By Alden L. Benton
I am tired of polls.
Romney is up. Obama is up. No, wait, they are tied.
“Likely” voters say one thing while registered voters say another.
Independents are unpredictable and undecided voters, at this late date, are clueless.
I understand the math behind polls. With a truly random sample of 475 people, and the operative word is random, one can get a statistically valid picture of the United States within an acceptable error range.
In many instances, the people who commission or conduct a poll bias the polling sample in order to achieve the desired result. If you want to prove Obama is winning, then ask more Democrats in an area Obama carried in 2008. If you want Republicans, go to corner houses.
However, the randomness of the sample is just one aspect of a poll. How the questions are written, what order the questions appear, and, if the questions are asked by a poll-taker, the manner and tone of the questioner all affect the outcome of any poll.
I also question the usefulness of polls. While polling may have some use in planning campaign strategy, it serves no other apparent purpose. Does the average voter adjust his or her vote as the polls swing towards one candidate or the other? I doubt it.
In addition, the purpose of reporting anything in the media is to provide useful information. I know, I am old school on that issue, but even in this era of advocacy journalism, there is no utility in the mass dissemination of poll results.
At best, polls distract. They are just that much more clutter assaulting the public’s psyche, demanding more attention and time in a world already overloaded with information.
Instead of worrying about who is ahead in the polls, the voter, and the media, should be focused on studying the issues; the voters and the media should be exploring where the candidates stand on those issues.
That is why the press enjoys a protected status in the Bill of Rights, and why, since the so-called mainstream media now serves as the public information arm of the Democratic Party, the alternative media — Fox News, CNSNews, World Net Daily, Conservative Talk Radio, the internet, and the myriad blogs — have become vital outlets of information.
Since we seem to be captivated by the fleeting idea of who is ahead, I offer a polling idea that may prove to be more accurate than any of the “professional” polls.
Pundits have determined that there are eight “swing” — states that could tip the election towards one candidate or the other. The swing states are Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Nevada.
In order to get a picture of the potential outcome of the November 6 election, I propose a Trick-or-Treat poll.
On Halloween night, send out 50 pairs of children dressed as Romney and Obama in the major cities of the swing states. At the end of the evening, count the candy in the Romney bags and in the Obama bags. The group that gets the most candies wins the poll and perhaps the election.
This idea has been tried before on a smaller scale.
In a Virginia restaurant, they offer customers free corn chips with their meals. The customers are offered a choice of red or blue colored chips. The restaurant keeps an ongoing tally. Their chip poll has been accurate. Every year they have conducted their experiment, they predicted how Virginia would vote.
Trick-or-Treat or chip polls would be much more palatable alternative and actually serve some purpose other than information overload caused by the incessant pompous pontification by the self-appointed nattering nabobs in the mainstream media.
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