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Skewing the polls

Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008, at 1:55 PM

Our web site polls are non-scientific, and that should always be kept in mind when considering the results. But we try to be as fair with them as possible.

The poll is intended to gauge the opinions of people who read the T-G web site. We had a recent poll where someone tried to skew the results by going to another, out-of-town web site and urging people who don't normally read our web site to come and vote in our poll. I knew something was up because that particular poll drew huge numbers compared to our usual polls, and when I checked our site statistics I could easily figure out where a lot of that traffic was coming from.

Attempting to skew a poll by inviting people from outside our coverage area to participate is not encouraged; if I feel that something of that nature is happening on a large scale, I'm likely to take that particular poll question down.


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Afternoon everyone. If you really want to gain some new knowledge, do a web search for New Party + Obama. Very interesting reading for those who are really wanting to be informed.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Thu, Oct 9, 2008, at 4:46 PM

jaxspike,

By one vote?

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Mon, Oct 6, 2008, at 6:08 PM

And that has been my point all along but you have disagreed with me the whole time. That is why I dont want to "just vote" for Obama or McCain because one is the lesser of two evils.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Mon, Oct 6, 2008, at 11:01 AM

Because they can't enact legislation when they face the inevitable veto. The only way anything gets passed is with ridiculous amounts of pork inundated with every bill. That is, the biggest reason we need more than a two party system. We ought to have a 3,4, or 5 party system! So that one doesn't have to load it up with satisfactory pork just to appease the other. With a multiple party system you have less power in the hands of more people, instead of more power in the hands of less people...

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Oct 5, 2008, at 12:53 PM

Disturbia . . .maybe someone should remind you which Congress has the lowest approval ratings. Oh yeah, the current Democratic controled Congress.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Oct 5, 2008, at 11:45 AM

Correction, I mean the Times-Gazette poll.

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Sat, Oct 4, 2008, at 9:00 PM

Btw this poll is interesting... http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls/

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 10:26 PM

Thanks for sharing that Poll, Disturbia.

I amagine Shelbyville Tn. poll would look strange compared to some of those polls.

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Sat, Oct 4, 2008, at 8:58 PM

If we had published the results of that poll in the newspaper, the other side would have howled -- and not without cause -- that it was not a fair or accurate representation of local views.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 10:01 AM

Hmmm, ironically Bedford County has registered over 1000 voters this year, which is the one of the busiest election seasons they have experienced. How did you explain the fact that when I went to town Sunday morning McCain had less than 80 votes... I came home 5 hours later and he has over 330!... 250 votes in less than 5 hours. This "skewing" you are talking about was never once mentioned until the results were in favor of Obama.... By the way John, your front page story Sunday should be: "LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE IS TOMORROW (monday)"... totally unbiased and explicitly informative.

Love how I posted the results and you didn't. ;)

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 10:35 PM

Btw this poll is interesting... http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls/

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 10:26 PM

Maybe they should go ahead and appropriate funds to take over Charmin where they can control the paper source when we finally get so deceptively dependent on them that they have to wipe our tales for us.

-- Posted by parkerbrothers on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 6:12 PM

Must explain why the largest expansion of government in HISTORY, has occurred over the LAST 8 YEARS! Parkerbrothers, perhaps you should remind us, who was (and still is) president? And which party did (and still does) belong to? Hmm... I think you've got the wrong party my friend. Under Clinton, we saw the roles of welfare DECREASE, the amount of people on food stamps DECREASE, and that was accomplished with a Republican controlled Congress. Ironic how you can take the same group of Congressmen who played pivotal roles in decreasing government in our lives, and watch them systematically swell the government in 6 years of uncontested power.

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 10:21 PM

Take away social security, medicaid and medicare from Bedford County, and what will you have?

Posted by Grit on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 1:37 PM

Give back the social security, medicaid and medicare paid in from people in Bedford County, and what would they have? Answer: A lot more than they are getting.

