A Case Study: Here Is Why We Cannot Trust Polls And Pollsters

GARBAGE IN-OUT

The Marist polling organization, which also had a presidential race poll out over the weekend, was widely publicized recently for its poll asking fans of professional sports why they weren’t following them as they had in past seasons. (The NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have seen significant TV ratings drops in their respective weird, pandemic-marred seasons.) The headlines in one news source after another focused on a single “finding”: the invasion of political posturing by athletes had not played the primary role in driving fans away. “No, the increased political activism in professional sports doesn’t explain the ratings decline,” wrote Yahoo Sports, repeated by AOL. “And no, the sports where that activism is the most pronounced, like the NBA, haven’t suffered more in comparison.”

That may or may not be true, but the Marist poll cited didn’t indicate either of those conclusions, because those polled were not asked about either issue with sufficient precision or clarity.

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