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Take polls with a pinch of salt but don’t ignore them

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Opinion polls are like popcorn; nothing really too substantial or nutritious in there, but you can’t help devouring them. There are times when opinion polls are very accurate. That tends to be very close to an election when people have plumped for their choice and don’t mind telling you how they are voting.

Conversely, mid-term polls can be well wide of the mark, because voters aren’t thinking too deeply about politics when there’s no trip to the polling booth on the horizon.

It’s not that they are completely inaccurate; any Irish poll will tell you that the three big parties are Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They’ll also tell you that the rest of the parties are much smaller, with few of them struggling to top five per cent of support.

It is – as they say – a snapshot in time.

Polling is more scientific now than it was when Gallup first invented the method over a century ago. In the early days, surveys were all done face-to-face – and it was such a novelty that people were thrilled to be asked a really long list of questions about themselves, their families, their work and their voting intentions.

The gloss faded over the years. The face-to-face poll is still there but there are so many other methods now too – by telephone, by smart phone and online.

The difficulty is that each method has its drawbacks. Older people tend not to have up-to-date technology and so are not always fully captured in polls using smartphones, or that are conducted online.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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