Tagged: Voting

Why the Searcy Paper’s Judge “Poll” is Useless

Well, the Searcy paper finally found a way to run the headline that they’ve been dying to run for months: “LINCOLN LEADS JUDGE RACE.”

Why do they say this?  They ran a poll.  Why is the poll crap?  I’m about to tell you, because this so called “poll” is an insult to poll-lovers and statisticians everywhere.  I would accuse them of being ignorant, but they have been proven to be much more deliberate at their attempts to influence opinion for me to believe they are really just this stupid–or that they think the people of White County are this stupid.

(I know the paper is trying to hide behind a local university political science professor that they mention in their story to loan credibility to their poll, but I can almost guarantee he would agree with my analysis below.  He may have drafted the questions, but I am highly confident that he didn’t endorse this methodology.)

I ran this poll by a Republican political consultant who has worked on gubernatorial campaigns, ran targeting on congressional campaigns, and has run a targeted 527. Needless to say he has done more than a few polls. He agreed that the poll “has multiple issues with accuracy, and cannot be used to conclude that Lincoln has any kind of a lead.”

The alleged results of the poll:

  • Lincoln: 49%
  • Haynie: 34%
  • Undecided: 17%

And that huge “15 percent” number the paper tosses around can be a little deceiving.  The margin represented by that 15% is only 63 votes.  They called 410 folks, who we can only assume are actually registered voters, but based on the rest of their “methodology,” I’m not sure that’s a smart assumption.

1. They didn’t poll ‘likely voters.’  This is kind of a big deal.  The paper, according to their own story, didn’t make any effort to identify people who were actually likely to vote in the primary.  Sure, they asked people ‘do you definitely plan to vote,’ but that’s essentially crap.  There is much more that goes into determining likely voters than asking people on the spot, who will almost all say yes out of fear of being considered a ‘bad citizen.’  “Likely voters” should only be defined as people who, based on their voting history, are actually likely to vote.  I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist.

2. They didn’t poll identified Republicans, meaning those who are either registered as Republicans or have consistently voted in Republican primaries.  Oh, I’m sorry, you’re doing a Republican primary poll and including Democrats?  I’m sure my ‘ultra-partisanship’ will blind me to why this is a good idea.  But seriously guys, this is crap.  You aren’t getting meaningful results here and, once again, you are misleading the public by purporting crappy poll results as credible.

3. Lincoln’s name was placed first in the poll question.  See, the paper knows this is shady because they preemptively defend any attacks by saying, “Well, he’s going to be first on the ballot!”  More bull.  This isn’t the same as someone going into a polling booth and looking at two options.  The results will be slanted heavily towards the first person identified because people want to get off the phone.  The order of the names should be randomized.  Lincoln easily gained 5-10% from this trick.

Now, just because the results are ‘crap,’ that doesn’t mean we can’t still glean something from them, both statistically and politically speaking.  What have we learned?

1. Despite the attempts to slant this poll, Lincoln doesn’t even receive 50%.  This is the real story here.  Think about this:  a 6-year incumbent judge cannot even break 50%, despite being listed first on the poll which easily gave him 5-10%.  Subtract 10-points and a nearly 5% margin of error, it is very possible that this race is actually tied (Lincoln -15%, erasing his “+15%”).  As an entrenched incumbent, Judge Lincoln should be easily polling above 60% right now, and my consultant friend agreed.

2. This is a very close race.  Look, if this wasn’t a close race, the paper wouldn’t be running sketchy polls in an attempt to help out their favorite judge.  It’s really that simple.

Despite what you’ll read in the paper, these poll results are very good news for lovers of liberty & transparent government in White County.