Polling to manipulate political outcomes

Just watching the latest ‘Real Time’ with Bill Maher and one of the changes that has occurred in the United States is the FCC banning robo-calling unless that individual has either explicitly provided permission or it falls under one of the limited number of exemptions such as a doctor ringing you up from a hospital to tell you that your great aunt Suzie was hit by a steam roller. One of the issues that was raised was ‘researching voting patterns’ aka pollsters would be made more difficult – but is that a bad thing? if it means that there is no accurate polling information then will it mean that politicians will actually have to come out with ideas and win people over rather than licking their finger, putting it in the air then tweaking their policies for maximum populism. The end result? we might end up getting politicians who have lived in the real world who understand what real people want rather than those who have been bought up in an elite environment divorced of what actually needs to happen in the real world. There is also the double edge sword with polling – it can and does influence outcomes of people voting.

Take Nicky Hager for example and the latest book called “Dirty Politics” where the negative ads put out by the right isn’t there to push more of their own out to vote but what it ends up doing it is more likely to persuade those on the left to not come out. Then lets add on top of the cycle of media coverage where poll after poll pretty much said that it was a shoe in for National to win the election so many didn’t come out to vote (compare the number who can vote vs. the number who registered to vote vs. the number who actually turned out to vote) and the net result? “Why turn out to vote, the out come is a full gone conclusion” and thus you have the self fulfilling prophecy where outcomes can be shaped by the constant barrage of polling. One thing to always remember, you may think your vote doesn’t matter but elections have come down to a matter of a few votes – Bernie Sanders for example was elected mayor on a majority of 10 votes. Imagine if 20 people who would have voted for Bernie decided to stay home – so your vote does matter and when it is extrapolated over larger numbers especially considering the latest election, if they turned out and voted for Labour the election outcome might have resulted in a Labour-Greens government with NZ First assistance but because people decided to stay at home we are now in the situation we’re in.

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