Taylor Swift at the School for the Deaf: Thoughts on Online Polls

Following the first Clinton-Trump Presidential debate this week, Trump supporters were taking to twitter, citing online polls as evidence that their candidate performed more strongly, often under the hashtag #TrumpWon. Trump came out on top in a number online polls – so he won, right?
Not quite. To understand online polls, you have to understand how they work. Most online polls are used as a form of promotion, often with a prize as incentive. As one example, in 2012 school textbook company Chegg ran an online promotional competition, with the prize being $10,000 for the top five schools, and a Taylor Swift concert for the winner. The obvious intent here is for schools to encourage their students and their families to enter the contest in order to get more resources for the school, with the use of a major performer used as a flashy and attention-grabbing gimmick to enthuse students.

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