Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's Up With That?: Beware of Election Polls and Focus Groups

I watched last week's presidential debate on CNN. I'm usually an ABC Girl, but it's hard to resist a grown man who can make the name "Anderson" sound cool.

Anyway, CNN featured a focus group of undecided voters who used some thinga-ma-jig to captured their perceptions of what the candidates said during the debate in realtime. Through the magic of modern technology, I watched the squiggly lines inch up and down at varying degrees throughout the debate--instantly gauging the degree to which members of the focus group felt positive or negative about what the candidates said.

Now, to a layperson (at least this layperson), I thought the focus group members hated John McCain. Okay, so maybe hate is a strong word. But, using admitedly unscientific methods, it appeared as though the "all knowing squiggly lines" PLUNGED almost every time Sen. McCain took the mic. Even I wondered if CNN had stacked the deck with Undecideds with Democratic tendencies.

But get this.

Immediately following the debate, the reporter asked the focus group for which candidate they would vote if they had to do so in that moment. The majority--YES--the majority said McCain.

Did I miss something?

They clearly did not like what they heard. It was documented for the world--or at least us groupies of cable television's Best Political Team--to see in live and in living color. And yet, when asked, they were inclined to vote for Sen. McCain anyway.

I don't get it.

The Sunday news shows and commentators are all talking about Sen. Obama's 10-point lead over Sen. McCain in some new poll. But in the timeless words of Public Enemy: "Can't truss it."

1 comment:

Will Hill said...

This whole Bradley effect thing is driving me crazy. We all know how statistics bit Al Gore in the behind. These last coupla weeks are going to be excruciating, and will end up somewhere between a draw and an Obama landslide. What a day November 4th will be.