Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Artsy Meets Researchy: Polling

We are so deep into presidential election season that I can barely remember what the media looks like when we're not trying to make a leadership decision (oh, we're never really not making that decision, you say? The 2012 election starts on November 5th? Awesome.)

I'm suffering from a severe case of election fatigue, probably brought on by the daily emails I share with a group of politically diverse high school friends. We've been emailing consistently since the recount in 2000 and - wow - is it exhausting sometimes.

Here's what I've discovered about myself recently: I really prefer thinking and talking about the psychology and sociology of politics over the actual politics. I don't enjoy policy debate at all. But give me a good conversation about the merits of polling, about why you might see more of one candidates signs than the other, about the theatrics of conventions. I'm all over those.

This article fits nicely into my wheelhouse. It's a carefully written exercise in discrediting the polls this year. Not surprisingly, since I am a market research analyst, I tend to trust research. However, I seriously distrust presidential polls - largely for the reasons outlined in the article. It's a worthwhile read for anybody who cares about such things, and it'll make you look at even Real Clear Politics - which is probably the best source for polling data - a whole new way.

And how is this artsy? I think the article makes clear that the "art" part of presidential polling is even more important than the science sometimes. Research is always a combination fo art and science...but in this case, I'm afraid that creativity (intended or otherwise) gets the better of stats class.

Oh, and how, exactly, is this about food? Well...the article references the New Coke debacle as an example of what not to do. Granted, this is more b-school than CIA, but the food we eat gets to our stomachs with a lot of help. It's not all knife work and sauces - marketing is pretty important, oo.

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