Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini has come to a conclusion: Polls are for suckers — like journalists.
He's reflecting on the news that U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona's campaign has an internal poll showing Carmona ahead of his opponent, Jeff Flake. Flake's campaign, of course, has a similar poll showing Flake in the lead.
Is this news?
But those of us in the news business pretend that it is.
We can't help ourselves.
And politicians know it. And use it. Because of that, polls no longer are used to reflect the inclinations of voters but to CHANGE the inclinations of voters.
Voters hear that someone is ahead and tend to drift over to his side. Like jumping on the bandwagon when the local sports team starts winning.
Polls no longer just reflect; they alter. The political parties count on it. Otherwise, there would be no polling businesses that work primarily with Republicans and polling businesses that work primarily with Democrats.
Montini's right, to an extent: We in the media feel obligated to share polls, whether or not they're actually that newsworthy, because we think the public deserves to know what's happening. The thing is, as has been addressed here before, those polls might not actually show what's really going on.