Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is credited with saying that “dogs know what to do with polls.”
And that came from an era in the late 50s and early 60s when polls were considered fairly accurate – unlike today. We now live in a less homogenized society that’s not only extremely segmented along cultural lines, it’s even heavily segmented by technology.
No longer can a pollster easily target a land line-based sample and get an accurate result reflecting the feelings of the general electorate.
Many people, especially young people, are switching from landlines to cell phones. Many people are on do-not-call lists or refuse to pick up when they don’t recognize the number on call display, along with the fact that some people these days choose to forego phone calls altogether and communicate via email and social media.
Furthermore, people aren’t getting their information and news from a single source. We live in the age of social media where, according to IBM, 90 per cent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.
B.C. New Democrat Adrian Dix went into yesterday’s provincial election with a 20-point lead over Liberal Leader and Premier Christy Clark. But when the dust settled, the only numbers that really mattered showed something radically different: The Liberals went on to win at least 50 seats to the NDP’s 32. Christy Clark ironically though lost her own seat.
How could the pollsters get it so wrong? Again?
On the eve of the 2011 Federal Election, MediaMiser also predicted the pollsters would get it wrong.
The ground underneath traditional pollsters is moving too fast. To regain their accuracy, they’re going to have to learn to combine sources from social media along with traditional polling techniques, as well as developing new methodologies.
If they do it right, they won’t only improve their accuracy but they’ll also save money in the end.
After all, when you’re doing analysis, the more data points you have the more accurate your results will be.
Until then, the polls seem to have truly gone to the dogs.