political polls

Premature Polling Can Be a Waste of Time

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pollsThere’s an old adage that the only poll that counts is the final one on election day. This year, that may prove to be more accurate than ever. Any polls taken before the Democratic primary is resolved, beyond the numbers on that particular race, may be meaningless.  When the field is set for the actual three-way race, the gubernatorial polls might start to become relevant.

The two most recent widely-publicized polls should be ignored for a variety of reasons. First, there was an online poll on the Pacific Business News website aimed at capturing a “snapshot of what its readers were thinking.”  This quickly degenerated into a contest of partisan social media camps urging their followers to vote multiple times via the cyber ballot box. We chose to ignore the melee and our gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann focused on taking our message directly to real people as evidenced by the slew of public endorsements we have announced recently.

Two years ago a Civil Beat writer issued this statement: “To folks like me who actually conduct and seriously analyze public opinion polls, online surveys are a running joke. But apparently some people care about them. Enough to cheat.”

Gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann’s campaign organization chose to use its energy and resources elsewhere. “What was supposed to show what PBN readers were thinking has turned into a battle royal of illusion,” said Sandra Sagisi, a Hannemann committee spokesperson.”

“Furthermore, this online poll has simply become a contest of who can circumvent the system the best. Our competitors are running for governor of on-line polls, while Mufi’s busy running for governor of the State of Hawaii. He recently stirred a lot of positive feedback and discussion on his desire to bring back an inter-island ferry system and on the heels of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s endorsement of his candidacy, Mufi announced the formation of the Hawaii Council of Leaders (HCL) comprised of the governor and the four county mayors to collaborate closely on issues benefitting all the entities, such as homelessness, state hospitals, transportation, public safety, TAT, collective bargaining and the like,” stated Sagisi.

Civil Beat’s own recent poll also suffers from obvious problems. Not only is it based on hypothetical match-ups, its sample is seriously flawed. Here are just a few of the reasons they do not match up with the actual voter population of Hawaii:

1.  Civil Beat over-sampled Caucasians at 40%, the actual percentage of the state is 24.3% according to recent census figures. They also were off with Japanese with 25% sampled while the population is pegged at 16.7%

2.  Civil Beat under-sampled mixed races, 10% to the actual 21.4%.

3. There are no age demographics to weight the results.  Different age groups vote at vastly different rates of participation.

4.  Civil Beat states that 62% of those sampled were “military families,” while the combined active duty and veteran population of Hawaii is actually in the mid teens.

Civil Beat’s own pollster, Matt Fitch conceded, “We are not going to know anything until after the primary dust settles.”

“So, we should all take these early attempts to analyze the governor’s race in this primary season with a grain of salt. Our campaign strategy is all about peaking on November 4 when the people of Hawaii cast their votes in the General Election,” concluded Sagisi.