survey. And even those when reached may tend to not say what they actually will do. While poll forecasts may encourage the candidate who's supposedly ahead; if the November Presidential election is as close as it is supposed to be - no pollster will be able to accurately predict the outcome.
Steve's most recent book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is blacker-reinventions.com and e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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