Sunday, August 17, 2014

Those pesky polls!

WE have the usual range of polls in th lead up to this years general election in NZ and most of them say they have an accuracy of about plus or minus 3%. Depending on whom one suapprts, the usual statemetns are made. If the poll faviours your party of choice then there is a tendancy to crow about the reuslt and if is shows a negagtive result, then we hear the usual, 'the only poll that matters is the one on election day.' The latter statement is of course true but there are some observations that need to be taken inot account. A poll is that and only that. It can represnet a snapshit in time, one that is not really going to count when it comes to the make-up of the next parliament. People know this and feel free to 'play with the possibilities running through their minds at THAT time. They know that their repsonse is not binding or going to make any difference to the final outcome. THey may be stating how they feel about how a particualt issue that is trending at the time of the 'snapshot,' and that may be very differnet when it comes to the place they put their 'ticks' on election day. There is anohter issue that should be taken account of: That is who is taking the poll and who are the pollster contacting. As far as I am aware, most polls are done via landlines. Many epople are not contactable simply because of timing and even the probability that they do not have a landline. Ask any teacher in a lower decile school and they will describe the difficulties around phoning parents, both on landlines and ever-changing cell phone numbers. The figures are therefore unreliable as has been shown in previous elections when many polls are upto and over the 10% margin of error. These very same polls clain the ususal 3% margin. The message to the 'crowers,' on boths sides of the political spectrum is---'don't count your chickens and be preapred for a rough ride in the run-up to the elction in September! In the meantime I shall enjoy the silly postings (including my own)on Facebook and other social media sites, that do little more than entertain as the contributors try to get at thier opponents.Lets try to keep it seemly and not fall not the trap that some of the more flamboyant exemplars are displaying!