TrumpSupport — Questioning the Believability of Opinion Polls
TrumpSupport — Questioning the Believability of Opinion Polls
Theopinion polls are gaining popularity in the current society, which isparticularly manifested in politics in which they are increasinglyplaying a crucial role in informing the audience of outcomepredictions. The case of the United States` election presents perhapsone of the outstanding examples of the growing importance opinionpolls in predicting election outcomes. Many of them have citedHillary Clinton as the presidential favorite, asserting that manypeople see her be more popular than Donald Trump.
Nevertheless,the opinion poll reports have not been without the oppositionbacklash, which has dismissed them as biased and far removed from theactual picture on the ground (New York Times, 2016). Such competingpositions invite the question of whether to believe the opinionpolls. This paper examines the question of believability of theopinion polls in predicting the US presidential favorite.
Tofind answers to the impeding question, this paper acknowledges theneed to chart a methodology by which the opinion polls could beevaluated. It is first acknowledged that since many of them areessentially products of statistically manipulated research surveys,it will be imperative to scrutinize them based on the underpinningphilosophical principles. In theconvention, for research to bebelieved, it must be able to impress four core elements: accuracy,precision, validity, and reliability (McBurney, 2012). In this case,accuracy defines the degree by which a measurement represents anexpected value. In the US political scenario, accuracy will bedefined by their ability to correspond to the actual electionoutcomes.
Sinceit is inherently impossible to ascertain the election outcome beforethe actual elections are conducted, the assessment will opt toinquire whether the undertakers of such polls have always givenaccurate results for the past elections. The aspect of precisiondescribes the ability of the results to resemble other findingsrepeated under similar circumstances. To address the reliabilityissue, the present discussion seeks to inquire how many other similarpolls are in tandem with the findings of focus (Robinson et al.,2013).
Validitydescribes the extent by which a measures what it intended toascertain. The validity assessment of the polls will be orientedtowards inquiring on the methodologies used, especially questioninghow they fit into ideal research equation. Lastly, reliability isconcerned about how the procedure would give the same results ifrepeated (Silver, 2016). For convenience, the present assessmentreviews a single case of opinion poll — Poll Tracker.
PollTracker’s opinion poll shows that Clinton is the most popularpresidential candidate, followed by Donald Trump. The findings of theopinion poll are informed by a countrywide survey targeted on voterpopulations. The results show that while Trump is popular to someregions, the states with the majority voters that are likely tosupport him are fewer than those backing Clinton. The latest pollsshow that, out of the all the surveyed states, Clinton commands 44.9percent of voter support, against Trump`s 41.1 percent. Therefore,the question of intrigue is whether Poll Tracker`s findings arebelievable (Poll Tracker, 2016).
Thehistorical record of Poll Tracker shows that it has always beenaccurate in predicting the outcomes of the past elections. Some ofthe notable examples of polls that exemplify it as accurate are the2008 Obama vs. McCain, and 2013 Obama vs. Romney presidential races.In both cases, the polls showed that Obama was the most popularcandidate to win the race and that eventually became the case at theballot box. The poll findings can be inferred to be precise becauseseveral other opinion polls have highlighted Clinton`s highpopularity against Trump. One of the popular polls whose findings arein tandem with Poll Tracker is World Times (2016), which has shownthat 43.3 percent of voter would support Hillary Clinton, compared toonly 40.9 percent that would vote Trump. Similarly, Real Clear(2016), another popular poll, has pointed out that 52 percent of thestates prefer Clinton to Trump.
Themethodology by Poll Tracker can also be inferred to assure validity.The winner of the presidential race is determined by the number offederal states with majority votes supporting the candidate. Thiscriterion contrasts with the simple majority that would have ideallygeneralized the number of votes. The methodology acknowledges theimplication of this principle and accedes by assessing the opinionson astate-by-state basis. Moreover, the findings are also validbecause they took necessary measures to focus on registered voters,which was outright in ensuring that the findings would berepresentative of the only the views of the people who would bedirectly involved in determining the outcome of an election.
Lastly,an assessment of Poll Tracker`s reliability aspect shows that thefindings are repeatable. The poll surveys are often collected dailyand plot on a trend curve. The trend depicts various forms ofconsistency in the results. For instance, on 1st August, Clintonsupport was 41.4 percent, while Trump`s was 38.8 percent. On 1stSeptember, Clinton support grew to 42 percent, while Trump`s supportdropped to 38.1 percent. Moreover, on 1st October, Clinton supportfurther grew to 43.7 percent, while Trump`s also gained to 41.1percent.
Itis worth noting that although the statistics have tended to fluctuateover time, they have been consistent in placing Clinton ahead ofTrump. Moreover, for any developmental changes in the figures, thePolls have also been sure in providing an explanation for the trend.For instance, Trump`s supports declined significantly after thesexual assault expose`. Clinton`s support decline was evidenced afterthe exposing of email policy violations.
Inconclusion, this paper has examined the question of believability ofthe opinion polls in predicting the US presidential favorite. Theassessment has been undertaken at the backdrop of competing views onthe believability of poll results that have placed Hillary Clinton asthe presidential favorite, must to the disgust of the Trump and hissupporters. For convenience, the assessment opted to conduct a reviewof a single case of opinion poll — Poll Tracker.
Theassessment, building upon the philosophical principles of statisticalresearch, focused on four core elements of believability: accuracy,precision, validity, and reliability. The historical record of PollTracker shows that it has always been accurate in predicting theoutcomes of the past elections. Poll Tracker findings also presentsatisfactory evidence of precision, validity, and reliability. Inthis regard, it would be plausible to believe that the winner of the2017 US presidential elections will be Hillary Clinton.
McBurneyD.H., (2012), Methodsin Research.Brooks and Cole, Pacific Grove
NewYork Times (2016).Latest Election Polls 2016. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/us/elections/polls.html?_r=0PollTracker (2016). National Polling Averages. USToday.Retrieved fromhttp://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/2016/election/poll-tracker/RealClear. (2016). LatestPolls.Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/
Robinsonet al, (2013), Measuresof personality and social psychological attitudes.San Diego: Academic Press
Silver,N. (2016) ElectionForecast – Five Thirty Eight.http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/#plus(Retrieved on 2ndOctober2016)
WorldTimes. (2016). Presidentialdebate: Hillary Clinton triumphs over Donald Trump in opinion pollsafter first televised clash. Retrieved fromhttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/presidential-debate-hillary-clinton-triumphs-over-donald-trump-in-opinion-polls-following-televised-a7332091.html