True or false. Recently, there was a poll result posted on an online news agency that said that 50% of the people polled believe that President Trump should be impeached. (Cue the Final Jeopardy music, Johnny!) Time’s up! Put down your pencils. The answer is….true.
This got me to thinking. If I were to conduct a Grandpa T poll with the following question, “What is the name of the legislative procedure by which Congress votes to remove the POTUS” I would be safe to bet all the money under Grandma P’s mattress that over half the people in the United States would not know the answer or how to spell the word ‘impeach.’
As you are well aware, there are no shortage of polls. Everyone has them. How many times a month do you get that nuisance phone call, expertly disguised by indicating that it is originating in your area code, about all kinds of topics. Some of my latest calls were about: ‘How satisfied are you with your present bank?’ ‘What is your opinion about abortion?’ (I steer very clear of that particular question, as I think it is more fitting for the female gender.) ‘Of the following items, which have you heard of or used previously?’ ‘Which company provides you with car insurance?’ ‘Will you answer a few questions about your experience with…..(fill in the blank)’ Those are the easy polls. Pesky, but easy. Then we get to the political polls, and that is the topic of this blog.
Whenever you see a political poll, there are certain factors that need to be considered in determining the polls validity. Here is my list of ‘common sense’ factors.
- Who is conducting the poll? There are no shortage of political poll takers. Fox news conducts polls. So does ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN and just about any other acronym media source. The written media conduct their own polls. One of the oldest poll taking organizations is the Gallup Poll. George Gallup began taking polls during the 1936 election between Franklin Roosevelt and Alf Landon. A competing poll was taken by The Literary Digest. The Literary Digest predicted an Alf Landon victory, whereas George Gallup predicted an FDR victory. Gallup was correct, and his organization is still in business over 80 years later. The Literary Digest was wrong and immediately went out of business. Another pioneer in poll taking was Elmo Roper. He predicted three FDR election victories beginning in 1936. (Interestingly, both Roper and Gallup incorrectly predicted Dewey’s win over Truman in the 1948 election!) These are some of the most well known political poll takers, but there are numerous political and private organizations that take polls involving politics.
- Why are the polls being conducted? While many of the polls are being conducted to inform the electorate, would you believe that many polls are being taken to sway the electorate? Unfortunately, it is true. Oftentimes, polls are released to make an election front-runner look like a shoe-in, and to persuade an ‘undecided voter’ that if you want to back a winner….vote for our candidate. Do you remember this happening anytime in recent political history? How many polls did you see before our last presidential election that indicated that Donald Trump was going to be POTUS? All of the polls indicated that Hillary Clinton was for sure going to be the next POTUS. As the election day approached, I did observe one poll indicating that Hillary was going to win, but now the numbers were within the ‘margin of error.’ The liberal biased media trumpeted the pending Clinton win, and even carried it into election night when the election took a turn for Trump. I digress. Polls are also taken to define an underdog in an election. This is done to gain support through empathy for a candidate. In conclusion, while some polls are conducted to be informative, many are conducted to sway the opinion of the electorate because of an underlying political agenda.
- Where are the polls taken? If you were a poll taker in the poll that indicated that 50% of the people of the United States think that Donald Trump should be impeached, do you think you may get different answers in Beverly Hills, California versus what you may get in Beverly Hills, Texas? When I see the results of a poll that is absurd, like the Trump impeachment poll, I always find myself questioning as to where that poll was taken. Was the poll taken in front of the Lincoln Memorial or in Lincoln, Nebraska? You can bet your rootin’, tootin’ pearl-handled second amendment six-shooters that if an organization is taking a poll for the purposes of political dissuasion or to support their political agenda, they are going to conduct the poll where they expect to find the answers they desire. (Would it be unreasonable to believe that some numbers may be created and fictitious, especially with regard to the biased media? Possibly fake polls like fake news?)
- How many people were canvassed for the poll? Very few polls actually give the number of respondents to a poll. Only 10% of the people respond to poll questions! Because of technology involving communication, 90% of the people do not answer poll questions. I do not answer any questions on all those pesky calls we receive on our landline. But many people do not have landlines and there are laws prohibiting robo-calls to mobile phones. There is a whole ‘poll science’ that evolves around how modern technology has effected poll numbers and poll results. With all of that being said, do you think a poll with 100, 1000, or 100,000 respondents would be more indicative? Of course, the larger the sampling, the more statistically accurate the poll.
- What are the poll questions being asked and how are the results being reported? Here is exactly how the Trump impeachment 50% poll was reported: According to the latest poll, 50% of Americans believe that Donald Trump should be impeached. There was no mention of who conducted the poll. There was no mention of where the poll was taken. There was no mention of the number of respondents. There was no mention of what the question was that got the result. What if the question was this, ” Do you think Donald Trump should be impeached if we invade Canada?” I can see getting 50% positive results to that question. But I would be hard-pressed, without any of the details of this poll that a 50% impeachment of Trump could be obtained. Could this particular poll be fictitious? Could it have been published to make the POTUS look bad? Did someone have a political agenda?
I am afraid we are all the victims of biased media. Let me offer an imaginary scenario as offered by my neighbor, John the retired cheese-head cop. John said, “If Donald Trump said he liked puppies, the media would report: Donald Trump hates cats and old dogs.” This seems like a fair assumption coming from a retired chief of police.
So, in the spirit of this blog, I Grandpa T, am going to conduct my own poll. I am now a renowned pollster representing the ‘Buttwipe Survey’, or BS for short.
Question #1. How many believe that people appearing at marches or demonstrations dressed like ninjas should immediately be arrested, handcuffed, castrated, and jailed before they have the opportunity to partake in the demonstration? (Okay. Forget about the castration. That would be sexist in the event that some of the ninjas are women.)
Question #2. How many believe that all professional athletes be required to stand, with hand over heart, during the National anthem, because they are entertainers and we want to be entertained and if we wanted a political statement, we would attend a political rally?
The results are in! Of the one person I canvassed, they responded positively to both questions. (I could have tripled my respondents, but that would require ringing the neighbors doorbell and I am watching golf on the TV.)
Anyway, readers, you are all smart enough to get the idea. Not very many of these polls are accurate or scrupulous. Whenever you see a poll, think of the five items that we covered in this blog to determine its validity. Remember….polls are like rectums, everyone has one.
PS: This is Labor Day and I want to thank and honor all of those hard working people who have made this a great nation. I also want to thank my readers, as I have gone over 600,000 unique hits on this blog.