News Release

Presidential Polling and Issues

MATT WATERMAN
Waterman is the designer of a web page that allows people to select their positions on various political issues and ranks the presidential candidates according to how closely their views match, creating a political “blind taste test.”

He said today: “Five months after launch we’ve had over 200,000 people use the tool to find out how well candidates’ views match up against their own. Records from the submissions have shown the most common top match-up to be, by a wide margin, Dennis Kucinich, with Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Mike Gravel as the distant runners-up. The data that have been collected are far from scientific, but do seem to demonstrate a large disconnect between where people stand on the issues and who conventional polls have indicated they plan to vote for. I would be interested to see the results if pollsters asked questions like these [‘blind taste tests’].

“People may not know where the candidates actually stand on many of these issues, or perhaps they’re making their decisions based on only a few key political issues. It’s also likely that people simply don’t see some candidates as being electable.”

Waterman is a 23-year-old student studying electrical engineering and a former Marine who recently returned from working as a U.S. Army telephone switching contractor in Afghanistan.

SAM HUSSEINI
Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini wrote the piece “Why Public Opinion Polls Aren’t.”

He said today: “The dominant question pollsters have been asking is some variation of ‘if the election were held today, who would you vote for?’ But that doesn’t really ask who people agree with or even who they want. Perceived electability, visibility — Kucinich was excluded from the most recent Iowa debate — and other factors enter into their responses. Pollsters are also asking specific questions about electability, furthering the focus on that. This process turns citizens into pundits. What’s missing are the issues and the public’s views on them.

“For example, pollsters are not asking questions like ‘regardless of their perceived changes of winning, which of the candidates do you agree with on the issues?’ The fact that pollsters are not asking those types of questions not only marginalizes the issues, it even means that someone who is regarded as a fringe candidate now could manifest broad support, but the polls wouldn’t pick it up because the question isn’t asked.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167