Polling Data Drives the Narrative

Were I to weild a mighty hatchet in the world of media, my first hack would be at Rush Limbaugh. The second would be at polling data. Every major news organization these days seems to partner with another major news organization or university to generate polling data among “registered voters” or “likely voters.” I am no expert on polling. But this year there seems to be two anamolies worrying pollsters and media-watchers alike. The so-called Bradley effect-where voters say they are undecided or pro-black candidate, then enter the booths, reveal their closeted racism and vote the other way. The other issue is newer, the so-called cell phone-only effect. This one says that because many young people only have cell phones and many young people are pro-obama and cell phones are not subjected to polling, therefore it’s possible a vast number of young people poised to vote for Obama that aren’t being counted in these polls. 

I for one, don’t care about either of these phenomona. What matters to me as a media watcher and voter is the simple reliance we have on polling to explain to us what is going to happen and what people are thinking at this moment. Polling has replaced actual reporting an analysis when it comes to covering the election. It used to be we’d see poll results once a month, then once a week. Today we see polling data daily from multiple sources bent of on telling us what voters are thinking across the country and in the key battleground states. Forget about the dubious veracity of polling. There is something to be said for polls being the campaign narrative. Back when Obama secured the nomination pundits wanted to know why he wasn’t further ahead. Now they want to know why McCain is so far behind. All of these things create a football game-like atmosphere in which its the polls that become the story, as if winning this week’s polls secures you points toward the end of the game. 

The media should be focusing on real data and real issues in these campaigns. It should be digesting and qualifying all of the dutiful fact-checking that’s now being done into something more digestable for the average voter. In short the media should be informing voters rather than measuring their opinions based on limited information.


One Response

  1. […] Jo Tamar wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: