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  1. #21
    TheWolf TheWolf is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by statsman View Post
    Every time there’s a new poll published, we on P.ie go into an entirely predictable pattern of posting:

    Great, accurate poll. My party is doing well.
    Crap, unreliable poll. My party is not doing well.

    To a certain extent, this is understandable, but could be avoided by standing back and asking a few simple questions.

    • What questions are asked?
    • When?
    • What is the sample size?
    • How was the sample selected (random, quota, self-selecting)?
    • What was the mode (face-to-face, phone, e-mail, other)?
    • What is the margin of error?
    • Who did it?
    • Who paid for it?

    If you want to know if a pot of soup needs more salt, you just need to stir it well and then taste a spoonful, not eat the whole pot. If you want to gauge the opinion of an entire population, you don’t have to ask everyone, just a representative sample. Quota samples will reflect the composition of the larger pot by pre-selecting quotas of groups to ask (gender, age, social class, geography, etc.) to fit the census breakdown along those lines. So, if 30% of the population are working-class women over 40, then the sample should reflect this. Random samples will just ask 1,000 (or whatever the sample size is going to be) people, and then adjust to reflect. So, if they find that only 200 of the sample are working-class women over 40 but it should be 220, then they weigh the responses of that 200 so that each of them counts as 1.1 person. Small representative samples will always be better than big, self-selecting ones.

    Then they work out the margin of error (MoE), which is always an approximation as it is based on an ideal situation. For example, statistical theory confirms that for a sample of 1,000 with a 100% response rate on a question where the population is split 50/50, the poll will have an MoE of +/- 3% 19 times out of 20. Clearly, this never happens, but the theory acts as a guideline for an MoE that isn’t too far off.

    Despite what some people think, genuine, serious polling companies have no interest in being wrong, so polls that are conducted by one of them is more likely to be right than polls conducted by randomwebsire.ru. Equally, most serious media organisations want to be as accurate as possible, so, like them or not, a poll commissioned by RTE is more likely to be accurate than one commissioned by a company that wants to sell a product.

    So, why do polls on, say, voter intention in Ireland, that are published within a week of each other often show very different trends? We’re back to these questions:

    • What questions are asked?
    • When?

    Clearly, the question asked will have a strong influence. Just think about the difference between being asked ‘Which party is currently doing the best job?’ and ‘Which party would you vote for if there were a GE tomorrow?

    Equally, time plays a role. Would you expect the same response rate the day before a big scandal as you’d get the day after?

    So, most polls are accurate enough to within the MoE for the questions that were asked at the time they were asked. If you don’t like the result, then the problem is probably more with you than with the poll. And always remember, polls are not predictors of election results, they are samples of how salty the soup is at the moment you test it.

    If you’d like more detail, this link is very useful:

    A Journalist
    Any time there's a poll published here I tell people the same thing, it's a poll in a newspaper, designed to make headlines and sell copy.

    The only poll that matters, and that should matter, is the one on election day.

    If people's opinions are formed by a series of polls in newspapers, it's easy to see why the country was bankrupted by the FFailures and driven €200 billion into debt by the blueshirts.

    Paddy isn't the cleverest to be honest, he, for the most part, needs someone to make his mind up for him.
    Last edited by TheWolf; 19th April 2017 at 03:58 PM. Reason: typo
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  2. #22
    ShinnerBot No.32564844524 ShinnerBot No.32564844524 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by statsman View Post
    Every time there’s a new poll published, we on P.ie go into an entirely predictable pattern of posting:
    Good OP, and ultimately what the polls are is a statistical exercise to give us a snapshot at any one point in time. The effect of an election campaign is the ultimate wild card where over the course of the campaign weeks further trends emerge leading up to the final result. Parties understand this, but I don't think their supporters quite do tho.

    But ultimately we have to take stock of trends that polls over time can hint at or indicate. What we seem to be seeing at the moment is that not much has changed substantially since GE16, the three largest parties seem to have crystallized their respective sections of society. What's interesting is how the past trends affected this, both FF and FG seemed to carry core votes with variance between the two as a part of society chose which way to swing depending on the realities of the era. This swing effect between the two seems to have been minimized in the polls....but a big pain in the arse is that most polls carry 20 to 25% don't knows who remain in effect a wildcard that an election campaign may or may not rally. Add to this the independent effect where don't knows may choose an alternative that is entirely localised to one candidate who has no national overall context whatsoever.

    "New Politics" is here to stay it seems, and we seem to be going to an uncertain period where the implications and public responses to minority government are as yet unknown. The dream of the old two and a half party system returning is shattered, and now too it seems the possibility returning to one of the big two having 40%+ is also gone. The fun part of all this is watching those who once took certainty for granted struggle as to why the electorate isn't just magically falling back in to line with the way as how "things are meant to be".

