This is Why It’s “Unscientific”

I just received an email from one of the statewide campaigns, alerting me to nefarious mischief by another campaign. Dirty tricksters are trying to influence an online poll conducted by the Charlottesville Daily Press!

How do campaigns get so desperate that they feel the need to manipulate an unscientific poll for bragging rights? Wouldn’t they be better off making phone calls, knocking on doors, or, in some cases, getting signatures?

Update: The “real” Addison over at Sic Semper Tyrannis has more. It’s called “freeping.”

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  1. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    As the proprietor of the four-year-old, close follower of Charlottesville media, and informal website advisor (in various capacities) to several Charlottesville media outlets, allow me to say this: The Progress has polls?

  2. What I find interesting is that this is the Daily Progress and 80+% of the people participating say they will vote in the GOP Primary?!?!?!?

    Gee, this sounds really on point to me.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Is anyone influenced by legitimate polls? I doubt it. If people aren’t influenced by legitimate polls, I find it highly unlikely that they would be swayed by informal, online polls that are obviously subject to manipulation. I’m appalled that campaign managers would waste their time trying to manipulate such polls, as opposed to doing something constructive — like devising intelligent policies and communicating them to voters. Just another example of how screwed up our politics has become.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    When 80% of the media’s coverage of political races is horserace coverage, you can bet that citizens are influenced by polls. If a candidate looks unbeatable, that depresses turnout. If the race looks tight, that brings turnout up.

    In a multi-candidate primary, I’d estimate that almost half of the voting is “strategic”. In other words, many people would like to support candidate X, but candidate X can’t get his numbers out of the single digits. So they vote strategically for the candidate who they think might win.

  5. signed,


  6. Witness the Democratic presidential primary. When people saw that Kerry had won Iowa and was suddenly leading in the polls, the all piled their support behind him. The so-called “bandwagon effect”. I also like to call it the “Democratic base is stupid” effect.

    Similarly, in this primary, if people see that one candidate is leading, they might wonder, “Why have so many of my comrades in the Democratic/Republican party chosen to vote for this person? He/she must be a good candidate!”

    And they pile their support behind them. That’s why candidates covet the “frontrunner” status. They know that if the media repeats the word “frontrunner” enough, a certain segment of the electorate will give them their vote by default.

  7. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I don’t deny the bandwagon potential of polls, but that’s usually not associated with online polls … and, as jms notes, any poll in Charlottesville that shows 80% for Kilgore won’t create a bandwagon. It will create riotous laughter.

  8. Oh no definitely not. Online polls are certified garbage.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    No, to answer the basic question, most campaign staff people don’t have better things to do with their time and don’t have the adult supervision necessary to find those things.

  10. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    most campaign staff people don’t have better things to do with their time

    Very, very true. These resume-padding campaign monkeys waste an unbelievable amount of time and money. Many of them probably really believe that there’s some value to influencing these polls. These are the same people who think that there’s any sense in kvetching about stolen yard signs. Just like with polls, nobody cares, nobody wants to hear about it, stop wasting your time and your campaign’s supporters’ money.

  11. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Waldo, thanks for the pointer to a great post that I missed when it first came out. Now I understand ….

  12. Acropolis Avatar

    If the Daily Progress were really interersted in where voters’ heads and hearts are at this stage of the campaign, they would conduct a controlled poll that reaches out to a large random sample. It’s very annoying that an otherwise respectable publication joins the pandering and churning that normally is the sole province of local party committees trying to make quick bucks.

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