The creators of the ClearPoll (POLL) platform are betting cryptocurrency can save polling.
Polling is in trouble because of pollsters’ failure to predict Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential race. FiveThirtyEight number cruncher Nick Silver estimates that 71% of polls favored Clinton to win the 2016 election. Thus, 71% of the polls were sort of wrong.
The polls predicted Clinton’s victory in the popular vote but got the numbers wrong. To explain, RealClearPolitics estimates Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) won the popular vote by 2.1%. However, the Real Clear Politics average of politics of polls predicted a 3.2% margin of victory for Clinton.
Why Polling is Broken
Polls are often inaccurate because pollsters use a methodology called sampling. In sampling, a pollster contacts a small group of people that theoretically represents the general population.
Sampling worked well in the 20th Century because most people owned landline telephones and were easy to contact. However, Statista estimates only 41.7% of American households had a landline in 2018.
Consequently, pollsters’ samples could miss 58.3% of the population. The 54.9% of Americans Statista estimates only use a wireless phone, for example.
Cell phones present several huge problems for pollsters. First, people could answer cell phones at work or in public places. Many people will not want to answer poll questions in public.
For instance, you do not want to tell a pollster you want President Trump impeached;if the guy sitting next you on the bus is wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat. In addition, a Trump supporter at work could fear how her Democratic boss could react to her political opinions.
Second, it is easy to screen calls on smartphones. To explain, most smartphone users use voice mail and caller ID. Hence, some people only respond to specific calls and ignore everything else.
Third, there is no guarantee of a smartphone user’s geographic location. Consequently, a pollster seeking information about the Seattle Seahawks could call a person in Brooklyn, on the other side of the country.
Under these circumstances, the only people some pollsters could reach are those with landlines. Unfortunately, landline users are representative of the general population. Landline owners are probably older and more conservative than the average American.
Social Media and Polling
There is a communications medium that most Americans use, it is social media. In fact, Statista estimates 79% of Americans had a social media profile in 2019.
Unlike telephones, social media is a passive form of communications people selectively use. For instance, I have several social media accounts but I almost never respond to messages through them. Instead, I use social media to promote my writing.
Other people could have a Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook account only for work. Hence, it is often hard to reach people through social media. In addition, recent events show there is a lot of fraud on social media.
Social media polling is hard because many pollsters need to reach people at random to create an accurate sample. Most pollsters try to collect opinions from a group of people that supposedly represents the general population. Generally, that number is around 1,000 for the population of the country.
Theoretically, an AI could reach out to people at random on social media. However, getting people to respond to polls is tough. Remember, a person has to take time to type out a message to use social media. It is not as simple as saying yes or no to somebody on the phone.
How Cryptocurrency could save Polling
ClearPoll hopes to solve this problem by paying poll respondents in its POLL ERC20 (Ethereum Request for Comment) tokens. In addition, ClearPoll hopes to keep polls private with a four digit personal identification number (PIN) code.
Importantly, there is a location filter to ensure recipients live in specific areas. ClearPoll plans to distribute its surveys through a social media feed. Poll creators could get real time access to poll results through widgets and the ClearPoll Desktop.
Hence, President Trump could receive election polling data on his smartphone as ClearPoll gathers it. My suspicion is politicians, entrepreneurs, movie and TV producers, advertisers, businessmen, marketers, and others will pay big money for instant access to accurate real-time polling data.
For instance, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) executives could learn what the public thinks of its latest Tide commercial on the day the advertisements air. Or Disney (NYSE: DIS) could see what people think of a new TV series as they stream the show.
Will Cryptocurrency Polling Work?
There are some serious obstacles to the success of cryptocurrency polling. First, there is no good way for average people quickly spend or cash-in ERC20 tokens like POLL.
Few merchants and platforms accept Ethereum (ETH) payment and conversion can be slow and cumbersome. In addition, many people do not consider cryptocurrencies money because they are not government-issued.
However, ClearPoll could solve that problem by paying recipients in a stablecoin like Tether (USDT), CarbonUSD (CUSD), or USD Coin (USDC). To clarify, a stablecoin is a cryptocurrency that contains a mechanism that releases fiat currency form an account when you spend it. For instance, a platform releases $1 USD to a recipient when you spend a Tether.
By paying respondents in stablecoins, ClearPoll could give people a strong incentive to answer its questions honestly. For instance, you could take five minutes out to answer questions about the election if ClearPoll promised to pay you five USDT for your troubles.
Is ClearPoll Scalable?
Another problem facing ClearPoll is scalability. To explain, the amount of data you can send through blockchains like Ethereum limits their capabilities. For instance, most experts think Ethereum can only process 15 transactions per second (TPS).
Therefore, an Etheruem polling solution like ClearPoll could crash if over 15 people try to use it at once. In addition, Hacker Noon’s Taygun estimates it takes up to 15 minutes to process an Ethereum transaction. Hence, it could take 15 minutes for ClearPoll to send a $5 payment to a poll recipient.
I think ClearPoll could be popular and successful if it could pay you fiat currency for your poll answers in a few seconds. Moreover, I think thousands or millions of people will respond to a poll if they thought it could pay them.
In the final analysis, I think ClearPoll (POLL) will need to be scalable and pay in stablecoins to work. However, I see no evidence ClearPoll is scalable or plans to pay in stablecoins.
What Value Does ClearPoll have?
Thus ClearPoll’s present value is purely theoretical. Mr. Market; however, assigns a little value to ClearPoll.
CoinMarketCap, for instance, estimated ClearPoll’s (POLL) Coin Price at 2.8₵ on 29 October 2019. In addition, CoinMarketCap assigned POLL a Market Capitalization of $195,413 and a24-Hour Market Volume of $129 on the same day. CoinMarketCap based those numbers on a Circulating Supply of roughly seven million POLL and a Total Supply of roughly nine million POLL.
Interestingly, ClearPoll was CoinMarketCap’s 1,321st most valuable cryptocurrency on 29 October 2019. Given the lack of evidence that ClearPoll works, I think Mr. Market overvalues POLL.
ClearPoll is running polls; however, they are asking questions about a bunch of celebrities I’ve never heard of. I have to wonder how ClearPoll could make money from those surveys.
In conclusion, I think ClearPoll (POLL) is yet another cryptocurrency speculators need to watch but not buy.