    The downside however is that while the numbers remain like this, weak ineffectual minority government is the best we have to address the various legacy issues dragging the country down, and if you study other countries where minority governments were the norm for the better part of a decade or more, the problem becomes one where things must decay to a point where voters feel motivated to put it right. But I suppose as only we can in Ireland, weak ineffectual minority government is still probably better than strong arrogant gombeen governance.

    C'est la vie....

    Also just to mention, most polls come with a detailed pdf report, we should make the effort to review these reports to improve the quality of our poll threads, it's well worth it.
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  3. #23
    redhead redhead is offline
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    Good to see that, given the number of posters who demonstrate a desire to impregnate the site, it is finally up the poll!
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  4. #24
    gatsbygirl20 gatsbygirl20 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWolf View Post
    Any time there's a poll published here I tell people the same thing, it's a poll in a newspaper, designed to make headlines and sell copy.

    The only poll that matters, and that should matter, is the one on election day.

    If people's opinions are formed by a series of polls in newspapers, it's easy to see why the country was bankrupted by the FFailures and driver €200 billion into debt by the blueshirts.

    Paddy isn't the cleverest to be honest, he, for the most part, needs someone to make his mind up for him.
    People's opinion is not really "formed by a series of polls in newspapers"

    At least not at a rational or conscious level.

    But in human affairs there sometimes tends to be a bandwagon effect--a natural building of momentum that sweeps all before it.

    Polls may play a part in that.
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  5. #25
    hollandia hollandia is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by bokuden View Post
    I think a broad average taken across all major polls over a period of time can give a general idea of how parties are doing. Individual polls are pretty meaningless TBH.
    Trends are much more useful:



    These show small and steady growth for FF and SF, FG steady at around 25%, and Labour flatlining at 6%.
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  6. #26
    statsman statsman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinnerBot No.32564844524 View Post
    Good OP, and ultimately what the polls are is a statistical exercise to give us a snapshot at any one point in time. The effect of an election campaign is the ultimate wild card where over the course of the campaign weeks further trends emerge leading up to the final result. Parties understand this, but I don't think their supporters quite do tho.

    But ultimately we have to take stock of trends that polls over time can hint at or indicate. What we seem to be seeing at the moment is that not much has changed substantially since GE16, the three largest parties seem to have crystallized their respective sections of society. What's interesting is how the past trends affected this, both FF and FG seemed to carry core votes with variance between the two as a part of society chose which way to swing depending on the realities of the era. This swing effect between the two seems to have been minimized in the polls....but a big pain in the arse is that most polls carry 20 to 25% don't knows who remain in effect a wildcard that an election campaign may or may not rally. Add to this the independent effect where don't knows may choose an alternative that is entirely localised to one candidate who has no national overall context whatsoever.

    "New Politics" is here to stay it seems, and we seem to be going to an uncertain period where the implications and public responses to minority government are as yet unknown. The dream of the old two and a half party system returning is shattered, and now too it seems the possibility returning to one of the big two having 40%+ is also gone. The fun part of all this is watching those who once took certainty for granted struggle as to why the electorate isn't just magically falling back in to line with the way as how "things are meant to be".

    The downside however is that while the numbers remain like this, weak ineffectual minority government is the best we have to address the various legacy issues dragging the country down, and if you study other countries where minority governments were the norm for the better part of a decade or more, the problem becomes one where things must decay to a point where voters feel motivated to put it right. But I suppose as only we can in Ireland, weak ineffectual minority government is still probably better than strong arrogant gombeen governance.

    C'est la vie....

    Also just to mention, most polls come with a detailed pdf report, we should make the effort to review these reports to improve the quality of our poll threads, it's well worth it.
    Yes, for 12 months and more, the polls have effectively been saying 'nothing to see here'.
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  7. #27
    statsman statsman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by redhead View Post
    Good to see that, given the number of posters who demonstrate a desire to impregnate the site, it is finally up the poll!
    F#ck that So to speak.
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  8. #28
    hollandia hollandia is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by former wesleyan View Post
    One mans meaningless bland one liner is another mans pithy epigram !
    In the kingdom of the bland, the one lined man is king...
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  9. #29
    statsman statsman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by hollandia View Post
    In the kingdom of the bland, the one lined man is king...
    Which would make me emperor.
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  10. #30
    gatsbygirl20 gatsbygirl20 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by redhead View Post
    Good to see that, given the number of posters who demonstrate a desire to impregnate the site, it is finally up the poll!
    Tsk..tsk....

    This is typical.

    A nice long OP with stuff in it about numbers and margins of error and suchlike, and right away we have this tone-lowering sex talk, with words like "desire" and "impregnate" and double entendres.....

    Enough of your sex-chat. I much prefer to read sentences like "Polls are a statistical exercise that give us a numerical snapshot at any one point in time"
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