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Senate Candidate Wants to Ban Polling 206

Posted by pudge
from the good-idea dept.
Masker writes "This is just too funny. Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, who is running against Democrat Barack Obama, wants to ban political polling for 'a certain period' before the election, since such polls are 'manipulative and degrading and damaging to our political system.' Could his opinion be influenced by a recent poll that shows Keyes trails by 45 percentage points behind Obama?" Could be. But it could also be influenced by the fact that polls are often wrong; they influence how people vote (people are less likely to vote for someone who "doesn't have a chance"), and polls get reported on more than issues, which can't be good for anyone except the pollsters and whoever happens to be leading the polls.
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Senate Candidate Wants to Ban Polling

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  • I don't know about the rest of you, but I love it when the pollsters call me up and I get to give my opinion and answer good and bad about $CANDIDATE.

    Although, I haven't gotten any calls since I moved to VoIP(Packet8), so I don't know if they haven't been able to get my number or something, but I don't think the Do Not Call List [donotcall.gov] applies to political candidates. This might be different though because supposedly polls don't work FOR candidates but rather provide an "objective" view.

    Chris
    • I had a pollster call up the other day, but before they would take my many opinions they asked me my post code to confirm I was from the right area, I wasn't. Somehow I think they were doing a survey of how many people actually know what the name of their electorate is.
      • had a pollster call up the other day, but before they would take my many opinions they asked me my post code to confirm I was from the right area, I wasn't. Somehow I think they were doing a survey of how many people actually know what the name of their electorate is.

        They use this to determine whether you are a likely voter. The theory goes that people who know their candidate and polling station are more likely to vote than those who do not. Elections are determined mostly by turnout.

        As several peopl

  • And? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:35PM (#10337113) Homepage Journal
    influence how people vote

    Isn't it the duty of every good citizen to try to influence how others vote? What are we supposed to do, lock ourselves in a political cage for 6 months before every election so as not to influence other voters? Cool, we can all go to the polls with no idea what the issues are we're voting for. Oh wait, I forgot, this is bipartisan politics, there are no issues.

    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Unordained (262962) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:44PM (#10337172) Homepage
      ... it's bipartisan politics because we let it be. When I get polled, the questions are: which of "the two" (Bush/Kerry) are you planning on voting for, and why (like him/dislike opponent/issues) ... there's no room for saying that I -will- vote for a third candidate, nor to say that I'd rather vote for a third candidate.

      With polls like that, no wonder everyone thinks the "independent candidates" are pointless to vote for -- we don't think they have a chance because we don't know how not-alone we are in our opinion, and our system makes our votes "useless" if not voting for the top two candidates.

      If we had a smarter voting system, polls might make less sense -- your decision to vote for a candidate wouldn't have a reason to be influenced by who had the best chance of winning among your personal "okay" list. Rather than banning them (which is stupid and wrong) let's make them irrelevant?
    • Re:And? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:14AM (#10338750)
      You miss the question here, it isn't about whether people should try to persuade others or not to vote in a certain way, it is a matter of whether people should be voting for something because "5 out of 6 Pepsi drinkers prefer candidate X."

      Some of us have an opinion that voting for something based on its popularity is damaging to the political system. We have the opinion that people should vote on the merits of the candidates or resolution being proposed.

      Too bad our electoral system doesn't support real [aec.gov.au] choice [oasis.gov.ie].

    • by 4of12 (97621)

      Isn't it the duty of every good citizen to try to influence how others vote?

      Maybe every politician, too?

  • by kootch (81702) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:38PM (#10337137) Homepage
    I don't understand why that link was for "polls are often wrong" when the first 2 paragraphs of the story it linked to specifically say:

    "A review of the 159 Governor and U.S. Senate polls reported by the media in 2002 shows a very good performance for most polling organizations. The average candidate error for all polls was 2.4 percentage points. 84% of the polls differed from the election outcome by less than their theoretical margin of error."

    I'm confused.
    • by Bootsy Collins (549938) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:03PM (#10337290)
      I'm confused.

      I don't think it's anything deep -- just that "often" is not the same as "usually". If polls are wrong a sixth of the time, it's not crazy to call that "often". (I haven't read the article, so I don't know whether it says that or not -- I just took 100% minus your quoted figure of 84% correct. But it's irrelevant to this comment)

    • If the polls were accurate, you would expect 95% of the polls to be within their margin of error, because that's the definition of the margin--it's a statistical probability that, given a true random sample, there is a 95% chance that the actual value is within that margin.

