As our country goes to the polls the overwhelming mood is "anxious”. Nobody is sure where the chips will fall and when. Despite all the polling and the millions of dollars spent in capturing the mood of the electorate, taking a pulse is a massive challenge.
Twenty years ago, the reliable way to poll was to call voters on their landlines. Our personal information was not ubiquitously available in ether and it didn't rattle us to talk to someone on the phone. Now our kids don't even have a land phone and humongous amounts of personal data sit in secure vaults, wrapped in impenetrable layers of security. This is supposed to reassure us but data breaches and fraud are our constant companions.
In this context, I'm loath to answering any questions from a person I do not know. The text messages and emails that try to poll me go unanswered. The old way of polling is compromised for the next generation and the new ways are faltering.
Pew Research says polls are a good measure of people's attitudes not their behavior. Will candidate X positively impact the economics of your household (attitude) is a more appropriate question than will you vote for X (behavior). We conflate the two when we expect polls to be a predictor of behavior.
The more I think about this, the more anxious I get about not knowing what the pollsters asked their subjects. Is Biden's advantage fact or fiction? Who knows! It is mind-numbing to prepare for all options - a Biden sweep to a Biden squeak to a Trump sneak to a Trump blowout. The bottom line is that the saga of shock and surprise in American elections will continue for decades unless we get smarter about polling.
For now, I am hoping for the best, bracing for the worst, and popping acid reflux pills.