One aspect of the modern scientific view is that if something can't be measured in some way then it isn't real. This has led to some pretty unreal conclusions that most people today in scientifically-oriented societies accept without question. Take public opinion polls as an example. When you hear that a scientifically designed poll has determined that 67% of Americans (or Germans, or Japanese, or Pueblo Indians) favor this or that policy, this or that person, or this or that flavor of ice cream you tend to accept the results as having some realistic basis. The unspoken assumption for most people is that the 67% is a percentage of the whole population, which is, of course, absurd. In any given poll there is neither the time, the money nor the technology to ask everyone in the country what they think about something.
What happens is that the pollsters ask a few people (sometimes a hundred, sometimes more or less) what they think and give you the percentage of that group. Using complicated mathematical formulae to justify the process they pretend that what the small group thinks is what the whole nation thinks.
For a poll to be really scientific you would have to ask everyone whose opinion you wanted. Using a small group to represent a large group isn't scientific, it's magical.
A fundamental premise of what is called "sympathetic magic" is that a small thing can represent a much larger thing to which it is symbolically connected, and that by acting upon the small thing in some way you can influence the behavior of the larger thing.
Among some Inuit Indians in the Arctic region, when a man goes out to hunt a whale his wife stays home and lays down on the floor under a sealskin. For this purpose the sealskin represents the ocean and she represents the whale. During the whole time of the hunt she stays as still as possible so that the whale her husband is hunting will also stay still and allow him to harpoon it. It is my understanding that the symbolic connection ceases the moment the husband casts the harpoon so that the wife is not symbolically injured in any way. It is assumed by the Inuit that purposely deciding to have the woman represent the whale sets up a magical (or at least decidedly unscientific) connection between her and the cretacean in which her behavior will modify that of the sea-going creature. This is an example of sympathetic magic.
In old Hawaii foot travelers would carve semi-circular patterns on lava boulders around their camping grounds in order to ward off malicious or unfriendly spirits. The pattern was in the shape of an arch called hoaka, a word that means both "arch" and "protection." The carving was supposed to have the same power as the alternate meaning of the word it represented. This was also a form of sympathetic magic.
In the USA (and increasingly elsewhere) people give and receive valentine cards on February 14th. These cards have hearts on them that represent the physical heart of the giver or that of the receiver. The physical hearts in turn are assumed to represent the affections of one or the other party. By getting the receiver to look at the card the giver intends to influence the receiver's emotional state, thereby influencing the behavior as well. There isn't anything scientific at all about this. It's purely sympathetic magic.
When a poll is undertaken it isn't being done for altruistic reasons. It is being done to influence people. The pollsters themselves are actually magicians dressed up as scientists, and their mathematical formulae differ only in form from the incantations of ancient wizards. The use of a small group of people to symbolically represent a much larger group of people is nothing more than sympathetic magic. The use of the opinions of those people to influence the opinions of the larger group falls into the same category. When you hear or read the results of polls, just remember that it's a magical result. It might also be useful to remember that, just like science, magic sometimes works.