Poll Respondents Lie

I’m a little late in seeing this, but the Wall Street Journal had a fantastic article this past weekend looking at various research suggesting that people don’t tell the truth to pollsters, on a whole range of issues. Including their opinions on race. A timely subject, to say the least, as people debate how solid Obama’s poll numbers are.

At CBS, pollster Kathleen A. Frankovic says she will ask voters whether they think most people they know would vote for a black candidate — an indirect way to fish for racial bias. John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, is asking white respondents whether they have ever been to a dinner party where a black person was present…

At ABC News, polling director Gary Langer says the network is noting the race of the phone interviewer for the first time in its presidential polls. The idea is to see whether the questioner’s race could have an effect on responses by voters.

The article—and the paired interactive graphic—describe all sorts of clever experiments that researchers have used to suss out how often respondents lie.

To their list, I offer one more: this entire election.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.