Why Opinion Polls Keep Getting It Wrong

nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. (WaPo)

With more or less the whole world in a state of complete shock and disbelief at the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, why was I not surprised as well? Why also wasn’t I surprised at Britain voting for Brexit back in June? What can I see that so many other politicians and political pundits can’t see?

The answer might be that I look at the world through the eyes of a smoker.

We smokers are completely and utterly ignored by all the politicians and the pundits, all the great and the good. They’ll pay attention to women, and blacks, and Jews, and lesbians and gays, and all sorts of other minorities. But they pay zero attention to smokers. So the politicians and pundits have no knowledge or understanding of the grievances of smokers.

And yet for the past decade or more smokers all over the world have been subjected to a quite astonishing and mounting level of state-sponsored persecution. Twenty or so years ago they were fully integrated members of society: now they’ve become pariahs.

And smokers make up some 20% of the population of the anglosphere, and 30-40% of the population of eastern Europe and Russia and the Middle East. These are very large percentages, and it follows that the persecution of such large minorities is likely to have large effects socially, economically, and politically.

The persecution of smokers includes their public vilification, “exile to the outdoors”, punitive taxation of tobacco, and quite often loss of employment, refusal of medical treatment, and even eviction from their homes.

And what is the response of smokers? Well, they have lost faith in the political classes everywhere in the world that have so thoroughly betrayed them. And they have lost faith in the bona fides of the medical profession that has demonised them. And they have lost faith in the science that abets the medical profession.

Add to this that the disenchantment of smokers is always deepening. The insults and slights to which they are subjected all slowly add up: they are not forgotten. And because smokers are deeply disenchanted and angry, they are strongly motivated to respond. e.g. by voting.

Wherever large minorities are persecuted, there are bound to be considerable political, economic, and social consequences, as the persecuted minorities respond in various ways to their circumstances. And since smokers now comprise a large persecuted minority in almost every country in the world, the persecution of smokers is certain to have global political, economic, and social consequences. And since smokers are a very large ignored minority, it follows that the response of smokers to their persecution will also be ignored. And the result will be that the political climate is likely to be misjudged. For example, opinion pollsters who include age, gender, education, and ethnic differences, but don’t include smokers in their population samples, will be unlikely to get accurate results.

And this may be why opinion pollsters in both the UK Brexit vote, and the more recent US Presidential election, failed to predict the outcome correctly. For they almost certainly failed to include the correct number of angry, persecuted smokers in their population samples.

In the case of Brexit, we may ask how smokers might have been expected to have voted. And since the EU parliament voted in 2009 for a European indoor smoking ban, and for show trials of prominent offenders, it may be expected that smokers would have a strongly negative view of the EU, and to have voted accordingly. This was certainly true in my own case, because after I learned of the EU parliamentary vote, I flipped from being pro-EU to anti-EU.

More generally in UK elections, smokers may be expected to vote either UKIP or Conservative, since these parties are least hostile to smokers, and to not vote for either Labour or Lib Dems, who are most hostile. No surprise then that there has been a Conservative government in Britain for the past 6 years.

Equally in the US presidential election last week, who would smokers have voted for? Certainly not Hillary Clinton, who is a well-known virulent antismoker. If they were going to place their trust in anyone, it would have been Donald Trump, even though he neither smokes nor drinks. For the playboy Trump used to run a smoke-filled casino, and he markets his own brand of wine. And more generally US smokers will probably be inclined to vote Republican than Democrat, for the same reasons as UK voters.

Again, if you want to ask what’s going to happen to the EU, you will note that the prevalence of smoking (and therefore of smokers) is higher in southern and eastern Europe than elsewhere. And after the EU parliament voted in 2009 for a European smoking ban, complete with show trials for prominent offenders, that will mean that smoker anger and resentment will be higher in eastern and southern Europe than elsewhere, and this is where revolt against the EU political class will be strongest, and where secession will most likely to begin. Bear in mind that there are some 150 million smokers among the 500 million citizens in the EU.

And when French smokers vote next spring for a new president, isn’t it likely that they’ll back smoking, anti-EU Marine Le Pen? After all she, like Nigel Farage, is one of them, and has shared their experience of sitting outside Paris brasseries being murdered by Islamic terrorists.

