The bell tolls for opinion polls?

A lot was happening in the dying days of the 20th century, so the world could be forgiven for not taking much notice of an Australian state election. But if they had, they might have noticed the first rumblings of a phenomenon that is more and more troubling the great and good.

In 1999, all polls agreed that premier Jeff Kennett would romp back in for a third term. In a result that shocked pollsters, Kennett was swept out of government. Since then, there have been repeated failures of opinion polls, most notably Donald Trump’s landslide election – when all opinion polls had agreed that Hillary Clinton was absolutely assured of victory.

Scott Morrison’s stunning victory has finally made it obvious: Opinion polling is busted. quote.

It was predicted to be the federal election Labor simply couldn’t lose, but after last night’s surprise Coalition win, the opinion poll may struggle to stand the test of time.

Nearly all polls predicted Bill Shorten would have an easy win with a 51:49 lead over Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a two-party preferred basis.

In fact, for two years the polls had picked the Opposition to take government.

Instead it was a shock loss for Labor. end quote.

It appears that opinion polling is failing the test of time. With fewer people using landlines, the days of the dinnertime call from pollsters has passed. quote.

“The reason that it’s hard to do good telephone polling is because the old White Pages — the phone book — doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

“Not everybody has a landline and the numbers that are published are incomplete”…

ABC election analyst Antony Green agreed the sampling used to be much more reliable. end quote.

Is there a way forward for opinion polling? quote.

Data mining expert from Griffith University Professor Bela Stantic, who predicted Donald Trump’s election to US presidency and Brexit, uses his own methods to gauge opinion.

“I am able to assess the opinions of people through their social media … other polling has a much smaller sample”…Professor Stantic analysed 2 million social media comments relating to key terms and predicted Labor would not pick up the key seats needed. end quote.

Yet this approach may also have a use-by date looming over it. As Silicon Valley plutocrats increasingly strangle almost any content which deviates from the stifling orthodoxy of the globalist elite, social media is fast become a leftist monoculture. Opinion polling sampling a leftist echo chamber will surely have a detrimental effect on politics.

Far from being just a sideshow to the election, this may well have huge future ramifications for the business of politics. For decades, political strategists have lived by opinion polling. Politics has been all but dictated by polling, in what critics have called “government by opinion poll”. Opinion polling played no small part in Australia’s past decade of instability, which has seen six prime ministers come and go. A single bad opinion poll was the catalyst for Julia Gillard’s deposing of Kevin Rudd. Malcolm Turnbull cited 30 lost Newspolls in a row as his rationale for knifing Tony Abbott – thereby setting a ticking time bomb on his own leadership. quote.

Until then, Antony Green believes there could be fewer polls in future elections.

“We saw a lot fewer polls in this election campaign than previous campaigns because media outlets don’t have the money they used to,” he said.

“Perhaps we will see a change in how many polls are done in the future … but it’s always up to people whether they trust them or not.” end quote.

Perhaps the death of opinion polls might be a positive. Donald Trump’s blockbuster rallies are in many ways a return to old-fashioned stump politics. Leaders with bold agendas will be able to cut through without having to constantly look over their shoulders. Politicians should be answerable to their constituents, not faceless “strategists”.

After all, in the end, there’s only one poll that matters.