Monday, October 15, 2007

Opinion polls and political manipulation?


Since the debate between the prime minister and the main opposition party leader on Friday night, a handful of polls have shown a shift of support towards the Civic Platform party, led by Donald Tusk – all except one, that is.

The initial indicators of growing support over the weekend for the free market orientated Civic Platform were not convincing simply because they were those self selecting polls that people vote for on web sites or via telephone call to TV stations.

But two polls published this morning seem to reveal a genuine shift.

In a poll by OBOP in the "Dziennik" newspaper conducted a day after the Tusk – Kaczyński debate, Tusk’s party got a massive 46 per cent, which translates into 236 seats in parliament - five more than the minimum required to form a majority government.

I don’t find that poll believable at all.

Possibly the most believable is an opinion poll conducted by PBS, which indicates 38 per cent support for the Civic Platform (PO) and 37 per cent support for the Law and Justice (PiS). That means PO has gained five percentage points over the weekend, compared with a survey taken by the same pollster last week, while PiS lost one percent.

How much this has to do with Friday’s debate is unclear. According to a poll commissioned by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, only 5 per cent of Poles say they changed their minds after the debate between Donald Tusk (PO) and Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS).

Whatever, there does seem to have been some movement away from the government in the last few days.

But one poll, slipped out yesterday by the Polish public television station TVP, bucked the trend – it showed the governing Law and Justice in the lead by four points – just as it was last week and the week before.

A closer look at the poll, however – and something that TVP did not mention (oops!) when they published the poll initially – was that the survey was taken before Friday’s debate. On the ninth and tenth, in fact. The poll was published on one of those 'tickers' running along the bottom of the screen, but you would think that the most important thing about that particular poll was, when it was taken.

Critics are also pointing out that PGB is Law and Justice’s favourite pollsters, as it usually gives leads to the Kaczynskis when no other company does so.

So, is there some manipulation going on here?

Well, you certainly could say that of state television, TVP. But the opinion pollster PGB has since recorded a similar wild shift since the debate, as well.

PGB was the only pollster to pick the winner of the Tusk - Kaczynski presidential election in 2005 - so the Kaczynski's must be a little concerned.

But I really can't see support shifting so hugely from one debate. Tusk will bounce, but not like a helium balloon.

But keep your eye on PGB, and close them when TVP election polling news comes on the TV - just in case.

26 comments:

simon moleski said...

Hello?

emiliaplater said...

I remember last election opinion polls were not acurrate at all. What is to say these ones are?

varus said...

Does the opinion poll takes in to account those who don't show up at the booth? I am sure many people say they would vote for a particular party while being quizzed by a polling agency, but don't actually go to their local venue and vote. The question is who will this affect more. I think we all know that PO will lose the biggest number of votes due to no-shows, where as PiS will probably maintain most of their percentage of the vote come election day.

Anonymous said...

While its true that TVPis have been acting like an election agency for Kaczyński, TVN have been doing much the same for PO. It's also the case that PO's vote has been exaggerated by the opinion polls in recent elections. As said above this could be due to the low turnout and the loyalty of PiS voters. This has always helped the SLD in the past as well, whether or not it'll be the same for LiD is to be seen.

Jake said...

I'm not sure if I have missed a discussion on this, but I'm surprised to see that there are 23 polling stations for the Polish election in the UK.

http://www.polishconsulate.co.uk/wybory/komisje.html

Is there any example in history of as many civilian polling stations set up in one country for an election of a different country?

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

While its true that TVPis have been acting like an election agency for Kaczyński, TVN have been doing much the same for PO.

That's true, for sure. The difference is that TVN is a private station, and so is only answerable to its share holders. TVP is public TV abd is so answerable to the whole public.

Bias public braodcasters are just sticking a finger up at the majority of licence payers,who do not vote PiS.

The best thing for them to do is simply stop paying the licence fee. And then there would be no more public TV.

geez said...

What is the rationale for having Sunday elections? Are all elections in Poland on Sundays?

jannowak57 said...

geez said...”What is the rationale for having Sunday elections? Are all elections in Poland on Sundays?”

Not being a regular workday perhaps they think it will allow more people to turn out and vote when not busy doing other things.

Maybe the idea is straight from the sermon to the voting both, that way nobody forgets the instructions.

