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Seamans: The Trouble With Polls

02/18/10 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans has been thinking about polls and how the experts always seem to know what he's thinking - or do they?

(SEAMANS) I have finally had it with polls!  I resent being told what I'm thinking and how I feel by the talk show pollster screed that flows out of my radio.  One morning, for example, xyz poll told me even before coffee that I thought I was feeling pretty good about the unemployment crisis because welfare claims had gone down a bit.  I was told what I was thinking even before I thought about what I was thinking.

Then over my morning coffee boost I thought all on my own that I was confused because just the day before, xyz pollsters had told me that I thought I was really upset about the job market because of an increase in claims.   Later, another poll added that I was thinking negative thoughts about the entrepreneurs who had out- sourced their workers' paychecks but were now complaining that president Obama had failed to create a couple of million new jobs even though he's had his job a whole year.  I expected to hear that one of those CEO's had asked his daughter's college dean why after her freshman year she had not been awarded a PhD.

Then profound introspection set in and I asked myself how pollsters found out what I and over 305 million fellow Americans were thinking?  One leading poll taker explained that his staff solicited telephone answers from about 8500 so-called representative persons around the country which sounded like a focus group on steroids.  It was described as a sophisticated statistical analysis by experts who have been studying for years to tell me what I am thinking.

Also, I noticed that talk show hosts used several different polls to tell their audiences what I'm thinking but, it seems, only the ones that favored their particular views in a controversy.  And it sounds to me that the big-foot pundits seem not able to comment about what I'm thinking without quoting a poll.

More coffee with skepticism.  Who were those representative people and how were they chosen?  How were the questions phrased?  Was there a stealth technique that supplied answers to support a particular political agenda?  And it was getting really serious!  The ABC News/Washington Post poll told me, often taken as a staunch tree-hugging liberal, that I think the republicans have pulled ahead of the democrats for this November election.  More coffee with something stronger in it.

Finally I recalled that in all the years we the people have been told by polls what we have been thinking about health care, our sick economy, about Afghanistan and Iraq - whatever - no pollster has ever asked me about anything!
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