Thursday, December 13, 2007

No More Polls

What if we refused to participate in the opinion polls that lead up to the primaries and elections? What if we said to these pollsters, when they called, "Sorry, but I only have time to participate in two polls this year: my local primary, and then the general election."

The contest appears to be a race, with candidates gaining or losing ground for months on end, because the press portrays it that way. The numbers fuel dramatic stories about Hillary's fall from inevitability, the unaccountable rise of Mike Huckabee from obscurity, and so forth. In turn, this inspires the candidates and their campaign staffers to spend their time looking for ways to influence those numbers and change the narrative.

Doesn't this all seem like a waste of time and money compared to what is truly important?

Boycott the damn polls. Don't participate. If the press had no numbers to spin about, they would be forced to write about the political campaign in a different way. They would have to speculate about what voters might be thinking, and make educated guesses based not on popular polls but, perhaps, just maybe, on the content.

Valuable resources such as Factcheck.org would rise in prominence as more focus would come to bear on what is actually being said. Column inches would be filled with explanations and comments on policy proposals, ideas, and visions. Sound bites would lose some of their value since there would be no measure of their "bounce" in the polling.

We would have no reason to feel discouraged about voting for our candidate. When a candidate is low in the polls, many people start to think: "I don't want to waste my vote on a loser." In this way, polls influence the outcome, as people are discouraged from voting for the one they feel is best. The vote on election day MUST be the only vote that matters.

Meanwhile, pollsters are doing this professionally. Consider this for a moment. Someone makes money from something you give them for free. And in the process they are degrading the value and importance of the actual election.

It is not enough to reform campaign financing, to reduce the dominance of money in popular elections; we must also establish checks against popular polling and how they establish a narrative that influences the outcome of our elections.

3 comments:

Brian said...

Trackback...

Algernon said...

Aww, thanks!

How did it go against Saroman?

JD said...

I have yet to be asked to take part in any of these polls. The only ones that matter are on election or primary when we vote.
Like I really care to hear what another pundit has to say about the matter.