2004-08-20 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine Chapey
Dr. Geraldine Chapey I have always been intrigued by the vast amount of polling that takes place. Each time I turn on the TV I find different stations polling their listeners as to their opinions. Humans have a genuine interest in finding out what their neighbors are thinking.

Frank Newport, an editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, has recently written a book on the importance of polling entitled “Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People.” George Gallup, the originator of the Gallup Poll, had issued a book on the same topic many years ago. Frank Newport felt that it was time to take a fresh look at the current value of polling. Newport asserts that polling provides the perfect avenue for both the public and the leaders of our country to get the pulse of their constituents on a specific issue according to the Princeton Packet on August 6, 2004.

This being a Presidential election year we are inundated with the results of many polls. How do we know which poll to believe? Newport stresses that in order to be valued a poll must use a representative sample.

A great historical example of the need for a representative sample is the poll taken when Alf Landon, the Republican candidate, was running against Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate in 1936. According to a poll taken by the Literary Digest, Alf Landon would actually win the Presidential election. However, in the actual election Roosevelt overwhelmingly defeated Landon by a landslide of 11 million votes. How could the poll be so wrong?

The Literary Digest was a very popular magazine in that time. However, all of their surveys were done by phone. In today’s world, telephone sampling is a very legitimate polling technique. It is widely utilized. However, in 1936 homes that had telephones were wealthier than those that had none. People with a higher income tend to be more likely to vote Republican. Therefore, it is not shocking to find that those polled by telephone in 1936 were going to vote for the Republican candidate Alf Landon.

Since we are speaking about Presidential elections, I read a very interesting article entitled “Ticktock, the Political Clock” which was published on August 6, 2004 in the Princeton Packet and written by Roy Wepner. “A good ol’ boy from Texas is in the White House. His party controls both houses of Congress. The party has a stranglehold on the entire Federal government that even the Supreme Court includes a White House crony and enough other justices who share his philosophy as to constitute a working majority.

Sounds like life in these United States in 2004, no? Try 1965.”

Wepner continues the article by pointing out that “no matter how strong one party or political view might seem at any given moment, things always tend to swing back toward the center and beyond.”

This year’s election poses a new issue. “This election year, a ‘bounce’ falls flat” is the title of an article published by Newsday on August 6, 2004 and written by John Zogby. He points out why 2004 is defying history in many aspects. He notes that historically 20 to 25 percent of the population remain undecided at the time when the Republican and Democratic conventions are held.

This year polls predict that only 5 percent of the population is undecided. The two candidates are in a statistical dead heat. Zogby states that in 2004 the United States is “evenly split” between both candidates. Kerry and Bush are campaigning to influence a small pool of voters who remain undecided. Another point is that traditionally senior citizens vote in higher numbers. This could have a significant impact on the election depending on who they support. The seniors may have the balance of power in their hands.

We are living in interesting times. In many ways 2004 is unique. Let’s stay tuned.

Kudos to Sandy and Jate Doremus. The Night Out Against Crime was a very significant event again this year. It brought out people of all ages. This is the 20th year celebrating the National Night Out Against Crime. It fosters an important link between the community and our police officers. Sandy and Jate Doremus are to be complimented for their tireless efforts to foster positive relationships in the community. Kudos also go to the entire 100 Precinct Community Council and the police officers who stand with our community to insure a positive working relationship between both groups. Again, the Beach Club did an outstanding job in hosting the event. Thanks to Steve and Kenny Good for another spectacular evening. Norman and Harriet Schwartz and Hy Rosenblum are to be complimented on having the important service at the Seaside Jewish Center. Norman and Harriet Schwartz and Hy Rosenblum are true leaders. They sponsor events, which are the backbone of the community. The attendance was excellent showing that people support the efforts of Harriet, Norman and Hy. I was joined at the Temple service by other elected leaders including Congressman Anthony Weiner and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.

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