POLITICS 01/17/2019 03:21 pm ET If a “poll” doesn’t control who takes it and how many times they do so, it’s not really a poll. By Ariel Edwards-Levy Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, promised an IT company tens of thousands of dollars to influence online reader polls ― like the ones conducted on the Drudge Report ― in Trump’s favor, according to The Wall Street Journal. The results of those polls were often regurgitated by media outlets, conservative figures like Sean Hannity and Trump himself. That Cohen was able to cook up such a plan highlights the glaring problems with reader polls, and why — as we’ve written previously — they shouldn’t be confused with real surveys. Scientific polling, whether conducted by phone, using an online panel, or in some other fashion, is fundamentally designed to be representative. It relies on some mix of sampling (choosing who’s selected to take the survey) and weighting (adjusting the data to account for the fact that some types of people are more likely than others to respond). Recent changes in technology have complicated that process, and even rigorous polling is far from infallible. But there’s an enduring, basically sound underlying principle: making the pool… Read full this story
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