So you polled your Facebook friends about their preferences? I see…

Folks, if you think that passing a posting around on Facebook to your friends asking them to state their political preference is a poll…
Well, fine.
It is a poll. It is, however, unlikely to meet any established criteria for validity of any useful poll based on selection criteria.
Polling does not consist of asking your buddies what they think about an issue and reporting the results as statistically valid and therefore reflective of a wider reality. It’s a lot more scientifically and statistically rigorous than that.
To start with, polls randomly select people in an identified population. There may be some clear selection criteria (if you are asking women about beauty products, by definition you probably won’t be including men in your sample population), but the idea is that the overall sample should be random within the population that meets the selection criteria.
There is also the matter of sample size. As any statistician can explain, the margin of error in an analysis of this type is inversely related to sample size. A sample size of 50 has a much larger margin of error than a sample size of 5000.
In an election, anybody who is registered to vote can potentially vote, so any poll designed to determine likely voting preferences needs to sample all registered voters within a population. Your Facebook friends list does not meet that criterion, since it is reflective of self-selection and is therefore not random. I have never met anybody who chose real-life or online friends at random.
Of course I know what is really going on here. You are engaging in an exercise of in-group validation, a massive “we’re all the Right Ones” group hug. Which is fine. Just don’t make me laugh by dressing it up in pseudo-scientific wrapping-and-bow bullcrap by somehow claiming that it proves stuff that it clearly doesn’t.
Claiming “me and my friends held a Facebook poll and it shows that Trump is winning among my friends by a landslide” may be a correct statement. “me and my friends held a Facebook poll that proves that Trump is winning by a landslide” is not a correct statement.


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