"I am not an expert on polls," Terry Trippany writes in a Sept. 27 NewsBusters post -- a claim she then proves by touting the results of an opt-in poll as meaningful.
Trippany makes note of an "AOL straw poll that shows John McCain solidly beating Barack Obama in a random sample of hundreds of thousands of readers," adding: "[I]t seems to me that the AOL poll is without the kind of bias that can be injected by pollster samples and then touted by the media as an advantage for Obama. The AOL straw poll has been relatively low profile and you must use a captcha to vote. It has been running for a while now and the results have been fairly consistent. The bias it does have would likely come from the demographics of AOL readers. The poll appears to be an outlier and I have no clue how closely a poll of this type tracks real votes. AOL states that it is not a scientific poll. In other words it just captures the votes that readers put in. Simple."
As we pointed out in 2004 when WorldNetDaily was promoting the AOL poll (which also similarly had the Republican candidate in the lead), opt-in polls are inherently unreliable because the sample is self-selecting and can be easily skewed by activists -- such as the right-wingers at Free Republic, which regularly encourages its readers to vote in opt-in online polls ... like the AOL poll.