Polls on r/Santa Monica on Reddit Are More Popular and Probably Accurate Than Pulse Polls

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One of the missions of Santa Monica Next is to battle the flood of misinformation that pollutes the public discourse and even public policy in Santa Monica. One of our favorite targets is the scientifically unsound and often inaccuratePulse Polls” which are reported on by some local news outlets as though they are gospel. That at least one of these outlets have a large advertising deal with the anti-union dark money group that also funds the Pulse Polls.

In recent weeks, next advisor and contributor Juan Matute has been posting polls on Santa Monica’s Reddit page where he is one of the moderators. The Reddit polls regularly attract more respondents than the Pulse Polls and likely produce more accurate results.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we start making policy decisions based on polls that appear on Reddit. For one thing, polls that have a self-selecting audience are automatically biased according to the science of polling. Pulse Poll respondents have signed up to receive messages when Pulse Polls are available then are emailed and texted the poll. Pulse Polls claim to message 1,000 people. The June Pulse Poll has 120 respondents.

Recently completed Santa Monica Reddit polls were both about public safety and had 129 votes and 402 votes. The current poll, on whether or not the City should be using resources to study investing in Bitcoin, has 121 votes and rising. Go ahead and click on that last link if you want to vote.

While Matute makes no claim that the Reddit polls are scientifically accurate (a statement with which Matute would agree), there is reason beyond their greater popularity than Pulse Polls to believe they may also be more accurate. In addition to their unscientific methodology, Pulse Polls have proven poor predictors of election results. In 2022, Pulse Polls skewed very conservative when compared to the results of city council elections and ballot propositions.

In contrast, Reddit polls have in an admittedly small sample size so far shown results that mirror those by larger polling sources. For example, when asked “What do you think would be most effective to improve public safety Santa Monica?” a plurality of respondents (33%) responded that “Harsher policies regarding sentencing and punishment” would be best. A statewide ballot measure has been introduced that seeks to increase sentences. A tight election is expected.

A different Reddit poll showed that a near-majority of respondents feel “safe” or “very safe” in Santa Monica, with 46% of the vote. Just over 25.5% said they felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe.” These numbers are similar to those of a November 2023 poll of California residents that found that people believed their communities were safe by a 64% to 22% margin. 

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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