Polling is not evil voodoo magic
Added 07-16-19 01:23:01am EST - “In his unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz last fall, Beto O'Rourke tried a variety of unorthodox campaign tactics. He live-streamed himself cooking a chicken in his kitchen. He was perfectly fine dropping profanity into public…” - Washingtonexaminer.com
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In his unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz last fall, Beto O’Rourke tried a variety of unorthodox campaign tactics. He live-streamed himself cooking a chicken in his kitchen. He was perfectly fine dropping profanity into public remarks. And he promised Texas voters that he would not hire a pollster to guide his campaign.
“My heart’s in it, I want to do this, I’m driven to do it. I’m not poll-testing it,” said O’Rourke in early 2017 as he launched his campaign. Though O’Rourke was not successful, the pledge to eschew polling lives on. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, having moved firmly into the top tier of Democratic presidential contenders, has also opted against hiring a pollster.
Why skip on the survey research? Polling, while not an inexpensive line-item, is usually far from a large portion of a campaign’s budget. Instead, the benefit of loudly and proudly going pollster-free is about the performance of authenticity. “I am not a focus-group tested, blow-dried candidate,” claimed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the 2014 wake of the Bridgegate scandal, despite the fact that yes, Christie did in fact employ pollsters on his campaign. (I conduct focus groups a lot, and I can assure you, I’ve never seen a focus group participant say that they would like a candidate to be “blow-dried.”)
Voters, understandably, do not like the idea that politicians are just telling them what they want to hear, or that someone running for office is so hungry for power that they’ll say popular things in public while privately believing none of it. People would like to vote for candidates with honesty, integrity, and a willingness to stand up for what they believe in.
But the notion that having a pollster on your team is antithetical to being an honest candidate of strongly held beliefs? Nonsense, built on the myth that most of what pollsters do is tell candidates what to think and to feed them magical words and phrases to hornswoggle voters into going along. Pollsters are generally not telling candidates such as Christie how he should style his hair.
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