The Abuse Of Polls

Jun 1 2012 @ 3:21pm

Waldman warns against it:

One of the most dangerous temptations of the political reporter is over-interpretation of polls, the need to explain every apparent movement in this week's poll with reference to events that just happened.

The result is a whole lot of utterly unsubstantiated claims explaining things lots of reporters don't even understand or that may not actually have occurred at all. Only coverage of the stock market, where every news report confidently explains even the tiniest movement in share prices ("Apple shares fell one-tenth of a point today, with investors expressing concern after Billy Wilson of Saginaw, Michigan decided to buy a Droid to replace the iPhone he dropped in the toilet"), comes close.

Bernstein seconds him:

I have to say that it can be frustrating doing daily blogging that sometimes seems to consist of, again and again, saying that things don't matter at all. Or that they matter only a little bit. Or that they probably don't matter, but might if things break right. Or that they don't matter, although if they hint something about future actions then those future actions, if they happen, might matter, even if the present ones don't.