Just how reliable is political polling? Our resident self-help expert gets the truth.
Barack or Hillary? Hillary or Barack? It’s all my crazy white clients want to talk about these days and it’s been getting pretty annoying. Naturally, I tell these clients that they should support the candidate they like the best, but they’re all far too self-obsessed to let personal preference guide their politics. It’s the impression their support makes that actually matters: Does supporting Clinton make me a racist? (No.) Does supporting Obama make me a misogynist? (Of course not.) Does supporting James K. Polk make me a time-traveler? (Yes, now get off of my lawn.)
These nut jobs I treat are online all day, every day, sipping coffee drinks, reading the latest polls and hoping that they’ll figure out who will be more “electable” in the general matchup so that they can justify their choice without appearing prejudiced. But how accurate are these polls? Do they reflect the true thoughts of voters? And should my clients allow their decision-making to be influenced by the data they produce?
Personally, I don’t think they should believe any of the polling results they read. Polls are unreliable at best; horribly biased at worst. And to prove my point, I’ve surveyed these same clients on a number of questions about my practice, with incredibly questionable results. I believe a look at the final numbers should open their eyes to the many inherent flaws in conducting an opinion poll.
To begin with, 95% of clients confirmed that I am a Caucasian male. Already these results are dubious, as only one client actually answered this question. Either my tabulation of the responses is flawed, or this client thinks that my eyebrows are a little bit Mexican. Either way, I’m ready to wipe my tail feathers with the whole thing, and this is only the first result.
Of women surveyed, 60% were happy with the blouses I provided them during our sessions. The other 40% could not be contacted to comment on their responses, as they are no longer my clients (you know who you are and you are NOT welcome back).
Of all the clients surveyed, an overwhelming 65% believed that I was actually a doctor. This can’t be right, as I’ve repeatedly told 100% of my clients that I am, in fact, a doctor. The difference in these numbers means that 35% of my clients are able to discern truth from fiction, and the fact that they’re seeing me at all proves that they don’t have this ability.
By the way, I am a doctor.
100% of clients surveyed said they felt no urge to laugh at me, yet I’ve been laughed at three times just today – proof that people change their answers depending on the person or agency conducting the poll. This is also proof that some people are just jealous.
80% of clients claim to have been touched by me in a way that made them feel uncomfortable over the last six months. This proves that I’m really making some progress with these clients, since change for the better always comes with some discomfort. It also shows that people can’t follow directions – this question wasn’t even on the survey!
The rest of the responses were only partially legible. Why so many of my clients switched from a #2 pencil to teardrops remains a mystery to me. But I think the message is loud and clear: polling doesn’t work, and crazy white people should vote their conscience instead of some made up numbers from CNN. Just this morning, one of my star clients, ‘72 presidential nominee George McGovern, saw these results and immediately switched from Clinton to Obama; proof that even somebody in treatment for LSD addiction can see the light.* Of course, now that I know McGovern hates women, we’ll have to change the course of our treatment. But it’s a solid improvement nonetheless.
So be like McGovern – screw the polls, drop a tab, and get behind the black guy. It’s the only thing that makes sense anymore.
*I keep my client’s identities and personal problems strictly confidential, so please don’t tell anybody what I just told you.
More of Chad Fifer's self-help advice can be found here.
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