It prevents loss to businesses that have to give time off to employees to vote if the vote were done on a workday. Some countries require that all employers must provide a four-hour window prior to the closing of the polls. So if you vote on a workday and the polls close at 8 PM then everyone must be excused from work at 4:00 PM not to mention the disruption of shift work.

beatroot said...

Geez - most of the world votes on a free day. It's only weird countries like US or UK (on a Thursday????) that vote on work days.

Damien Moran said...

Jannowak: "Maybe the idea is straight from the sermon to the voting both, that way nobody forgets the instructions."

As Meatloaf pelted out in his heyday:
"You took the words right out of my mouth."

geez said...

Tuesdays in the US. Usually 6 am to 9 pm. That gives folks the time to vote no matter their shift.

beatroot said...

But why vote on a Tuesday and Thursday when everyone is at work? It's BONKERS!

varus said...

BR: But why vote on a Tuesday and Thursday when everyone is at work? It's BONKERS!

Maybe because they know people like the opputunity to avoid work and also that they are already out and about. Where as on sundays people prefer to stay in bed or laze around the house.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what the opinion polls say, I would like to cast my vote for Pis this Sunday.

It is such nonsense when the liberal media depicts the average supporter of Kaczynski's government as being 'someone located in rural Poland, a farmer, an old pensioner, or someone left out of the capitalistic boom'. As a successful attorney living in Poland, I only can laugh at such propaganda.

Beatroot, may I suggest while you still have time, to run your own opinion poll on this blog? I'm very curious as to what the results would be. Of course, there are many who prefer to keep their political affiliations confidential. Regardless, lets give it a try, ok? As mentioned earlier, count me in for Pis. Any others?

Andrzej Z.

Damien Moran said...

Factors that election bureaucrats take into consideration when figuring out why Poles, who need encouragement to vote, should not vote on any other day bar Sunday.
Please pardon the lack of brevity.

Monday: You are too depressed with the prospect of another full week of work. They blame everything, anything and nothing for their woes - not a good day to ask people to vote because this is the day they would be most likely to lynch, tar and feather politicians.

Tuesday: The notions of torturing politicians have subsided and are replaced by reality - you have so much work to do by the end of the week you can think of nothing else.

Cigarette and coffee breaks help pass the day. You have been up since 7am to take care of the kids', cat's, dog's, pet tarantula's needs and by the time you get off the jam-packed metro, bus or out of your traffic-stuck car, your belly is growling with the pangs of hunger.

Your favourite series, Na Wspolnie, is on TV, so there's not a snowball's chance in hell that you're going to the local school hall to vote. You already missed 3 episodes this month.

Wednesday: Panic has set in. You've managed to complete only 2 elements from your top ten 'To Do List' which you drew up on Sunday evening.
You are doing an English course (to improve your career chances, emigration employment prospects) almost immediately after work. The course only finishes at 8.30pm and you would like to see your kids before they go to sleep. You remember they usually get a headache and violent tendencies after 9pm as they've been playing computer games since they returned home from school. You rush directly home.

Thursday: Your boss is on your ass to finish deadlines, the kids are beginning to drive you up the wall with their own hectic schedules of extra-curricular activities and are bugging you as you haven't had time to feed them for the past 2 days.

You just about managed to nip into the convenience store after finishing work late (again, for no extra money) around the corner to get a few frozen pizzas.
Thank God for cornflakes, school caterers, the kids obsession with eating 3 chocolate bars a day and shitty ready-to-eat microwave meals.

You haven't had sex since last Thursday so you have an early shower and try get the kids to bed quickly in order to ignite your partner's passions and relieve some stress; or, you rent out a dvd with your partner, grab a Da Grasso pizza and haven't the slighest intention of doing anything else apart from slinking your canine teeth into your favourite 'Cztery Sery'; or you just head out for a beer with friends cause you don't have a partner, even though you wouldn't mind one who didn't demand too much from you. It's nice to start the weekend a little early by lining your stomach with 3 pints of beer.

It helps remind your biological make up that a heavy session awaits it within the next 48 hours; or finally, you're too old for having sex, eat your dinner in the middle of the day (unlike the young folk), you've got to catch up with ironing, the news, Radio Maryja, your mother/friends, and TRWAM's eternal playbacks of Pope John Paul's visits to Poland.