      What this shows is that 11% of polls are flawed.
    • Polls are an art, not a science. There's an article on page B1 (cover of the Marketplace section) of today's WSJ.

      As example (and the fuel for the article I mention, as well, perhaps, as the article linked) is the fact that last week, "Gallup Organization had President Bush up by 13 percentage points, while the Pew Research Center had him and Sen. John Kerry dead even."

      The article goes on to discuss how poll results are adjusted to represent even precentages of economic, educational, gender, age, and some

  • by jafuser (112236) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:39PM (#10337140)
    Combine this with electronic voting with no paper trails, and you have a great way to rig an election, since nobody has any idea roughly how it should have come out to even contest the validity of the electronic votes.
    • Umm...right, so maybe we should just have paper trails and decide whatever we want on the unrelated polling issue? The 2002 Georgia election polls all were surprised, but no one managed to contest the elections there, so I don't think the polls buy you anything in terms of legitimacy. If you've been hearing some of the discussions over cell phones and renormalizing political parties in polls, you might not have such faith in them yourself.
    • Have to say I disagree. You can always take a series of polls, and publish after the election result if you are concerned about it's validity. Polls distract from the real issues in an election, and journalists focus on asking candidates what are they going to do about their poll figures rather than what they are going to do about <pressing issue>. Politicians focus on saying that they are clearly winning, and so don't bother with the other guy. This kind of meta-politics has no real value at all exce
    • Perhaps we should allow polling but ban reporting of it for a short period before the elections?
    • Combine this with electronic voting with no paper trails, and you have a great way to rig an election, since nobody has any idea roughly how it should have come out to even contest the validity of the electronic votes.

      The solution to this is exit polling, not random calling of households. It makes more sense to poll the people who actually show up if you're trying to evaluate the accuracy of an election. Then you will get a closer sampling to the real population being considered.
  • by xlv (125699) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:40PM (#10337143)
    If I remember correctly, that's the way it's done in France for a few days (a week?) before the election.

    What's even more important in fact, is that the media is not allowed to report on the campaigns at all during that time, there's a complete black out during which voters are supposed to make up their minds, analyzing the merits of each candidate.

    • That sounds like a really bad idea. That way, the only news will be about the incumbent doing newsworthy things in the course of their duties.
      An unethical, conniving, underhanded pol would be declaring two terror alerts every single day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:41PM (#10337153) Homepage Journal
    Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois

    It should be noted that Alan Keyes isn't FROM Illinois, he is merely running [washingtonpost.com] in the Senate race. I don't think that in itself is bad, but it is probably one of the many reasons he is trailing in the polls.

    I seem to remember Keyes once saying that people from out-of-state SHOULDN'T run for a state office, but I can't find that quote now, so maybe I'm just spreading nasty rumors. But it's ok, because I fufilled my duties.

    So Alan Keyes, another Republican who wants to control things. There was once a day when Republicans were about NOT controlling things, but that time is long gone.
    • i think you missed the memo. keyes is a politician... that sort of implies he wants to control things.

      thats what politicians do... enact legislation to raise their pay/retirement/benefits and screw over everyone else except the rich. this is true for both the republican AND the democratic party, they just cater to differing subsets of the rich. any candidate running in this important of an election is in someone's pocket. such is life.

      that being said i am from illinois and am completely against someon
    • by Quarters (18322) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:29PM (#10337421)
      A few years back Alan Keyes was quite vocal in his claims that Hillary Clinton shouldn't have been allowed to run in the NY senate race since she had just purchased a house there. Of course she was a strong Democrat going up against a very week Republican, but that probably didn't have anything to do with it...(ha!)
      • by DesScorp (410532) <<DesScorp> <at> <Gmail.com>> on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:27AM (#10339750) Homepage Journal
        I'm a Republican, and let me say this about Keyes running in Illinois: it's hypocritical in the extreme. Hillary shouldn't have been allowed to run in New York, and Keyes shouldn't have been allowed to run in Illinois. The very concept of a famous person moving to a place just because they think they can win a race stinks. It's basically giving a big backhand to the idea of representative democracy.