The opinions of men and women, young and old, blue collar and white collar, blacks, Christians, Muslims, gays and lesbians, and all sorts of other social groups are routinely included in polls. But the large minority of smokers everywhere who are not included now form an unknown bloc of swing voters, whose opinions are currently being discounted.

It’s not particularly surprising that smokers are not regarded as a separate social minority (like gays or Muslims), because historically they have never been one. As noted, until very recently they were fully-integrated members of society. It’s only in the past 10 to 20 years that they have become a newly-created, persecuted minority all over the world. Opinion pollsters are unsurprisingly still lagging behind the times. When they eventually catch up, their poll results will become accordingly more accurate (assuming that there aren’t any other large persecuted minorities out there).


About Frank Davis

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42 Responses to Why Opinion Polls Keep Getting It Wrong

  1. kin_free says:

    I don’t know how many times I have heard words to the effect “What the Hell happened there” when referring to the Trump victory on talk shows, commentaries etc. – similar for Brexit. No one has latched onto this very logical explanation – disenfranchised SMOKERS made the difference – SMOKERS kicked the anti-smoker establishment in the balls, and walked away smiling!! TWICE! and we can expect this to continue elsewhere in Europe, as you say Frank.

    Not surprising to me nor, I’m sure, to others who hang out here, but maybe no so in the world where ‘experts’ are gods and ‘expert’ opinion is unquestionable – fact and truth. No one dares to believe that those ‘experts’ would deceive them.

    The general public throughout the world however, has been lied to over and over again whenever the subject is about smoking. They lie and lie and have done for years – it is fundamental to maintaining their campaign and for them there is no turning back . To many, those lies (as Hitler pointed out – or was it Goebbels?) have been repeated often enough, for them to have become the truth for many. They have lied about how popular smoke bans were, about how many smokers wanted to quit ; how many have quit; how may ‘die of smoking’ and hide how many non smokers die of so called ‘smoke related’ causes…; They lie… and those lies have been so successful that no one would even consider this scenario – that smokers could or would make such a difference – it just isn’t possible in the anti-smoker indoctrinated brain – and they won’t believe it – YET.

    The thousands of pubs closed,and tens of thousands of jobs lost ‘had nothing to do with smoke bans – it was … [add ‘experts’ reason]’. The massive increase in prison disorder and violence over the last year had nothing to do with prison smoke bans it was … [add ‘experts reason]. Brexit and Trump victory had nothing to do with smokers it was …[add ‘experts reason]. When will the dumb fucks wake up! (sorry for the language but didn’t sound right without it)
    but I’m loving watching the headless chickens running around trying to work it all out.

    • Rose says:

      But smokers don’t vote apparently, so their views don’t have to be taken into consideration by politicians no matter what they do to them, they did a study so it must be true.

      Smokers don’t vote: 11,626-person study shows marginalization of tobacco users

      “A survey of 11,626 Americans shows that, even with all else equal, smokers are 60 percent less likely to vote than nonsmokers. The study is the first to link a health-risk behavior with electoral participation, building on the work of a previous Swedish study that found an association between smoking and political mistrust.”

      • science daily lmao the blackmagic incarnation book of the far left……………

        Smokers vote look at ky we have upwards of 50-60% county smoking rates they voted

      • Frank Davis says:

        I think that where all the parties are more or less equally antismoking (e.g. in Britain with Labour, Lib Dems, and Cameron’s Conservatives), there may well be little point in smokers voting. But where they have a real choice, they’re probably more likely to vote.

      • smokingscot says:

        “Smokers may view political institutions as oppressors, given widespread enactment of tobacco taxes and clean indoor air laws. Somewhat similarly, the stigma associated with smoking may create social withdrawal or feelings of depression or fatalism among smokers, which could decrease voting.”

        Okay the study is from America and perhaps they do things differently there. I certainly don’t feel in the least depressed, nor am I fatalistic; just very seriously pissed-off that so much money’s being thrown at tosspots.

  2. garyk30 says:

    Other minorities?

    In the USA there are the gun owners and Christians.

    They are not a minority; but, they ordinary tax paying citizen has been, against their will, forced to pay for the unproven fears of the climate change elitists.

