- - Sunday, January 24, 2016


Pundits across the political spectrum have expressed bewilderment at the 2016 presidential race. The entire campaign seems to have slipped down the rabbit hole to some surreal political wonderland. Inevitable winners are losing. Hillary Rodham Clinton is suddenly not liberal enough and Jeb Bush is too liberal. The feminist candidate is being called a woman basher.

Is it possible that this entire Kabuki theater is the result of faulty polling? With a safety net of a 3-percent-to-5-percent “margin of error,” most polls cannot outperform an informed guess. But what if they are exceptionally inaccurate this season? Every bit of reporting and political prognostication has been based on polling. The position on the debate stages, with its image of leadership, has been based on polls. Having been tangentially involved in polling for most of my life, I see warning signs here. In the past pollsters would get between a 20-percent and 30-percent chance of the sample completing the survey. Yet in recent years I have seen that number fall below 5 percent.

This has been due to technology. Foremost is the cellphone, numbers of which are more difficult to secure. People have methods to block ‘robo calls’ and or sign up for “no call” lists. Who takes the calls? Perhaps the most angry or impassioned — the Trump-and-Sanders-supporters types.

This is not my theory or even an opinion; it is a question. We will know the answer as the real votes come rolling in.


Boca Raton, Fla.

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