Mrs. Joanne Knight
AP Language and Composition
April 24, 2014
“Polling and its Authenticity”
Polling has become an integral part of the United States election process. The media, as well as the voting population, take into great consideration the results of various political polls. But are these polls inaccurate? Has the United States been relying on the inaccurate data of public polling? The answer is, yes. Political polling, like abortion and gun control, is a hot-button issue in the United States. Many people believe that political polls incorrectly portray the public’s opinion on a certain topic, which may also have a detrimental effect on a candidate running for office. As Statesman Benjamin Disraeli famously said, “if you torture data long enough, they’ll admit to anything” (Source B). Therefore, political polls, without a doubt, do not accurately represent the correct views of a population. Meaning, political polls are inaccurate and portray false information.
Imagine having the power to change someone’s opinion on a poll by merely reordering the questions. Now stop imagining because it is real, and it is called Order Bias. Order Bias, by definition is, a skewing of results caused by the order in which questions are placed in a survey. Moreover, Pollsters have learned that responses to emotional questions will influence responses to later questions. For example, when respondents are asked whether they themselves are better off today than four yeas ago, then asked to rate George Bush’s handling of the economy and then asked whom they want for president, Bush’s support will be several points lower than if the ballot question is asked first (Source D). In short, the fact that pollsters can skew the public’s opinions with Order Bias makes poll data unreliable.
Polls can also create the illusion that public opinion exists when it does not. For example, reports that discuss what the public thinks about stem-cell research, or the...