It all started downhill when Americans got conned into thinking they needed Uncle Sam to take care of them instead of being allowed to just take care and plan for their own selves. It has now got to where everyone expects Uncle Sam to now be both mommy and daddy for them also.

Maybe they should go ahead and appropriate funds to take over Charmin where they can control the paper source when we finally get so deceptively dependent on them that they have to wipe our tales for us.

-- Posted by parkerbrothers on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 6:12 PM

I am from Cape Girardeau and just happened to see this poll on line. The Southeast Missourian in Cape is also owned by Rust Communications and I know they have newspapers all around this part of the country. It has been my impression that they censor closely what is published in the Missourian and it seems this censorship is practiced in their other publications as well. I would suggest that if you are interested in conducting a poll of only the residents of Bedford County even on your website, that should be indicated. If you are interested in only conservative feedback in your poll, you should indicate that as well!

-- Posted by Sundays_Child on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 4:28 PM

I always find it strange that in some of poorest areas of the United States, people vote for Republicans who destroy the federal programs in which people are dependent. Take away social security, medicaid and medicare from Bedford County, and what will you have? How many people are without health insurance, but will still vote Republican even though it is the Democrat party who will try to get health coverage for everyone. Makes no sense.

-- Posted by Grit on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 1:37 PM

Disturbia,

Perhaps there are twice as many mentally challenged in Tennessee.

-- Posted by parkerbrothers on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 12:07 PM

http://w3.newsmax.com/a/morrismap/?promo...

Considering the number of PEOPLE who have donated to Obama, compared to McCain... in Tennessee, this electoral map shouldn't come as a shock. Statewide, Obama pulled in more than twice as many individual contributions as McCain.

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 7:55 AM

According to the comments above their seems to be an upset that most of the polls were for Obama, was the results revealed or not. Tennessee never votes Democrat, so the Republicans and such do not have to worry about Tennessee. If it does turn out to be Democrat I will be in TOTAL SHOCK!

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 1:33 AM

I did not see a poll either, and probably would not have voted any way. But regardless, did the poll say it was only for bedford county residents or (LOCALS ONLY)? If not then perhaps you should remember that the next time you want only certain people to take the polls.

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Fri, Oct 3, 2008, at 1:24 AM

You make an excellent point, Nathan, and I did think of that. I'm going to try to keep that possibility in mind whenever I assess a particular situation.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 3:35 PM

There was no intended insult by me to John. But I will stand by my statement that Rust Communications papers are biased in favor of Republicans.

-- Posted by Grit on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 2:49 PM

I like the polls even if I don't always like how the results turn out. I think you do a good job of selecting relevant questions John. However taking down poll results because of skewed results is a double edge sword because this skewing tactic may be used again to have poll questions and their results removed when they don't favor the beliefs of a few people.

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 12:37 PM

I agree Evil Monkey . . . skewing local polls and getting angry when caught doesn't make our situation any better.

If you think about it though, their actions of skewing the poll could have had a reverse reaction. Republican might have seen the poll results and decided they needed to work harder and go out and campaign harder while Democrats might have thought that since Bedford County was so Obama friendly, they wouldn't need to focus on this county much.

Kind of funny if you think about it . . . that polled might have actually gotten the Republican base more motivated and caused them to vote instead of sitting it out.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 11:07 AM

Honestly, I would want to know how the locals are thinking, Not what people outside of the County.

Yes I know this is a free speech nation and I agree with it. The clarity of the poll should have been specific but I guess John thought only people local would actually poll. That is just basic common sense on his part and I would have done the same thing.

I really don't understand why anyone is even arguing about this. Here we are worried about this economy, gas, mortgages, and we need to focus on innovation here in Bedford County. Each meeting, they make the same mistakes OVER and OVER again. The only thing I have seen to really think outside of the box to solve a problem was the Dawn Bobo employment piece and the MTSU satellite. That's it. No energy initiative, no real viable cost effective means of bringing in new jobs. We have NOTHING to offer them, a empty building will not work. It is an old way that NEVER worked.

