SO, YOU'RE UPSET ABOUT A POLL
What to do when you're freaking out
- •First, remember: most poll reporting is designed to get you to click.And, specifically, shocking bad news is what you're most likely to click.
- •Not all polls were made equal.You should trust polls! But "shocking" polls most often massage the truth. Consider the source and, when in doubt, check 538 for their poll ranking. A D+ pollster projecting a 2-point Trump win is much less scary than an A- pollster projecting a tie.
- •Check aggregates, not pollsThis shows the trends rather than having you fixate on outliers. Trump has a poll showing him up 2 today: but he also has one showing him down 3 and another with him down 6. Context is key.
- •Be a detectiveCheck the details. Is this a poll with a small sample size of say, 400 people? Those are likely very swingy. Is this a land-line only poll? Those under-reach both minority households and young voters. Does this pollster have a known bias or tilt? Rasmussen, for example, projected a dominant Romney win—keep that in mind when they come up in the cycle.
- •Check the cross-tabsIf a poll has you alarmed or thrilled, check the cross tabs. That's where hiccups will emerge. A recent poll showed Trump up high in North Carolina...and also gave him 36% of the African American vote. Don't discard results that surprise you, but be aware when something truly doesn't mesh with national trends.
- •Remember the contextThe polls are tightening in this race. They also traditionally tighten before the debates as media seeks to elevate ratings. Worth keeping that in mind.
- •Remember that there's nothing you can really do anyway and we're all adrift together.Fun! Here's a gif