        When all is said and done, I think that overall, the GOP will win big this year. But when you ask party leaders what they'd do differently, in private they'll tell you that importing Keyes was a huge fuckup, and will likely hurt them in Illinois for years (a state with a not-insignificant 21 electoral votes). Maybe Barrack Obama was going to win no matter who ran against him. But something about the mindset of the GOP in Illinois really bugs me. When Ryan backed out of the race, and Ditka wouldn't run, there was this assumption that since the Dem's were running a black candidate, hey, we have to have a black candidate too. That's stupid thinking number one; just get a good candidate, color or sex not being part of it. Stupid thinking number two comes in when they've decided that they HAVE to have a black candidate, and we've found this woman that's a doctor, and a loyal republican, longtime resident of Illinois. BUT WAIT......Let's bring in Alan Keyes instead! Never mind that he's never LIVED in Illinois before.

        Put this one into the "what not to do" section of campaigning.
    • by mzs (595629) on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:29AM (#10338594)
      I am from IL and I here is an example of what Alan Keyes is about:

      Separation of Church and State? What is that? [retakingamerica.com]

      Stances like this are why he will lose the election here. I am sure that Republicans like Jim Thompson are very much beside themselves about it actually. They can look at this as illustrating how Illinoisans want more moderate Republicans and Keyes' royal trouncing will help shift the Republican agenda in IL back to where it can be palatable to the majority again. Too bad for the RNC which was so dead set on a candidate like Keyes that they forgot to actually rally behind one that the majority would accept...

      • by Atzanteol (99067) on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:46AM (#10338962) Homepage
        *sigh* This is a huge pet peeve of mine...

        Separation of church and state:
        • Is not in the constitution (as most people think)
        • Does not mean nobody can have religion
        • Even if their in public office
        • Is *not* about removing religious symbols from public property
        "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" not "Congress shall tear down religious symbols wherever it may annoy citizens."

        Allowing a court house to have the 10 commandments in front of it is hardly passing a law respecting or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. This is called "Freedom of Religion" people. The right to actually have a religion.
        • Crap...

          s/their/they're/g
        • Mod Parent UP! Even the first generation of US leaders had a prayer before they met. The second generation put the 10 commandments on the wlls of the supreme court..

          This is not the establishment of religion (ala the Church of England). And this in no way restricted the rights of anyone to practice their religion!

        • by TXG1112 (456055) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:16AM (#10340199) Homepage Journal
          The reasoning is right there in your post.

          "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

          What this means is that Government (and it's all of its various branches) can not even appear to prefer one religion over another. This includes allowing any religious displays. How would you like passages from the Koran in Arabic posted in the courtroom where you were on trial? (or for the PC among us, a religion different from your own) What if your local mayor decided to plant a giant gold Buddha on the front lawn of town hall? That would be seen as a massive waste of tax money, and rightly so.

          I'd like to point out the God isn't mentioned in our constitution either. Our founders were mostly influenced by enlightenment philosophy.

          I recommend you have look at The Jefferson Bible [wikipedia.org] Where he specifically eliminates all supernatural events, and considers Jesus a philosopher, not god.

          • What this means is that Government (and it's all of its various branches) can not even appear to prefer one religion over another.

            Actually, I thought it was pretty clearly stated that it means congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Appearing to believe in a religion is a far cry from passing laws enforcing it. Would you say that if Joe Liberman were elected that he couldn't wear a yamaka?

            FWIW, I consider myself to be agnostic, so the 10 comandments aren't part of my belie
            • >"Appearing to believe in a religion is a far cry from passing laws enforcing it."

              I will have to respectfully disagree with this idea. While I agree that it is not the same thing, I will not say that it "is a far cry" from it. Some will cry the "Slippery Slope is a fallacy" argument, however in this case, it isn't. One can already see the results of this slippery slope in our society, as evidenced by the recent Congressional vote on the Pledge of Allegiance. If a public religious display has no appearan
              • Some will cry the "Slippery Slope is a fallacy" argument, however in this case, it isn't.

