Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Good Night for Hilary, Not So Much for Pollsters

This story has echoes of the predictions our media made of the results of last years general election, plaguing us at every turn with opinion pools each ultimately turning out to be out of tune with public opinion. The transcript I have linked to here is one where media analysts correctly question the use of the analysis they carry out before hand and the methodologies applied. The excerpted transcript went as follows, it's an exchange between MSNBC news anchors.

MATTHEWS: We’re going to have to go back and figure out the methodology, I think, on some of these.

BROKAW: You know what I think we’re going to have to go back and do? Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

MATTHEWS: What do we do then in the days before balloting–

BROKAW: What a novel idea–

MATTHEWS: –We must stay home then I guess.

BROKAW: No, no, we don’t stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they’re saying. We know from how the people voted today what moved them to vote. We can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that had not been fully explored in all this.

But we don’t have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed and trying to stampede and affect the process. Look, I’m not picking just on us. It’s part of the culture in which we live these days.

But I think the people out there are going to begin to make some judgments about us, if they haven’t already, if we don’t begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding, in many cases as we learned in New Hampshire, as they went into the polling place today or in the past three days. They were making decisions very late.


Eamonn said...

I dont the Irish pollsters ever got it that wrong. On the day of the vote a FF led government was the prediction.

CK said...

The insight that can be gained from the use of polls and the absolute saturation of our media with polls last year are both deserving topics for conversation.

A win for FF was predicted, but there was little indication of the results the smaller parties were to expect which was surely the story of the election.

Yednnek said...

I think the NH case is a particular surprise. Look how accurate they were in iowa. They just don't get it this badly wrong.

Unknown said...

CK polls tend not to work for small parties as polls are done on national basis while small parties get in based on small number of constituencies. In Ireland only Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can be accurately polled.