Advancements of survey design in election polls and surveys #ESRA15 #MRX 


Live blogged from #ESRA15 in Reykjavik. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

I decided to take the plunge and choose a session in a different building this time. The bravery isn’t much to be noted as I’ve realized that the campus and buildings and rooms at the University of Iceland are far tinier than what I am used to. Where I’d expect neighboring buildings to be a ten minute walk from one end to the other, here it is a 30 second walk. It must be fabulous to attend this university where everything and everyone is so close!

I’m quite loving the facilities. For the most part, the chairs are comfortable. Where it looks like you just have a chair, there is usually a table hiding in the seat in front of you. There is instantly connecting and always on wifi no matter which building you’re in. There are computers in the hallways, and multiple plugs at all the very comfy public seating areas. They make it very easy to be a student here! Perhaps I need another degree?


Designing effective likely voter models in pre-election surveys

  • voter and intention and turnout can be extremely different. 80% say they will vote but 10% to 50% is often the number that actually votes
  • democratic vote share is often over represented [social desirability?]
  • education has a lot of error – 5% error rate, worst demographic variable
  • what voter model reduces these inaccuracies
  • behavioural models (intent do vote, have you voted, dichotomous variables) and resource based models (
  • vote intention does predict turnout – 86% are accurate, also reduces demographic errors
  • there’s not a lot of room to improve except when the polls look really close
  • Gallup tested a two item measure of voting intention – how much have you thought about this election, how likely are you to vote
  • 2 item scale performed far better than the 7 item scale, error rate of 4% vs 1.4%
  • [just shown a histogram with four bars. all four bars look essentially the same. zero attempt to create a non-existent different. THAT’S how you use a chart🙂 ]
  • gallup approach didnt work well, probability approach performed better
  • best measure of voting intention = Thought about election + likelikhood of voting  + education + voted before + strength of partisan identify

polls on national independence: the scottish case in a comparative perspective

  • [Claire Durand from the University of Montreal speaks now. Go Canada!🙂 ]
  • what happened in quebec in 1995? referendum on independence
  • quebec and scotland are nationalist in a british type system, proportion of nonnationals is similar
  • referenda are 50% + 1 wins
  • but polls have many errors, is there an ant-incumbent effect
  • “no” is always underestimated – whatever the no is
  • are referenda on national independence different – ethnic divide, feeling of exclusion, emotional debate, ideological divide
  • No side has to bring together enemies and don’t have a unified strategy
  • how do you assign non-disclosure?
  • don’t know doesn’t always mean don’t know
  • don’t distrbute non-disclosures proportionally, they aren’t random
  • asking how people woud vote TODAY resulted in 5 points less nondisclosure
  • corrections need to be applied after the referendum as well
  • people may agree with the general demans of the national parties but not with the solution they propose. maintaining the threat allows them to maintain pressure for change.
  • the quebec newspapers reported the raw data plus the proportional response so people could judge for themself

how good are surveys at measuring past electora behaviour? lessions from an experiment in a french online panel study

  • study bias in individual vote recall
  • sample size of 6000
  • overreporting of popular party, underreporting of less popular party
  • 30% of voter recall was inconsistent
  • inconsistent respondents change their recall, changed parties, memory problems, concealing problems, said they didn’t vote, said you vote and then said you didn’t or vice versa
  • could be any number of interviewer issues
  • older people found it more difficult to remember but perhaps they have more voter loyalty
  • when avalable, use  ]vote reall from preelection survey
  • use vote reall from post election underestimates voter transfers
  • caution in using vote recall to weight samples

methodological issues in measuring vote recall – an analysis of the individual consistency of vote recall in two election longitudinal surveys

  • popularity = weighted average % of electorate represented
  • universality = weighted frequency of representing a majority
  • used four versions of non/weighting including google hits
  • measured 38 questions related to political issues
  • voters are driven by political traditional even if outdated, or by personal images of politicians not based on party manifestors
  • voters are irrational, political landscape has shifted even though people see the parties the same way they were decades ago
  • coalition formation aggravate the situation even more
  • discrepancy between the electorate and the government elected
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