NEWS16 September 2011

Ipsos pollsters rap journalists for publishing ‘dodgy’ polls

North America

CANADA— The two men at the helm of Ipsos Reid’s political polling work have called on journalists to stop publishing misleading polls in the build up to the Ontario provincial election.

Managing partner John Wright and Darrel Bricker (pictured), the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, said they had seen a “disturbing trend” where questionable polls have been published “because they match an editorial line, or present a counter-intuitive perspective”.

The duo said that this practice, along with some pollsters’ “hunger to make the news”, were producing widely different predictions and painting a muddled picture of the potential election outcome.

“All of this must stop,” Wright and Bricker wrote in an open letter to journalists. “We are distorting our democracy, confusing voters and destroying what should be a source of truth in election campaigns – the unbiased, truly scientific public opinion poll.”

The pair said that the country needs “better, more informed reporting” and listed six rules that journalists should follow in order to prevent confusion spreading:

  • beware of “robo-calling” polls
  • ask to see the weighting for online polls
  • do not publish polls that look “dodgy”
  • place a moratorium on new techniques until they have been tested against established methodology
  • be sure to report the poll question as it was asked
  • spend time with pollsters

Wright and Bricker said: “These six rules require journalists to do two things – kick the tyres before publishing a poll, and make it harder for bad or misleading polls to get published. That’s the way it’s done in jurisdictions that take polling seriously. It’s sad that this isn’t the case in Ontario today.”


1 Comment

13 years ago

I can't disagree more with your view that somehow a quality poll splashed over the media is somehow a good thing. Polls are the single most destructive force in the functioning of a democracy where politicians should have convictions, rather than scientifically manufactured rhetoric. Anything to stop polls creating the politics is a blessing, and if that means warped and misleading stats, so be it.

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