Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Your opinion counts!

Greetings, friends.  It’s Tuesday morning.  Do you know where your household’s registered voters are?

I ask because we’re now in the home stretch of the presidential election.  No more primaries, no more conventions, now it’s all campaigning.  And polls.  Lots and lots and lots of polls.

My point is that there appear to be too many polls, all of which tout the overall accuracy of their data and sampling.  As one would expect, most are associated with a news organization or two --“The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll,” for example.  Lately some, like NBC News, have engaged more modern methods by partnering with organizations like SurveyMonkey.

I’m certainly aware of the need to find out what the public thinks at such an important time, but would question whether polling techniques mirror modern habits.  For example, it’s my understanding that the majority of these polls rely on calls to homes with land-line phones.  Since I have a land-line, we get plenty of calls during political season, so I can attest.  But I know that our household is something of an exception in this day and age, and if you look at homes where the primary resident is under 40, I would argue that few homes still have a traditional phone installed.

If that’s the case, that means a large swath of voters are not being asked their opinion.  So that really cannot be viewed with very much confidence.

Regardless, polls are a necessary part of the process, much like if an interviewer attempted to stop 100 people at random on the street to ask who they plan to vote for come election day.

One area where polling, of a kind, is useful is in the area of online product reviews.  I honestly cannot remember the last major purchase we made where I didn’t at least try to locate online reviews.  True, many are negative and perhaps more negative than they need to be, but I still find them helpful to distinguish a good product from a so-so alternative.

It came to light (for me, anyway) recently that some organizations, like Amazon.com, actually pay reviewers for their reviews.  As long as they are required to disclose that fact with their reviews, I don’t mind, but if we reach the point where product reviews are commonly and secretly subject to payment, that changes things.

I’ve actually done some product reviews, for my friends at the Colonel Littleton organization in Lynnville, Tennessee.  Regular visitors to this space will certainly recall my frequent references to this outfit, which makes high-quality personal leather goods and other items for which I have an affinity.  Some time ago they invited me to try out two production samples of items and give feedback, which I was pleased to do, and gave unbiased thoughts about each item.


If you folks in Lynnville are reading this, I’m still available….

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