|The pollster of Delphi.|
Take the Gallup poll for April 27. It has Obama at 48%, Romney at 45%, with 7% supporting others or undecided. That is, of course, nonsense. The honest numbers would have both polling in the high 30s with the remainder undecided.
But, that would have their expensive polls looking inconclusive. Modern polling practice is to harangue respondents into picking somebody. "I haven't made up my mind yet" is not an acceptable answer. It takes a strong person to admit he won't start thinking about the election until August.
Then there is the little know fact that the vast majority of people contacted by pollsters hang up without answering a single question. Pollsters assume that the nonrespondents don't affect the outcome but that is just a guess. There is no scientific evidence for that assumption because, well, that's impossible.
I'm conducting a nonpartisan poll on why people hang up on pollsters. Do you have...click...Hello?Finally, polling results can vary widely depending on the wording or ordering of the questions. Push polling is the extreme example of that phenomenon.
That doesn't mean we don't love ourselves those polls. Political consultants especially need polls to justify totally wasteful million dollar media buys. We have worshiped people who can tell us what the future will be since the days of the Oracle of Delphi. It didn't matter then that the Oracle's predictions were drug fueled hallucinations or that Gallup could make up numbers by reading tea leaves that are just as accurate as his scientific polls.
When it comes to political polls, wake me in the summer.