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ACT voters not so different after all…

By Gungahlin Al - 9 August 2013 30

We get peppered constantly with the mantra that ACT voters are so different from the rest of the nation, that eventually we start to believe it ourselves.

But the first release of data from the ABC’s mammoth Vote Compass project seems to indicate otherwise. For all of the key topics, the ACT results are pretty much slap in the middle of all the other regions. Except Health and Hospitals that is, where the ACT is second only to Tasmania.

In the overall results, the economy was the stand-out issue, asylum seekers second, followed by climate change, health and hospitals, education and broaband bunched together. The variety in stances according to gender, age, income and political leaning are interesting but somewhat predictable.

More interesting are the issues that it seems are very low on most respondents’ radar: mining, transport, food security, manufacturing, defence, childcare, disability care. A wake-up call for the respective interest groups?

The results so far were drawn from the initial 250,000 responses, with weighting to compensate for a range of potential selection biases. The total participation jumped past 500,000 people last night.

So by the end of five weeks, it would seem this project may give an assessment of the nation’s political landscape that will walk all over the endless stream of media-based polls we’ve had for the last four years. Having been on the receiving end of some of those poll calls, they are hardly clear of result biases in the ways their questions are framed. There’s also the little issue of them only calling landlines, which more and more of us are ditching…

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30 Responses to
ACT voters not so different after all…
Deref 12:21 pm 11 Aug 13

Diggety said :

It’s interesting that so many Green supporters state climate change as a main issue, where the same party is against one of the best tools to deal with it: nuclear power.

If one were to use their brain, one would realise that nuclear power has been one of the best solutions to climate change.

It is indeed a great solution to climate change.

Mind you, swapping one catastrophe for another doesn’t sound like such a good deal.

Woody Mann-Caruso 8:53 am 11 Aug 13

Masquara said :

Care to respond, and either defend your post or address the concerns? Gungahlin Al?

Here, I’ll have a go:

Gee Gungahlin Al, your analytical skills are wanting. Antony Green himself has admitted that the bias compensation possibilities are very limited.

Was that the same Antony Green who said “…analysis relies on weighting the data to reflect the characteristics of the Australian population. Around half of all respondents have provided the demographic and electorate data required to weight the data, creating a huge sample size for analysis.

I’ll now sit here and click refresh repeatedly and occasionally nag that you haven’t replied to defend yourself quickly enough for my liking. Except I won’t, because I have a life, and I already know I’m right. You, on the other hand, are wrong, because your ‘arguments’ are bullsh*t and I laugh at them.

Diggety 12:52 am 11 Aug 13

It’s interesting that so many Green supporters state climate change as a main issue, where the same party is against one of the best tools to deal with it: nuclear power.

If one were to use their brain, one would realise that nuclear power has been one of the best solutions to climate change.

IrishPete 10:14 pm 10 Aug 13

I searched Google for “accuracy of opinion polls” and found a few gushing articles. They seemed to be written by pollsters – when a poll is wrong, it is because the voters changed their minds. When a poll is right they take the credit.

It’s probably not hard to get it right the day before an election – you ask someone if they are going to vote, and they tell you, and it’s true. Probably not too many people left undecided either.

But if the pollsters were serious about it, they’d make their metholodogy more available, you know, the way proper researchers have to – peer review and all that.

In some countries opinion polls are regulated, not allowed in the lead up to the election and so on.

IP

Diggety 3:14 pm 10 Aug 13

IrishPete said :

rosscoact said :

Of course it’s flawed, every poll is flawed because you cannot ask everyone totally open questions. That’s why polls are not completely accurate when tested against vote outcomes.

Always was and always will be.

What is interesting though, is to see the bias of the respondents here and elsewhere.

I’ve said before, and I’ll repeat here, that political opinion polls are also flawed. Do they phone landlines only? Does that include VOIP numbers? Unlisted (silent) numbers? What do they do about people who decline to take part? How to they estimate which people actually will vote, or will vote Informal? How do they deal with the “Undecided” respondents?

Random Digit Dialing addresses some of the sampling issues, but only if they are including mobile numbers.

The polls are commercial products, and I have been unable to find this information publicly available. You can statistically adjust for some things, but it doesn’t always work.

IP

The decent polls (Newspoll, Neilsen, etc) have a cross sectional demographic quota and fill it. It’s a pretty good methodology actually. They also tend to be very accurate when comparing poll trends to election outcomes.

That’s why they are taken seriously by all and sundry.

IrishPete 12:53 pm 10 Aug 13

rosscoact said :

Of course it’s flawed, every poll is flawed because you cannot ask everyone totally open questions. That’s why polls are not completely accurate when tested against vote outcomes.

