Wall Street Journal poll: Most Americans want Sarah Palin to shut up

As is so often the case, just when you’ve lost almost all faith in the wisdom of the American populace, something comes along to cheer you up a bit. The latest example is a survey co-sponsored by Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, no less, in which a majority of Americans say they would prefer that a certain unsuccessful politician keep her thoughts to herself at least for a while. The story is HERE: According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg Public Policy Center survey, Americans would like to tell Sarah...

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A brilliant analysis of a pre-election poll that was spectacularly wrong

Lots of people don’t trust public opinion polls, but I’m not one of them. I long ago became convinced that a well-designed poll employing time-tested scientific methods will almost always give you an accurate picture of the situation at the time it was conducted. But even if the pollster does everything right, conventional scientific wisdom holds that one in every 20 polls is going to be wrong. Perhaps the most notoriously wrong poll of our time is the one that showed incumbent U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor leading his primary-election...

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Why are Republican pollsters so bad at their craft?

As you may have heard by now, there were two big losers in that Republican congressional primary election in Virginia last week — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was buried in a landslide, and pollster John McLaughlin, who told Cantor a week earlier that he was a cinch to win. Kristen Soltis Anderson RAISES THE QUESTION of whether GOP pollsters understand the country anymore: The reality is that the electorate is changing. In 2012, many Republicans thought there was no way that turnout among groups like African-Americans or the...

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Two polls on Bergdahl deal show partisan split, but there’s more disapproval than not

The first two major polls on the deal for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl show a sharp divide between Republican and Democratic respondents, while pluralities, but not majorities, in both polls disapprove of the arrangement. HERE are the results of a poll commissioned by CBS News. And HERE are the numbers from a survey by the Pew Research Center,...

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Political polls that use dubious methods are worse than worthless

As a political junkie, I have always depended on polls, to a certain extent,  for insights into public attitudes about issues and candidates. But I’ve also always tried to discern between good and bad polls. A simple rule of thumb in this regard is that the only polls worthy of my attention or yours are those that carefully follow time-tested scientific methods. Failure to do so results in what computer scientists call GIGO — Garbage In, Garbage Out. Even a minor glitch in poll methodology can produce results that are highly...

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