Polls in the Political Horse Race
Re “Pollsters Can’t Just Phone It In,” Commentary, Oct. 18: According to Philip Trounstine, this may be the last time political polls are taken over the phone. I feel we passed the limited accuracy of phone polls last year or before. Many years ago, when I was conducting political polls, we sent our interviewers out door to door and questioned the interviewees in person. That may have been slower and more expensive, but under the present circumstances with so many using a cellphone and not having a land phone, door-to-door interviews should be far more accurate.
Media reliance on polls distorts the facts. Trounstine’s comments only add to voter confusion, as they just concern professional pollsters. Polls are useful only for those guessing who the winner will be -- a political party or the media that compete to be the first to announce a winner. Voters don’t need to know because our job is to choose the best candidate, not pick a winner. If I never see a poll again, it would be too soon.
Re “No Matter Who Wins, Half of America Will Be Unhappy,” Oct. 18: Come the morning of Nov. 3 I have no doubt (along with Ronald Brownstein) that half of America will be unhappy, but if the current incumbent is allowed to remain in office, in 2008 we shall all be sorry.
Re “Election to Be Scrutinized for Irregularities,” Oct. 17: Oh, my! A whopping army of elites and professionals has been commissioned to guard over and fix our “flawed” election system. Now, rather than votes being “counted,” vote counts will be professionally “decided,” allowing neither accuracy nor honesty while almost assuring the exact opposite.
I’d feel far more confident if the astute precinct workers were simply put on the lookout for a few pesky hanging chads. Instead, we have mastered the art of politicizing the democratic process. Stalin would be proud.
The campaign for the presidency has degenerated into arguably the worst political event in American history. While dirty tricks have become more commonplace over the years, the tactics employed in this election are unprecedented. Negative advertising by the Democrats can’t compare with the vicious lies and distortions put out by the Republicans. Perhaps the most egregious examples have been the Swift boat ads and the “documentary,” purported to be news, attacking John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities to be aired by the Sinclair network just before the election.
Coupled with the fear that the election process itself is flawed, there is an alarming sense of despair that our American democracy is in danger.
It is so disturbing to realize that 50% of Americans, if the polls are right, support a president who has lied to us repeatedly about every important issue and continues to lie about his own “successes” and about the record and proposals of Kerry. What has happened to the ethical standards in this country? Have we become so jaded that truthfulness no longer matters? Are we so saturated by television “reality” that we think spin is the truth?
It is incomprehensible to me how anyone could still be truly undecided regarding the presidential contest. After nearly two years of incessant campaign barrage by both sides, one would have to be living on the moon not to know what the two major contenders are about. People do not elect an individual candidate. They elect political parties that bring in all their apparatchiks, political philosophy, judicial selection perspectives and an army of patronage people, expecting to be rewarded with a government position in return for campaign work and loyalty.
Candidates can promise all they want. But if the numbers suggest that the Republicans will retain control of Congress, Kerry isn’t going to be able to deliver on most of his many unrealistic promises, no matter what he says or how good a debater he might be. This is not rocket science.
Kerry and Bush are both disgusting. I’m voting for what I believe in. I’m voting for Ralph Nader.