“Our poll's better than your poll” is the message that Civil Beat is trying to convey in a story that has Tulsi Gabbard trouncing Mufi Hannemann in the 2nd Congressional District race.
The Civil Beat poll shows Tulsi with a 20-point lead over Mufi, or 49 to 29 percent. But a recent Hawaii Poll, conducted by Civil Beat competitors Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star Advertiser, gives Mufi a 43 percent to 33 percent lead over Tulsi.
Civil Beat defends its results with this rationale:
Civil Beat uses interactive voice response technology, also known as touch-tone polling or, critics say, "robo-polling." The Star-Advertiser uses live telephone interviews. Though there are downsides to touch-tone polling, Civil Beat believes talking to a live person can be intimidating and could drive some voters to say they support the better-known Hannemann even if they really don't.
Nice try, but I have a very hard time believing people would be more responsive to a computerized poll than one taken by a real live human.
Then there's the issue of who gets called. So far as I've been able to determine, the calls are made to landlines. And as a recent National Health Interview Survey found:
More than 3 of every 10 American homes (31.6%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the first half of 2011.
And as Huffington Post reported:
Over the years, [senior CDC scientist Stephen] Blumberg has found that lower-income people are more likely than higher-earning Americans to have only wireless phones. Younger people and renters are also quicker to shed traditional landlines.
So surveys conducted by calling landlines are not going to accurately represent the voter demographic. The bigger question is, do political polls have any real value? If the S-A and CB can come up with such different results, doesn't it seem to indicate it's all rather meaningless? Are people so brain dead that they need to be told how others are voting so they can determine how to cast their own ballot?
Something else caught my eye today, a headline that speaks to the very different world we live in. Used to be that factory workers had to worry about getting crushed by equipment or losing a limb on an assembly line. Now, they're facing another threat: chronic exposure to an artificial butter flavoring ingredient.
It seems the ingredient, known as diacetyl, has already been linked to respiratory and other health problems among workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring plants. Now a new study shows it may worsen the harmful effects of a protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease.
But no worries, folks, you just go right ahead and keep on eating that crap. If the TV doesn't destroy your brain, the popcorn will.
Finally, here in America, another weekend, another mass murder by semi-automatic weapons, this time by a white supremacist killer who used to be a member of the Army's psychological operations division. Great. It brings to mind that line in the old Frankie Goes to Hollywood song, "Two Tribes:"
Are we living in a land where sex and horror are the new gods?