Always was and always will be.

What is interesting though, is to see the bias of the respondents here and elsewhere.

I’ve said before, and I’ll repeat here, that political opinion polls are also flawed. Do they phone landlines only? Does that include VOIP numbers? Unlisted (silent) numbers? What do they do about people who decline to take part? How to they estimate which people actually will vote, or will vote Informal? How do they deal with the “Undecided” respondents?

Random Digit Dialing addresses some of the sampling issues, but only if they are including mobile numbers.

The polls are commercial products, and I have been unable to find this information publicly available. You can statistically adjust for some things, but it doesn’t always work.

IP

rosscoact 10:00 am 10 Aug 13

Of course it’s flawed, every poll is flawed because you cannot ask everyone totally open questions. That’s why polls are not completely accurate when tested against vote outcomes.

Always was and always will be.

What is interesting though, is to see the bias of the respondents here and elsewhere.

IrishPete 9:57 am 10 Aug 13

Roundhead89 said :

So a survey conducted by the Gay BC found climate change to be the number three issue. Who would have thought it?

Whoda thunk that a topic like this would out a homophobe?

IP

IrishPete 9:55 am 10 Aug 13

Well the website took me through all the questions but then wouldn’t save the answer, so the responses of this Greens member weren’t included. I’m not going to bother trying again, as it was a significant waste of my time.

Yes, the sample is unrepresentative but it is an extremely large number of people. Like the Fairfax online poll last week which found 40+% of the 3000+ respondents favoured the Greens asylum seeker policies, it isn’t a guide to voting, but does tell you that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like the Tweedledum and Tweedledee racing to rally the rabid right vote. 7 September will be very interesting.

IP

Masquara 9:39 am 10 Aug 13

Care to respond, and either defend your post or address the concerns? Gungahlin Al?

wildturkeycanoe 7:41 am 10 Aug 13

This poll is biased, because the people participating are all internet users [obviously],. I’d like to see how different the importance of issues such as NBN are between those polled and those who don’t even know about this project because they only use the net to pay bills and check emails. Don’t anyone dare go on about how the internet is readily available to everybody either. My sister has to rely on mobile broadband with one provider because nobody else has coverage, but can’t recharge it over the phone because the same company doesn’t have decent mobile phone coverage [Can’t call the recharge number from other network’s phones]. Figure that one out.
To me this compares with a poll, say based on number of ants traveling north, but conducting the poll from 12 midnight to 6 AM. Perhaps you could compare peoples’ opinions of roundabouts vs traffic lights by polling cyclists.

If you are by now stewing at my preposterous claims, read for yourself what even ABC’s Antony Green himself says “So these sorts of online polls seem to favour the tech savy, the educated, the younger urban dwellers, so there’s a bit of a bias in there. But what you do with this sort of data, when you’ve got this many numbers and about a quarter of a million people have filled in all the demographic questions, you can weight the data to try and make it look like the Australian electorate and once you’ve done that, the important issues which is what we got in this first report are the sorts of issues you would expect to see as important for Australian voters. ”
source – http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3821939.htm
Note the terms “seem to favor”, “bit of bias”,”weight the data” and “try and make it look like”. Doesn’t show any real attempt at a fair and unbiased poll at all.

Roundhead89 7:40 am 10 Aug 13

So a survey conducted by the Gay BC found climate change to be the number three issue. Who would have thought it?

chewy14 10:45 pm 09 Aug 13

Yeah forgetting the self selection aspect, I found the questions far too simplistic. The simple options dont’t allow for the nuance that many of the issues require.

It’s a bit of fun but I wouldn’t take it seriously.

steveu 7:37 pm 09 Aug 13

I can’t see a good representation of old age pensioners taking the survey, which may suggest that they are underrepresented in the survey. These are a good chunk of voters.

Masquara 6:34 pm 09 Aug 13

Gee Gungahlin Al, your analytical skills are wanting. Antony Green himself has admitted that the bias compensation possibilities are very limited.

Of course an Australia-wide poll restricted to ABC online users is going to be identical to the affluent, leftie ACT vote! Nooooooo joy for Gungahlin Al here, sorry!!!!

Looks like the Compass site might be right off track as far as reflecting any sort of mainstream voting intentions and attitudes.

Oh, and it was designed for a system where the voting is non-compulsory. Australia’s utterly non-motivated voting segment – which is considerable – means that all of Compass’s machinations would have needed a comprehensive re-setting. Something the people running that particular show have never mentioned in any of their interviews, even those which have gone into some detail about their processes …

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