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Old 2012-09-14, 01:38 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
Lieutenant General
Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns?

This is an actuality topic in our country currently after the elections of last wednesday. But in general, it's a bit of a moral question. I'll first detail the events that sparked the debate in the quote below. You can skip the quote if you want though.

Prior to the dutch elections of 12 september this year, every day new polls were conducted to see if anything changed on a day to day basis. The media initially turned it into a contest of who was going to be prime minister: either Roemer, leader of the SP (Socialist Party) or Rutte, current prime minister and leader of the VVD (Liberals).

The result was a surge in polling popularity of both, each good for around 30-36 seats each in the polls (SP had 15, VVD 31).

Due to this, both Roemer and Rutte entered the campaign relatively late, while most of the other, semi-large and mediocre parties already started their campaigns. One of the first debates was won by Samson, the leader of the Labour Party (PvdA). Meanwhile, Roemer lost a lot of credit internationally due to euroskeptic remarks. Samson then got hailed as the actual next contester of Rutte by the media after he rose 4 seats in polls at the cost of Roemer. From then on, polls indicated that Roemer lost seats on a daily basis and at the end of the elections, the neck-on-neck race between Roemer and Rutte, ended in a neck-on-neck race between Samson and Rutte.

After the elections, with 20 parties participating, SP stayed at 15 seats, VVD surged to 41 and PvdA rose to 38. Most of the mediocre other parties (most around 10-25 seats) lost tremendously: CDA and PVV lost around 8 seats each, the Greens lost 6 and the D66 won 2 seats. Some minor parties stayed or debuted at either 2 or 3 seats, several parties got no votes as expected. The smaller parties got next to no screentime, certainly not in any major debates. Hell, some of the largest mediocre parties wern't represented at all times! A phenomenon you're probably well-known with. However, it's kinda new for us that media create debates with the pretense of showcasing just the potential prime minister's, rather than any fraction leader. With the idea that determining that what the elections are about. If you repeat it often enough, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, not?

As such, the media bias and need for an "spectacular vote race" and the overdose of polls together pretty much determined the course of the elections and caused a lot of strategic voting to occur (to make one party the largest in order to not have the other be the largest). That would otherwise never have happened en mass, because it's tradition people vote for the party they actually are in tune with, rather than against a party they dislike. Usualy we're looking at three parties being required for a majority.

The funny thing of course, DUE to this strategic voting, these two large, but very polarised parties (socialists and liberals) now have to form a coalition. Think of your most left wing Dems and moderate Reps having to work together because there's no other really viable options, unless you're looking at coalitions of 5 to 6 parties.

Probably they will need a third and maybe even a fourth party though: though they have enough seats in parliament with just the VVD and PvdA to form a majority, they don't have enough seats in the senate.

After the elections and the smoke cleared, the media were caught by surprise by how the polls had instigated exagerated strategic voting. They admitted their guilt in steering the elections a bit too much by focusing too hard on just two "arbitrary" candidates. So the question is, should polling be banned a few weeks right before the elections to let people not be driven by fear emotions ("I like that guy less, so will vote against him"), but by personal preference ("I like that guy best, so will vote for him")?

If it is banned for polling agencies to conduct polls during elections, this could be seen as a form of censoring and violating the free news acquisition rights of the media. Atm, the only one pushing for it is Roemer, since he suffered most of it, even though they did not lose an actual seat, they did lose 21 virtual polling seats, making him appear as the main loser of this campaign. In reality they did equally well as last year. Funny how things go.

However, not banning could be seen as allowing to steer voting behaviour by the media. Especially if poorly executed polls can be used (this has been the case on at least one occassion when just 17 internet voters determined who won a minor tv-debate, but it was presented as a general opinion). In that sense, not banning could be an infringement on the self-determination of voters because they'd feel pressured to act to prevent a poll from becoming reality.

Another thing would be screen time. Should screentime be completely fairly distributed among parties? Even if there are 20 parties and even in the most optimistic polls they wouldn't get any votes? Is it fair to focus on just the largest four at the time based on a somewhat random poll?

Personally, I'd say it's fine if they poll, though IMO they should just wait with publishing the results of the entire or at least the climax of the campaign till after the elections and only use it for research purposes, not for the sake of pretending there's news. That is the fairest way for all politicians to make their case. Of course that's not fun for the media, but it's IMO not their job to tell people how others are voting or what the strategic consequence of their vote would be (read: might be, too often presented as "likely fact"). Their point is to critique and check politicians and make sure the populace is informed enough of a political party's stance to pass judgment.
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Old 2012-09-14, 05:10 PM   [Ignore Me] #2
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Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

Just polling?

EDIT: let me amend this to say...fair polling. As has been shown in US political polls...they will say...Obama up by 5% then when you look at who they polled it will be something like...45% Democrats, 30% Republicans, 25% undecided. But they wont report that part, you have to go dig it out yourself.


