Many voters place a lot of importance on polling results, and often swing from one view to the other, like a pendulum, as poll results vary and swing. The way people make book on the latest poll, you would assume that polls are prophetic and correct. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I am not a pollster, so don't expect anything scientific from this article-just some food for thought on the current practice of polling. Years ago, I worked for two different polling companies, so I think my perspective could offer some needed insight into the way polling has changed over the years.
I quit both polling jobs partly because I did not like the intellectual dishonesty I witnessed. Since those days, polling has changed because the culture and societal tools have changed. I'll let the reader decide whether polling has changed for the good or for the bad.
Today, polling companies and media giants (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.), appear to continue to use the same methodology in spite of major changes in society. The most profound change is that, due to the explosion of cell phone use, most U.S. citizens no longer use a land-line phone, but polling of cellular phones is extremely limited, if not non-existent at this time. So, obviously, the pollsters are missing a huge segment of the populace who no longer have land-lines.
I believe this may have been a major factor in pollsters' complete mis-reading of the public in the recent 'Brexit' vote in the U.K. Here in Michigan, pollsters showed Clinton with a significant lead over Bernie Sanders in the Michigan Primary, but Sanders won the primary, much to the chagrin of the 'wizards of smart'.
The ability to reach the intended pool of people is significantly reduced due to the cell phone phenomenon . Most people who have only land-line phones are a somewhat predictable and traditional group, but, nowadays, any sampling may be badly skewed because it misses much of the demographic the poll seeks to measure. Couple that fact with the clear biases that polling companies apply to their poll results, and, no wonder they often miss their mark by a mile. Yet, they expect the voter to make monumental life decisions based upon these polls.
A poll is supposed to be used as a 'snap-shot' in time, but most pollsters report their polls as being fact-based and expect the citizenry to believe they can accurately predict the outcome of races and trends with this flawed methodology. My advice is to take polls with a large grain of salt, and study the poll internals to see how the poll arrives at its conclusions.
As A Christian, I never place my faith in polls, speeches, campaigns, etc. All are flawed efforts of flawed human beings to convince you that they have your best interest at heart, when, in most instances, they are in the race to gratify themselves or acquire power, which is why campaign promises rarely come to fruition. When we pray about an election, we ask the Lord to confuse and expose anyone with wrong motives, and to raise up the candidate who is best suited to serve rightly (if such a candidate in available).
We do not place our faith in polls. We place our trust in the One Who can make a difference in our lives-not in those who cannot make true difference. And , while no poll will point to Him. Scripture does.
Jim Jackson is a Nationally Syndicated Columnist (www.amyfound.org) and Author (In All Things...Tate Publishing, Oklahoma City). He's a freelance writer and Editor-In-Chief of the Amy Foundation Internet Writing Syndicate. Jim has been a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church for more than 3 decades.