The publication of the first pre-poll survey by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald has set the cat among the pigeons and stirred the hornets’ net. Those who find the findings to their liking (Congress supporters) are understandably delighted; those who do not (BJP and JDS supporters) are frothing at the mouth and finding fault with the sample size, methodology, and of course the previous record and credibility of the pollsters (CSDS) and the channel. If the findings were the other way round, the reaction would be the exact opposite.
Questions: Should the Election Commission, which has introduced ‘n+1′ number of measures to prevent voters from being swayed, allow such pre-poll surveys or should they be banned? Are such surveys credible exercises in gauging public opinion or they have become a device at the hands of a corporatised media to do their masters’ (and puppeteers’) bidding? Is a pre-poll survey an expression of our freedom of speech? Or have they become “an election before an election”—an attempt “to manipulate public opinion in accordance with the interests of the sponsors“? On the other hand, should a voter be exposed to all manner of views before she makes up her mind? Will such surveys and polls prevent fractured mandates?
Killing the pigeon instead of looking at the piece of paper in its mouth is a national epidemic in India. We need to be expecting better standards in psephology, better standards in political analysis, greater transparency in the functioning of our media houses, etc.
Instead, we find it so convenient to ask a heretical question as banning pre-poll surveys while alternately picking holes in the media vehicle. Why? Because they do not match our expectations of the electorate? What if the CNN-IBN poll actually turns out to be true?
The political elite think voters are fools who should be protected from outside influences so that they can make the right electoral decision. At this rate, how much further before someone says newspapers should be asked to stop publishing investigative pieces or television should be barred from having studio analyses in an election season because they might influence the voter?
The wise voter should be given access to all kinds of news and views. If the pollsters or the channels and newspapers are proved wrong, it’s their funeral.
Agree with AS. Need of the hour better quality surveys and demonstrates high degree of transparency, details, expertise etc.
heard somewhere else —
“….Lets do a bit of analysis, 5100 odd voters were interviewed across 75 constituencies. The total number of constituencies are 224. so that means it is one third of the total number of seats. and 5100 off 75 constituencies. which means 68 people per constituency. So you go ask 68 people of that constituency who they will vote and CNN IBN predicts a win for Congress. I have 10 of my family members in my house of which 4 will vote for congress.and 5 for BJP and one for JDS. Go by your yard stick multiply that by the number of houses in my locality and predict a clean sweep by BJP. This pure mathematics sitting in the confines of your AC office and not a reflection of ground reality. Also 68 people in a constituency can not reflect the mood of the whole of the constituency. I am for a Ban on these sort of absurd predictions. CNN-IBN has lost its crediblity in Gujarat.
Check out your predictions for Gujarat, UP, Punjab, before attempting another one….. “
What is the difference between pre-poll surveys and astrology? In both the cases predictions may go wrong! Even if the sample size is huge, prediction may go wrong. People may change their mind at the time of voting!
If it is presented as an “opinion poll of limited extrapolative value” than it is not a problem.
This confident prediction of number of seats from such limited numbers is laughable science and poor predictive skills
say it is possible to predict the polls before the polls with 100% accuracy.
what is the purpose of these pre-poll surveys?
just what need of a voter does it satisfy?
just how does it help a voter make an independent, educated, value/issue/self interest based decision on his vote?
the question is not what if the poll is right, the question is even if it is right, what is the purpose of the poll?
say in the sslc exam there was question:
who was the greatest mughal king
does it make sense for the invigilator to announce that 80% of people taking the exams are likely to vote akbar? even if based on his vast experience and expertise the inviligator is likely to more correct in his estimate?
Wait till the dental doc tells us that Deve Gowda is the greatest emperor of all.
Why take these poll surveys seriously? They are as good as the prediction made by a street astrologer with the help of the parrot.
Instead of fretting and fuming about it, take it as some sort of entertainment, like some stupid ones churned out the channels relentlessly Let us have some humour in life and continued to tolerate the fools and learn to turn the idiocy as a source entertainment.
all of know how well the questions are structured to suit the requirement of the man/organisation/ which has commissioned the poll survey, which costs of hell of lot of money. If somebody wants to squander the money, why should they be prevented.
Nobody is taken in by the poll surveys made by the channels or the media and this is not going to influence the outcome The people have already decided who to vote and they will certainly do so, without being goaded by anybody. Lets have the patience to wait for the counting and not insult the voters intelligence by trying to guess their intentions.
they must be taken seriously, because if you ask the question about their purpose, the obvious answers are:
in best case, it is for media to make print/money and
in the worst case, it is for media to manufacture consent.
today you are fighting modi it is fine, but tomorrow what prevents some body from manufacturing these surveys just to make the grander equivalent of a 40×60? (beyond which i cannot think/count) they’ve already milked modi way beyond comprehension. for example, ever wonder why we never ever hear media saying, today there is no news, so we will only print 10 pages or end our transmission at 8:00pm. or today there is no news, but what we will do is present you an analysis of the impact of dahanu/raichur on the local environment, or the actual impact of suburban rails on bombay or some such thing?
you can waste a lot of bandwidth debating why the survey is inaccurate, the basic answer is:
#1 it is a crude/subjective/assumedly representative factorization of the all the actual factors that the actual voting population would consider in making a decision.
#2 it is sample of the voting population.
atleast two levels of discretization. i.e.,
irrespective of who you are, when you take a population sample you add uncertainty to the results of the survey,
irrespective of who you are, when you frame questions you add uncertainty to the results of the survey,
irrespective of who you are, when you collect answers you add uncertainty to the results of the survey.
i.e., irrespective of all the posturing about maths and mathematical notation, there are somethings which are not science. accept that. a fairly homogenous US population works. highly heterogenous Indian population does not. learn to deal with that. dont make the population problematic bcoz it does not fit your theoretical model. this does not mean our population does not yield to science, but whatever convenient and available methods you are using do not fit. put your folks in ISI to work on a model that fits. even roopa is selling kaachas in different sizes, why are we seling theories in one size?
in any case, the accuracy of these surveys is irrelevant. basic question is what is the purpose of these surveys? as far as i can tell, it has no use for voting public. but everybody else can ‘use’ more and more of these. including media.
based on exact same reasoning, i hope you are not opposed to the idea of bringing greater transparency and quality in astrology. what if my astrological predictions were right? now that is an interesting question. i prefer it to pre-poll survey’s because if it were true, then with only p years to live for, as an individual, it gives me a metric to plan my life around.