Monday, November 11, 2013

Survey Politics

When Delhi surveys clash: India Today predicts BJP win“The India Today Group-ORG poll shows BJP is poised to win the elections with 36 of the 70 seats,” declares the latest Delhi poll survey, which touts BJP’s Harsh Vardhan as new “squeaky clean middle class icon” on the block. Despite his late anointment, the good doctor was named by 19 percent of the voters as the best CM candidate, trailing a mere three percent behind Kejriwal’s 22 percent. Sheila Dixit wins the personal popularity poll with 28 percent. (Results not available online) The BJP-friendly results — underlined by the accompanying puff piece on Harsh Vardhan — offer a sharp contrast to other polls tomtoming the arrival of AAP. Arvind Kejriwal‘s party scored 18 seats in the latest C-Voter survey and a whopping 19-25 seats in the CNN-IBN/CSDS count. These other polls offer little hope of an outright BJP victory, predicting anywhere between 22-28 seats for the saffron party.

Read full article in First Post

The Weather Vane Speaks
That opinion polls generate a lot of heat in the media is beyond doubt evident in the space and airtime devoted to them. As for their benefits in an age of politician- or corporate-owned media, the question is answered by Bhaskar Rao, director, Centre for Media Studies, credited with having started opinion polls in the country. “A quarter or more of news media is under control of political interests and corporates, raising the question of motives. What a poll survey brings out and projects is context-specific, and its relevance and even accuracy would alto­gether be different in a different context and at a different time, making the very exercise futile, even misleading. Taking recourse and linking the concern in this regard to press freedom or free speech is an industry perspective meant to divert the core issue,” says Rao

Read full article in The Outloo

The effect of opinion polls on voters

Apart from CSDS-Lokniti, no opinion pollster in India deems it necessary to publish the methodology. We are forced to accept the numbers without any information on how many people were surveyed, how those people were chosen and what is the margin of error in prediction. Without this information, it is impossible to take any opinion poll seriously.
In the US, trade bodies such as the American Association for Public Opinion Research or the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) enforce stringent standards on their member organizations.
According to the NCPP website, for example, any opinion poll whose results are released to the public needs to disclose information on the sponsor of the poll, sample size, methodology and margin of error, among other things, and “endeavor to have print and broadcast media include the above items in their news stories”.

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