As expected, PR agencies of the candidates flood the news pages a day or two after the debate with press releases on who “won” the debate.
More insidious however are “polls” hosted by news organizations that purport to measure who “won” the debate by soliciting votes from their viewers or readers. This is called an open-access poll or a crowd-sourced poll. It is not scientific, and everybody knows that.
Well, maybe not everybody.
Many people still believe what they see or read in the news. And many more do not know that for the right price, a candidate can contract a PR agency to activate 10,000 unique isp numbers in his/her favor to vote in a non-scientific poll, and get away with it. He/she “won the debate”!
Would it be too much to ask the editors to at least put a small, teeny box beside their sidebar “poll” that states: “non-scientific poll”. Two words, one line. Or: “Not a scientific poll.” Four words (three words and an article). Or: “This is not a scientific poll.” Or: “not scientific”. Or: “non-scientific”. One word. Would that be too much to ask?
Otherwise, post-debate “polls”, like the opinions of “political analysts” on who “won” the debate” are just pieces of propaganda materials to repair the shattered performances of their clients.
From Sheldon R. Gawiser, Ph.D. and G. Evans Witt of the National Council on Public Polls (U.S.):“The only polls that should be reported are “scientific” polls.xxx Unscientific pseudo-polls are widespread and sometimes entertaining, but they never provide the kind of information that belongs in a serious report. Examples include xxx call-in polls, man-on-the-street surveys, many Internet polls, shopping mall polls xxx
“One major distinguishing difference between scientific and unscientific polls is who picks the respondents for the survey. In a scientific poll, the pollster identifies and seeks out the people to be interviewed. In an unscientific poll, the respondents usually “volunteer” their opinions, selecting themselves for the poll.
“In scientific polls, the pollster uses a specific statistical method for picking respondents. In unscientific polls, the person picks himself to participate” (open access: open to everyone interested) xxx The method pollsters use to pick interviewees relies on the bedrock of mathematical reality: when the chance of selecting each person in the target population is known, then and only then do the results of the sample survey reflect the entire population. This is called a random sample or a probability sample. xxx” (at http://www.ncpp.org/ )