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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec 21, 2011 25 Kislev, 5772

Are Polls Really Magic?

By Roger Simon




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | With the glut of debate stories safely behind us until human beings actually cast votes in Iowa on Jan. 3, the media now shift their full concentration to what really counts: polls.

Polling drives our political process far more than debates do. Debates are just the candidates yakking in real time.

Polls are predictions of the future. They are crystal balls. They are magic.

Pollsters try to deny this, humbly murmuring about how their magic is a mere "snapshot in time." But we don't believe this.

Pollsters are wizards, shamans, diviners. They toss numbers around the way astragalomancers once tossed bones to foretell events to come. (The name comes from the Greek astragalos, meaning "knucklebone." But you knew that.)

Increasingly, however, pollsters find it difficult to get people to talk to them. This should not be a surprise. Pollsters call us during inconvenient times when they expect us to be home (the dinner hour, for example) and then can ask all sorts of personal questions about our age, sex, religion, party affiliation, income and whom we intend to vote for.

I have never been called by a political pollster and don't know anybody who has, but I know some pollsters, who assure me they don't make the numbers up, and I believe them.

Pollsters, or rather the phone-bankers who make call after all (or computers that make robo-call after robo-call), do get people to talk to them. Not vast numbers of people, but pollsters do not require vast numbers.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, which is highly respected, tells us that "Gingrich and Romney are each favored by 30 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents."

Also, the "survey shows President Obama receiving his highest approval rating since March ... (and) the number who disapprove of his overall performance has dipped below 50 percent for the first time this fall."

We are a nation of nearly 313 million people. So how many people did the pollsters actually speak to? If you have extremely good eyes, you can find the answer in tiny type at the bottom of a chart: The Post-ABC poll was conducted by phone "among a random sample of 1,005 adults."

That represents 0.0003 percent of the nation at large. (The number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents was an even smaller sample of 395 people.)

The poll does not tell us how many are registered voters, though it does say in a sidebar story: "The president leads a potential race against former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) by 51 to 43 percent among registered voters — in part because of an eight-point advantage among independents."

So the poll must have spoken to registered voters and independents, but we don't know how many.

And, frankly, who cares? Most people do not read the fine print. Just as most people, including most journalists, have no idea what the "margin of sampling error" really means, though most good polls tell us that. (The Post-ABC margin was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all adults.)

As I said, this poll has a very good reputation, and I "believe" the results in that I believe they were calculated carefully and (unlike some partisan or campaign polls) without any agenda.

But in the vast, murky world known as reality, are Gingrich and Mitt Romney really tied 30-30? And, if they are, what different does it make? The primary is not a national contest, but a series of state contests by which the winning candidate amasses a majority of the approximately 2,288 pledged and unpledged delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Does Obama really lead Gingrich by 8 percentage points in a (currently) imaginary matchup?

I dunno. Sounds right to me. But I am an even smaller sample than 0.0003 percent.

Gingrich's drop in the polls — one shows him in third place in Iowa behind Ron Paul and Romney — and Obama's rise have become big media talking points over the last few days.

There is little real political analysis anymore. Instead, there are journalists who read polls and try to explain the results: Newt's drop? Attack ads by his opponents are damaging him, people are learning more about him and don't like what they are learning.

Obama's rise? The 21st paragraph of a sidebar story to the Post-ABC poll contains a figure that may be of critical importance: "The new survey finds that most Americans are optimistic about their personal finances, even though gloom continues about prospects for the national economy."

People who are personally optimistic are the kind of people who do not change horses in midstream, especially if they feel the stream is strewn with rocks.

Is this how "most Americans" — based on a survey of 1,005 of them — really feel?

Dunno. But the polls are changing the prism through which the media — both mainstream and social — see events, which changes the national conversation.

You can challenge the accuracy of polls. But you can't challenge their influence.

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