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Political surveys

By Deref - 2 October 2012 8

I just had a call from a phone survey mob about the upcoming local elections. Judging by the questions, it was fairly obvious that it was sponsored by the Liberal Party. That’s ok – I have no problem with that.

What pisses me off about these surveys, though, is that they’re useless. Only very rarely, and on very few topics, can you honestly answer yes or no to the sorts of questions they ask. For example, they said “If you only had a choice between Liberal or Labor, who do you think would make the most visionary Chief Minister for the ACT – Katie or Zed?” Neither “visionary? You’ve got to be kidding!”, nor maniacal laughter were options.

My answers will aggregate as strong support for Labor. But that’s crap; the chances of my voting for Labor are only marginally better than my voting for the Liberals.

Whoever designs these surveys is either selling that parties snake oil or, if they’re designed by the parties who sponsor them, is monumentally incompetent. Probably both.

So it was a waste of my time and theirs.

I should, of course, know better than to participate in these things but I nurture a child-like hope that the next one will be designed by someone competent. I am, of course, always disappointed.

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8 Responses to
Political surveys
LSWCHP 10:00 am 03 Oct 12

I received one of these surveys last night. Interestingly the bloke on the other end was in Perth.

Anyway, one of the questions was whether I’d prefer Katy or Zed as Chief Minister, and when I asked if I could answer “neither” he said that that was one of the possible responses, so that’s what I replied.

Personally, I didn’t feel the slightest bit manipulated, and my views weren’t changed in the slightest by the experience. YMMV.

Overheard 9:41 am 03 Oct 12

A media survey group once asked me on the phone if they thought Channel [rhymes with WIN] cares for the Canberra community.

When I finally stopped laughing, I replied that their main concern is to deliver eyeballs and wallets to their advertisers and if there was anything left over after that, who knew? Care, maybe if strategem #1 was met.

The umbrage with which that response was taken by the surveyor suggested there was just a little more than vested interests at stake there.

I made this point (which you can find on page six of Communications 101) quite benignly earlier this year and it got me ultimately de-friended by two Farcebook contacts. So not all was a loss!

Deref 9:32 am 03 Oct 12

Grail said :

Don’t worry, you aren’t being asked your opinion, you are being told. The best part about these tricks is that they work even when people know that they are being manipulated.

You could well be right. In that case the designers are even more incompetent than I gave them credit for.

rescuedg 9:15 am 03 Oct 12

I got asked by Roy Morgan “Do you think religion should be taught in schools” as the first question in one of their surveys. I asked for clarification, “Do you mean children should learn about religions – comparative religious studies and the history etc of religion or alternatively taught to believe a particular religion, as they are completely different questions?” The lady said “I don’t know, so i’ll put you down as a no”.

p1 8:52 am 03 Oct 12

Grail said :

Some surveys aren’t designed to gather information so much as to shape your opinion. For example, asking about Labor vs Liberal is intended to shape your thinking into believing that there are only two parties to consider. Other questions are of the style of legal barrage, where asking “do you remember how ,ich glass was on the road after the two cars smashed into each other?” can trick people into believing they saw more glass than asking, “do you recall if there was any glass on the road after the incident?”

These are well known tricks. Don’t worry, you aren’t being asked your opinion, you are being told. The best part about these tricks is that they work even when people know that they are being manipulated.

Mr Grail, can you tell us when you stopped beating your wife?

martin75 11:17 pm 02 Oct 12

Has anyone seen the Bullet Train for Canberra facebook WIN an iPAD comp?

They have 5 loaded questions for the viewer to answer and to go in the running to WIN an iPAD.
https://www.facebook.com/BulletTrainforCanberra/app_534921699857220

Here’s two of the questions

Where would you like the bullet train station to be:
A) Civic, B) Airport, C) Kingston, D) Gungahlin E) Chisholm Tavern

A Bullet Train for Canberra will be the most important national infrastructure investment since:
A) Snowy Hydro, B) Sydney Harbour Bridge, C) NBN, D) The Tuggeranong Parkway

Chisholm Tavern is certainly a visionary idea!

Grail 5:27 pm 02 Oct 12

Some surveys aren’t designed to gather information so much as to shape your opinion. For example, asking about Labor vs Liberal is intended to shape your thinking into believing that there are only two parties to consider. Other questions are of the style of legal barrage, where asking “do you remember how ,ich glass was on the road after the two cars smashed into each other?” can trick people into believing they saw more glass than asking, “do you recall if there was any glass on the road after the incident?”

These are well known tricks. Don’t worry, you aren’t being asked your opinion, you are being told. The best part about these tricks is that they work even when people know that they are being manipulated.

Truthiness 4:30 pm 02 Oct 12

It was never for your benefit, nor to uncover the truth. These surveys are used to generate meaningless statistics for the candidates to sling at each other.

“The “independent” survey we commissioned says 82% of Canberrans hate our opponent’s stinky face, while only 3% disagreed with all our policies.”

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