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Gubernatorial Polling Numbers Are Out

Updated: Monday, August 18 2014, 10:31 AM CDT
"Don't believe all these polls that show us up double digits, the only poll that matters is November 4th." said Bruce Rauner gubernatorial candidate.
 
Bruce Rauner with a 5 point edge in one poll. Here a 14 point edge.
5 percent separating him from governor Quinn in this poll. But here it's back up to a 13 percent margin for Rauner. Each poll released within a week of each other, yet each offering a wildly different assessment of the governor's race.

"We do them basically to get a gauge on public opinion." said Matt Dietrich, Executive Director of Reboot Illinois. A valuable tool, when administered correctly but only a snapshot in time, and misinformation often clouds the big picture.

"Definitely some have an agenda, but the majority of the people who are doing these surveys aren't looking to push a certain agenda. They aren't looking to be biased." said Ashley Kirzinger, Director of Survey and Research office at University of Illinois.

But some companies -and candidates-can spin poll results to reflect their narrative. The most trusted companies practice their polls ahead of time.
 
"Various rounds of this to make sure everything is tested and pretested, and make sure there aren't any confusions with the polls," said   Kirzinger. Analysts say in-person interviews are best for complex issues, and emails are also used.

"It's important to provide as much context and to
balance your questions as best you can and not lead people in one
direction," said Kristina Rasmussen, executive vice president of the
Illinois Policy Institute.

But the best way to reach as many people as possible is still over the phone.

"Telephone
is still the gold standard to make sure you're getting through to the
right people," said Rasmussen. "Automated polls can work well, they're
usually a better fit for simpler questions."

That's the method
Reboot Illinois and their polling partner We Ask America used to reach
more than 1,000 people in their latest poll.

"They just hit a number to dial in their response," Dietrich said.

It's
easy and cost-effective, but the simplicity of phone calls doesn't
always provide in-depth information. And with different companies using
different methods to ask different questions, it can also be difficult
to accurately track trends over time.

"If you're changing up the
wording of the question, you don't really have polls that you can see
time and time again," Rasmussen said.

The raw numbers may grab the headlines, but the analysts say voters need to do their homework to gain a little perspective.

"It's impossible to discern any trends right now from the polling that's been done," Dietrich said.

"This
far out from an election, it's really hard to get an actual glimpse of
what the voting results are going to be," said Kirzinger.

Even
though many of the polls currently show a double-digit lead for Bruce
Rauner, we all know the election is anything but over. At this time in
2010, Gov. Quinn faced similar deficits in the polls against
then-candidate Bill Brady, only to come back and win the general
election in November.
Gubernatorial Polling Numbers Are Out


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