Friday: Fuck, where did that week just go? You definitely don't want to start or end your favourite day of the week by looking through a lengthy list of overweight, overcocky, dodgy scumbags who you have a funny feeling will do fuck all to earn a huge salary and piss you off every time they pop up on your TV screen or newpaper front page - and you've been slaving for a corporation all week without any recognition and for a pittance.

Saturday:
You've gone to work on your dzialka. and enjoy the fresh air, being in touch with nature. You do some fun activites with your kids and spend some much needed time in normality with your partner. You visit family and catch up with all the weekly family affairs. You've forgotten about the stressful situations in work which you just had and which will recommence on Monday. Saturday is sacred. Life doesn't seem so bad after all. You don't want to hazard this rare weekly moment when all your efforts seem to be worthwhile and life, despite all it's shortcomings, appears to be full of beauty.

Sunday: You're bored off your tits, the Saturday dream has worn off with the entrance of a hangover or the proximity of Monday.Monday, you really fucking hate Mondays. Ypou try to escape into telly world, but as always happens there's SFA on.

The kids are busy doing their homework, earlier today you heard the priest give a dull sermon during which you dosed off but where he appealed to you to vote. You need to stretch your legs after stuffing yourself with a big lump of beef followed by jelly and icecream.

You're also a little curious to see whether you meet anybody you know at the ballot box so you end up scraping your ass from the couch and heading towards the local station to exercise your right.
You're certain of who you are voting for, or will just decide when you look at their faces on the list - you have good instincts.

And voila, you're a democrat and active citizen.

You're full of hope for the future. You have no idea this will wear off very soon, but that doesn't matter, because you probably won't have to perform the same act for a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

There is not a lot of choice is there?I can understand Polish Peoples dilema. A paranoid bigot or a free maket capitalist who favours the law of the jungle?!
John,Poznan

beatroot said...

I will think about that poll, Andrzej.

:-)

According to the UK Electoral Commission, there's a mathematical formula that can predict your movements on polling day: X = C + I + P + (V x D) + N, all divided by S.

C is how often you've been contacted by any political party or candidate. I stands for your belief that any of the parties can handle the big issues.
Were your parents in politics? That's P, while V represents how much of a difference you think your vote will make to the result.
If you think voting is a duty, you will give a higher value to D and N is how close you think the contest is between the parties at a national level. Finally, S is how safe you think your own local area is for one party or another.
But where's the W? The W that stands for, will I get a chance to get to the polling station before or after work?

geez said...

Damien: That day-day analysis of yours was classic. But is it really only applicable in Poland?

BR: I just don't get the 4 hour window of opportunity bit. ISTM that even if a person works 10 hours and the polls are open long enough on a weekday, there's ample time to vote. It also STM that most sensible folks don't want to be bothered on their weekends.

beatroot said...

US polls on a Tuesday. It gets around 50 ish percent turnout. Scandanavia votes at the weekend and they get 80 percent turout...People will bother to vote of they are motivated by civic pride, national duty etc.

Damien Moran said...

Geez - It's universally applicable, though it would need an amendment here and there. For example, I don;t think you can get 'Cztery Sery' pizzas in Egypt, nor can you very easily go out for a few beers with the lads or lassies.
Nor is the list of candidates very long!

geez said...

I think there are a few other factors that explain voting percentages besides the polling day. So you can't compare Scandanavia and the US just like that.

People vote in greater numbers if they think their vote will make a difference.

Nerchist said...

Voting should be held on a workday which should be turned into a public holiday (or the four hour window, whatever) to show that elections are more important than mere work.

Of course, like mere work, elections change nothing.

beatroot said...

So you are hinetly saying that since elections have been occuring in Poland nothing has changed? Of course elections can change thinmgs and there has been a long history of that happening all over the world. If they didn;t change anything why do you think people have died trying to win the right to take part in them?

jannowak57 said...

People aren’t inclined to think much of voting because the political classes have done their own thing and never really listened to the people. Since 1989 people have lost hope of effecting change and therefore see little merit in the act of voting. There is an expectation that the political class do battle to attain their private political agendas to the exclusion of the greater public good.

Here is a good article on things in English:

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=1249

It addresses the origins of the cesspool we call Polish Politics. The political classes in Poland have thus far have succeeded in doing extensive damage to the fabric of democracy.

geez said...

I'd soonner vote for Kaczynski, Tusk, Kwasniewski, Lepper or whomever over Chodakiewicz.