I got to be part of history!

I have this theory that the election polls are skewed. I’ve heard it mentioned elsewhere, too, although I think its effect is underestimated – but my theory is that the methods employed by polling organizations are dated and fail to reflect the broader electorate. See, polls are conducted by flipping randomly through the White Pages and dialing every, say, 200th person (or whatever – the algorithm is pre-determined and unreleased to the public) listed and phoning them, continuing down the list until they get a smattering of eligible people who are willing to answer their questions.

But the thing is, the phonebook only lists home phone numbers, not cell phones, and there are many, many, many people who do not have a home phone. Most of the home-phone-less people are young voters (like oh, I don’t know, those under 35. I made that cutoff up). So the population polled is not a good representation of the population who votes, and therefore it is skewed. (Meaning, McCain is theoretically polling higher than expected. HOWEVER, there are also the politics of race to consider – where Obama polls higher than expected because of the social desirability of not wanting to appear racist – so the effect is potentially a wash.)

(Really, there is a point here amongst the parenthetical expressions. I promise. Keep going.)

In the past, this didn’t matter so much, mostly because young people didn’t vote (in 2004), and there were still a lot of people with home phones (until oh, maybe, early 2000s. That’s a total guess).

Anyway, so we broke rank a few months ago and got a home phone (my first since…wow, 2000? maybe?), mostly because it was cheaper than not having one (we had to add internet service, and getting the package of cable, internet, and phone was cheaper than just internet and cable). So yay – we have a landline of sorts, although we have no idea what to do with it, exactly – we never answer it, we don’t know the number, and we never check the voice mail. And today, I was talking to DB on it, and I walked out of the house talking on it before I realized that I wouldn’t get very far that way.

It’s the new generation, right?

So here’s my story. I feel it confirms my theory about how polls are skewed.

Every day during the day, the phone rings a LOT with unrecognized numbers for random people (I guess the people who had our number before). We stopped answering it because of that – it was a pain to say, “No, you’ve got the wrong number.” But the other day, I thought, “hey, they’re doing a lot of polling these days! Maybe I should maybe answer the phone!”

And then, today, just now, the phone rang. The caller ID said, “Datasomething(orother)“. I thought, “AHA! Now’s my chance!!!!”

Lest you get too excited, it was just the Nielsen people asking about movies.

But I popped my public-opinion-pollee-cherry, and I answered their questions with glee.

(I know these things are standardized, but I have to say – I don’t know that their questions are all that helpful in illuminating the population’s opinion of movies. I was kind of making up answers as I went along at times. At one point, I *had* to pick from a list of movies, none of which I’d heard of, to go see *this* weekend, and I said, “But I don’t WANNA see those movies!” like a little kid, and he said, “Suck it up. Get over it and pick one.“)

(No, not really, but I did protest a little (like he wrote the questions and could do anything about it) and after voicing my concern about how I didn’t like any of those movies, picked one arbitrarily. I’m sure the one I picked was something that directly contradicted everything else I said throughout the poll about my movie opinions.)

(That’s called lacking internal validity.)

(Ho! Something I learned in graduate school!)

(These are important things, these movie polls. Verrrrry important things.)

ANYway, while we were talking, the preview for W came on the muted TV. I am very excited to see that, and I told him so.

I’m sure he appreciated that.

Cheap thrills, huh?

P.S. Article about my polling theory here. In case you are curious.

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