Poll Snapshots & Dogs


My Dog Roscoe could win a head to head poll with Obama today.

Given the correct set of questions and people polled Roscoe might be seen as the front runner for the Oval Office. Two points, I do not have a dog named, Roscoe, and this is not about methodology. My point- polls are a snapshot in time taken of a group of people asked a specific set of questions. Polls are not- {a} voters marking [X] in the box of a candidate. {b} Polls are not people rising up from their easy chair or steering the car to a polling place. {c} Life and politics are fluid, what works today may or may not work tomorrow. Opinions change, situations change, conditions change and as they do people vote differently.

If Roscoe barked once I might believe he wants my attention. If Roscoe barks twice, he might be saying,

hey, this is important.”

If Roscoe barks incessantly, he is either upset or undisciplined. The scenarios for Roscoe might also be applied to the public at large. Continued polls which indicate the incumbent lacks positive feedback does not mean any of the people with positive results would win an election next year. By next year, the economy may have turned positive, things might look bright for the individual and their thoughts turn away from politics and back to wine, cheese, and reality tv (barf).

I propose that Roscoe knows as much about today’s politics as snapshot polls. My hypothetical pooch likes most people, but, finds some people offensive and either shuns them or growls at them. Only Roscoe knows why he does or does not favor some people and so too, it is with polls. The magic of formulas, and weighting should be left to the pollsters and we should not belittle them for their efforts. BUT, since the days of Truman vs Dewey pollsters, like Roscoe have their flaws.

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