For Whom the Exit Polls

By Mike Welsh

Politicians live and die by polls. Kevin Rudd’s pet pastime, apart from being a mealy-mouthed, phoney, backstabbing bastard, was polling and apparently it consistently confirmed his long-held belief in his own awesomeness and God-given right to rule.

With perpetual polls inevitably come bad polls, although these are quickly dismissed by using the galling refrain … “there’s only one poll that matters and that’s on election day.”

A new riddle has arisen in the wake of the UK election result.

Which poll is the one that “matters” now?

The one in which the voter has just participated, or the one in which a voter, who has already done their duty, is pestered to contribute to once they exit the polling booth.

The answer is both. Now if only the “expert” pollsters with their “state of the art” research tools and “exhaustive” tracking methods (HD widescreen dartboards) could produce a number somewhere in the neighbourhood of the real result.

The hung parliament prediction in the UK, even factoring in the pollsters’ “margin of error” cop out clause still represents one big fat-arsed elephant of a discrepancy in the tally room.

Pollies are spot-on about the “only poll which matters”. Both the real and exit polls are accurate for obvious reasons, but the latter proves that people aren’t prepared to reveal before they vote how they intend to vote. Yet political parties continue to live and die by polling using mostly taxpayers’ money.

The irony may be that political polls, apart from those taken on the way out of polling booths, are on the way out. Even exit polls are of little use other than to fast track results and give the Kerry O’Briens and Antony Greens something more substantial than TCTC (too close to call) to dribble about until the real result is known.

So  what of the future of political pollsters?

Has the UK result exposed them as tea leaf readers?

Without any “margin of error” the UK electorate shouted loud and clear. My vote is my business.

Politicians should get back to the electorate and “sniff” the mood for themselves. Get back into the factories and pubs and malls, minus the hard hats, fluoro pinnies and accompanying crew of media, and take a whiff of the real world.

According to a recent poll nine out of ten people participating in political polls reveal the polar opposite of how they intend to vote.

Though factor in a margin of error in on this just to be on the safe side.

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