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What to pay attention to, when they publish poll numbers?

22.01.2019, 12:49
“Tymoshenko is winning in a second round”, “Tymoshenko is leading almost in all regions”, “Poroshenko, Tymoshenko and Zelensky are leaving other candidates far behind”, there are the news based on sociological polls that could quickly disorientate, fill with indignation, perturb. From the other side, in case if the sociological poll is made by a solid institution, it is able to demonstrate the public opinion snapshot and to be a source of useful information for political forces and specialists of different spheres. So such important information has to be present in the news. Besides, many things depend from the manner the mass media are covering these public opinion polls, in which manner they do interpreting it. IMI prepared a brief note just for those who see the public opinion polls in the news and do not know what to do with. 1. WHO issued the polls? There are too many of organizations, institutes emerging before election like mushrooms. One should keep in mind that not everyone could be given credit to. An organization could conduct the polls commissioned by a political party, and to cover it under a needed light. You should verify whether this organization does exist since a longtime or not, whether it is functioning only in pre-election period or between elections too? Who did paid this survey for? Apropos, made ready a pseudo-sociologists database, where one could check who could be trusted in and who could not? 2. Whether they say HOW the polls were held? What precise question was asked, what was the method to gather the data, how many persons was interrogated, what regions they are from, during what period of time? Whether the sampling is really representative and does reflect opinion of the majority of people? These elements should be obligatory mentioned in the news, and the solid sociologic institutions always provide such data. 3. WHEN the polls were conducted? The opinion is rapidly changing, the public opinion polls held one month or two months ago could be non-representative, not to reflect the real picture. Someone discourse or some political developments could change the polls results. Be careful with news comparing the data of different public polls conducted by different institutions and separated in the time. 4. WHO published the polls results ? The same survey could be represented in a different way in various mass media outlets. If you have some doubts as to veracity of some news, quality of the mass media outlet, go to the link and check the information onto the original web-site, onto the sociological institution’s web-site. 5. If the polls were conducted on web site of mass media outlet, on TV broadcasting, don’t consider it the polls!!! Anyway the results of such polls are not representative and do not reflect the opinion of the majority of people. Moreover, this is easy to manipulate with such public polls and to make fake news.
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