Saturday, March 29, 2008

Zig Zag Zog

Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO, Zogby International, issued Election 2008: A Review So Far on Thursday 27 March 08:
UTICA, New York – As we hit a bit of a lull in-between primaries and caucuses, it is appropriate to stop, take a deep breath, and evaluate our performance so far this year in measuring the race for the presidency.

To say this has been an interesting political year so far is to understate the case to a ridiculous degree. We have experienced only the opening chapters of this election, and already it has been nothing short of unprecedented.

Unprecedented candidates. Unprecedented election calendar. Unprecedented technology. Unprecedented money. Unprecedented voters. Unprecedented news coverage.

All of this has made the science and art of polling more difficult than ever before. But, as the crush of primaries and caucuses passes, I thought this might be a good time for us to stop, take a collective breath and look back before pressing on...
In other words, we're doing a little pre-emptive damage control just in case our poll figures stray. Zogby and other pollsters are faced with a huge challenge: most polls are conducted by telephone. Most of the people who in previous years contributed to the core of any poll have cast off their landlines... they're using cellphones, BlackBerry devices and services like Skype for their communications needs. The "home phone" is following the VCR on a one-way march out of contemporary society. Zogby et al are as good as they ever were, but the accuracy of the polling is dependent upon getting the right mix of people, which may no longer be an attainable goal using 20th century tactics.

How can we help the pollsters refine their techniques and restore the balance to the art and science of polling?

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