Thursday, October 28, 2010

Technology Making Polling More Difficult

When I look back on this election, two key things will stick out in my mind: how muddy it was and how much polling was done. I cannot remember an election when we’ve ever more anxiously waited with bated breath for each new poll result, especially in the case of the United States Senate race in West Virginia.

But with each new poll there seems to be more and more inaccuracies due to sample flaws, the nature of who conducts the poll (Orion Strategies ring a bell), etc...

Recently a tweep and I were discussing inaccuracies in current polling and how technology is making the business of polling increasingly difficult. How so? Lots of people are trading their landlines for mobile devices, which by law cannot be randomly called. Because of new phone technologies like Vonage, Yahoo Phone, and Magic-Jack people are retaining older area codes, making it harder to get a scientific sample. While these problems were prevalent two years ago, they’ve significantly increased during this election cycle, and could lead to across the board inaccuracies.

This is extremely concerning to this stiletto-clad, 25-year old because it could undercount the amount of young people who turn out to vote this midterm election.

If only polling could be conducted through mobile devices... But it sort of already is.

Today’s digital culture provides a platform for debate, drawing instant feedback from blogs or Facebook chats. The culture demands transparency, along with a desire to engage in heated discussions as opposed to the stonewalling we commonly see on TV.

Social media are revolutionizing the way politicians campaign, increasing candidate and constituent relationships through conversation and providing instant feedback that cannot be achieved from traditional polling.

Is social media the next generation of polling?

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