Friday, January 04, 2008

Why Polls are Unreliable!

My campaign last year was a relatively small undertaking compared to federal elections (in Canada) or presidential in the United States, but in a smaller scale same principles applied: Polls are Unreliable!

A month before the elections, based on some poll they asked the top 4 candidates (amongst 15) to participate in the televised debate. When election time rolled around, 2 of their predicted top 4 did not receive as much support as everyone had predicted, yours truly included.

The overall predictions for the United States primaries (in the democratic party) pointed at Hillary Clinton as the number one candidate. Although Obama would come out first in some states, Clinton coming third was not the dominant prediction until NOW.

The UNDECIDED voter determines the result at the end of the day. In fact, those who eagerly participate in polls may not even cast a ballot (campaign fatigue?). The silent undecided voter who has been watching the events unfold from outside the arena, turns it all upside down by showing up at the ballot box. Of course campaign organization and how you keep up the support all matter. But in reality, even the most accurate statistical analyses won't necessarily pan out.

This is why many campaigns do not rely on polls, or take their own polls that incorporate certain correction factors. Successful campaigns do not let polls catch them off-guard.

We will have an interesting season ahead of us. Put your game face on, because not even the NBA, NHL or NFL excitement can keep up with the primaries of 2008.


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