The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How reliable are the polls?

Polls now seem to show that President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by a slim margin. There are a few recent polls with a lead for Romney, but more favor Obama. Should we put any trust in them, though, this long before the election? Probably not.

Let's look at the polling data from 2008, four years ago. Remember that this was an election that Obama won by 52.9% to 45.7%. What were the polls showing around April 26? Mostly a tie. In between, a lot happened. Among other things, John McCain built up a bit of a lead in September — though even at that time, the polls ranged from 54-44 McCain to 47-45 Obama. Then, the economy tanked. Obama went ahead, in one poll by as much as 53-38. But his eventual margin was a lot less.

The point is, we don't know what will happen between now and November. We could have another 9/11 — though it's not likely. If gasoline prices hit $5, it will hurt Obama (though I myself would hardly notice, since I don't own an automobile). The Supreme Court will announce its decisions on Obamacare, the Arizona law on illegal immigrants, and other matters in a couple of months and this will inflame tempers one way or the other. North Korea may do something, or the war between the Sudans might escalate to the point of affecting us. But nobody knows now what the news will be in the next few months.

So I look at the polls, but I think it is impossible to place a lot of trust in them, especially when it is only April.

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