No question political junkies can’t get enough of polls in the run up to elections. In 2010, Connecticut is seeing an extraordinary amount of polling because of the high stakes U.S. Senate race and an open seat for Governor.
In addition to the well-established Quinnipiac Poll, national outfits such as Rasmussen are measuring voter sentiment in the Nutmeg state in a big way. These have more than made up for the loss of the Courant/UCONN poll that was Connecticut’s authoritative opinion survey for a long time.
Last week the news and opinion aggregation site, CT Capitol Report, entered the handicapping for this year’s “horse races” and immediately gave pundits more material to analyze and write about. We can all take heart that the polling is home grown from www.merrimanriver.com. But do we need more info on the horse races or journalistic attention focused on issues and how candidates are responding to them?
I was among the CT residents phoned by the CT Capitol’s survey that called about the Governor’s race, which the poll ultimately found to be a “dead heat.” This was a push-button poll wherein a recorded voice asked me a series of questions on my choice for governor and got the vitals on my political identity. As I dutifully gave the answers of a liberal Democrat I wondered about the efficacy of a survey that did not involve a back and forth with another human being, just required whoever answered the phone to punch in answers if there was enough patience to stay on the line for five minutes or so.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza discusses the pros and cons of the CT Capitol Report survey methodology in this recent story from the Washington Post’s “The Fix”.
Cillizza suggests voters take CT Capitol Report’s and other automated polls with a grain of salt:
In a standard telephone poll, the interviewer may seek to add another layer of randomness by asking to speak for a specific person in a household, such as whoever most recently celebrated a birthday. Automated polls do not attempt to do that. Establishment pollsters argue that by stripping a level of randomness from the polling process, auto-dial pollsters must more heavily weight their samples to achieve demographic diversity — rendering the results almost meaningless.
The CT Capitol Report polling also told us that the 5th Congressional District is the most anti-Obama and trending Republican of any of CT’s five districts. Too bad towns like New Britain and Meriden will skew these results.
It’s kind of ironic that in the age of dying newspapers and diminished journalism voters–the online ones anyway — may be getting Too Much Information (TMI) that focuses less on the issues and how candidates will address them.