Political commentary by the news media that is lopsided....yep. It's how we got obama. There used to be a video on youtube...which magically disapppeared which had a pollster interviewing people after they voted. he was asking questions like....Are you for or against X. And lastly who they voted for. Many of them were for McCain's stance on X, but voted for Obama. They also attributed Tina Fey's remarks as actual quotes of Sarah Palin, the whole...I can see russia from my house. Which isnt what she said, she said you can see Russia from parts of Alaska..which is a fact.

There was also studies done that showed news agencies were running as much a 3 to 1 positive stories about Obama and negative stories about McCain. The Media is supposed to be unbiased, but it has been proven over and over that they are not.

Last edited by ziegler; 2012-09-14 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 2012-09-14, 08:22 PM   [Ignore Me] #3
Lieutenant General
Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

McCain and Palin made a mess of their own election. Palin in particular simply isn't smart enough. You can't go 2 to 2 positive if your competition simply is brighter. And regardless of how you want to frame it, the dems were significantly brighter. It's like expecting Bachmann to make sense for more than half a minute and then only expecting that half minute to ever make the news.

The Tina Fey quote isn't the one we found so damaging in Europe (funny though), it's that you talk about Russia being a neighbour (fine!), but then going on to say it is her personal "foreign experience", even if she never personally dealt with Russia on any matter. That's just a lie and nothing more. Similarly, bringing up a "trip to ireland" (a refueling stopover in Shannon airport for aircraft flying between the US and the middle east). Then that just invites ridicule, had she just limited it to her destination, ok. No, she went to say she had "international experience", where one indicates foreign diplomacy experience or at least knowledge of the outside world. And she did that sort of thing all the time. She was an incredibly incompetent runner up and she just made one booboo after the next. McCain with a different runner-up could have made a difference then, but a big maybe.

But if you look at your other GOP candidates, the ones being unfair are not the media, it's themselves:

Anyway. Polls. I certainly agree with you that polls are constantly being manipulated and abused, particularly by people with an agenda and unfortunately, most media and journalists can't see their job loose from their personal opinion.
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Old 2012-09-18, 10:22 AM   [Ignore Me] #4
Master Sergeant
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Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

you tend not to get so much lopsided bias in EU.

And I am no fan of Palin. What alot of people dont know, and I heard this with my own ears between Hannity and...I want to say Karl Rove or some other pundit of similiar standing. It was on Hannity's radio show and unscripited, but basically the guy got in Hannity's ass because the conservative talk show hosts recommended Palin and the guy said, you wanted her, and you and your fellows in the conservative talk shows pushed for her to be selected when McCain called you guys asking who it would take to get you all to support him.

Hannity quickly shut the fuck up and went to commercial. Its one of the reason I usually dont listen to him or any of the other big time radio talk show peeps. I only caught his show because the new vehicle I had purchased at the time came with a free year of sirius radio.

And McCain was leading in the polls until the market crash. That is what launched Obama into the lead and he did NOT win by that big of a majority either. I think it was like 65 mill to 55mill or there about by popular vote.
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Old 2012-09-19, 09:06 PM   [Ignore Me] #5
First Sergeant
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Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

I'd do away with the whole need for a coalition system. Let the plurality rule, I say.
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Old 2012-09-20, 03:53 AM   [Ignore Me] #6
Lieutenant General
Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

You can't elect that many individuals. That is an impossible task.

Coalitions ensure plurality, it ensures the majority of people with different opinions is represented and often let's mini groups sway a vote one way or the other. Having no parties would make it impossible to create consistent long term policy. We are not the Roman Empire where only the elite got to be in the senate for life and nepotism.

Referenda can't work either: one cannot be informed on all topics without it being a day job, making uninformed decisions leads to complete and utter opportunism and populism. Coalitions have a wide based support in society far beyond the minority rule of one and two party systems.
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Old 2012-09-20, 10:47 AM   [Ignore Me] #7
Lieutenant General
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Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

I think the media has too much influence period. They essentially get to pick and choose which candidates they give air time to. And their experts and analysts are given far too much weight and credence. Never mind the pundits.

The only medium even remotely accurate is the internet as a whole... and even then you still have to do a lot of your own legwork.

There is no one stop mainstream source that is balanced and unbiased.
Post at me bro.

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Old 2012-09-21, 02:41 PM   [Ignore Me] #8
First Lieutenant
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Re: Influence of continuous polls: should polling be banned during election campaigns

IMO campaigns should only last, at most, 1/12th of the term of office for which that politician is running. Though that doesn't even scratch the surface of the problems with the "representative democracy" that we have in America.

Last edited by Neurotoxin; 2012-09-21 at 02:43 PM.
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