These political opinion polls that are always in the news really irritate me. You never really know what to make of them and they make me wonder what sort of thinking process goes on in the average person's mind, especially when poll numbers go up or down almost daily. I'll give myself credit for being one person who doesn't change his mind on an issue each day depending on some one minute soundbite I heard on the nightly news the night before as many people apparently do.
One poll just out, that Dan Weintraub comments on, says the Governor's approval rating is at an all time low and that most Californians are opposed to his reform initiatives despite agreeing with the intent of the initiatives. Go figure.
Of course, you never know what questions were asked and why people answer the way they do. One could say he disapproves of the Governor but he disapproves cause the Governor's not conservative enough or not liberal enough. Being registered with Zogby Polls, I've found they do a pretty good job of giving plenty of options on how to respond, but some polls don't. CNN's online polls, example. CNN will ask you a question and then ask for a Yes or No answer when the question, at least to me, isn't one that lends itself to a simple yes or no answer.
All that said, I've been surprised at how accurate some polls end up being, most notably some of the pre- election polls showing who might win in a given election. Those often come pretty close although every now and then one ends up way off like when Matt Fong ran against Barbara Boxer a few years ago. All the polls were saying it was too close to call. When all was said and done, Boxer beat Fong by 20% or more. A surprise to most I think. But, if I recall correctly, the close call in the last two presidential elections was correctly forecast by most of the major poll organizations. Whether the results of a given election were affected by the polls themselves to some extent is anyone's guess. They certainly don't affect my vote.