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The Truth about Telephone Polls: Why They Fail to Represent the American People
This article, first published last April, is truer now - and the findings more critical for Americans to know - than ever.
Truer now? Was it a lie in April? How critical and true will it be in another five months?
"In short, polls do not represent: the very poor, people in armed services, people on Indian reservations,
Cowboys on horses, too. Never saw a cowboy with a cell phone.
in hospitals, in nursing homes,
Senility is no obstacle to voting Democrat, as is demonstrated every two years in Florida.
in group homes, drug rehab centers,
bridge players, people getting their nipples pierced, webloggers at weblog bashes, Ken Layne fending off spiders, and people who have to take a dump really bad.
most roommates in a roommate situation,
This is wonderful. This is the shit on the shlag. For all x in your article, replace with "x in a x situation."
people with unlisted numbers, those with caller ID who do not accept unknown calls,
It is hard to reach those by phone when they don't answer the phone. But I bet if you walked up to their house and knocked on the door holding a clipboard, they would welcome you with open arms.
people with telemarketer/survey fatigue (a growing percentage),
When you have telemarketer/survey fatigue do you break out in hives?
people who live alone (especially women),
Would you make up your fucking mind? First people who live in groups are under-represented, then people who live alone are. I realize that mathematics is not your strong point, but what do you think is over-represented? Empty houses?
Look, you already got nursing homes, so the elderly remaining are the ones in their own homes. What else have they got to do but talk to strangers on the phone?
urban young people (a growing percentage of whom have cell phones).
What about suburban young people? What about the transurbaned? What about young people who are questioning their urbanity? Please report for sensitivity training at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
So basically, what we have even on a good day in telephone poll land, is a tendency for results to be weighted toward white, higher income conservatives and away from low income groups, especially urban minorities.
Wouldn't a higher income person -- excuse me, a higher income person in a higher income situation -- tend to be at the office when a telemarketer calls?
But even if everyone possible could be reached, the way questions are worded helps skew polls away from true public opinion.
If everyone possible could be reached, the conference call would be a bitch.