                Ahh, but it is. Do we want to be in the business of making things illegal because somebody believes there is a possibility it could lead to something else? What you're proposing is that not only should congress not pass laws against/for religion, but that it should also be restrained from having *anything at all* to do with individual religions. This would include tax breaks for religious charities, and other serv
                • by TXG1112 (456055) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:39PM (#10342739) Homepage Journal
                  Well, if you're Christian and building a court-house, you may be inspired by your upbringing. In your mind you think of all that exemplifies a court house, law, etc. And you think of the 'original 10 laws' given by your God. Seems pretty natural to me (even as a non-christian).

                  Well as a (nominal) christian it seems very unnatural to me. I am not inspired by a christian architects upbringing, nor should the American Taxpayer be required to support his religious leanings. We have a symbol for justice, and she is blind for a reason. Our courts uphold the laws of man, not god, and that's how I would like to keep it.

                  To be honest with you, I have considered taking up the position of eliminating the tax breaks that religions get on the grounds that giving them requires the Government to determine what is a religion vs. what is a cult. This makes the US Government the de facto and de jure arbiter of what religion is and is not, which to my mind directly contradicts the letter and spirit of the constitution. While religion plays an important societal role, it is not the governments job to promote it.

                  As you correctly point out there are many positive contributions that religious organizations provide, making this a hard idea to sell.

        • "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" not "Congress shall tear down religious symbols wherever it may annoy citizens."

          Allowing a court house to have the 10 commandments in front of it is hardly passing a law respecting or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. This is called "Freedom of Religion" people. The right to actually have a religion.


          Sure putting a 10 commandments in front of a court isn't passing a law, but it's dangero
          • How I 'feel' or what I 'think' are very different from how I am treated. What if I get that same speeding ticket in Harlem, and on the way to the courthouse I see all black people, and a statue of Malcolm X? I am white. Wouldn't I be called a racist if I demanded that blacks not run courts and that Malcolm X has no place in government?

            This issue always comes down to "this makes me feel uncomfortable." Well tough. There is a hell of a lot more than the 10 commandments in this world that will make you
        • The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate.... When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

          -- Harry Blackmun, former Supreme Court Justice
        • You're just quibbling on the point of separation of church and state not being in the Constitution. While it is true in a technical sense, Article V of the Constitution states that amendments to the Constitution are to be treated as though they were part of the Constitution itself.

          I agree with the rest of your points to an extent though.
      • The RNC's choice, Jack Ryan, who was winning in the polls and looked like a shoo-in candidate, took himself out of the race when the Democrats demanded that a US court reveal, and the US court AGREED to, his sealed divorce records which showed that he liked going to swingers clubs.

        Then, right after that, it was "Obama, Obama, Obama" who had been running there all along but had no chance of winning. No RNC member wanted to run after that dirty tricks campaign until Keyes stepped in. At which point it was
    • When Pat Buchanan suggested on a 2000 Fox News broadcast that Keyes go to NY to challenge Clinton for senate, Alan Keyes responded thusly,
      I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn't imitate it.
      Republicans, conservatives, are you embarassed by this guy or what?
    • It should also be noted that Alan Keyes thinks it would be a good idea to repeal the 17th Amendment [findlaw.com].

      This, for those who don't know, would make the state legislature elect (U.S.) Senators instead of the people. Why? Likely because he is behind in the polls also.

      But this seems like a bad idea to me for a number of reasons:

      I may like Republicans to run my state, but not the U.S. Congress. Makes it hard to have it both ways.
      People already feel under represented, this would make it worse.
      Puts Senate choices a
  • Commentary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unixbum (720776)

    Posted by pudge on Thursday September 23, @08:32PM from the good-idea dept. Masker writes "This is just too funny. Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, who is running against Democrat Barack Obama, wants to ban political polling for 'a certain period' before the election, since such polls are 'manipulative and degrading and damaging to our political system.'

    Could his opinion be influenced by a recent poll that shows Keyes trails by 45 percentage points behind Obama?" Pudge: Could

    • That's a reversal from the commentary usually being in the submission itself, and it all being partisan tripe from a neo-hippy fucktard.
    • Does anyone else find the fact that almost a third of this post is commentary?

