Why Online Polls Are Bunk

Tracking politics as it's practiced on the Web.
Jan. 12 2000 3:30 AM

Why Online Polls Are Bunk

34000_34651_islogo_130x20

Slate and the Industry Standard join forces to examine the effect of the Internet on Campaign 2000.

(Continued from Page 1)

As long as they are meant as entertainment, and as long as users understand what their results communicate, there's no reason to lose much sleep over online polls. What is worrisome is the failure of pollsters themselves to learn from the history of their profession. Even if they bill themselves as "voting sites" rather than "polling sites," Web sites such as Dick Morris' Vote.com tacitly imply that the results of their online polls are reliable and valid. Otherwise, why would Morris bother to send Vote.com's results to members of Congress?

Advertisement

Another online pollster, Harris Interactive, is using its Harris Poll Online to learn about the public's views on the 2000 election. In order to overcome socioeconomic bias, Harris is using what is known as "quota sampling," which ensures that the poll's respondents are an accurate reflection of the population's demographics. Quota sampling assumes that the answers of a particular demographic group such as white, 18-to-25-year-old Internet users can be projected to describe the opinions of white 18-to-25-year-olds at large. This technique was in widespread use until 1948, when the major national polls based on this technique all predicted that Republican Thomas E. Dewey would defeat incumbent Democrat Harry S. Truman.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Behold
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 2 2014 10:42 AM The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?