Friday, February 19, 2016

A Few Questions

Telephones and I just don't mix. Sure, there were those fleeting teenage years when we were besties, but that didn't last. Anyone who has known me longer than five minutes knows that I will go to great lengths to avoid talking on the phone. I'm perfectly happy to make do with texting and email. For me, Caller ID is a boon. There's absolutely no reason to pick up the phone if I don't know who's calling.

Which brings me to the recent poll by the Kittleman folks. They didn't call me. Or maybe they did and I just didn't answer the phone. My dislike of telephones means that I am, pretty much, self-selecting out of any sort of poll. Oh, well. I don't think I represent a very large group of people who loathe telephones, so it's no loss to the overall validity of the venture.

But what about people who don't have land lines anymore? Do telephone polls and surveys account for them? And am I correct in assuming that, for the most part, the larger chunk of people shedding land lines is younger? Not entirely, of course. But mostly. How does that skew results?

I know that political polling is quite the science and there must be some interesting mathematical way that one accounts for people with telephone aversion, or people who no longer have a "home phone." But I can't helping wondering if the pool of respondents is shrinking and shrinking. Not just because of the aforementioned reasons, but because people don't feel the obligation to answer the telephone in the way that they did a generation ago.

If I am right, I wonder how this impacts polling. And that brings me back to the Kittleman poll. We really don't know much about its validity. Most professional poll results include information like this: dates of the poll, group targeted, number of households called vs. number of actual respondents, how that number relates to the number of the overall target group, and finally, a prediction of validity.

We don't have any of that.

So all I know for a fact after this week is that Mr. Kittleman has raised a lot of money, and that he's tremendously interested in which way the political wind is blowing. That's not enough information for me to come to any reasonable conclusion. How he leads in the year ahead is what's worth watching.


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