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Pollsters: The two sided coin

23 November 2012, 11:23 Paul Orodi

Pollsters have risen to be very useful tools of society in terms of research.

They have contributed a great deal in political fronts in many countries that have embraced them.

However, this contribution varies from one country to another.

What was witnessed in the United States of America was a mature style of pollster involvement in the pre-electoral process.

The research was done extensively, accurately and by a number of agencies to allow for comparison and contrast.

poll results, 2013 elections

From the start of the campaigns, the pollsters conducted continuous research such that every newly collected data was a building block for the last information released prior to voting day.

A number of the agencies that were conducting the exercise had linkages between each other so that the areas of research covered could be wide spread.

From Fox to CNN and other infamous agencies, data was crisscrossing the information platform shared by all of them.

This enabled them to filter the findings and make informed judgement that had face value nothing more nothing less.

Whenever a rating was released, the public was always highly in favor of the results and you could see the truth in the numbers.

This is what a mature pollster era looks like.

On the other side of the coin, we have the African pollsters.

These agencies conduct research that is full of loop holes and bias.

Let's narrow down to Kenya; we have Infotrak, Synnovate and other agencies that are fond of collecting data and analyzing them on a monthly or fortnight basis.

The manner in which they conduct these activities leaves a lot to be desired.

Area of research is the biggest error committed by these agencies.

The area of study should be widespread and this can only be achieved if the agencies share information that lays the foundation for the results.

This way the results when collected can reflect a broader perspective of the electorate.

The agencies also need to link between themselves.

This will allow for more accurate and extensive data collection and information generation.

In Kenya, the pollsters release data on monthly or at times fortnight basis and during this time none informs the other on the manner in which they approached the target or the means they used to gather data.

The mode of rolling out the research really determines what kind of results will be achieved.

You may find the implementers of the research on the ground approaching the target in a manner that leads the target, who is supposed to be neutral, to a certain corner.

This can be orchestrated by either politicians due to falling popularity or by civil groups that are championing for their kind of leader.

All this can lead to a disaster.

It is evident in what happened in 2007/08.

The pollsters conducted continuous researches but never found one result on the previous polls and this made it an inaccurate process.

The data being collected was always fresh and pollsters are like wine; the more fermented they are the more accurate they are.

As we head towards the general elections, it is important to have pollster agencies link up their platforms and share data more often than not.

This will allow for a more realistic projection of the would be winners and consequent losers.


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