I Love You Polls

But please do better

Dear Pollster McPollsterface, 

You need to change. You’ve cheated the country three times now. In 2012, 2016, and now, 2020. We love you when you help us understand changes in public opinion, but you need to do better during elections. I think you need to change how you reach out to people. Maybe don’t call them. People will think you’re one of those scammers asking you to wire them $1000 and then they’ll receive $10,000 back. At least have a caller ID so people won’t just ignore your phone calls. It might be best if you physically go somewhere and ask people at their doors, but even then it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get answers to the questions you ask. But without your beautiful numbers, how else would we know which districts are competitive?

You’ve done us well in the past before. We know what you can do, but it’s just hard that we’ve come so far for you to do this to us. It hurts, you know? There’s no easy way out of this problem. 

When we first met, you were the best thing in the world, helping us decipher the aggregate  opinions of entire communities. But now? You’re like an Instagram horoscope page from 2015 but fancier and more expensive. You said that Democrats would control the House. Technically, they will, but they actually LOST seats in the election. You misled us. Though the pandemic most likely played a role in everyone’s campaign efforts, it’s heartbreaking to see how wrong you really were. 

It was our mistake for us to rely so heavily on you. You even had the Republicans freaking out! You did get one thing right though. People hated the president and subsequently voted him out, but only the president. How can people trust you going forward? We could stand on a street corner and ask people as I mentioned earlier, but that’s only a small segment of the population that you’re sampling. Imagine if we could take quality polls on the internet without having to worry about how truthful people are. 

Looking at your numbers used to be so soothing. I could almost always expect the results to be within the margin of error. Now it’s almost like throwing a dice and hoping you get the number you bet on. While the numbers often do end up within the margin of error, it’s usually in districts that are safe for either party. I want to keep using your numbers in the future, but the formulas seem a bit broken. I know that you can at least try to fix yourself because you changed after the 2012 and 2016 elections, but how will you change in 2024? Will it be for the better?

In my mind, you will always be just a little off, but you still need to do a little soul-searching for next time. It’s going to be harder to do it right now because people are so distrusting of you. Next election cycle, people will look at you and say, “the pollsters have been wrong the past three times, why should we trust them now?” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that everyone will be fighting harder to win the hearts and minds of people, but no one will know where to allocate resources if they don’t trust you like they used to. It’s time for a revolution in the polling industry.

Right now, you’re in the horse world of polling because no one picks up the phone anymore. We need to bring you to the present in the electric car world. Imagine how amazing it would be to know the tendencies of a district and how they vote and actually see it turn out that way. There’s much work to be done in the future if we want to be accurate. It will probably have to be a combination of calling people and knocking on their doors for the most accurate read. 

I can’t wait for what the future holds for you and your beautiful spreadsheets. I hope that they’re accurate, but even if they’re not in the end, I know you did your best to help everyone make informed decisions.