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Thursday, June 16, 2005

New Media-Funded Polling Service Set To Launch

Posted by a4g @ 6/16/2005 06:29:00 AM

A consortium of newspapers and television news services announced today a new project designed to be the next generation of opinion polling.

Based on a massively parallel network of high powered computers, the new opinion polling service will generate survey results in an entirely new way, bringing a field that is sometimes art, sometimes science, fully into the digital age.

The designer of the system, Piers Hoagland, demonstrated a test release of the system with a sample poll on the popularity of George W Bush.

"In the old models," Hoagland explained, "we relied too much on the human factor. Wild swings in the results gave President Bush an approval factor as high as 83%. The new system completely removes the errors inherent in asking questions, and Bush's popularity can never go above a randomly determined number between 43-48%."

In designing a poll, it is possible to asked a skewed question. Hoagland believes that inexperienced editors don't always know whether their questions are sufficiently biased to get the results they are looking for.

Still, many pollsters and newspaper editors are unhappy with the new system. An editor at a major metropolitan newspaper told Point Five:

"We've just made up the numbers for as long as I can remember. I don't see why we should change now. Is this computer system going to know when to starting skewing sharply towards reality, like in the days just before an election? Is it going to be able to bury the raw polling data deeply enough in jargon and doubletalk to hide the methodology?"

Proponents of the system counter that the computer will be able to not only generate the desired results, but even create believable so-called "internals" to continue to reflect a generally left-wing attitude in a country that has been trending decidedly right for the last three decades.

Neither the pollsters or the editors were able to explain to Point Five how exactly these polls would in any way help their cause, but they did comment that it helped make them feel better.

Linked on Outside the Beltway.


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