Polls that aren’t rigged can still be worthless

  In a post published here the other day, I faulted Donald Trump for whining that polls that produce results  that don’t favor him are “rigged.” I argued that The Donald apparently doesn’t understand the scientific efforts that go into reliable polling. Well, today I’m here to concede that some polls — too many of them, actually — are unscientific and consequently are worthless. These polls aren’t rigged, at least not in the sense that Trump implies, but they’re highly misleading....

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Donald Trump doesn’t understand the science of polling

President-elect Donald Trump’s says that polls showing his approval ratings at historically low levels as his inauguration draws near should be taken with a big grain of salt. . “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls, Trump said today. “They are rigged just like before.” . The problem with that analysis is that there’s little or no evidence to support it. Trump, like so many other Americans, simply doesn’t understand the science of polling....

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Dumbest possible reaction to debate comes from Fox News

  When it comes to political polling, the first thing you need to know is that any survey that doesn’t follow the fundamental scientific rules of the game is mostly worthless. Reputable polling organizations take great pains to follow those rules, which is why their results usually are pretty much similar to one another. If Gallup has a poll showing Smith leading Jones by nine percentage points, most other reliable polls likely will show similar results. Sometimes, however, a pollster with a good reputation will come up with...

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Will your heart or your head determine your election prediction?

  As one who puts a lot of faith in reputable pre-election polls, I avoid predicting that the candidate I favor will win if the surveys generally suggest otherwise. Granted, my predictions in presidential elections have been wrong on certain occasions, but only when last-minute polls show a very close — unpredictable, as it were —  race. Amazingly, however, some celebrated political pundits don’t follow my advice in such matters. At least, that was the case four years ago when several conservative commentators ignored...

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Political partisans who scoff at polls usually are fools

  During a TV interview the other day, Larry J. Sabato, boss man of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and publisher of the highly regarded Crystal Ball, offered an amusing anecdote. He said hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t receive scads of  letters and emails from people who seriously expect that Donald Trump will carry 49 or 50 states in the November election. These folks seem to think that polls indicating otherwise are rigged to overstate Hillary Clinton’s popularity among voters. In a similar vein,...

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