On Writing: Some Morning-After Thoughts About Polls

By Mike Feinsilber

You have to hand it to the pollsters. By and large, in the aggregate, they got it right.  Despite all the obstacles—the growing dependence on cell phones, the reluctance by many to reveal their true feelings or their biases to a stranger on the phone, the weariness and wariness people feel when the inquiring phone rings yet again—they were on target mostly.

You can wish they’d go away, but they won’t. You could hope for an election night when you could turn on the TV with no idea of what might happen. That would be fun, but it ain’t going to happen. I don’t want it to happen. I like information. More information is better than less information. And polls provide information. Yeah, sometimes it is incorrect. Sometimes it rains, too. That’s life.

I am an admirer of Nate Silver of the New York Times, a poll aggregator and analyst who makes polls make sense. In his final pre-election report, he called it 313 electoral votes for Obama to 225 for Romney. Should I cancel my Times subscription?

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