Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Why opinion polls are no help at all


Now that the federal election is getting closer the opinion polls mania is well and truly upon us. I use the word mania advisedly because the evidence is that they actually tell us nothing useful at all.
Let’s assume for the moment that polling day is round about three months away. Now have a look at what Newspoll told us the voting intention was three months before the last eight elections - the poll figure is in blue with the actual election result in red.
9-06-2010 whathtepollstryandtellus
As a predictor of what was going to happen at the actual poll, these early opinion polls were quite useless. Yet every time one was published, journalists (I confess I’m as guilty as the next one) seized upon them with explanations of what was responsible for a rise in this party or a fall in that one.
In truth they tell us absolutely nothing of value and I will do my best this election to ignore them completely and leave the rubbish explanations to others.
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