It would be a really great idea if we could get an idea of what people thought and various leanings and the feelings of various groups of citizens. And it would also be wonderful if we had a way to tell if politicians were lying, being truthful or spinning a “fact” to make it seem something it is not.
But wait! We have polls and the website Politifact that do all of those things.
The underlined could be true, but I could also deem it mostly true, partly true or false. It all depends on what message I want to get out.
If I were being honest, I would say the statement is false. Because it really is.
The polls we are seeing now in various political races are, mostly, horrible. Here we are 110 days away from a pretty big election and most of the polls are still polling “registered” voters or “all” voters – registered or not.
These polls are notoriously inaccurate. Even if they manage to get the proper balance that closely resembles the number of Republican, Democrat and Interdependent voters in the poll, which is pretty rare these days, the only group that has a chance of being close to reality are the “likely” voters. They ask questions to figure that out and it’s not that hard to do.
So why would pollsters even bother with any poll that is not strictly using those most likely to vote in the election?
Because the polls that take answers from almost anyone lean to the left. And then there are the polls that sample 5 to 10 percent more Democrats than Republicans. There is only one reason to do ths: to make it look like the races are close so Democrats don’t get discouraged.
And the same dynamic exists with Politifact. Because polls sample more Democrats or use answers from voters not likely to vote, the underlined statement is false by my reckoning.
But you could argue that the statement is some degree of true or false, or, if you consider that the statement could also be read to claim that polls and Politifact exist and not consider the accuracy, the statement could be true as well.
Only if the pollster or fact checker is absolutely concerned with accuracy and they apply the “truth” meter consistently and without bias can the result be trusted.
According to the Washington Examiner:
The GOP truth squad, for example, wants to find out the party registration of reporters or editors. For example, they found that a PolitiFact Virginia editor has voted in five Democratic primaries and one Republican primary over the last 10 years. They are also looking over the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the reporters and editors for hint of bias.
Of course, Politifact denies this bias exists, but they do lean left and the Democrats always get far more benefit of the doubt moments from them.
For example, President Obama is claiming he may be the first sitting president that is outspent by his opponent. Both Clinton and Carter were outspent so this statement is absolutely false. Yet Politifact rates this statement as “mostly” false. Mostly?
And consider Mitt Romney’s claim:
“The Obama administration “has been outsourcing” by sending money to “solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States.”
Politifact ranks this only half true the jobs were never in the US. Obama simply created jobs overseas. If you consider that Outsourcing simply means that jobs were sent overseas instead of using American workers to most Americans, the story is absolutely true. No benefit of the doubt here.
The bottom line is, look at polls. Look at the demographics and consider the sample. If the poll has more Democrats than Republican respondents or samples other than likely voters, you most likely need to add several points to the Republican percentage.
And they always claim that polls tighten as the election draws near. There is some truth to that, but of you go back and look at the polls, the number of Republicans and Democrats gets more accurate and lines up with the true numbers and the polls all start using only likely voters. And they all want to be on the money come election day because the last poll is the only one a polling firm is generally held accountable for.
As for Politifact, you need to be careful and look at the true facts. Not the facts as the present them, but the real facts. And unless you have no doubt a statement is absolutely true or false, you can probably move the gauge for Republicans a bit towards truth and a bit towards false for Democrats.
In the examples from Politifact, move the Obama statement one step towards false and it is absolutely false (not mostly false) and the Romney statement would become mostly true, which any objective person would find reasonable.