Only You can Prevent Bad Political Polls

My research relies heavily on polls.  So I understand why it is important to do polls.   If I see a poll and determine it’s well written, I do it.  But I think this position is rare because people don’t know the importance of polls. I want to explain why I think polls are important.   Pre-election polls are commonly used to predict elections, and favorability polls are often used to judge a politician’s  popularity. Polls are an important part of American politics.

I get that polls are annoying.  I know it takes time and you are probably busy (like me).  But doing 1 political poll a year can greatly help improve the accuracy of polls.   You don’t have to always answer a poll, but increased participation in polls improves accuracy.   Now there are a lot of bad polls, and it’s difficult to tell if a phone poll is good based of the phone number.  Some people have “polls” that really are marketing calls.  I understand if you are hesitant to do phone polls.  But internet polling provides a good alternative.  I think the future of polling is quality internet polls.  When you do an good internet poll you know more about the quality of the poll then a poll phone call. But Internet polls from scientific polling agencies require a large base of people to create accurate samples.  You can randomly call 1000 phones, but you really can’t send 1000 random internet users a poll. To combat this problem polling agencies have databases of users to send polls. Polling agencies send surveys to certain users to create a good sample. Joining a survey panel with political polls is a way to get your voice heard.

My view on participating in political polls is you can’t complain if you don’t participate.  Polls need a diverse sample to be accurate.  If you feel your political stance is not heard in the polls, then you should do more polls instead of less.  We need all kinds of people to do good polls.  Not everyone may have internet access, but enough voters do to create a good sample.  What you can do is join a poll panel.  My two recommendations are https://today.yougov.com/ or https://www.i-say.com/.  They also do non-political polls and market research which are also important (I might do a post later on this). I recommend them because they are user friendly and statistically sound.  I am not receiving anything for recommending these agencies, I just think they are good.

If you want polls to be more accurate, the best (and easiest) thing to do is participate in polls.  As a statistician, I value good data.  But for data to be good it needs a representative sample.  Regardless of your politics, you should participate in political polls.