I have had my own telephone for about forty years. I all that time I have been contacted about two times by political pollsters. I either live in the wrong neighborhood or they don’t care about my demographic. Either way, they have not created many problems for me personally – except when they miscalled Florida in the 2000 Presidential race.
I don’t mind pollsters – probably because I don’t have to up with them – but do they have value? I there some reason I need to know in advance how the people in Mississippi are going to vote? Would that influence my vote? Well, actually, yes it might. I hate to admit it openly – but what others think does matter to me.
Polling results can serve to energize or deflate, to encourage or cause apathy. We saw some of that recently in New Hampshire. The polls had Barack Obama as much as 12-15 points ahead of Hillary Clinton. The final vote count had Hillary ahead by about 3 percent. Did Obama’s followers not bother to go to vote because they thought there was no need? I think that happens.
But that is not a problem with polling. It is a problem with campaign motivation. On the whole, I think polling is fine. I sometimes wish they would not give the results to thugs like Bill O’Reilly or Chris Matthews.