Society confused without accurate polls
Pollsters face hard times as surveys often fall wide of the mark. Parliamentary candidates distort the figures. People have lost the sense of gauging the consensus view.
The growing public skepticism over poll results originates from technological advancements. Before the mobile phone era, it was relatively easy to gauge opinion through fixed-line phones. Surveys have yet to come out with a formula to conduct a scientific poll through both fixed-line and mobile phones.
These days, many people have only mobile phones. This triggers coverage bias as sampling becomes difficult. The use of limited samples could distort the outcome.
The automated response system (ARS) has made polling more questionable as respondents answer falsely, including disguising their gender, age and job.
Lee Jung-hee, co-leader of the minor opposition United Progressive Party, resigned Friday as a parliamentary candidate as her campaigners encouraged supporters to lie about their age when they received calls from polling stations to raise the possibility of their participation in the surveys.
The opposition parties made several blunders in their maiden attempt of picking district candidates through telephone surveys. A few candidates bought mobile phone subscribers to win selection.
Candidates manipulated call-forwarding services in an apparent attempt to help supporters receive calls, from either fixed-line or mobile phones, from pollsters. This service could fundamentally alter the results.
Making the survey results doubtful is insincerity of those polled. This response bias occurs when respondents do not disclose their true beliefs.
Many surveyed purportedly do not want to reveal their favored candidate or party. Sometimes children receive the calls and answer as if they were adults.
Many people do not want to receive calls from strangers or refuse to take part in surveys. This non-response bias has become more pronounced than before as the majority of people at home are senior citizens and housewives.
Pollsters often change the wording and the order of questions in order to induce favorable answers. Tempering the form and the number of alternative answers also distorts the results.
Under the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration, liberals are reluctant to disclose their true intentions in opinion polls. Under liberal governments, conservatives tended to hide their true sentiments.
Pollsters have difficulty in maintaining professionalism of those conducting the surveys as they hire cheap, unprofessional part-timers. They often reduce samples to save money. This can also make the findings misleading.
Poll results must be accurate. Surveys on specific issues should represent the opinions of a population for extrapolation. False poll results could mislead policymakers.
Polling organizations should adopt new methodologies, including anti-fraud tools, to upgrade accuracy. Pollsters alone are not to blame. Election managers must devise ways to preclude rigging surveys. People need to disclose their true intentions to pollsters. People become the ultimate victims as inaccurate opinion polls destabilize society.