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Oh, How Can We Count The Ways?

Dec
4
2003

Rumor has it that the Chron is about to unleash another Survey USA poll showing Green Matt Gonzalez beating Democrat Gavin Newsom in the race to become San Francisco mayor, 52% to 45%.
This will, no doubt, unleash a flurry celebrating and congratulating over at Matt for Mayor HQ along with a bunch of notes, letters and postings from Gavin folks quoting poll wizards who will tell us what’s wrong. Their polls, by the way, have Newsom ahead 52% to 43%. Well, unlike last time around, I have stuff to do this weekend, so here’s what’s gonna get said.
Survey USA is going to say just ’cause they’re cheap and just ’cause they’re fast doesn’t mean they’re inaccurate. The pros are going to say Survey USA polling is bad because it’s done by machine not by people. Among other things, it skews young and skips those who have already voted (important because absentee turn out in SF is probably to going to set a record in this race). It’s so bad, that some people refer to these polls as CRAP, which – I am not making this up – stands for Computerized Response Audience Polling.
In races where the polls are used, they’ve been off by as much as 20 points.
Now, I hate polls. They take the fun out of elections. And stories about polls are even tougher sells: Who cares how they get the numbers, just that they get them.
Well, of course, that’s the problem. How they get the numbers does matter. It matters very much. And in this case, as plenty of people who know more about polling – and care more – have said, these things stink.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 4:02 PM | Permalink

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