Thursday, October 29, 2015

Seriously Flawed Iowa Polls Show NY Times Has Lost Its Mind

Normally, I love the New York Times. Maybe it's not as solid as it once was, but it tries hard to be really good journalism, and I cite it a lot.

So it grieves me when it screws up badly. As it did today. It has an article buried in its "Politics" section claiming Hillary Clinton is suddenly nearly 40 points ahead of Bernie Sanders in Iowa.

Wha? That doesn't seem possible. And, indeed, the NY Times master of polls, Nate Cohn, tore one of those polls apart a couple of days ago in the Times, explaining why it was worthless.

Here's his article: why-an-iowa-poll-is-unfair-to-bernie-sanders.html.

Good for the NY Times in spotting a bad poll!

So how explain the Times' about-face today when it runs an article citing this poll as important and featuring a second similarly flawed poll by an equally obscure pollster.

Perhaps the reporters at the Times don't read their own paper? Or there's a shortage of editors at the Times? Or someone gave an unqualified reporter an assignment over his head? The reporter in this case is a Patrick Healy, who appears to also be a theater critic for the Times. Given that politics is a lot like theater, I suppose he's sort of qualified to cover politics some of the time. He's just not qualified to evaluate political polls.

The sad thing is that most media people aren't. So - sure enough - this morning's TV news picked up the "story" Patrick Healy had "broken", and now lots of Bernie supporters are reportedly scratching their heads. The NY Times still generally defines a lot of what is "news".  Therefore, don't be surprised if your TV or radio starts blathering about Clinton's huge new lead in Iowa.

It isn't true. It isn't even news. These same two ridiculously bad pollsters (profs at two minor colleges) put out polls months ago that showed Hillary with a similarly huge lead. It wasn't true then; all the reputable polls then showed Sanders ahead.  And it sure ain't true now.  In fact, she has gained only 4 points over where one of these obscure polls had her in August. She didn't lead him then by 30+ points, and she doesn't lead by about 40 points now.

P.S. Guess what? The Huffington Post HuffPollster has just written an article about this "news" of Clinton's lead but dismissing it as flawed because of too much calling of landlines.  Landline Telephones, 'Moral Tone,' and Negative Favorability Undermine Clinton's Lead Over Bernie Sanders. The hard truth is that most polls these days are worthless. I'll try to bring you data from the respectable ones that use good criteria and proper methods.

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