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Poll Predictions & Debates

October 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

There are many things about this years POTUS election that bother me but the biggest is that two influential (and sane) candidates were not invited to participate in the internationally broadcasts presidential debates.  With tonight’s final debate in the works, the five national polls used by the majority-party controlled Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) do not show Gary Johnson or Jill Stein at the 15% threshold of likely voters.

A number of media outlets use the real clear politics site to compile national polls.  The theory is that selecting polls that are well formatted then compiling them using standard statistical weighting provides the best big-picture view that is free of bias.  As of today, RCP polls show: Clinton 45.3%, Trump 39.1%, Johnson 6.5%, and Stein 2.5% with a 6.4% margin of error.  The five polls used by the CPD (ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC-Wall Street Journal) all display similar results that are within the margin.

Although FOX News and CNN disagree on the candidates, both stated that 25-33% of undecided voters were swayed after the first debate and an additional 30-40% after the second.  The moral of the story: there are always bumps after a debate.  The outrage is that Johnson and Stein were not included in polls used for the first debate and only mentioned in 3 of the polls used for the second debate.  After a huge cry of public outrage, Johnson and Stein were included in all five of the final polls but, by then two-thirds of undecideds have decided.  There were numerous other polling inconsistencies such as exclusion of cell phones, absence of millennial-age voters, and wording of questions that have all been raised as well.

As we prepare for four years of federal government gridlock we should begin to evaluate the mess that got us here and start to call for changes.  These are the changes I would make:

  • For POTUS, all candidates that are on the ballot in enough states to total 270 electoral college votes should automatically be included in the debates.  Every candidate for federal office on state-ballots should be included in official debates.
  • Eliminate sore-loser laws and let candidates with support like Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders run as independents or other-party candidates in the general election.  If they get ballot access, invite them to the debates.
  • Ensure that details of the debate are either kept confidential or are equally shared among all participants.

Despite all the work by the Democrats and Republicans and their media mouthpieces to keep alternative parties like the Libertarians and Greens out of the political process, both Johnson and Stein have a real shot at breaking the 5% popular-vote threshold used for major-party recognition and funding.  If you’re a never trump or never Hillary kind of person be sure to go and vote for Johnson or Stein Nov 8th.  Not only will you go home with a clear conscious, you could be greasing the wheels for real change in 2020.


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Category: Politics

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