The Key Question About All Polling Questions – What You Should Look For

What is missed in most political polling? What should you look for so you know the poll will be accurate?

As we enter this historically turbulent Presidential election, many of us are bombarded by a continual stream of polls.

Polls of the Presidential race saturate the front pages of major newspapers, major news feeds, TV and the social media.

How much faith should we put into their reported results?  This is easy and quick to determine  simply by looking for two questions to be answered by any particular poll:

First question: Who exactly is the polling firm asking questions of?  And wow is this an important point!

Are the folks being polled:

  • People who say they are going to vote
  • People who say they are registered voters

Or are they:

  • People who are called by the polling firm from a list of registered voters
  • People the polling firm has gotten from a publically available list of actual voters in the last two elections

Bottom line:  Is the polling firm “trusting” or “verifying”?

Yes, it is more expensive for the polling firm to go to the extra steps of verifying, but it makes a giant difference.

Second question:  Is the polling posing the real choice?

The real choice is not just Trump vs. Hillary. The choice in all 50 states is, in fact, at least three candidates:  Trump vs Hillary vs Johnson.  Gary Johnson of Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states, and at the moment, when included in the polling question, pulls 8-10% of the vote.

But wait; there is a fourth person who will likely be on most, but not all ballots: Jill Stein of the Green Party.

In sum, always look closely for who exactly is being polled and are all of the actual ballot choices being polled.