Wednesday, June 03, 2015

June 3, 2015 : The Day the Telephone Poll Officially Died

Telephone polls will keep reporting results for as long as there are telephone poles and for as long as there are lazy and competitive news outlets looking for ways to draw curious eyeballs to their advertisements.
I've been doubting their utility for years (polls, not poles). However, as of today, all results of telephone polls are officially null and void, and here's the evidence leading me to this final judgment:

1) This morning I saw this Time headline online, "Johnny Carson Reigns as America’s Favorite Late-Night Host, Poll Finds," which seemed a little strange since he's been off the air for 23 years and a large percentage of the adult population able to stay up past 11:30 at night has never seen Johnny host The Tonight Show. Yet he had almost twice as much support as his closest competitors, 'None' and David Letterman. As suspected, this was a telephone poll of 2,105 Americans conducted by Quinnipiac and the only fact it proved is that the only people who are regularly answering calls from unidentified numbers are people over 65. I'm only surprised Jack Paar and Steve Allen didn't beat Letterman too.
2) The clincher came later in the morning when I read this AFP headline: "George W. Bush More Popular than Obama: Poll." This CNN/ORC poll was conducted by telephone from May 29 to 31 on a representative sample of 1,025 Americans who were dumb or old enough to answer calls from strangers. The pollsters claim a margin of error of 3%, which makes Dubya's 52%-49% "victory" over Obama a tie, but I'm leaning toward a margin of error of infinity.

Not only have telephone polls lost their utility and credibility; they've even lost what little ability they had to divert attention from cat videos.

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