I have been watching the recent and frequent failures of pollsters to predict presidential primary results and the media and public frustration with these inaccuracies. As a researcher, scholar and marketer I am reminded that data is only a guide and statistics alone cannot accurately predict the future.
Depending on the source, 80-90% of all new products fail despite huge investments in research to understand the consumer. Why would we expect our political research and predictions to be any more accurate?
Research is only a snapshot at a given point in time and there are too many changing variables to isolate for all of the possible outcomes. Tom Peters compared research to driving while looking in the rearview mirror. That is not to say that research is not a valuable tool but a friendly remember that marketing is still the intersection of art and science. Research is often used to support preconceptions rather than to gain new insights. Do politicians look ahead or focus on the rearview mirror? Do the polls support your personal view or reflect something completely foreign to your opinions?
Research must be interpreted and creatively applied in an ever changing and highly competitive arena. Often the wrong questions are asked. A question asked incorrectly or formulated with bias will net inaccurate results. Creativity, luck, and timing combine with skill and the whims of nature, economics, politics, popular culture and global competition to create marketing successes (and failures). With the ever increasing pace of change and ever moving targets, marketing and politics will only become more challenging and more valuable to society. Marketing and political success will become more rare, more fleeting and more difficult to predict than ever.
I look 4WARD to your feedback.