The Unvarnished Truth About Political Polls
One of my goals with Money & Crisis is to help you learn to think differently about the world.
Yes, the primary focus is investing and the markets. But to make REAL money in the markets, you need to think differently from others. After all, what are the odds of you seeing extraordinary returns if you think the same thing as everyone else?
With that in mind, I want to take a moment today to discuss things like polls and surveys.
Organizations use polls and surveys to guide and justify their decision-making processes. In the field of politics in particular, polls and surveys are supposed to represent profound insights into what Americans feel or think about a given candidate or policy.
Like most people, I used to take these things seriously. Until I did an in-depth analysis of the methodologies used by political pollsters to get their results.
What I discovered was truly shocking.
The Truth About Polls
I can say as a point of fact, that over 95% of polls are propaganda used to shape opinion — NOT accurate depictions of how people actually think and feel.
A few facts:
- The response rate for most polls is 9%, meaning fewer than 1 in 10 people surveyed actually answer.
- The samples used for the polls are rarely an accurate depiction of American demographics. Most of the time, the polls oversample Democrats or left-leaning individuals by a scale of 4% to 9%.
- These polls use leading questions that are framed with a particular goal in mind, NOT to get a legitimate answer.
All of the above statements are facts, NOT conspiracy theories.
Regarding point #2, roughly 29% of the country identify as Republican. Another 29% identify as Democrat. And 40% identify as independent. Any poll that doesn’t utilize that breakdown, doesn’t accurately represent America.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a recent CNN poll that suggested Joe Biden annihilated President Trump in the first debate and expanded his lead as the favorite to win election in November.
The very first paragraph in the methodology section of this poll states.
A total of 1,205 adults were interviewed by telephone nationwide by live interviewers calling both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Among the entire sample, 33% described themselves as Democrats, 28% described themselves as Republicans, and 39% described themselves as independents or members of another party
So already, this poll is skewed by 4% towards the Democrats. Throw in the fact that we live in an era in which being openly pro-Trump can result in getting fired, assaulted or worse, and what are the odds this poll is even remotely accurate?
Put another way, what are the odds that the average American will answer his or her phone and say to a total stranger, “why yes total stranger who I’ve never even met and who is affiliated with an organization that hates the President, I am going to vote for Trump!”
You get my point.
How Should We Think About Political Probabilities?
If polls and surveys are not useful for predicting anything, what is?
The actions of politicians.
Consider Joe Biden. For the last six months he’s been largely holed up in his basement giving interviews and speeches. Since May, Biden was almost exclusively in his basement, NOT on the campaign trail.
I ask you, if Joe Biden did so well in the first debate, why is he suddenly out on the campaign trail visiting states that were previously thought to be guaranteed winners?
Within 24 hours of the debate ending, the Biden campaign announced he would be on a “train tour” to visit Ohio and Pennsylvania. He followed that up with trips to Michigan and Florida.
If Biden had indeed done well in the first debate, and was leading Trump by a wide margin, he wouldn’t be doing this. He’d continue staying in his basement.
From this alone, we can deduce that internal polling — as in the polls that politicians use to gauge public sentiment and which are NEVER released to the public — indicate that Biden did poorly in the debate and that he is in fact trailing President Trump in states like Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
When it comes to politics, you don’t need to listen to the talking heads or heed the polls. Focus on what politicians are doing and you’ll be a whole lot more accurate.
Editor, Money & Crisis