Arianna Huffington has a simple question: "Are polls measuring the 2008 election or are they driving it?"
With that in mind, she's launched the Polling Project, a attempt to shine a bright light on the polling industry and its effects on the American political discourse. "We want to get to the bottom of how pollsters conduct their surveys, how they gather and build their stats, how they target who they contact, and, ultimately, how they reach their conclusions," says Arianna.
It's a worthy endeavor in part because it gets beyond what you would find in a well-researched book on the subject, through the magic of citizen participation. If you've been contacted by a pollster, the Polling Project wants to hear about your experiences. All of the project's cosponsors, which includes, in addition to Mother Jones, Talking Points Memo, Instapundit, Politico, and the Nation, are putting a button on their websites that direct you to this form.
If enough people participate, the project will be able to determine if midwesterners are being asked different questions than their coastal counterparts, if blacks and Hispanics hear questions no one else does, and if push polls are popping up around the country. Perhaps most importantly, we'll find out if polls are creating buzz instead of just reporting it.
So if you get a call from a pollster, click the link on our left sidebar the next time you visit motherjones.com. Your name and contact info won't be revealed. So help out if you can!