Poll analysis

With the campaign season taking on its full stride we are peppered with polls virtually every day.   Mostly the ones that get the attention are the nationwide polls that reflect voter preference on a percentage basis.   They can provide some amusing and even useful information but they aren’t really of much use  in trying to divine the real state of the election race and more importantly the outcome.   In the final anaylysis that is the purpose — to project the outcome of the race– otherwise what is the point?   For years I have thought they could make them much more useful to the average citizen interested in any Presidential race if they took into account the facts and realities of the Electoral College system.   The nationwide polls completely ignore this fact.  On occasion the media will report the results of a poll in what they determine to be a swing states but that is not often and seems to me on a hit or miss basis.

My point is that a lead by one candidate or the other might not be particularly significant if the results on a nationwide basis show that the “votes” for one candidate are clustered in large states.  For example, if one candidate has a lead in the nationwide survey of say 6% points but most of those “votes” are in just a few states in might not reveal a true picture of the election outcome.  If Candidate A wins the poll in California, New York and Illinois by a very wide margin but trails or it is very close in the other hinterland states then the poll results can result in a very skewed picture of the outcome.   After all you only need to win by one vote in a State to get its Electoral College votes.   So if the poll has Candidate A ahead by millions in those selected States he is getting lots of votes but many of them are “wasted”.   A nationwide poll will make him look terrific simply because of the large populations in a few States, but if he can’t win those mid size and little states then he will lose the election regardless of the popular vote.  The candidates realize this of course and that is why you see them during a campaign working so hard on relatively few states and ignoring others.   If the polls were done and reported on a State by State basis the projections would have much more meaning and give a more accurate forecast of the outcome.   If we had a vote on a nationwide popular vote system then the candidates would only campaign in about 6/7 states and the others would be left out in the political darkness.  A poll lead that is bunched in a few States doesn’t give us much information about how the actual Electoral College vote will be.

Gentleman–a very old and established word but one that carries such meaning and import.   Mostly we think of the English Gentleman when we hear that phrase.   In England in times past that word didn’t mean a station established by birth.  The nobility and royalty were set by birth but not the station of Gentleman.  It was a position that could be earned or won with merit.   It was a matter of accepting and adhering to a standard of behavoir.   Yes, your birth could give you the chance to be a Gentleman but it was not guaranteed unless you in fact followed the ill defined but nevetheless rigid rules of that select group.   It was like pornography to some extent, you couldn’t define it easily but you knew it when you saw it.

Read John Fowles’ “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” for a true examination of what it meant.  Read any of his works, they are wonderful and bring your dictionary; he will not write down to you but challenge you with his word selection.   The ultimate dilemma of the protagonist was whether he would sign a letter saying he was not a Gentleman and thereby escape an awful circumstance.  You have to understand the stigma this would have been at that time.   That letter could have been given to anyone whose esteem he sought.  It would be an acknowlegement that he did not adhere to a code of honor and was therefore but common.   To the protagonist it was a dreadful choice and one that caused deep -seated anguish.  It meant a banishment from all society he wished to know.  I will not give away anymore.   Suffice it to say that abstract concepts have tremendous power if they are part of the mores of your culture.

Honor thy Father and Mother.  That phrase means more than just show respect to your Mom and Dad, it reflects a respect for society and the bedrock tenets of that society.

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Filed under Culture, government, Politics

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