Polls. Do you love them or hate them?
Clearly, they’re very popular because you see them all over social media. Any time we see a poll that tells us what we want to see, we’re likely to give it a thumbs up or even share it. Campaigns do the same thing, too. I.e. only share polls that show them in the best light.
This tendency, though, has a really disastrous consequence. When voters see polls that show their candidate “winning” it makes them more complacent. Voters are less likely to vote because they see the polls showing their candidate in a strong position and figure, “they don’t need my vote.” If I could, I would stop everyone from sharing polls altogether.
There are studies that show that some voters will “conform” to the majority opinion and will vote for whoever is “winning” a race but those studies are about 8 years old at this point, and I wonder if they still apply considering how much more polarized we are now.
Journalists and pundits are also affected by polls. Polls help them craft a narrative around a race and drive the stories that they tell about candidates.
If it were up to me, there would only be one type of poll that I’d share: Polls that show that a race is neck-and-neck.
Psychologically, it shows voters that their vote could be the difference between winning and losing. That their vote matters. If there’s one thing we know about people who don’t vote, it’s that a significant number of them don’t vote because “it won’t matter.” Demonstrating that a race is really close could propel them to cast their vote.
I am curious to hear what you think. How do you feel when you see polls that show your candidate winning, or losing, or are in a tight race. Does it affect your behavior?
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