Does any of the new candidates have solutions? And I mean REAL solutions, not the, yes I can fix it... I have not heard much about how? We cannot throw BILLIONS of dollars at something and expect it to get fixed. Just won't happen, the money will disappear and we, taxpayers, pay for the mistakes of their bureaucracy. It is just sad.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 10:26 AM

There you go again John trying to be fair. Don't you know you'll always be in hot water acting like that.

-- Posted by devan on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 10:09 AM

My action had nothing to do with "not liking the results," and would have been exactly the same if it had been a GOP blog trying to drive people here. My only concern is that the poll is presented as representative of local views, and so large, organized attempts to drive out-of-town participants to it turn it into something different from what the average reader would reasonably assume it to be.

And I don't recall any incidence, whatsoever, of our corporate offices trying to interfere with our political coverage from any direction. It certainly didn't happen during the six months that I was acting editor.

In the 23 years I have worked at this newspaper, I have prided myself on being fair to both parties. I have dealt fairly and professionally with elected officials from both parties. Many of my co-workers in that time have commented that they didn't even know what my political beliefs or leanings were. Former Circuit Judge Charles Lee used to tell potential jury members a story about one time when I was in the jury pool for a particular case. One side rejected me as a juror because they thought I would be too conservative, and the other side rejected me because they thought I would be too liberal.

No one is perfect, and no doubt you could look at what I've written over the years and find examples of tunnel vision or unintentional bias. But I take it as a personal insult that someone would accuse me of something that would be so completely and utterly unprofessional as deleting a poll for deliberate political reasons.

I have clearly explained what I did and why. I clearly didn't "whine," as some have put it, in my original post; I simply stated the ground rules for our polls and said that attempts to tamper with them will be addressed. As someone else put it, the people who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar are embarrassed about it and the only response they can come up with is to blame me.

And there is clearly a difference between someone coming here and leaving a story comment and someone coming here and voting in a poll. Someone leaving a story comment has at least been on the site long enough to read the story; also, it's often apparent from their remarks whether or not they're local, so it's not a case of readers being misled. We welcome anyone, local or not, Democrat or Republican or third party, to come and make story comments. What we object to is people trying to turn a poll into a game.

Our editor would like to occasionally feature web poll results on our opinion page. In the poll in question, we had more than twice the normal number of participants, and it was obvious that the vast majority of them had no connection to Bedford County or to our web site. If we had published the results of that poll in the newspaper, the other side would have howled -- and not without cause -- that it was not a fair or accurate representation of local views.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 10:01 AM

Yes

-- Posted by cmcclanahan on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 9:18 AM

No, don't like the editoral policies, drop the subscription and quit reading the paper on line. How much soap can they sell then? The problem with their papers is that sometimes news is not reported, because it is detrimental to Republicans. All editorials are ultra conservative, with few exceptions. Watch out Bedford County, I bet that culture has transcended into this paper.

-- Posted by Grit on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 8:49 AM

Don't like the editorial policies - whine and cry.

-- Posted by devan on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 8:12 AM

This is a Rust Communications paper, they never support Democrats. Having a Democrat win in even a newspaper poll is an insult to the owners. Good luck John.

-- Posted by Grit on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 9:34 PM

My point exactly. Don't like the results whine and cry... hundreds of outsiders come to the site for a Somalia bashing story and it's perfectly acceptable.

-- Posted by stolen25 on Thu, Oct 2, 2008, at 7:30 AM

This is a Rust Communications paper, they never support Democrats. Having a Democrat win in even a newspaper poll is an insult to the owners. Good luck John.

-- Posted by Grit on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 9:34 PM

Gee just goes to show ya how observant I am, I didn't even realize there was a poll until I read this blog :>)

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:40 PM

Yeah . . . the poll should be reflection of Bedford County. Why should anyone feel the need to "recruit" people from outside of Bedford County to skew the results to their own liking instead of allowing it to reflect the true opinions of Bedord County residents? Why should it reflect the thoughts of someone from Nashville or California or wherever they were voting from? Dont they have their own polls to reflect their region? I just find it odd that people would feel the need to recruit people to change a poll results.

