Have Polls Lost It?

Dr. Joseph Frager,

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Dr. Joseph Frager
The writer is a leading American pro-Israel activist who sponsors and coordinates many Zionist events. He is clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases) at the Einstein School of Medicine as well as a practicing physician.

On November 3rd, 2015 Polls indicated that Jack Conway a Democrat was going to beat his Republican rival Matt Bevin 44% to 41% in the Kentucky Gubernatorial race. Matt Bevin won easily 53% to 44%. The Polls were off by 12% and predicted the wrong winner.

This was not the first time that polls were wrong. It actually seems to be occurring with ever increasing frequency. It also seems to be biased towards the Left. It is not limited to American Politics. On March 17th, 2015 pre-election Polls in Israel indicated that the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog had a four or five seat Parliamentary lead over Likud's Bibi Netanyahu 24(25) to 20. The result was vastly different. Likud ended up with 30 seats to the Zionist Union's 24. It has come to a point in Politics (believe it or not) that it is better to go into a race slightly behind in the polls rather than slightly ahead. It is as if the voter despises polls, and votes against them out of principle.

A Poll has become the opposite of a self fulfilling prophecy. Social media has probably had the most impact on the skewing of Poll results. They have fueled the Anti-Poll revolution. In the 2012 Presidential Election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Gallup had Romney winning the election with 50% to Obama's 49%. The result was 51% for Obama and 47% for Romney. Clearly social media played a major role in the turnaround. Many Obama voters were also never included in the Gallup Poll. In the November 2014 Mid-term elections, North Carolina had its Democratic nominee for the Senate, Kay Hagan, up by 0.5%.

The Republican nominee, Thom Tillis won by 1.7%. In Alaska the same thing occurred in 2014. The Democrat nominee, Mark Begich, was up by 0.5% in the polls. The Republican, Dan Sullivan won by 2.13%. In Virginia the Democrat Mark Warner was up by 8.5% in the Polls but barely won by 0.6%. It was even more dramatic in Arkansas. The Republican Senate nominee, Tom Cotton was up by 4.7% in the Polls but won by a whopping 17%. In Iowa, Joni Ernst was up by 1.6% in the Polls but ended up winning by 8.5%.

In 2014 Polls forecast that Republicans would win a Senate majority but often suggested closer contests and understated GOP margins. The Pollsters clearly added some kind of bias to their methods. All of this raises significant questions especially as we approach the 2016 Election Cycle. Many of the methodologies are antiquated skewing  the results. The Polls have lost significant credibility. New methodologies are required.