Obsession with poll ‘predictions’

There seems to be an increasing obsession for media and pundits to view and use polls as predictors of the future.

When pollsters also become to focussed on the future then I have serious concerns about the purpose and usefulness of polls.

Ina guest post at Kiwiblog – Five Key Takeaways from Brexit   – KIA says:

5 – The polls were wrong … again
6 out of the 8 major polls picked a Remain result on the eve of the vote and the 2 that picked Leave had Leave only just winning versus the 4% eventual lead.

The polls weren’t wrong. They attempted to measure public opinion at the time they were taken. There is no way of measuring whether they were right or wrong.

I thought that polls were not designed to be predictors of the future sample measurements from the past.

If pollsters manipulate their polling and polls to try and match a future election or referendum then their margins of error should reflect this. The 95% probability is supposed to be based on their polling, not voting at a different time by a much bigger sample.

I can understand pundits and journalists trying to misrepresent what polls are, but if pollsters become obsessed with or feel pressured about who is supposedly the most accurate at predicting something in the future then I have serious concerns.

Polls aren’t wrong. They may be inaccurate at the time they were taken (and statistics and margins for error and being based on 95% probability account for this), but they don’t count votes on election day.

Pundits are wrong when they try to use polls to ‘win’ on future predictions.

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3 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  2nd July 2016

    “Pundits are wrong when they try to use polls to ‘win’ on future predictions.”

    So what are polls taken for then?

    Reply
  2. theres a genuine issue though that polls do seem unable to give a result that then transports to be correct. An issue for 2 reasons 1. If you were deciding to launch a new brand would you rely on them ? and 2. They are creating a political story in itself which often confuses what is really going on ..

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  2nd July 2016

      Parties find them useful I imagine to get a general idea of how whatever they’re doing is going down with the general public but their flaws have been pointed out many times here by Alan and Pete. I’d rather have them than not if I were Labour.

      Reply

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