Opinion Polls-Why do they get it wrong?
Monday 5 February
Details coming soon...
Charles Pattie is Professor of Politics at the University of
Sheffield. He has spent much of the last 30 years researching and writing about
elections, voting behaviour and party campaigning in the UK and elsewhere. As a
long-term user of, and commentator on, survey data and opinion polls, he both
relies on the polls as sources of data and frets about their quality.
available: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic/charles-pattie/profile .
live in an increasingly data-rich world, and are we bombarded, on an almost
daily basis, with results from an ever-increasing number of opinion polls and
social surveys. At their best, these offer valuable insights into trends in
public opinion, into support for our government and opposition parties and for
various public policies, into our views of the world around us, and how we
behave and think. But how reliable are they? In recent years, opinion polls
have come unstuck in very public and embarrassing ways. Election polling, for
instance, has not had a good track record in recent contests, predicting the
wrong outcome on several occasions – and most embarrassingly in 2015, when
almost all major polling houses failed to spot the final result and, worse,
mostly ending up being wrong in the same ways. This has lead to a number of inquiries
into what has gone wrong. And it has also lead to suggestions that polling
should be regulated more tightly (and to some suggestions that polls should be
banned during lection and referendum periods, for fear that they might distort
the real vote).
what has gone wrong? Should we be worried? Are polls little better than
expensive guesswork? Or is three still something to be gained from polling? If
so, what – if anything – can we ‘fix’ to make polls more reliable? Do we focus
too much on ‘the polls’? Or should we, if anything, focus on them rather more
than we do?