Peter Funt: What to do without a daily polling fix?
Ninety-one percent of Americans are suffering in the post-election period without a daily polling fix, according to projections based upon my computer analysis of a nonexistent Gallup poll.
Other key findings in the average of all polls not conducted: 92 percent of college-educated adults hate polls, but spent an average of 43 minutes per day during the presidential campaign reading poll results and sharing them via social networks. The figure is almost two points higher among unemployed, gay, female Latinos in swing states.
Roughly two-thirds of all Americans say they no longer rely on individual polls, preferring instead the analysis by aggregators like Nate Silver of The New York Times and Dick Morris of the planet Zebulan. Of that group, half say they don’t read the aggregators work directly, but rely on aggregated summaries of the aggregators’ findings on websites such as The Huffington Post, or LiberalsareScum.com.
In a yet-to-be posted blog, Mr. Silver projects that if the 2016 election were held today, polling companies would lose 98 percent of total revenue that they expect to collect from news organizations and political parties during the next four years.
How desperate are we for polling data? In an actual poll taken just before the election — and I apologize for mixing fact with fiction, although it seems routine among many pollsters — the Des Moines Register asked Iowans, “Why do you go to Dunkin’ Donuts?” A solid 22 percent said they go for the doughnuts, but a staggering 45 percent said they don’t go to Dunkin’ Donuts at all.
My analysis of this data reveals an unmistakable shift in America — from that of a predominantly white, middle class population, to a nation of stat-starved poll lovers.
Immediately following the election, pollsters scurried to fill the polling void by conducting surveys on the most obscure questions. Gallup issued this actual news release: “Americans spend less time doing what they do best on Sundays compared with other days of the week — averaging 6.7 hours compared to 7 hours on most days.” In a startling revelation, Gallup’s crack analysts determined that “Americans use their strengths the most on Thursdays.”
Full disclosures: Gallup says the margin of error in its poll of the days on which Americans “do best” is 1.2 percent, although no one seems to know what that means. Also, Nate Silver found that Gallup’s projections in the recent election were the worst among two-dozen polling organizations he evaluated.
In another actual piece of landmark pulse taking, Bill O’Reilly polled his viewers on Fox News Channel on the question of whether his program had been “fair” in covering the election. A stunning 80 percent of O’Reilly’s own audience said the coverage was, indeed, fair. The remaining 20 percent should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking that O’Reilly’s program contains some sort of political bias.
My own poll, conducted by e-mail between Nov. 6 and 8 among 14 self-described independents, with a sampling error of plus or minus 14, shows that 91 percent of Americans are suffering during their withdrawal from political polls, while another 91 percent say they couldn’t care less that polling has subsided following the election.
Asked to explain this apparent contradiction, Dick Morris would undoubtedly say, “We experts refer to this as being ‘six of one and half a dozen of another.’ It’s why Americans don’t care if polls are right are wrong — they just love getting the data. Trust me.”
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com.