What is the big issue you are referring to? I am just answering the issue at hand and that is John's comments and wishes for who answers the polls.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:19 PM

You don't see the big issue, yet you agree with his opinion? Odd...

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 3:26 PM

Yeah, but I am not complaining about John's opinion on the matter. I agree with him somewhat or at least can see his point.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 3:06 PM

Granted, I don't see the big issue about the polls and who votes on them because it is considered unscientific and really isn't a exact representation of the community because I can vote once at home and then again at work so I am sure other people can do the same so the results are already skewed.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:19 AM

I guess the same reason you are still commenting..

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 2:38 PM

jesusloveseveryone1 . . . then why are you reading this entry if there more important things to read and discuss?

No one forced you to comment or read it. :-)

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 1:59 PM

They seem to enjoy their cowardly position of hiding in the bushes and throwing rocks......

-- Posted by cmcclanahan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 12:42 PM

You wouldn't dare say that about garhawk and others who come rushing to your defense, with no names, would you?

-- Posted by Disturbia on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 1:58 PM

Why, because it is a local poll and he wants local results? He just set the parameters up so he can get the participation he WANTS. Instead of the participation he doesn't want. ;)

-- Posted by devan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 9:39 AM

As if that is the worst thing we are facing right now. Please. I can think of a million more pertinent issues that should be discussed than who voted on a stupid poll.

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 1:52 PM

John........welcome to the club.....Now you can see up close and personal how inane and inmature a few of the "regulars" are......They seem to enjoy their cowardly position of hiding in the bushes and throwing rocks......

-- Posted by cmcclanahan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 12:42 PM

Why, because it is a local poll and he wants local results? He just set the parameters up so he can get the participation he WANTS. Instead of the participation he doesn't want. ;)

-- Posted by devan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 9:39 AM

Well, well John, seems like you caught someone with their hand in the cookie jar. I understand your reasoning on this. Only the totally self absorbed would not.

-- Posted by devan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:26 AM

Why, because it is an Unscientific poll and he cries because he wants scientific results? Set the parameters up differently so you can get the results you WANT. Instead of the results you don't want. ;)

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 8:49 AM

Solution= No more polls.

-- Posted by Disturbia on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 8:41 AM

You hit the nail on the head on that one devan.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:39 AM

Well, well John, seems like you caught someone with their hand in the cookie jar. I understand your reasoning on this. Only the totally self absorbed would not.

-- Posted by devan on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:26 AM

BTW . . . I meant to say Vindicated, not Vindicator.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:24 AM

LOL . . . the people complaining on this subject are the ones that complain about everything and anything. Granted, I don't see the big issue about the polls and who votes on them because it is considered unscientific and really isn't a exact representation of the community because I can vote once at home and then again at work so I am sure other people can do the same so the results are already skewed. But really, in a local poll I would like to know what people FROM Bedford County are thinking and not in Nashville or California. So I can see John's point on that but either way it is not an issue for me because polls really don't mean much in regards to decisions I make. I just find them interesting tidbits to read.

Also, Vindicator you really shouldn't even make comments on here period. You insult people and make comments that are uncalled for including calling me gay when you didn't agree with my viewpoint (that was uncalled for). All you like to do is agitate and harass people and you lack any tack whatsoever. People like you never have a solution for any problems . . . you just like to point out problems and then generate more. You are basically what I consider wasted space on these blogs because you have no idea what real dialogue or debate is and attack people in a malicious and spiteful way.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 7:19 AM

Who do you feel did a better job in Friday night's presidential debate?

