Are Polls Accurate?

Posted: October 9, 2013 in News and politics
Tags: , , ,

It is a common weakness for us to agree with polling results if they agree with our beliefs, and point out the weaknesses of polling methods if they disagree. When informed with the actual questions and the interpretations of polling data that are the results of responses to these questions we see through some faulty conclusions.

So, how can we improve polling to give us better guidance from their results? I propose weighing responses by results of a short quiz on relevant facts that determines the knowledge of the respondents. A high score on the quiz would give the response a greater numerical value than a score that reflects a woeful ignorance of the facts.

To make the polling data more useful all information, including the actual questions posed in the quiz, should be included. I’m sure our lawmakers, as well as the public at large, would appreciate a better reading of polls to guide their decisions.

Some infamous polling results include the reported 70% of Americans agreed with the Iraq invasion when it was being considered, and the slim majority of Americans who don’t like Obamacare. Of course the latter doesn’t delineate between those who don’t like it for different perceived failings (i. e. some prefer a single payer system).

A recent video showed how little some respondents knew about Obamacare (including the fact that Obamacare is the same as the affordable care act). Respondents said they liked the affordable care act, but didn’t like Obamacare. And when they were asked whether they liked certain benefits included in Obamacare, they universally responded they did. This was an exercise on The Jerry Kimmel Live show.

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