Just Where Do They Get Those Crazy Poll Numbers Anyway?

Polling Season should be renamed “Trolling Season”.

We’ll admit we like to see the needle on the dial for Internet traffic go up just as much as anyone else because we feel that the more people that are engaged, the better chance we have of helping Bernie. The networks like to see the needle move too, but for a totally different reason. (We don’t sell ads, they do.) They understand that when they put out a poll in a hotly-contested race like the Sanders/Clinton battle, people are going to click and they are going to share. The crazier the numbers, the better. And while the numbers might be accurate, it’s who they’re calling that helps skew the numbers and make the polls inaccurate.

For a few months now, we’ve been in the phase of an election cycle that brings out real head-scratching polls. If you listen to or watch corporate owned-mainstream media, you are likely wondering how Clinton could seemingly be running away with the race. She’s had no real big news, other than the Benghazi hearings and the email scandal, although neither one of those news items would cause a Bernie supporter to leave his side. At the same time, she is not making news, Bernie is, appearing on magazine covers and countless network television programs, resulting in more and more people everyday who “#FeelTheBern”. So how could he be slipping? What gives?

Well, the simple answer to the question is that most of the “national” polls only call a small percentage of people. (Hell, NBC/WSJ’s latest “national” poll admits they only contacted 400 Democratic voters for their poll.) And if it’s anything like the previous polls, they likely called 300 of them on a landline phone. (They conveniently have started omitting the methodology so we are assuming.) Add to that fact the word we mentioned a few sentences ago “democrat” and you’ll get a clearer picture of how the numbers could be so lopsided. It’s no great shock or exactly breaking news that if they call a dyed-in-the-wool Clinton supporter, they get the answers that they do. I’d be shocked if they didn’t actually.

Last week Monmouth University had a poll that showed Clinton with a 41 point lead over Bernie Sanders in Iowa, but you’ll find that in the fine print 21% of those polled had actually seen Clinton in person. That’s a telling number right there, but also add that they, like the latest NBC poll, also only called 400 people (300 on a landline), and, for good measure, add that they only contacted people that voted in 1 out of the last 2 Democratic primaries. That eliminates a massive amount of Bernie Sanders’ support right there. I’m actually shocked that her numbers aren’t higher based on the fact the pollsters seem to be only calling her people, or people that seem likely to support her.

How do we get to REAL numbers to see what is REALLY going on?

That’s a tough question to answer. It’s pretty clear that calling people on landline phones to get some kind of idea about what is happening inside the Bernie Sanders movement doesn’t give the American people an accurate accounting. It’s a flawed, easily manipulated antique polling method that, while decades ago might have worked to tell the story, it clearly does not work now.

When was the last time you were able to reach a Millennial on a landline telephone?

If you are like most of the country, you know that question is laughable. Anyone that has kids around that age knows that if you don’t text with them, you simply don’t talk to them. Until the pollsters perfect a method of reaching people by text messaging, they are not going to be providing accurate information. Also, a lot of Millennials won’t answer phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Another fact.

As we mentioned earlier, most of the polls are weighted a lot more heavily by landline calls than they are cell phones. That’s important because Bernie’s rallying cry is resonating very well with the younger crowd and around 2/3 of them don’t use or even own a landline, so their voice is not being counted in the polls. In a 2014 survey conduct by the CDC, 69.3% of 25-29 year old adults don’t have a landline and 64.9% of those 30-34 don’t either. The rate for 18 – 24 is 57.8 but many of them still live at home.

Three in four adults living only with unrelated adult roommates (73.9%) were in households with only wireless telephones.

Nearly two in three adults living in rented homes (64.6%) had only wireless telephones.

Approximately 103 million adults (43.1% of all adults) lived in households with only wireless telephones;

More than two-thirds of adults aged 25–29 (69.3%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is greater than the rate for those 18–24 (57.8%) and similar to the rate
for those 30–34 (64.9%).

Landline phone chart

It’s important to point out that in all those demographics that show very little landline telephone use, Bernie Sanders performs very well. Of course, you have to look his rallies, his contributions and the Internet to understand that.

Another thing we know is that Bernie Sanders  is the champion of the politically disenfranchised (like us). A good amount of theses people – I’ve read upwards of 60% – aren’t registered as democrat or if they are, didn’t vote last time or the time before, so they don’t get to take part of the charade of Polling Season either. For the record, I always vote, but they don’t call me for any polls. Not sure why.

Online polls such as isidewith and Reuters seem to paint a more believable story, but even those are not scientific. That said, I’d accept their information over NBC’s any day of the week. Did we mention that the top pollster for NBC/WSJ used to be Clinton’s co-strategist? Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

One does have to feel a tiniest bit of empathy, though, for the people that believe these polls are accurate. Some of these people refuse to believe that a mainstream, albeit corporate-owned, network would put out information that they themselves know is flawed. But the reality of the situation is that many of these people don’t know how to find other methods of gauging how a candidate is doing, so they are forced to settle for what they are being told. And if they leave the radio or TV on for very long, they’ll likely be hearing the same news broadcast over and over and over. Then it becomes fact, or it feels like fact. Get the picture now?

So this guy, this amazing man who draws more people to his events, has more contributors, has raised almost as much money as anyone, has no super PAC and is winning the battle on social media and the Internet in general, is behind on polls that call mostly landline phones. Time to settle in for Trolling Season.


G.A. Dunlap

2 thoughts on “Just Where Do They Get Those Crazy Poll Numbers Anyway?

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    My question is, can’t we do something about it? Develop an alternative polling methodology that is more accurate? Or, perhaps, that comes up with a range of numbers (like, if younger voters turn out in numbers similar to 2008, here are the results…and here are the results if voter turnout reflects the total eligible population, etc.).

    This seems like a great challenge that there hasn’t been a sustained call for because the results from traditional polls fit the narrative the loudest voices prefer, anyway. Perhaps the campaign or supporting characters could initiate something better, though.

  • Avatar
    November 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Bernie Sanders has all the qualities and abilities of a great leader! He is kind, honest, loyal, energetic, intelligent, experienced and passionate about helping all children succeed thus building a stronger USA!

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