The Only Poll That Matters is The Poll You Walk Into on Election Day

With the Nov. 6 General Election just days away, candidates are pulling out all the stops, from phone banking, to doing waves to door knocking. They are making their way to places of worship, stopping by community events and participating in political forums. 

Large and small signs are staked out everywhere—in front of businesses, on lawns and even in legally questionable locations, such as government property. Some signs are tacked on to supporting candidates’ signs or strategically placed in close proximity of a competitor. All of this is to get your attention and increase the candidates’ visibility in the waning days of the election season.

Many candidates count on the fact that a lot of voters will not do their research and due diligence. They count on the fact that the more you see their name and face, the more you will view them as a viable choice for office.

Another strategy being used to sway voters is pushing out the results of political polls. Weeks before we got into the home stretch of this so-very interesting gubernatorial election campaign, various newspapers, blogs and TV news were reporting and repeating all kinds of poll results. 

Of course, it is fair game to report the results, even though candidates and their slate are the ones who typically commission and pay for these polls. Others say polls can be used as a form of voter sup-pression. For example, polls could influence some reluctant voters to show up at the polls and it could sway others to believe their vote doesn’t count.

Many polls are accurate and can tell who is ahead and who is likely to win. But you should know that a poll is merely a snapshot of respondents’ thoughts at a certain time. 

When a research firm or pollsters conduct a poll, they typically use a sample of roughly 400 people, usually by phone, asking for their opinion on certain issues and candidates. Two questions usually include: “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” and “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidate?” The results are based on that sampling. Their opinions could be based on news, family members, and what they think the pollster wants to hear, e.g. how many people said they supported Trump when a poll was taken.

If you listen to certain polls you’ll believe that certain elections have been decided. Many say the governor’s race is a slam-dunk because of the polls and his popularity. Regardless of who you decide to select for governor, please vote based on your passion and interests. 

But as we know things can change. In 2014, a month before the general election, Larry Hogan was behind by 7 percentage points in some polls. In the end, he defeated the heavily favored Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown by 5 percentage points. Why? Because his supporters did not throw up their hands and say, “No way can a Republican win in this blue state.” They wanted to see their man win and went to the polls. 

In the presidential election in 2016, some polls had Hillary Clinton winning by a landslide before the race began tightening. Then, well, you know the result. Trump supporters came out in droves.

So don’t get swept up into the psychology and politics of the polls. The only poll that matters is the poll you walk into during early voting or on Election Day. 

Remember: Several races during the Primary Election were decided by a handful of votes. Some were decided only after a recount of the votes, and then after absentee ballots and provisional ballots were counted. 

Such was the case in the Baltimore County Executive’s races, where about 1,000 votes separated the three major candidates. The winner, Johnny O, won by just 17 votes. So, again, your vote does count!

In addition to the race for governor and Baltimore County Executive, you will vote for members to the Board of Education. For the first time, the school board will be a combination of members elected by you, the voter, and appointed by the governor. 

We need school board members who will put in the work and the time to setting education policy, listening to the parents, teachers and other stakeholders so that their views are reflective of the community, and who will do what is in the best interest of our students. Again, get out and vote during early voting or on Election Day.

I also ask that you consider the following when deciding on your candidates:

  What are the candidates’ values?

  Who can you trust to do the right thing when they get in office? Who will keep their commitment to the promises they’ve been making to get your vote?  

  Who has bold, innovative ideas to move the county, state and school system forward?

  Who will take on the ugly, divisive state of affairs in our country?

  Who will surround themselves with the right people, including young people, people of diverse backgrounds, and people who are qualified and experienced—not just their friends and associates?

  Who will listen? Who will be inclusive? Who can we count on to be a valuable partner for the community?

We have a lot to lose and a lot to gain with this 2018 gubernatorial election. Elect someone you and our next generation can be proud of. Make sure you make it to the polls and bring a family member, neighbor or friend with you.