      Yes, in fact, I did find the fact that almost a third (actually almost half) of the post was commentary. And...? :)
    • Re:Commentary (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aggiefalcon01 (730238)
      I do find the fact, yes. I don't mind it, though, as I think Pudge brings up a valid point worth talking about. A "point that matters", if you will. Given the "stuff that matters" mantra of /. , this is fine with me.
  • Great idea, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:44PM (#10337169)
    What about the first amendment?
    • by identity0 (77976) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:55PM (#10337218) Journal
      Well, the 1st Amendment protects you if you just report the results of a poll, but I don't think it protects the act of collecting the data to begin with. There are plenty of laws governing behavior in public, including political behavior like protests, leafleting, etc.

      Conducting an accurate survey would require going to a lot of strangers in public or calling them up to ask questions, and that sort of thing tends to be covered under solicitation laws.

      Of course, one could still conduct a volunteer survey, but that would be known to be inaccurate, so people might ignore those.
    • What about the first amendment?

      What about it? It's unconstitutional! [campaignfinancesite.org]
    • We've already scrapped the first amendment when it comes to elections.

      Anthony DiPierro is responsible for the content of this Slashdot post.

  • by eyeball (17206) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:48PM (#10337186) Journal
    Ban voting. It also can also affect election outcome. Unless you live in Florida.
  • great idea! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:49PM (#10337187)
    I'm ALL FOR banning Senate candidates. Excellent!

    Oh, wait...
  • by dbcad7 (771464) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:51PM (#10337202)
    Sadly, I have seen the effect of polls...

    Perot, Dole, Clinton race.. I was working in a small retail store. The owner (my boss) talked for weeks of voting for Perot (after all Perot was a bidnessman)... I watched the store while he went to vote. He came back and blew my mind by stating "I voted for Clinton, because he is going to win anyway" (this is what I call the football game mentality of polls ... he wanted to be a "WINNER")

    Of course after that I always thought of him as a real winner ! :)

    I firmly beleived polls should be blacked out at some time period before the actual election day

    Personaly, I can wait until the next day to find out the results.. .especialy if it encourages people to vote for who they "really" wanted.

    regards

    dbcad7

  • Alan Keyes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) <curt.johnson@nospAM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:01PM (#10337273) Homepage
    is on my permanent .ignore list.

    Why anyone takes this loon seriously is mindblowing. This is the guy that called Hillary Clinton a carpetbagger for moving to New York to run for the Senate and then moved to Illinois to do the same. I guess this is just par for the course for the GOP these days though. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to help this guy win against Obama. There's no contest.

    As for polls, who cares. It's better than 24/7 coverage of IBM typewriters and 30+ year old war stories.
    • The man used to be known for his great oratory skill, even in defense of a fanatically right-wing agenda. In his saner days he would have made a good speech writer for--I dunno, some non-crazy Republican. In fact, when I saw Obama's speech at the convention, it actually reminded me of Keyes. But public speaking was his only skill-he failed twice in a bid for a seat as Maryland's senator. In fact, he's kind of a professional failure, using his Quixotic political campaigns to get attention, then go back t
      • Re:Alan Keyes... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678)
        This is what happens when Americans confuse their culture or morality with the business of the government. It's logically consistent in his own mind, but inconsistent with the founding ideology of the country. Keyes, like Buchanan, believes in a theocratic mythology of America. At least Buchanan realizes that his ideas along this line aren't getting him anywhere and that he gets much more exposure using his intelligence for political analysis. Remember that Buchanan was the one who claimed that the US was i
      • Calling Dick Cheney's daughter a sinner because she loves a woman? It may be a logically consistent point of view, Alan, but it's still a fucking monstrously bigotted point of view.

        No its calling something which is a sin a sin. You may not agree with it but in the Christian faith homosexuality is a sin. And in most faiths we are all sinners, the difference is I dont have (or want) legislation confirming my sin, and I dont want to push my sin on the public schools, courts, or your household.

        But that exci

        • Re:Alan Keyes... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678)
          What the fsck does Christian morality have to do with the laws of the United States?
          No one is pushing crap on you, that's your own paranoia. No one is demanding that you participate in gay marriage, no one is forcing your church to hold ceremonies for gay couples. Where is there a law that requires a Christian church to marry Muslims? Absent compelling state interest, denying marriage contract rights to millions of couples is arbitrary discrimination.

          It's legal to drink alcohol in this country but my South
    • This is the guy that called Hillary Clinton a carpetbagger for moving to New York to run for the Senate and then moved to Illinois to do the same.

