Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Polling a Dark Art?

Almost every other day we have a new poll trotted out for this or that. Most polls are political opinion polls. They are to gauge where the public is in thinking as far as voting intentions are and how they feel about their leaders.

I thinks polls namely political polls out of a writ period should be taken as a grain of salt. For the most part polls can be and are manipulated to obtain a certain result.

Alec Bruce points this out in this article.

The Dark Art of Polling

"So, it comes down to this: A poll, which is internally inconsistent, tells us exactly how we feel about the leaders we have elected and about whom we are profoundly ambivalent. We might as well hire plumbers to fix our leaky basements when the spring freshet corrodes our foundations and irrigates our nightmares with visions of greed, avarice and dissolution.

But, of course, this is what most polling is about. No company which masters this dark art practices it for free. There is always a "client" looking for an angle. And there's always a pollster willing to oblige."

Polls can be fun but don't take them seriously and make a big deal of them like the MSM likes to do. Particularly out of a writ period. The public simply doesn't pay attention until a writ is dropped and sometimes an individual can lie to a pollster therefore skewing the poll.

"Polls are for dogs." - former, Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker.


  1. "Is polling a dark art"? Absolutely. That Youtube clip is a beautiful example of manipulation,and fine comedy writing.Is it from "Yes,Minister"?

    I've been polled many times and sometimes the questions are so convoluted you have a hard time figuring out if your answer is "yes" or "no". I've scolded many a pollster for this as it's clear manipulation was the agenda.

    And we mustn't forget that some polling companies get most of their business from a specific political Party, so biased results is their way of doing business.


  2. Polls are also skewed by people like me saying
    Lib good CPC bad
    and voting blue later
    It is quite fun to take the poll when you know you are lying

  3. I was a certified researcher. That meant that for a poll to be statistically viable all aspects had to be peer reviewed and tested for leading bias; the sample had to be quantified and the data input and evaluation had to be double blind input and analyzed before I could put my seal on the results. I know every trick in the book to get "the results the client wants". One sneaky one in phone polling is to heavy up on the weekday versus evening/weekend sampling. That increases the odds of heavier polling of the unemployed/welfare/moms at home and retired. This population segment is most heavily in favour of socialist nanny state policies and protest voting (Liberal/NDP/Greens) versus those of the working population who care about lower taxes and less government interference in their lives.(Conservative)
    So- these media darling pollsters are in my opinion, just doing parlour tricks for pay.

  4. EKOS is the exclusive pollster for the CBC. They don't report opinion polls from anyone else. I have asked Kady O'Malley if the CBC is paying money for this priviledge, but she never got back to me on that one. There is a strong possibility that the reason nobody other than EKOS does a new voter intent poll every week is because they are the only ones getting paid to do so.

    I would like more information about the "exclusive" polling contract between EKOS and the CBC.

  5. Lorraine,thanks for that insight. It helps to understand these polls.

    Iceman,since it's really us that are the ones paying for that polling, I would like to know as well about that contract. Keep digging let us know what you find out.


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