Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gallup et. al. should elicit rankings of candidates, not just the top of the list

It is understandable that for actual voting in a primary that each voter chooses a preferred candidate only.  That has been our tradition.  But for polling purposes, especially with a crowded field, who voters rank as second and third matters, as does how far down the list one might go before the voter thinks staying at home is the better option or voting for the other party is the better option.

So why don't the people who do the polls figure this out?  That's a mystery.

It's quite conceivable to me now that Donald Trump would be ranked last by many of the voters who vote Republican but don't have Trump ranked first.  Of course, we don't know this because this sort of information isn't being solicited.  If we had information of this sort, would the press continue to report that Trump is leading in the polls?  If, instead, a weighted voting scheme were used, and if some other candidate garnered quite a few 2nd and third places in the rankings, that person should be considered the leading candidate, in my view. 

This, of course, goes for the other side as well, though there are many fewer candidates.

If such information were gathered and then disseminated, might it impact how voters vote?  In other words, might voters choose their second or third ranked candidate because that person stands a better chance of winning the election?

Majority rule works great when there are two candidates only.  It doesn't work well when there are many candidates, none of whom get anywhere close to 50% of the votes.   The situation isn't even that novel (although the number of Republican candidates is larger than what it's been in prior elections).   What is novel now is the funding, which is going to slow down the thinning out of the field.  So the sort of information I'm suggesting should be elicited is even more important now.

Might any of the pollsters contemplate a change in their approach as a result?

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