      After being asked keys went to Il (a bad decision on his part but I hope he makes a good go), in addition to being asked he looked at the record of the then unoppoesd Obama who voted for a bill that would let a baby who survives an abortion die on a cold steel table..

  • by Polo (30659) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @11:38PM (#10337469) Homepage
    ...but they can't do that.

    That's the primary way we're going to get CowboyNeal elected!
  • Kwazy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday September 24, 2004 @12:04AM (#10337576) Homepage Journal
    Keyes is off his rocker. A carpetbagger from Maryland who vocally criticized Hillary Clinton for moving to NY to run (successfully) for senator. And the Republicans who picked him, to run a black man against the likely first black senator representing Illinois, shows their contempt for democracy, race, the people of Illinois, and sanity. What's worse is the cadre of other actually insane Republicans he fits in with. How much more obvious a charade could they run?
    • Re:Kwazy (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CodeWanker (534624)
      Speaking as a rabid, reactionary, right-wing mega-zealot... Kwazy is right. It's absolutely shameful that Keyes just popped in to have a "Battle of the Darkies" minstrel show. I don't know if it's racist, since I don't know how skin color was supposed to affect this thing one way or the other.

      Oh, wait. Now I know... Republicans want to show that they can scrape up a token as well as the democrats can. Okay, so it IS racist... So much for content of your character trumping the color of your skin. Al
      • Maybe, and he'll be backed by the Republican Party *entirely* to be able to say that the first black president was a Republican. Note that Obama is no token - he's a very popular politician who happens to be black.
    • and the Republicans who picked him, to run a black man against the likely first black senator representing Illinois, shows their contempt for democracy, race, the people of Illinois, and sanity

      Umm what? Wow take some meds..

      Ms. Moseley Braun has served her country as a United States Senator from Illinois a Female, African American.

      The republicans in Ill were in a hard spot, they needed to get someone with a name to run. Keys was *not* picked because of his race (the previous two attempts including Mike

  • I have to stop looking at polls since they seem to inaccurate, and sometimes outright biased. Some sites, like www.electoral-vote.com will show Kerry leading by 30 votes in the electoral college one day, the next show him down 50. Obviously this isnt really happening, so something must be flawed.

    OTher times, you see three different polls being about the same number, ie bush 47, Kerry 46, then one guy who's just out there, like Bush 65, kerry 32. Er...huh?

    Then you get the poll companies that are part of th
  • bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elmegil (12001) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:00AM (#10337916) Homepage Journal
    Keyes is the Jerry Springer of politics. He's an idiot and he's an asshole. He's stated his intention to make one outrageous statement a day until the election, and I suppose this is one of the more recent ones (to go along with his commentary about Mary Cheney "misusing her genitals", etc).

    Why he even agreed to enter this race is amazing, and the fact that the state Republican Party saw fit to pull him instead of the number two Primary winner (after Jack Ryan's campaign imploded over relatively irrelevant allegations from a contentious divorce) is a mystery to those of us who live here. The #2 guy was Jim Oberwies, a well known (in Chicagoland anyway) conservative dairy owner, who was a completely viable candidate--easily with more connection to the residents of Illinois than Keyes, and easily conservative enough to be electable with the more conservative downstate electorate.

    All Keyes entry does is prove that all the negative rhetoric about Hillary not really being from NY is just so much hot air on the part of the GOP. He's clearly going to lose, and I can't think of any of the republicans I know here who want to vote for him given his public record as a lunatic and a jerk. Being behind 45 points in the polls is probably accurate given the distaste for the man here, regardless of the accuracy of polls in general.

  • There must be a way for somebody who doesn't live in Illinois and cheerfully lies to pollsters could care less, but I can't say it matters.
  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:49AM (#10338231)
    This is just too funny.

    Sorry to distrub your editorializing here, but there are in fact quite a number of countries that do this. Other things more modern democracies have found out work pretty well are not announcing any election results until everybody's vote is in (aw, the Californian says, why go vote, Gore is going to win anyway); vote on a Sunday so people don't have to skip work; give everybody the same ballot sheet; give every person one vote instead of some screwy system with a bunch of middlemen who distort the effect of the popular vote.

    As with the legal system and electricity, America's electorial system suffers enormously from being one of the first ones implemented and the inability of Congress to pass any serious reforms. Get rid of trial by jury, switch to 220 volts, make it a direct vote, and then you will be ready to enter the 21. Century. Computers that run with 220 volts are twice as fast!

