November 15, 2017

Bogus poll headlines justified

The Australian postal survey on marriage equality was a terrible idea.

It was a terrible idea because that sort of thing shouldn’t be a simple majority decision.

It was a terrible idea because it wasn’t even a vote, just a survey.

It was a terrible idea because it wasn’t even a good survey, just a bogus poll.

As I repeatedly say, bogus polls don’t tell you anything much about people who didn’t vote, and so they aren’t useful unless the number voting one particular way is a notable proportion of the whole eligible population. In the end, it was.

A hair under 50% of eligible voters said ‘Yes’, just over 30% said ‘No’, and about 20% didn’t respond.

And, in what was not at all a pre-specified hypothesis, Tony Abbott’s electoral division of Warringah had an 84% participation rate and 75% ‘Yes’, giving 63% of all eligible voters indicating ‘yes’.

 

PS: Yay!

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Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »

Comments

  • avatar
    Steve Curtis

    It really wasnt a survey, they only called it that and had the Bureau of Statistics run it because legislation to run a ordinary referendum by the Australian Electoral Commission couldnt pass the Senate. Oh and call ‘that’ a plebiscite because the word referendum has a special meaning in the constitution. The same constitution which rules out dual citizens being Federal Mps or Senators and now has ruled a replacement Senator ineligible to take the place of a dual citizen as ….. it doesnt matter , your head will explode if you think about.

    4 days ago Reply

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