God knows how many election polling outfits there are these days. Once upon a time, there was just Gallup; then it became Gallup and Harris; now there are dozens and perhaps hundreds. Who knows how skilled they are at their sampling, their weighting of likely voters, and the other factors that separate meaningful polls from floss and ear wax?
Of course, the main problem with polls is that you don’t know whether the respondents are telling the truth. If only the penalty for giving a false answer to a polling question was like that imposed at the Bridge of Death . . . .
In the modern cell phone and smart phone world, can pollsters know with any assurance that they have reached an appropriate sample of voters? For years, pollsters relied on land line telephones to conduct their surveys. Recently, however, many Americans have dropped their land line phones as a nuisance and unnecessary expense. In 2007, nearly 13 percent of American households had no land line phone. By 2008, that number had jumped to 20 percent and it has only increased since then as millions more — including Kish and me — have gone totally wireless.
So, in these days leading up to Election Day, let’s not pay too much attention to the polls and their competing results. The only poll that really matters is the one that will occur on November 2, and all registered voters — be they wireless Gen Xers or land line fogies — will have an equal opportunity to be counted.