    • A bit off the original topic but ...

      In New Zealand we have a law which, although I don't know the wording, it basically says 'no politics on election day'. All billboards must be removed by midnight before the day. If nothing else, it avoids them becoming trash blowing around for weeks as I've noticed happening in the US. Exit polling is not allowed and the news media can't say anything political until the polls close except to comment on turnout etc. Volunteers working for parties helping old people etc g
    • Sorry to distrub your editorializing here ...

      I submitted the story. I'm not a Slashdot editor. How could I be editorializing?

      I find it very funny that he would be against polls, because it would be a huge loss & against the 1st amendment of the constitution to ban polling.

      Why a loss? Well, polls gather informatino on not just who you're going to vote for, but what issues are important to you, and how you feel a candidate represents their stance on an issue. This kind of feedback is very important in
  • by dario_moreno (263767) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:58AM (#10338256) Homepage Journal
    but gave up because the polls showed that the bill would not pass.
  • It only encourages them. ;-)
  • by Temporal (96070) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:57AM (#10338383) Journal
    As I have learned since I started paying attention to electoral-vote.com [electoral-vote.com], most polls are BS. For example, two different polls recently conducted in Wisconsin show Kerry getting 50% and 38% of the vote. The polls don't even have overlapping margins of error. Therefore, at least one of them is simply dead wrong. Similar polls have been popping up all over the map, even from "trusted" sources like Gallup. If it's so easy for polls to be so wrong, why should we trust any of them?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I asked Gallup if they really excluded cell phones in their sampling - this was the reply I got back :
      The research we have done and learned about at professional meetings
      suggest that the vast majority of people who use a cell phone also have a
      land line phone. The estimates of cell phone only households is in the
      2-3% range. So 96-97% of Americans have land line phones (some small
      percentage does not have a cell phone or a land line phone), and thus
      are included in our samples.

      The research also indicates tha
      • They can't poll cell phones. It's illegal to use any automated dialing system to call a cell phone, or any other phone where the callee will have to pay for the call. (If a telemarketer calls your cell phone, press charges!)

        That's not why the Gallup polls are screwed up, though. The Gallup polls are screwed up because they normalize for a population that is 40% Republican and 33% Democrat. Considering that the percentages were the opposite in the last two elections, this seems like a pretty big assumpt
  • From week to week, you will have a change in the polls that is within the margin of error for the presidential race. Then of course, because the media has nothing better to do, they will report that this must mean the Kerry campaign is stalling or that Bush obviously has lost touch etc. Whatever story they can pull out of their ass for explaining why 10 more people out of the 1000 randomly selected picked candidate X instead of candidate Y in the latest poll.
    The polls are worthless, but since most Ameri
  • by Asprin (545477) <gsarnold AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @07:35AM (#10338887) Homepage Journal

    I think Keyes is right about this mostly. Besides if the media weren't spending all their time trying to manufacture news via polls, maybe the'yd have a few extra minutes to check some facts or locate confirming sources of information.

    They (the media) are forgetting how to do the one thing that really separates them as a legitimate news source from the tabloids and bloggers, and I think the introduction of manufactured news sources like political polls are partly to blame.
  • The pre-election polls themselves are really not the problem--it's how the media spins...er...reports the results. While it would certainly have immense First and Second Amendment Rights implications, I would really like to see a complete campaign-related media blackout for the entire week leading up to and including election day. Then, once the voting is closed, lift the blackout and let the media report the returns. Obviously, you really can't blackout the Internet, but you could blackout TV, Radio, and N
  • by JohnnyX (11429) on Friday September 24, 2004 @09:54AM (#10339998) Homepage Journal
    Jerry Kohn [kohn2004.org] is running as a Libertarian. Last I checked, he didn't want to ban polling and he actually shows up for debates [news-gazette.com], something neither Obama or Keyes seem willing to do.

