If anyone needed any more evidence about how cautious you have to be of political polling these days, all they have to do is look at the results of two very different opinion surveys released in the last few days.
On Tuesday, a new-style, online type of poll on Connecticut’s gubernatorial race came out with the somewhat startling results that Republican Tom Foley was leading Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy by nine percentage points. One reason it got so much play – despite all the questions about how it was done – was because it was commissioned by the New York Times and CBS.
On Thursday, a slightly more traditional opinion survey was released, this time by a GOP-leaning group called Vox Populi Polling. It found Malloy was ahead of Foley by a single percentage point. A third-party candidate, Jonathan Pelto, came in with three percent support among those polled. With the margin of error involved, the only conclusion you could have is that the race is too close to call.
So, which one are we supposed to believe? The NYT-CBS sponsored survey that used rather questionable online methods? Or the Vox Populi Polling results that also involved some methods (such as automated “robo-calls” to presumed voters) that traditional pollsters question?
Maybe the answer is to be very wary of both.