A Poll is a Snapshot of the Electorate

Guy Conner
March 11, 2015

In an earlier post,  I talked about how  I got into polling for local elections, and gave a ;ist of key points about polls that local candidates should know.   This is the first of several posts in which I will elaborate on that list.  (Note: In all my posts on polling, I assume that the voters polled are random se;ections from the target universe.)

A poll is a snapshot of the electorate at a given point in time; it is not, by itself, a way to predict the outcome of an election.  An experie3nced political adviser, who understands the background of the poll and the local political situation may be able to use the information obtained from a poll to make an informed guess as to whom the winner or winners might be, but the poll itself merely tells you who might be ahead at the time of the poll.  Of course, if a candidate is twenty points ahead of his or her  opponent two weeks before election day, one can reasonably infer that that candidate will win, but the poll is not really doing the prediction; it is the context.

Polls have other uses for local candidates besides calling the horse race.   Polls can tell a candidate which campaign themes resonate with the voters; they can also tell which of your supporters are more attractive to the electorate.   The wise candidate for, say, City Council, will focus on these aspects of polling and not on the question of who is the frontrunner.

A blog about all the arts, including politics
"for 'twere absurd to think that nature in the earth bred gold, perfect in the instant;
there must be remote matter." - Ben Jonson
"I don't know what the question is, but art is the answer." - Guy Conner

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