Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Poll games

Aren't the mid-terms fascinating? The polls indicate a democratic landslide, and yet... And yet. We know people lie to the polls. There is a natural human tendency to tell people what we think they want to hear, or what casts us in a positive light. The more moral opprobrium we perceive there is associated with a belief, the less likely we are to reveal it: the BNP consistently receives more votes than the polls suggest, for instance.

It is worse because the polls are themselves part of the political process. Some people are reluctant to vote if they think that they cannot influence outcome: others come out anyway. So correcting for poll error is not straightforward. My suspicion is that the midterm error will be bigger than usual as voters become more sophisticated and more mendacious in their responses. Let's see...

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