THE BLOG
10/27/2010 01:03 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lies, Damnable Lies, Statistics ... and Polls*

Whom to trust about the state of our State? Main stream media? Hardly. Politicians? Alas. Polls? Diminishingly.

When was the last time you participated in an opinion poll? I used to get lots of calls, but no more. What's changed? Lots. Most pollsers use landline telephone numbers. We went entirely mobile years ago, as have about a quarter of my fellow citizens. They aren't even calling us. Next, I must sacrifice time and attention to answer polling questions. Who has any of that to spare? If the pollsters are willing to incur the additional cost to call mobile numbers, I'm busy. Besides, why would I burn my minutes on their unknown agenda? Then, of course, there's the fiction that respondents tell the unvarnished truth and that the pollsters have no agenda. Yeah, right.

The Economist** reports dramatic declines in just how many -- or more to the point how few -- people are a.) being reached by pollsters, and b.) are willing to talk to them.

So who ARE these people that the pollsters use, implying something noteworthy has been learned in their (very profitable) polling practices? Statistical manipulations aside, they are NOT you and me.

Ever so skeptically, I admit I keep polls in my peripheral vision. That's why I strongly suspect President Obama has more support from more citizens than you'd ever guess from the traditional media noise. Given the calamity in which the Republi-Corp Party drenched us -- and from which it will take years, nay, decades, to resurface -- that speaks volumes.

And, yes, I do cherry pick. I pay attention to polls that reinforce my fervent hope that, in a week, our good President will get a Congress willing to focus on the needs of the American people, instead of slavishly serving shamelessly reactionary moneymasters. With the economy front-and-center, I'm also heartened when I see polls that remind me that most sentient beings haven't forgotten just who drove the world over a cliff in the past decade ... and now want us regular folk to pay for cleaning up their monumental mess. That legacy includes huge debts, a trashed economy, no effective energy policy, rampant environmental destruction, educational decline, a tattered global reputation, subservience to corporate interests and sand in the wheels of government. The media's 24-7 obsession with today's trivia masks that reality. We should remind our fellow citizens that the Republi-Corp Party did it to us and are spending fortunes on the opportunity to do it some more.

So, I suggest we view the polls with a skeptical eye and get back to work. The Republi-Corp Party in its current state spreads ominously destructive lies and a cruel vision of an appallingly selfish and self-destructive America. We've reached the moment when we must make sure that ordinary people exercise their hardwon right to cast votes and to get them counted. The state of our State is at stake.

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*--with apologies to Mark Twain

**--The Economist, "Still Worth Reading?", October 9, 2010