Much of the news coverage of American politics these days centers on the horse race results of polls. Who’s ahead? Who’s behind? Is this candidate or that issue trending up or down in popularity? But what does that sort of coverage really tell us? How can we be assured of the accuracy of a particular poll? And what has modern technology done to how this information is gathered and compiled?
Research psychologist Paul Lavrakas says one major impact of political polling is that the results can be compelling to potential donors. Fundraising, he says, can be greatly influenced by a poll that demonstrates that a candidate is viable.