Pernicious push polls pervert politics

By Jon Coupal | “There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” goes the old saying. It has always been true that statistics can be presented in ways that are highly deceptive and intentionally misleading.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalA Midwestern city might truthfully claim that its average temperature is a perfect 74 degrees — just like the Hawaiian Islands. It could be technically true, except that the deviation from that temperature in the sub-tropical climate isn’t very great, while the Midwestern city might swing from below freezing in the winter to triple-digit heat in the summer. That comfortable-sounding “average” is sure not the full story.

Still, for susceptibility to manipulation, statistics don’t hold a candle to polling — especially political polling. During this primary season in California, the various candidates are releasing reams of polling to show how far ahead they are of their competitors. Two different polls can show diametrically opposite results, with one candidate showing he or she is leading 80 percent to 20 percent over an opponent while the opponent might claim to be ahead by a margin of 90 to 10.

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