In addition, it’s getting much harder for pollsters to get people to respond to interviews. The Pew Research Center reports that it’s getting only 9 percent of the people it contacts to respond to its questions. That’s compared with 36 percent in 1997.
Interestingly, response rates are much higher in new democracies. Americans, particularly in target states, may be getting poll fatigue. When a phone rings in New Hampshire, it might well be a pollster calling.
Are those 9 percent representative of the larger population? As that percentage declines, it seems increasingly possible that the sample is unrepresentative of the much larger voting public. One thing a poll can’t tell us is the opinion of people who refuse to be polled.
I increasingly resent being rung up by someone hoping to learn my opinions about this or that, and am not a bit surprised to learn that the feeling is becoming a lot more widespread. What’s in it for me? Nothing. Just a great gob of time down the drain.
If you want to know my opinions, read Samizdata.
In the particular matter of American pollsters claiming to discover how the presidential election will go, there is also the widespread belief that these people are not so much seeking to serve the voters by telling them what will be what, as to manipulate voters into voting Democrat. In which case, should you happen not to be a Democrat supporter, why would you be inclined to give them anything other than a brief suggestion that they go forth and multiply or words to that effect?