Home > NewsRelease > #196 Political Polls
#196 Political Polls
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, October 25, 2023


#196 Blogpost – Wednesday 25 October 2023


Posted by Denny Hatch


Direct Marketers vs. Political Pollsters:

Why We Are a Lot Savvier Than They Are.


Nate Silver, fivethirtyeight.com,America’s Most Trusted Pollster.
       Chart Right Published: 7:05 P.M. Election Eve, 7 November 20016.


Nate Silver madehis bones as a statistician and baseball analyst who allegedly once made$400,000 over a three-year period playing online poker. Founder andeditor-in-chief of the polling organization fivethirtyeight.com, Silver was named oneof the world’s 100 Most Influential people by Time after hesuccessfully predicted the outcomes in forty-nine of the fifty states inthe 2008 election. Subsequently his forecasting system predicted theoutcomes of the 2012 and 2020 presidential elections with a high degree ofaccuracy.


Nate Silver Blew It BigTime in 2016 When He Predicted
Hillary Clinton would Cream Donald Trump 71% to 28%.

Being a political junkiefor over 50 years, like the majority of Americans I was stunned everybody gotit all so very wrong.


Same Thing 76 YearsAgo in the 1948 Election.

—Photo:W. Eugene Smith. LIFE Magazine.

Quick Backstory of This Extraordinary Photo— One of
The Most Famous Journalistic Gaffes in American History.

In the summer of the 1948 electionPresident Harry Truman had a sad-sack 36% approval rating. Throughout thesummer the Gallup and Roper polls declared Truman’s opponent, Thomas E. Dewey,was an absolute shoo-in guaranteed to win the election. In the last two monthsof the campaign Truman virtually disappeared from public view. He was on awhistle-stop trip on a private train where he could be seen and talk in persondirectly to the American people from the back of his train. Some real early mornings he'd be in his pajamas, robe and slippers and talk to a handful of voters. At the huge Iowa State Fair in September he roared over the public address system to mesmerize an audience of 72,000. In those final twomonths of the campaign Truman crisscrossed the country over 31,000 miles andmade 352 speeches. All media coverage was local. The pollsters never caught theshifts in public opinion. Robert R. McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribuneinsisted on being first to announce Truman’s defeat starting with the earliestedition of paper.


What triggered this blog post are somecurrent projections about the 2024 elections coming up twelve months hence.


The Total Incompetence of College Student Pollsters

May Show Up Yet Again on the Same Error-Strewn Path.



 This Marquette Law Students’ poll of “690 Likely Voters” is  a teensy-weensymicroscopic sample out of a humongous universe of 168.42 million Registered American Voters.Preposterous!

What’s more, Theabove illustration is a large slide with full color photographs, bigheadlines and a small muddy caption at bottom. It was shown for a few seconds fullsized on network and local TV news programs along with a bunch of otherpollsters’ projections.


These samplenumbers are disguised in the small line at bottom printed in blurry medium bluemouse type printed over a light blue background. It is guaranteed to beoverlooked by virtually all TV viewers. I missed it clean and noticed it onlyafter I photographed the slide for this blog post. The numbers:

About Amorphous Political Polls vs. the
Hard Data of Direct Marketers’ Tests

Political pollstersare mining the mushy world of “Who would you vote for if the election were heldtoday?” The answer is in the slippery world of emotions, of “if” and “how do you feelright now?”

When launching a new product, service orfinancial opportunity direct marketers rent lists of buyers or subscribers or members ofanalogous products and services. Or we advertise in media our potential buyersread and view.


Below is the order card for INTERNATIONALLIVING, a publication that did not exist. After three failures and $70,000in debt, young copywriter Bill Bonner sent out a “dry test” mailing with a powerful8-page letter describing how you can retire overseas in luxury for a fractionof what it would cost in the U.S. The dry test mailing pulled 300% of breakevenand Bonner was in business. Today he is owner of The Agora, a billion-dollarpublishing empire out of Baltimore, Maryland.

This offer was the real deal — NOT a weak and wifty, “ifthis newsletter existed do you think you might buy it?” This was offering a solid commitment from Bonner to the recipient urging a change in behavior that will be very beneficial. (And not change his mind tomorrow.)



We start with a series of small tests.Then follow up with medium size confirming tests. We track results every stepof the way.


A Example of Some Basic Direct Marketing Arithmetic.
I got into directmail marketing in the 1970s, the formula was primitive and simple. The minimumtest was 5,000 names. Way back then the average response to a direct mailcampaign was 2%. A two percent response from 5,000 names is 100 orders — theabsolute minimum cell size of paying customers just large enough to be statisticallydependable.


Direct marketing brings immediate resultsthat you can take to the bank — literally. The success or failure is measuredprecisely by test results and money, promised or sent. If a test bombed, yousweetened the offer or tested different pricing until you got it right.


In 1984 Peggy and I started the monthly WHO’SMAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service. It was a publicationthat existed in our heads only. We did a “dry test” offering this mythical publication.We rented 5,000 names from Pete Hoke’s Direct Marketing magazine and5,000 from Adrian Courtenay’s DM NEWS for a total of 10,000 names. Ouroffer: 

Take the first issue FREE and the nexttwelve issues for $99. Cancel any time and receive a full refund no questionsasked. No risk. We got 452 responses and became publishers.


In Political Polling, No Interim Results.

Unlike direct marketers, politicalpollsters have to wait till the very end of the campaign when the polls closeand the votes are all in and counted before they know for sure whether they arechamps or chumps. 



These are the AmateurCollegiate Political Pollsters Who Are
In the Worlds of Fox News, CNN and FiveThirtyeight

Emerson College, Boston, MA

Iowa State Civiq (News Service), Ames, IA

Marquette College Law School, Milwaukee, WI

Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Ct

Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC


My personal opinion these minor collegesand universities are in the political polling business for publicity and publicrelations. Any coverage in state and national media (e.g., the Marquette LawSchool poll shown in this post) may well be noticed by wealthy alumni who takepride seeing their beloved alma mater in the forefront of the news. Maybethey'll increase their giving. Plus it gets minor colleges' names out toprospective students interested in political science.


Here's another cheapsy-weepsy political pollI photographed off the TV.

NOTE: “Among 868 Registered Voters.”


Takeaways toConsider

• Any time I see a national or statepolitical poll, I now look for the size of the sample it was based on.


Word count: 1117

292pp     6" x 9"
Hardcover:     $39.95
Paperback:     $29.95
ebook/Kindle: $19.95



Barnes & Noble



At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


Note to Readers:  
May I send you an alert when each new blog is posted? Ifso, kindly give me the okay by send
ing your First Name, Last Name and email to dennyhatch@yahoo.com. I guarantee your personal information will not be shared with anyone at any time for any reason. The blog is afree service. No cost. No risk. No obligation. Cancel any time. I look forward to being in touch!

Googleowns Blogspot.com and this Comment Section. If you do not have a Googleaccount — or if you find it too damn complicated — contact me directly and Iwill happily post your comment with a note that this is per your permission. Thank you and do keep in touch. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

Invitation to Marketers and Direct Marketers: 
Guest Blog Posts Are Welcome. 
If you have a marketing story to tell, case history, concept to propose or a memoir, give a shout. I’ll get right back to you. I am: dennyhatch@yahoo.com
215-644-9526 (rings on my desk). 

You Are Invited to Join the Discussion.
News Media Interview Contact
Name: Denny Hatch
Group: Denny Hatch's Marketing Blog
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA United States
Direct Phone: 215-644-9526
Jump To Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Jump To Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
Contact Click to Contact