In the few days remaining until Election Day, we’ll be bombarded with batches of presidential polls. John Schmaltz, a political science instructor at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, says polls are looked upon with good favor if a couple of steps are taken, starting with how pollsters ask the questions.
Schmaltz says pollsters need to have a good sampling of respondents who plan on voting on Election Day, men versus women based on projected turnout. He says polling has become more difficult as fewer people are using landlines for their home phone numbers.
He says more than 50% of phone calls going to landlines are not being answered as folks have Caller I.D. and won’t answer if they see it’s some sort of political poll. Thus, even more calls need to be made. Schmaltz says he thinks the Rasmussen Poll is a good source of information but he’s questioned the Zogby Poll in recent years.
He says Zogby, who’s of Arab descent, was upset with President Bush’s Middle East policies and may have lost his independent status when issuing poll numbers in 2004. Schmaltz says it’s too early to say if the so-called "Bradley Effect" will come into play for this election.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley was running for governor of California as a Democrat in 1982 and most regular polls showed him ahead of his Republican opponent, but when it came to the election, Bradley lost. He says in Barack Obama’s case this year, some exit polls have shown Obama won a primary, but in reality he either lost or did not win by as much of a margin as first thought. Schmaltz says some people in exit polls respond with the opposite of the way they actually voted.
Schmaltz says the Obama people say he needs to win by five-to-six-percent more than the polls show to guarantee a win — due to the Bradley Effect. Most polls taken for this year’s presidential race have a plus or minus margin of error of between three-and-five percent.