David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Results from My Unscientific Election Day Poll
And a few thoughts, mostly related.
We're surrounded by opinion polls and people telling us what they mean. A lot of them are created to tell us what someone wants us to believe. In any case, it's very important to evaluate a poll and its results not only in terms of what it says, but in terms of what it doesn't say. What do the numbers mean? is only half the question. The other half is, you guessed it, What don't they mean?
On Election Day, which I admit is rather late to be thinking of such things, I decided to put out a short online opinion poll for American Fork voters. I knew I wouldn't have a properly scientific, random sample which might be useful for predicting results. What I really wanted was to see why people voted as they did, and what information sources they would identify as having the greatest influence on their decisions.
Thanks to all 65 people who responded; that's about 1.6 percent of the voters who voted. Special thanks to Danny Crivello, Rod Martin, and any others who promoted the poll to their Facebook friends.
This brings me to my next disclaimers, and they're important. The fact that it was an online poll skews answers about influential information sources toward the Internet. The fact that I advertised it mostly through social media increases this distortion. And, much as I tried to pull in plenty of people who disagreed with my votes, you'll see that the results are predictably skewed toward those of my readers and Facebook friends.
Not a Scientific Sample
Just to prove that I wasn't kidding about the unscientific sample . . .
I never put any stock in these results as a predictor. If they had tracked closely with the actual results, I still would have thought that a coincidence, not a triumph of last-minute poll design. But I had to ask people how they voted to provide context for their answers about why they voted as they did.
Now for the interesting part -- at least, interesting if you're into this sort of thing.
In the mayoral race:
In the city council race:
The Road Bond
As to the proposed road bond issue:
My conclusion here, with respect to the road bond's resounding defeat, is that misinformation ruled the day.
Influential Information Sources
To me the most interesting question was the last one, asking which sources of information were influential. But I'm not sure what I learned. Here are some notes:
If there are conclusions to be drawn from these responses to the last question, perhaps they are these: Paper is still relevant. Online sources are tremendously important. The ground game -- personal contacts -- is still crucial, and trusted friends and neighbors play a prominent role.
While We're at It, Some Web Analytics
Looking not at the poll, now, but at some web analytics related to LocalCommentary.com, I see the following:
Hundreds of people read my notes and commentary on the candidates, the road bond, or both. (Thanks!) Some printed them out and handed them to friends, neighbors, or family members who don't lurk on the Internet. (Thanks!) Most of my traffic came through Facebook; I conclude that blog posts not promoted in social media draw little traffic, at least in my little world. I also conclude that a lot of voters and residents want more information and opinion than they're getting about local issues. I realize this conclusion is self-serving. So is the next one.
Having observed my efforts to inform and persuade the voters in this election, a friend looked at the results and asked me late Tuesday evening, "Do you feel insignicant?" In truth, I never felt myself very significant, but one does what one can. This suggests a follow-up question: Do I feel as if all the time and effort I invested, mostly in losing causes, was in vain?
No. I'm a little cranky with the voters right now, and two of three votes didn't go my way, and my property taxes should be going up a lot more next year than they would have, if the road bond issue had passed. But there are a lot voters out there (not enough yet) who understand roads, bonding, their local government, etc., better than they did a month ago. This is knowledge that will be useful in the long term and will generally tend toward good government. Besides that, a lot of my readers have gone out of their way to thank me very kindly for my small part of the picture.
So what do we do in (partial) defeat? We lick our wounds, learn what we can, and jump back into the fray. Or, if we're your friendly local blogger, we do that and also compose a blog post about it, which is coming soon.
Except for the wound-licking. I don't know how to put that in a blog post, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to see or read about it anyway.
Thanks for reading, everybody. Thanks for all the thanks. You're welcome.
Copyright 2013 by David Rodeback.