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Pollsters in developed countries

In light of the election results, NACTA head Vishnu Bisram said

“I feel vindicated that the results have borne out what the NACTA poll predicted.”

As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  Yes, they got the numbers right (if you stand on one leg, cock your head, and squint you can just about see the match) but no, the results didn’t vindicate them.  But it’s the second part of Bisram’s statement that I find interesting.

Noting that one political party ran advertisements questioning his integrity as a pollster, the New York based teacher and political analyst said such an approach would never have happened in a developed country.

I live in a developed society and in the United States of America, politicians do not attack pollsters,” he said, in a telephone interview. [Emphasis added]

Over the last few years of watching elections in the US, I have been spoiled by a wealth of data.  There are entire websites dedicated to the analysis of polling data (e.g., TPM Election Central).  Pollsters in developed countries?  Yep, I’m familiar with the breed.  You can go to their websites and download their poll results.  For a few dollars extra, you can get access to their raw data.  For the most part, there’s transparency.  Sure, you still have to trust their actual data collection.  But you can always double-check their results.  But it appears that NACTA doesn’t even have a web site.

To begin with, politicians in “developed countries” do attack  push polling and similar attempts by pollsters to manipulate the electorate.  If the links between Bisram and Ramesh Maharaj are true, then attacks on NACTA are fair game.  If they aren’t, then it’s fair to criticise a polling organisation that got things so badly wrong.

If NACTA really wanted “vindication” they could release their raw data.  I think a polling outfit in a “developed country” would have done so.


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