The Problems with Political Polling

10/25/2016 06:50 am ET Updated Oct 25, 2016

And how they are being used to rig the election.

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Republicans are becoming nervous for their candidate's chances of winning. Why? Simple, the press and the polls tell them so. Even the ardent Republican has doubts. It is one of those situations where if you tell people something enough times, they will eventually believe it (see "Political Branding").

It is no secret Donald Trump is not the favorite with the main street media, who is backing Hillary Clinton's nomination instead, hence the accusation of rigging the election. However, it seems even the polls are rigged against him. To the unsuspecting public, it seems implausible to rig a poll, but it is really not as difficult as you might think.

During the primaries, I studied the polls closely and reported on the progress of candidates. Personally, I rarely found the polls of the main stream media to be accurate. This includes those of: ABC/Washington Post, CBS, CNN, FOX, New York Times, Politico, and the Wall Street Journal/NBC. Perhaps it is their methodology for conducting a poll, such as loading it with people of political bias, or those who have no interest in voting whatsoever. Yet, night after night the news media used the data from these polls to tell the public Donald Trump didn't have a chance to win the nomination. Remarkably, he won in spite of their predictions.

The remaining polls tend to be more independent but most still have some form of political connection. For example:

Founded in 1935 and headquartered in Washington, DC and Omaha, NE, Gallup is one of the oldest and most trusted polls. The CEO is Jim Clifton who is thought to lean Republican. Since its founder, George Gallup, passed away in 1984, the company was sold to Selection Research, Incorporated (SRI). The president is Barry Kozloff, who is a Democrat.

Founded in 2004 and also headquartered in Washington, DC, Pew is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization and a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. The company was founded by the Times Mirror Company which was acquired by the Tribune Company in 2000. The Tribune Company owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, (Central Florida) Sun-Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun, (Allentown, Pennsylvania) The Morning Call, Hartford Courant, and the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as many radio and TV stations, including superstation WGN. The CEO is Peter Liguori, who leans Democrat.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Raleigh, NC, PPP's CEO is Dean Debnam, an admitted Democrat.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Asbury Park, NJ, the company was founded by Scott Rasmussen who is believed to lean Republican. However, he left the company in 2013 to pursue other interests. The company is now owned by Noson Lawen Partners (the majority investor), and there is no sign of the political inclinations of the company.

The three universities commonly quoted in polling are:

Their polling division was established in 2005, and is located in West Long Branch, NJ. The Director is Patrick Murray.

Their polling division was established in 1988, and located in Hamden, CT. The Director is Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

Their polling division was established in 2002, and is located in Boston, MA. The Director is David Paleologos.

Interestingly, all of the directors are careful about not disclosing their political inclinations. Aside from residing in the New England area, which tends to lean Democratic, there appears to be nothing in writing suggesting their political bias.

Other polls worth noting are:

* Investors Business Daily/TIPP - has been very accurate in their predictions.

* ISideWith.com - I have found this little known site to be very accurate in the primaries. Although it is intended to be a political matchmaking site that gives insight into how voters think, it is updated daily and provides surprisingly accurate data.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

The "Big Kahuna" of political polling is RealClearPolitics, the source most quoted by the news media. Surprisingly, most people are unaware of how it works and naively accept their findings as gospel. Basically, the company doesn't conduct polls itself, but analyzes the polling data of others. It lists any poll and calculates an average.

For example:

Clinton Trump

Poll-A 46% 43%

Poll-B 49% 45%

Poll-C 49% 46%

AVG 48% 44.6%

Here is the rub though; what if the polls are biased, such as those mentioned earlier by the main street media? Mixing tainted data with legitimate polls is mixing apples with oranges and will inevitably produce erroneous results, something you definitely do not want to bet the ranch on.

So, is the system rigged, as Mr. Trump suggests? If the main street media is either quoting their own poll, or the averages from RealClearPolitics, then Yes, their credibility is highly questionable. However, if the news media has an agenda, as they seem to in this election, they will keep quoting these polling results over and over again until the public buys it.

As an aside, one thing that might backfire in the face of the news media is if they continue to say Clinton has already clinched the election, her supporters may become too confident and fail to show up on voting day. Now wouldn't that be an interesting turn of events?

Yes, the system is rigged and the American people are being manipulated.

Keep the Faith!

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Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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