    • Frank Davis says:

      With luck the climate change elitists are on the run now.

      • In Kentucky the sierra club is trying to have a membership run up at cave city on facebook everyones giving them down the road on all their lies and to get lost

      • Tom says:

        Actually, no, they are not. And in CA, they did the exact opposite of the states that voted for Trump and moved in that direction. CA and specifically NorCal and SF areas all went the opposite way – with everything – including state and local propositions that increased tobacco/sales taxes and onto vapers – but also, statewide now and already in practice in NorCal – they imposed the same BS plastic bag ban at the grocery and other retail outlets, mandatory, state-wide – and that means at ALL retail outlets, beginning already at many, they have employees trained and stationed at ALL checkout lines who give a big long serious straight face to the customer and then preach about saving the planet, climate change and global warming and berating anyone who did not bring a bag with them, and charging the bag tax fee as punishment for not being in tune with the global warming, tree hugging agenda. So already, in CA, they are going statewide with the global warming lecture series at all checkout lines at all retailers and thus it is ramped up and becomes inescapable. And, it all began with the smoking bans based on lies, now the global warming lies, preached daily, from a retail outlet pulpit, statewide. Inescapable and soon to be “big success” to trot out nationwide, even if Trump slows it down, eventually, since they will clawing at it constantly, like rats, they never stop. The plastic bag ban BTW is nearly IDENTICAL to the “science” used to ban smoking, IDENTICAL – AND, it began in SF and the plastics industry PROVED that substituting paper for plastic was WORSE as it will decimate the forests – but SF Board of Stupidvisors went well on record ignoring the real science and citing pseudo-“science” and kick started this entire thing. Soros funds Tides Foundation in SF which then funds over 1300 “progressive” organizations in SF. SF is a hot bed of deceit, treason and espionage against the entire US of A and if people realized exactly how bad it was, federal troops would have been sent in long ago to arrest every single perpetrator of these frauds – which sadly might be close to 50% or higher of the entire population there, perhaps 80% is my guess.

        • Tom says:

          The REAL science BTW proved that plastic bags not only saved trees but were so much lighter to transport than paper or reusables that the savings in transportation costs and amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere as a result of switching from plastic to paper and reusables would increase – that was totally ignored by the wise SF board who first introduced this global warming tax and ban on bags, which essentially sets up, like I said, for trained advocate political tools to berate and publicly humiliate customers for not having bags with them while charging them the fee as punishment – which is EXACTLY one of the techniques to stop people from smoking, is the public embarassment and berating, now moved over to that of global warming, until willingly people learn to no longer argue, since it will be inescapable, at every retail outlet, statewide.

  3. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Any politician who treats smokers considerately will do well. You’d think they would latch on to that instead of following the political correctness. Nigel Farage knows !

  4. They’ll pay attention to women, and blacks, and Jews, and lesbians and gays, and all sorts of other minorities

    Funny thing Frank all these folks above also smoke………….

    In fact the LBGT community is the largest smoking group of all then the blacks……….

    Funny how they push a agenda based upon gender,skin color or sexual deviancy.

    Then crucify them as smokers.

  5. smokervoter says:

    More generally in UK elections, smokers may be expected to vote either UKIP or Conservative, since these parties are least hostile to smokers, and to not vote for either Labour or Lib Dems, who are most hostile. No surprise then that there has been a Conservative government in Britain for the past 6 years.

    …And more generally US smokers will probably be inclined to vote Republican than Democrat, for the same reasons as UK voters.

    I’m just now digging into the numbers on Prop 56 and the Trump vote in California.

    In the 800-pound gorilla counties of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino (all SoCal and Republican-leaning) Trump got 44.63% of the vote versus 32.8% statewide for finger-wagging Big Mother.

    Likewise No on Prop 56 got 43% versus 36.7% in those three counties.

    The biggest & No-iest county prize goes to good ol Riverside – 44.9% NO.

    A special shoutout goes to Kern county, the home of Merle Haggard and the Bakersfield Sound and the third largest oil field in the US, voted No on 29 and No on 56 !!!

    • smokervoter says:

      There is an awkwardly written sentence therein which should have read …”Trump got 44.63% of the vote versus 32.8% statewide against the finger-wagging Big Mother.”

