By Clarence Walker NewsBlaze Political Commentary Writer
.”..Making Decisions Based On Collective Ignorance Of the Population.”
If anyone tallies up the National Presidential Polls they will automatically predict leading candidate Donald Trump as the next 2016 Republican Nominee for United States President. On the Democratic side, voters would choose Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who are tied for the next nominee for president.
Because for decades, Americans have been guided by extensive news media coverage to decide a nominee for president, in which the information is furnished by national pollsters and survey companies.
Skepticism of Poll Accuracy
Candidates running for president and political experts voice skeptical views about the accuracy of presidential polls.
“The notion that a poll will tell you what’s going to happen in 2016 – is ludicrous,” said Peter Brown, in an NPR article. Brown serves as Assistant Director for the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“You guys should know by now the Monmouth University Poll was created just to aggravate me,” current presidential candidate Chris Christie told the Washington Post recently about a New Jersey-based poll that pegged Christie at 2 percent support.
“Polls are not very useful except for telling you about tiers of candidates,” says Clifford Zukin, professor of Public Policy at Rutgers University. “They really tell you that Trump has more support than Christie and Rand Paul,” the professor said in an NPR interview.
With more and more negative publicity focused on how unreliable national presidential polls are, the responses trigger an overriding question. Can the American people trust polls conducted before elections are held?
Still though, Americans, for the most part, are captivated by polls, and frequently, as stated already, people are influenced by the news media to base their opinions/views about the world we live in. Polls are an outlet for people’s voices to be heard. Candidates running for political seats are typical subjects of early polling. And this is where the numbers come in. Early polling of the U.S. population by research organizations are based on citizens’ approval rating of a particular candidate whereby each answer given about a candidate calculates a percentage number for a candidate.
Before we get too “high” on presidential candidates’ approval ratings, National Studies show that presidential polls are fraught with questionable predictions, including multiple inaccuracies, thus making it difficult to provide a reliable assessment to predict a nominee for president.
When candidates are leading in the polls, don’t be misled into believing the leader should always win. History bears this out in prior presidential races. For example, in four of the five previous presidential elections, 13 days away from the Iowa caucuses the candidates with comfortable leads in the national polls failed to capture the nomination. And in three of the five races, the polls weren’t predictive of the winner in Iowa.
The Focus of This Article
To be fair and objective, the focus of this article is not to report that all National Polls and surveys are totally inaccurate and corrupt to the core with biases. Some polls get percentage numbers more accurate by using correct, unbiased methods. What this article focuses on is how presidential polls have inaccurately influenced the American people to believe that a leading presidential candidate like Donald Trump, with 41% going into the Iowa caucuses is liable to win the nomination.
Trump, the Billionaire developer, may or may not garner enough votes in Iowa and New Hampshire to remain in first place among other candidates to secure the nomination. But if you look at the polls and listen to media pundits, Donald Trump will not only win the nomination, but as well become the nation’s 45th president although history proves how misleading early presidential polls have been.
For example, remember the epic Democratic nomination battle in 2008 between then-Senator Barack Obama and powerhouse player Hillary Clinton? In this hotly contested race for the almighty White House, Clinton was on verge of crushing Obama, with 27 percent, while Obama had a much smaller percentage. But Clinton’s commanding lead didn’t stop Obama from gaining steam further down the road to eventually win the nomination, and become the 44th president.
Also in 2008, on the Republican side, several national polls had former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in first and second places, with Giuliani at 23%, Huckabee at 22%, and Arizona Congressman John McCain had only 12% of votes. Yet those commanding leads by Giulani and Huckabee fizzled while McCain, trailing far behind both opponents, bounced back to win the nomination, and faced Obama for the White House crown. But then McCain lost to Obama.
Errors in Polls
Here is a rundown of how polls are conducted:
Some Information Suppressed
Another study shows that while 84 percent of Americans conduct business online, a lesser percentage take the time to sign up with a political survey organization to respond to questionnaires.
CNN Cable News has more liberal viewers while Fox Cable News airs mostly content for conservative viewers. Therefore both cable news networks may be skewed toward liberal or conservative viewers, irrespective of political issues that Americans care about the most. Taken together, in this vacuum, the likelihood for error or bias is obvious.
What Can We Learn From National Presidential Polls?
What we need to know is that when polls are conducted well in advance of a final election – the results don’t always accurately predict outcome, particularly a presidential race. Overall, on the brighter side, National polls can deliver useful information that provides insight into how the public thinks at a moment in time.
During general elections, with at least four or five months to go, National polls are more predictable, but during primaries when caucus voting starts in February 2016, outcomes are less predictable.
With almost a dozen 2016 GOP candidates locked in a heated battle for votes, while front-runner Donald Trump has a whopping 41% approval rating, and with Senator Ted Cruz nipping at Trump’s heels, the winner may be a toss up, despite Trump’s 20 percent lead over Cruz.
A reliable, professional, competent survey specialist must question larger numbers of people to ensure statistical accuracy that fairly represents the population.
A Typical Polling Failure
Indicative of how unreliable polls can be, experts insisted in 1992, that presidential candidate Bill Clinton would win Iowa and New Hampshire. The irony was that Clinton lost both must-win states and still became president.
Meanwhile Iowa caucus voting begins Monday, February 1st, 2016 – to start the process to find a presidential nominee.
So who do you pick to become the next president of the United States?
For more information on national polls that provide a breakdown of previous presidential primaries dating back to 2000, read this Time Magazine article.