What 's The Matter With Polling?

Decent Essays

In the New York Times article “What’s the Matter With Polling?” public policy and political science professor Cliff Zukin argues that polls and pollsters have grown to be unreliable due to the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Since a higher percentage of people have acquired and use cellphones more than landlines in the past decade and the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, survey companies have to devote more money, time, and resources to contacting potential participants. The rapidly declining response rate has also increased the risk of surveys failing to reflect public opinion, and therefore increase the number of failed predictions. Although conducting polls on the Internet is cheaper, “coverage error” is prominent, and Internet use correlates inversely with age and voting habits, making it even more difficult to predict the outcome of elections. Beyond this, as Zukin illustrates, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to draw a representative sample of Internet users.
Zukin proceeds to argue that the other large problem, survey respondents overstating their likelihood of voting, makes it even more difficult to predict who will vote in elections. Since actual turnout is unknown until elections are over, an overestimation of turnout can result in the underestimation of a Party’s strength in an election. Zukin concludes that there is no

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