      Even with this fantastic General Electric keyboard I still manage to mangle things.

  6. smokervoter says:

    If and when Tom Steyer runs for governor of California I sooo hope that he goes to Kern County to campaign and gets his jaw broken and wired shut by a pissed off roughneck (oil rigger).

  7. smokervoter says:

    Or a pissed off smoker for that matter !

  8. smokervoter says:

    Incidentally, they tear Tom Steyer a new one over at Watts Up with That?

    Tom Steyer: Wrong on the facts, economics and morality… And all in for 2016.

    While you’re there read the two first Related posts as well.

  9. Ana says:

    “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings,” Kayvan Khalaatbari, co-owner of professional group Denver Relief Consulting and the initiative’s lead advocate, said in a statement. http://www.businessinsider.com/denver-legalizes-social-marijuana-2016-11

    Does anyone know if smoking (cigarettes) is still permitted indoors in Denver?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t know anything about Denver. But from Smoking Regulations in Colorado:

      Smoking is also prohibited in food service establishments, bars, limited gaming facilities or other facilities conducting gaming or gambling, indoor…


      “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings,”

      That really should read:

      “This is a victory for cannabis consumers who, like tobacco and alcohol consumers, simply want the option to enjoy cannabis in social settings,”

      After all, apart from nicotine and THC , cannabis smoke contains the exact same chemical compounds as tobacco smoke.

      • Marijuana v.s. Tobacco smoke compositions

        From: Institute of Medicine, Marijuana and Health, Washington,D.C.
        National Academy Press, 1988

        “The smoke from any burning plant contains hundreds of chemicals that may have biological effects . . .”

        “Cannabis smoke is similar to tobacco smoke in that it is a mixture of very small particles and a gas-vapor phase. Both the particulate and vapor phases contain many identified and probably some still unidentified constituents that, based on clinical experience with tobacco smoke, must be assumed to be potentially harmful. The amounts of some materials in tobacco cigarete and marijuana cigarette smoke are compared in Table 3. Toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrosamines occur in similar concentrations in tobacco and marijuana smoke; so do the amounts of particulate material known collectively as “tars”.” (pg 15)

        Table 3 : Marijuana and Tobacco Reference Cigarette Analysis of Mainstream Smoke (pg 17)

        Strange Abbr: mcg: microgram C? : known Carcinogen (X means yes)





        (85mm) (85mm)
        Average Weight (mg) 1115 1110
        Mositure (%) 10.3 11.1
        Pressure Drop cm 14.7 7.2
        Static Burning rate mg/s 0.88 0.80
        Puff Number 10.7 11.1

        B.Mainstream Smoke

        I. Gas Phase




        Carbon Monoxide % 3.99 4.58
        mg 17.6 20.2
        Carbon Dioxide % 8.27 9.38
        mg 57.3 65.0
        Ammonia mcg 228 199
        HCN mcg 532 498
        Cyanogen (CN)2 mcg 19 20
        Isoprene mcg 83 310
        Acetaldehyde mcg 1200 980
        Acetone mcg 443 578
        Acrolein mcg 92 85
        Acetonitrilebenzene mcg 132 123
        Benzene mcg 76 67
        Toluene mcg 112 108
        Vinyl chloride ng 5.4 12.4
        Dimethylnitrosamine ng 75 84
        Methylethylnitrosamine ng 27 30
        pH, third puff 6.56 6.14
        fifth puff 6.57 6.15
        seventh puff 6.58 6.14
        ninth puff 6.56 6.10
        tenth puff 6.58 6.02

        II. Particulate phase




        Tl particulate – dry mg 22.7 39.0
        Phenol mcg 76.8 138.5
        o-Cresol mcg 17.9 24
        m- and p-Cresol mcg 54.4 65
        Dimethylphenol mcg 6.8 14.4
        Catechol mcg 188 328
        Cannabidiol mcg 190
        D9 THC mcg 820
        Cannabinol mcg 400
        Nicotine mcg 2850
        N-Nitrosonornicotine ng 390
        Naphthalene mcg 3.0 1.2
        1-Methylnaphthalene mcg 6.1 3.65
        2-Methylnaphthalese mcg 3.6 1.4
        Benz(a)anthracene ng 75 43
        Benzo(a)pyrene ng 31 mj / 21.1 tobacco


        • Some French bloke says:

          “… constituents that, based on clinical experience with tobacco smoke, must be assumed to be potentially harmful.”