* John McCain: 46.1% (495 votes)

* Barack Obama: 53.9% (578 votes)

1073 votes cast

as of 10:00am 9/30/08

-- Posted by Disturbia on Wed, Oct 1, 2008, at 12:31 AM

The people who will make the difference in this site's success or failure are our local readers (or people with a local connection), and I'm trying to protect the poll as a useful and interesting part of the site for our local readership.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 9:48 PM

Ok, I am a regular on these blogs and have lived in Bedford County as long as I can remember knowing how to say it... Post the results. What are you afraid of?

-- Posted by Vindicated on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 9:57 PM

It's quite correct that a number of the comments on the Tyson / Eid-Al-Fitr story came from out-of-town. But there's a difference between leaving a comment -- which at the very least requires you to be on the site long enough to read a news story -- and just showing up to click a poll response.

It's also correct that the purpose of any web site is to increase traffic. We're happy for any visitors we get (and we get quite a few). But the way to increase our visitors in the long term is with good content. The people who will make the difference in this site's success or failure are our local readers (or people with a local connection), and I'm trying to protect the poll as a useful and interesting part of the site for our local readership.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 9:48 PM

Why does it matter who "normally" read this site? You didn't complain ONE SINGLE BIT, when the Times Gazette site was inundated with those who DON'T normally read this site, when Brian Mosley wrote not one, but TWO "Tyson/Somalian/Labor Day" stories back to back. Not once, did you utter any objection to those not connected with this county.

The fact is, this election doesn't effect ONLY Bedford County, therefore you shouldn't ask a question that pertains to the entire 52,000,000 people who watched the debates... Which, by the way, I felt didn't sway anyone, or provide any more insight, other than what we already knew.

-- Posted by stolen25 on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 9:42 PM

I'm not at all bothered by circulating the link within the county -- as you correctly state, that could lead to new subscribers. I'm also not concerned about out-of-town voters with some connection to the county, and we have quite a few of those. My concern is people who have no connection to this site whatsoever except to try to stuff the ballot box. That turns the poll into a game, and renders it useless.

The point of the poll is to represent, in an informal and unscientific way, the views of people who normally read this site. I don't care whether those views are left, right, Obama, McCain, Ron Paul or Pat Paulsen.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 9:38 PM

"Attempting to skew a poll by inviting people from outside our coverage area to participate is not encouraged; if I feel that something of that nature is happening on a large scale, I'm likely to take that particular poll question down."

LOL... Ironically, I received an email from an Obama supporter, who sent the very same link to at least 100 BEDFORD county citizens. Are you really telling me that you are upset, you have potentially new readers/subscribers to your paper? Apparently you have never heard of Free Advertisement. I have never ever ever ever ever understood how this "News"paper considers itself worthy of taking down offensive comments from some, poll results that don't portray the newspapers opinion, and then getting upset that their site has received recognition.

Why weren't you doing the very same thing when your stupid Tyson story made national news, and approached 400 comments. By and large, at least half came from "people out of your coverage area". What gives, in a "free" society anymore? Apparently, freedom of speech... from all places, a newspaper.

-- Posted by stolen25 on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 8:59 PM

And equally pathetic. You took the results down, because you don't want Bedford County to be seen as an Obama friendly county.

You let a man rant and rave on his blogs, illegally paste someone else's materials as their own, provide absolutely NO warning to him... and then get upset that a poll is, in your words "skewed"... the only thing skewed is your method of thinking. So, be a REAL editor and show the final, unedited results of the poll. Perfect name for you Mr. Editor.. Edit what we don't like, and leave untouched what we do.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 8:53 PM

Oh, so this website is no longer a free site,open to THE PUBLIC? And your poll says NOTHING about "people in Bedford County's" opinion...

How pathetic, a newspaper editor is upset that is website drew huge numbers from people who don't normally come to their site. You are the only person I have ever heard of complaining about web traffic. If you want to make this poll a close minded poll, then you need to state specifically who is or isn't allowed to vote.

I don't think it is acceptable to whine and cry about the results, just because your candidate of choice may or may not have won.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Tue, Sep 30, 2008, at 8:50 PM


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