I don't take that for granted. We all must remind ourselves how blessed we are to live in a place where that can happen.
It seems like every day there's a new "latest poll" for the presidential race. ABC, NBC, CNN, Washington Post, they all have them. Some even tout a "poll of polls", a phrase that makes laugh every time I hear it. Change the spelling, and the Pole of Poles now sounds like a prop in an exotic dancer's act, probably something they've been rehearsing for weeks to perfect.
Those of you who just chuckled know I'm right.
I'm sure these various news organizations will tell you that they are just reporting latest numbers on the current state of the election, but I humbly suggest there is a much simpler reason. They have airtime to fill. Sometimes it's just a slow news day, and yet the evening news is still scheduled every night at 6pm like it or not. It's okay. I get it. There are reasons I write this blog once a week and not once a day. If I had to try to fill 24 hours of news coverage I'd probably manufacture shit to talk about, too.
Political polls rub me the wrong way (pun mildly intended given my earlier pole quip) for two reasons.
First, the news anchors love to claim, "47% of likely voters..." or "53% of Americans..." To quote Donald Trump, wrong. Let me stop you right there, because that is a flat out lie. I am a likely voter and had no part in that survey or poll. Many of you reading this could say the same thing. A truer statement would be "47% of people who answered their phone and weren't eating dinner/bathing their kids/just plain busy/didn't hang us on us and we were able to convince them to answer our questions, and told us they will likely vote." Of course, the results are never presented that way. It would give their poll less clout, and that is the last thing they want. They want us to believe their data is important.
That takes me to my second reason for disliking political polls as news stories. The simple act of reporting them changes the election. Think about that. One of the biggest ways is they actually lead people not to vote, which frankly is mind blowing that no one calls them on this more often. If the candidate you were planning to support has a seven point lead in the latest poll, it is easy to say, "I don't need to bother." If everyone who read that poll didn't bother to vote for your candidate on Election Day because they thought it was in the bag, where is your newsworthy seven points now? You could even argue that a candidate wants to be down in the polls so they can rally their supporters, which makes these polls nothing more than meaningless soundbites used to manipulate an election. If you head nearly exploded reading that, I've done my job today. Welcome to American politics.
Ignore all of this noise in your ear and GO VOTE. It is just that simple, people. The only poll that actually matters is the results of this election, and you need to make sure you are actually represented in that data. Those of you who vote later in the day simply because of your schedule will probably also have exit poll data in your ear, and I encourage you to ignore it all. Even those have been proven inaccurate year after year, simply because folks may not want the people they are with to know they voted for "that other guy."
Make your decision, cast your ballot, and own it. Don't let anyone else's nonsense sway you, regardless of how important and newsworthy it claims to be.
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