          How about rephrasing that bit to: “… constituents that, considering the fact that our clinical ‘experience’ about the long-term effects of smoking on human health boils down to egregiously dishonest statistical speculation, we can safely assume to be perfectly harmless.”?

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        There are some exceptions to the restriction on smoking in Colorado. These exceptions include private homes, residences, and automobiles unless being used for child care or day care or for transportation of children, limousines under private hire, up to 25% of rented hotel or motel rooms, retail tobacco businesses, cigar-tobacco bars, and airport smoking concession areas [which are now being phased out].

    • Ana says:

      The city measure allows bars and restaurants to apply to allow marijuana use. Patrons could use pot inside as long as it isn’t smoked, with the possibility of outside smoking areas. http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-denver-pot-20161115-story.html

  10. jaxthefirst says:

    I think the problem is that most non-smokers (and, with non-smokers being the majority these days, it follows that most of the people designing these polls are themselves non-smokers) simply don’t have any comprehension as to how big a deal not being able to smoke virtually anywhere, and being on the receiving end of constant State-sponsored bullying campaigns actually is to smokers. Only recently I was speaking to a non-smoking colleague of mine about a large, rather posh wedding which I’d been invited to and I was explaining to her how one of my reservations about attending was that I was having great difficulty ascertaining what the smoking facilities would be like at the rather swanky venue which had been chosen, and she (to her credit, rather guiltily) admitted that, as a non-smoker herself, it wouldn’t even occur to her, if she was organising a big “do” like that, to consider the needs of her smoking guests. Those were her precise words: “It just wouldn’t occur to me.” (In fairness, maybe now it will – she’s a very nice woman, actually, despite being a non-smoker).

    In my experience non-smokers genuinely (with a few notable exceptions, obviously) have absolutely zero understanding of how strongly smokers feel about the treatment to which they are subjected these days and how greatly it’s impacted on their lives. They’ve swallowed the Kool-Aid that smokers have “got used to” the smoking ban, and because, when we’re stuck somewhere where we can’t smoke we put up with it and don’t sit there bitching constantly about it, they haven’t the slightest inkling that we’re having a rotten time and can’t wait for the evening to finish so that we can escape. They think that, because we are sitting and chatting and smiling like everyone else that we’re having as much of a good time as they are. Well, we’re not. Ponder on that, oh thoughtless non-smokers. That smoker-friend of yours smiling politely at your jokes and chatting about what happened at work yesterday or talking over the latest story in the news is actually quietly sneaking glances at his watch and actually can’t wait for the bill to arrive, for the movie to finish or for someone (it might even be them, at an opportune moment) to break up the party by announcing that “they really ought to make a move now,” (which usually results in a bit of a general exodus, doesn’t it?)

    And I think that’s the trouble with poll-designers: it “just doesn’t occur to them.” Which, as you rightly point out, Frank, is probably why they so consistently, these days, get skewed results which don’t pan out in reality. And, of course, because it “just didn’t occur to them” when they designed the poll, neither will it “occur to them,” when they go searching for the reasons why it all went so pear-shaped! They’ll spend weeks and weeks barking up all sorts of completely wrong trees and not finding those reasons because it “just won’t occur to them,” to take a look at that great big tree that they never included in the first place …. because, of course, it “just won’t occur to them” that they ever missed it out!

    • Frank Davis says:

      In my experience non-smokers genuinely (with a few notable exceptions, obviously) have absolutely zero understanding of how strongly smokers feel about the treatment to which they are subjected these days and how greatly it’s impacted on their lives.

      That’s my experience also. They have no idea whatsoever.

  11. Lepercolonist says:

    Great article, Frank. Hillary lost the smokers vote.

  12. waltc says:

    Victor Davis Hanson is very smart man and his columns are always worthwile. In this one, he outlines the pressures Trump will definitely be under –from all sides– and might, given his ego, well give into, while advising him to ignore them and hold steady. We can hope he holds steady but only time will tell


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