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

    ...let Badnarik debate [badnarik.org]...
  • by indros13 (531405) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:10PM (#10343726) Homepage Journal
    ...he's right about polling. Here's a few reasons why:
    1. Polling drives news. Instead of reporting on Kerry's health care plan or Bush's plan for Iraq, we get a race. "Kerry rounds the third turn, pulling ahead because of this, Bush is lagging because of this." Except that none of the talking heads can prove that they know why anything has changed, so it's all a farce.
    2. Polling is pointless. What the heck does a poll 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years early even mean? "If the election was today, who would you vote for." It's not today, so why ask? It's also meaningless to say anyone is "ahead" until the race starts, which is when votes start being cast.
    3. Polling is inaccurate. Now that people have cell phones, polling is rapidly losing its statistical significance. Polling depends on the sample being proportionately similar to the actual population. If cell phone users are not identical to non-cell users in their political preferences, then polls are wrong.

    Polls are a way to make a good story out of campaigns that are way too long. If I actually got the information I needed about the candidates' record and proposals (with facts, not spin), I could choose in a day (and many people wait until the last day anyway). Polls are pointless.

  • by tid242 (540756) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:46PM (#10345384) Homepage

    The politics of tokenism
    Aug 12th 2004
    From The Economist print edition

    The Republicans have made a bad mistake in pitting Alan Keyes against Barack Obama

    THREE weeks ago in Boston, the Democrats witnessed the birth of a new black star in Barack Obama, their candidate for the open Senate seat in Illinois. Now the Republicans have conjured up a black star of their own to do battle with the self-described skinny guy with an odd name. Alan Keyes, talk-show host, holy-roller social conservative, Maryland resident and sometime presidential candidate, will take Mr Obama on.

    The thinking behind this is beguiling in its simplicity: the Democrats have a black man who can give a rafter-raising speech, so we had better find a rafter-raising black man too. Beguiling, but stupid. Mr Keyes's Senate run will produce nothing but disaster--humiliation for Mr Keyes, more pie on the face of the already pie-covered Illinois Republican Party, and yet another setback for Republican efforts to woo minority voters.

    Mr Keyes's problems start with his personality. The Republicans' new champion is the very opposite of cool. In 1996 he chained himself to the front door of a television station in Atlanta, Georgia, to protest against a decision to exclude him from a presidential debate (he was then mounting the first of his two bids for the presidency). His speeches can certainly be eloquent. But they can also be intemperate and plain weird, particularly on the subject of gays.

    Mr Keyes's politics are of a piece with his personality. He is a genuine intellectual, a disciple of the great Allan Bloom, and has a PhD in political science from Harvard. But his intellectualism drives him to take absolutist positions on some of the most divisive subjects in American politics. He doesn't just call for a reduction of taxes; he calls for the complete abolition of the "slave" income tax. He doesn't just want to blur the line between church and state like George Bush; he argues that the division between church and state has no basis in the constitution. He doesn't just disagree with Mr Obama on abortion; he castigates him for holding "the slaveholder's position" on the subject.

    This sort of absolutism doesn't go down well anywhere in America outside an eccentric fringe. But it goes down particularly badly in the meat-and-potatoes mid-west, where people expect politicians to solve real problems--as the Daleys have done so spectacularly in Chicago, perhaps America's best-run city--rather than waffle on about the meaning of the constitution. The Republicans who have flourished in the region have been middle-of-the-road pragmatists such as Jim Edgar and James Thompson, both former governors of Illinois.

    This is hardly an auspicious start. But Mr Keyes brings two further disadvantages to his late-term Senate bid. The first is the charge of "carpetbagging". Illinois is the sort of state where politicians are expected to cultivate their constituencies for years, and where people reminisce about the Cook County political machine's legendary operating style in Chicago in the 1960s. The Democrats are cheerfully claiming that the Republicans are so bereft of talent in a state of 12.5m people that they have to go to Maryland to find any. And they are gleefully reminding everyone of Mr Keyes's pompous scolding of Hillary Clinton, on Fox News in 2000, for running for the Senate in "a state she doesn't even live in".

    The Keyes candidacy also smacks of tokenism. The candidate routinely denounces affirmative action as a form of racial discrimination. But what other than racial discrimination can explain the Illinois Republican Party's decision to shortlist two blacks for the Illinois slot--and eventually to choose Mr Keyes? He brings no powerful backers or deep pockets, and was thrashed in his two runs for the Senate in Maryland.

    Desperate measures

    The Illinois Republicans are not just guilty of tokenism. They are guilty of last-minute scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel t

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