COMMENTARY: Polls -- Again!

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It's been said, perhaps facetiously, a definition of insanity is doing the same thing time after time and expecting different results. MTSU Professor of Journalism Dr. Larry Burris says, following blunder after blunder, he would think the pollsters would finally get the message: they can't seem to get it right:

VERBATIM: All of the current polls seem to be saying President Trump's approval rating keeps going up. Those polls include some from major news organizations, the same ones that haven't gotten it right in recent elections. But those same news organizations are also running stories saying Trump is likely to lose the 2020 election.


So, let's see if I have this right: polls are showing approval is going up, while chances of reelection are going down. Somehow, I always thought elections were won by candidates with high approval ratings, and lost by those with low approval ratings.

But in today's world of spinning and parsing, I guess those truths don't apply any more. I'm reminded of White House press secretary Ron Ziegler's April 17, 1973, quote "This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative."


Actually, I have to wonder why we do polls in the first place. After all, if the polls are accurate, why do we need elections? Just do a poll and announce the winner.

The pollsters, of course, tell us the polls are merely a snapshot of the electorate at a particular time. So then I have to ask, what is the point? Likely voters feel this was at noon, and a new poll six hours later could have completely different results.

In addition, many of the polls are conducted by political organizations, so of course they are all going to give favorable results for their presidential contender.

So, it's two and a half years until the next presidential election. Can you imagine all of the operative and then inoperative polling data and stories we're going to get? Frightening, isn't it?

I'm Larry Burriss

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Dr. Larry Burris, Middle Tennessee State University, MTSU, Murfreesboro news, polls
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