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How Accurate Are Polls?

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feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The political campaigning is at its apex, as Election Day is almost upon us. Thankfully. But as you listen to the news and hear where your candidate ranks in the polls, how much credence should you put into those poll numbers? Not much.

Even when you put aside the types of political communications that sound like voter polling but are actually what is called a “push poll” – a question that is asked by one campaign designed to get you to think a certain way: “would your vote change if you knew candidate x is an ax murderer”, the other seemingly legitimate polls that sound like they accurately reflect where voters stand may not be as neutral as you think.

Political campaigns are not created to give you the facts, they are there to sway your opinion and there’s no legal obligation for a campaign to report the news in a neutral way. John Edwards’ pollster, who was under oath when he spoke about the role of polls in a campaign, said the goal is to find polls that bolster a candidate, even if they are not from a legitimate source, and even if one good number is not representative of the vast majority of the opinion of the voting public.

As you enter the voting booth, base your decision on what you believe, not what you think others do.

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