April 30, 2008

Indiana Poll Results Likely to Mislead in Run-up to Tuesday Vote

In contrast to North Carolina, Indiana does not permit, by law, the use of automated polling calls. Polling organizations are finding, in particular in this primary race where the racial overtone has been so powerful, that people will not tell the truth about their voting intentions when asked by a human being.

Automated polls however, are eliciting very accurate results as people are apparently more comfortable giving a very honest answer about their voting preference to a recorded human voice powered by computer. This difference in accuracy between polls administered by phone rooms of human pollsters and automated poll results accounts for some of the terrible misses by news organizations during this primary season. CNN for example was 10 points off in Iowa, largely attributable to using the less accurate human administered poll.

The interesting side note here is that apparently several polling operations don't know this, as several have used automated polling calls already in the state, and the attorney general is actively considering taking legal action against them.