Home > General > What is the 80/20 Poll Rule?

What is the 80/20 Poll Rule?

At Pollinsider I will often refer to the 80/20 Poll Rule.

The basic premise is: Only 20% of respondents will know 80% of what is going on/be informed on the questions asked, while the other 80% might have 20% knowledge of any particular subject, usually derived from sound bites or news commercial breaks between Beyonce and Lady Gaga spins on the radio.

S0, if you poll 100 people about Subject A, you can assume that 20 of them will have an informed opinion while 80 of them will have an equally valid opinion, but with limited or no knowledge of Subject A (equally valid because all opinions are created equal in polling and in voting, just ask Barack Obama). So most people polled have limited knowledge of what they are being polled about.

Out of some 200 million registered voters, only about 35 Million (less than 20%) will sit through an NBC, CBS, ABC, FNC, CNN, or MSNBC broadcast in any given day.

People often question the validity of polls, or simply just read polls and wonder if the respondents are morons. You have to remember, polls are only a reflection of the opinions of respondents based on their knowledge of a subject, and usually this opinion does not reflect a well-formed or researched opinion. For instance, politicians regularly score well in handling foreign policy issues, no matter if the situation is actually good or bad, unless the subject has received heavy rotation.This is because people are not particularly interested in foreign policy, shocking I know, and no news must be good news.

So, polls are accurate. But they are only an accurate reflection of a number of people with a generally limited knowledge of the question they are being asked.The 80/20 rule is thrown out the window when Subject A becomes fully engaged and part of the daily dialogue of a majority of people (usually close to presidential elections).

And while we are most intrigued by 2012 Presidential Polls, we also realize that they are the most volatile. They are good, however, for establishing floors of certain candidates for certain criteria. Prime example: Sarah Palin. We can accurately assume that Sarah Palin’s floor is at 40% because she sits their having received the full attack of the MSM, and establishment D and R operatives. And we can assume that Newt Gingrich’s ceiling is at 41%, having maxed out here despite years of no negative press (we can assume that as history revives, Gingrich will not thrive).


Categories: General

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