Polls taken in the heat of the moment are always worthless!

English: Obama v. Romney line graphs

English: Obama v. Romney line graphs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is some panicking going on in social media, people are so stressed about the fact that some polls are tied, that I thought it might be good to give my opinion.

I’m not a polling expert although a lot of my work is related to consumer confidence and mass-psychology and to the way people tend to respond to certain events.

Last week’s debate without a doubt was not one of the strongest performances of the President and it was the first bump in the road of his campaign. Romney has had several bumps, but the President didn’t and the stronger a candidate seems to be, the harder the bump will be if there is one.

The expectations for the debate were high, especially for Obama because we all thought Romney would have no chance against him. And if in a situation like that, Romney ends up being the winner of the debate, it is considered to be a surprise. Ask independent voters a day later which candidate they favor and most likely they will say Romney is their favorite.

It’s a very simple human reaction. In the heat of the moment, realizing that whatever they say won’t make a difference because it’s not a real vote. Some people will answer the question as if was asked ‘who was the winner of the debate’ and those who realize that that is not the question will, with the debate in mind, most likely give Romney the benefit of the doubt.

Imagine you’re in the middle, undecided, you have your doubts about Romney, he insulted your parents with that 47% thing, he doesn’t seem to be a sincere person and even though you’re not sure yet, you think you will vote for Obama.  Then you’re watching the debate and Romney is stronger than Obama. It doesn’t mean that you will now vote for Romney. But you used to be 90% sure that you were gonna vote for Obama and now it is 70%. Turns out that even though you’re still leaning 70% to Obama, if someone would ask you right at the moment you changed from 90 to 70%, you will most likely say you will vote for Romney, cuz even though you’re still on Obama’s side, you changed in Romney’s direction.

It is not only like this in Politics. If you have two favorite baseball players and you have to pick one. You are pretty sure it will be number one, but then number two hits a very important homerun. And right then, right at that moment, you need to decide who your favorite player is, chances are you will pick number two.

Some polls do matter, but polls taken in the heat of a moment turn out to be worthless. In the baseball example, after a couple of days you forgot about that homerun and you start to think back of all the homeruns your other favorite hit.

In Romney’s case you watched him hit a homerun, but a couple days later you hear that unemployment is down again. You start to realize things aren’t as bad as they try to tell you, you remember that 47% thing, you remember that Romney hasn’t been really honest about so many things. That homerun becomes less and less important and all your other doubts turn out to be still there. And if then someone asks you who you plan to vote for, the reality is that you’re 85% sure you will vote for Obama.

It is also the other way around. All of a sudden people expect a lot from Romney in the debates. Pretty sure he will get in trouble in one of the remaining debates. Three days after that the polls will show a different bounce, and again, we should ignore that bounce. The way polls, and polls of polls developed over months, the trends, those are the things we should look at. Not a bump in the road and the response to that in the polls. It will all fade away, like it always did, like it always will.

The only ones who gain from this kind of polling is the media. It’s boring to have to say that nothing changed, so they enjoy the moment and any explanation of what is pre-school mass-psychology would destroy the news so they choose to not mention that.

Read my Lips. Check out the Polls in a couple of days and realize you’ve been worrying about nothing.

President Obama has had a small but steady lead, structural in all important States. The trends in the Polls are important, not the bumps. Don’t let a bump ruin your mood, cuz you only only feel a bump in the road the moment you’re driving over it. A while later you can’t even remember it.


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