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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Sorry, the polls didn't stop on Election Day

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | 4:12 p.m. CST

Please take our poll: “A week after the 2012 elections ended, I am:”

  •  Tired of polls.
  • Extremely tired of polls.
  • So tired of polls that I want to throw this newspaper (or tablet or smartphone) across the room.

Hmmm, sorry we asked.

Don’t blame Americans for being a little poll-shocked at the end of a rather bumpy election season. Polls wouldn’t be such a tedious matter if they more often did a better job predicting the future.

Consider the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Polls by Gallup — one of the industry’s best-known brands — showed Romney the clear leader in the weeks before Nov. 6. Wrong: Obama won by more than 3 million votes.

Some other pollsters were almost as far off base, including several that didn’t call cellphones. That’s an antiquated idea in 2012 — and one that likely skewed pro-GOP by eliminating voters who tended to be younger, minorities and city dwellers.

Pollsters point out that things change during a campaign and polls can, too.

Look to Missouri, where Todd Akin held an 11-point lead over U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in a SurveyUSA poll in early August. Then came Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, undercutting his campaign. By early November, SurveyUSA showed McCaskill with a 15 percent lead — just about her real winning margin.

So after a year like 2012, we offer a timeworn chestnut: The only poll that counts is on Election Day.

Poll: Agree or disagree?

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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