Why polls don’t tell us anything

Here are three headlines today, all purporting to have taken the political temperature of the nation’s swing states.

  • NPR: McCain Advancing In Swing States
  • Sacramento Bee: Obama leads McCain slightly in swing states
  • TopNews: Who is in the lead in Swing States?\

    Update 4:47 p.m. – NPR has shifted its story to “Why NPR And ABC Presidential Polls Contradict” and changed the original headline to “NPR Poll: Obama, McCain Even In Swing States.”

    Good question

    • Dan

      Remember the 2000 election where exit polls showed Gore had one a particular state, the media claimed victory, and then the actual ballot count showed the opposite? Or the fact that survey call lists are not supposed to include cell phone numbers, so the raw data only includes those who have land lines? It’s hard to get a true picture when your core sample is skewed.

    • Dana Farrell

      I do not believe the polls mean anything significant for the simple reason that many people tell pollsters what they believe they want to hear, etc. etc. etc. and turn around and do the exact opposite on election day. Minds are often changed over and over or when people come face to face with the actual process of voting. This is a fact that has been proven time and time again. There are many people who are sure prior to election day but not enough to make an accurate assessment or predict the outcome of an election. The only true poll is on election day. One indication to me is that John McCain will win is because Europe supports Obama and for whatever reason Americans always elect the opposite of what other countries want.

      Dana Farrell