August polls show stability. But what does that mean?

Polling numbers for August are in:

This month we’ve got polling results from two sources: the monthly UVVM and, for a change, MVK, which only occasionally publishes results during non-campaign periods.  The UVVM shows almost no change from last month (which is normal); the MVK is fairly consistent with UVVM, showing somewhat lower support for Smer, SNS, HZDS and KDH and somewhat higher support for SDKU and SMK.  In this it bears somewhat more resemblance to past results from FOCUS, but unfortunately we don’t (yet) have FOCUS results for this month (and we may not since FOCUS often takes August off).

The overall picture is simple.  A traffic jam of 5 parties around the 10% mark with Smer cruising high above.  This is no different from last month.

The lack of change may be significant. It is, of course, important not to read too much into fluctuations (or absence thereof) from monthly polls (in the last year SMK’s support has fluctuated between 9% and nearly 12% despite an essentially fixed voting population).  The absence of a much change in August, however, is noteworthy since the leading government party, Smer, faced its first clear scandal during this period in the form of an employment ministry subsidy to a firm that formerly employed the current minister herself, despite the firm’s arrears in other payments to the social insurance system.  While not the kind of thing that brings down governments, the media coverage of the issue raised the coverage of clientelism–even Fico used the word in his denial.  Timing is important here, since news of the scandal emerged on August 4, near the end of MVK’s polling period, but at the middle of UVVM’s.  It may be that this kind of news actually takes a few days of accusation-trading to develop some legs and to affect the marginal voters, but it’s still interesting that even then the effect on Smer was 0.2 percentage points (though of course there could have been a greater drop that was disguised by a coincidental survey error in a positive direction).  Is the absence of a cliff-hanger itself a form of cliff-hanger?  Tune in in September.

Social Networking and Citizenship (Part 1 of … many)

Preliminary research at MSU by Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe  ( suggests Facebook works in Granovetter’s realm of weak ties.  This is good news for social capital (though the concept itself undergoing major reconceptualization).  The question is whether this can amount to something other than mere capital accumulation by the already-well-resourced.

Geography, belonging and GIS

I am not enthusiastic about the day-to-day gameplay of most sports but I am fascinated by the economics and sociology of sport and so I was delighted to see a blog that I like–strange maps ( post the following picture of what is apparently a Nike
store display map.



Without getting too serious about this or attempting to dispute actual boundaries (for that, see the strangemaps blog discussion) I find the map interesting for a few reasons:

  • Geographic Data Gathering: It is interesting to compare the ways in which this map resembles–and differs from–the wonderful attempt by Michael Baldwin to use individual level data to make similar maps in his CommonCensus Sports Project.  It’s also interesting to see how it compares with the MLB Blackout map on the GIS Pilot Blog (which is itself worth a visit).  What is unclear is the source from which Nike and MLB derive their data (I haven’t done a point for point comparison).  CommonCensus certainly has found an innovative and low-cost method for gaining the info (and there are probably better-funded successors out there of which I am not aware).   Nice to see that one guy with a website can single-handedly (with the help of a lot of interested people) produce such a wealth of information.  As long as the net continues to function this seems the way we’re all heading.
  • Affiliation and Loyalty in Virtual Networks: It occurs to me that sports fan communities share a lot of the characteristics of more recent virtual networks, particularly from the perspective of membership.  As in Second Life or Facebook, sports fandom (or any other fandom) is easy to join, episodic and, usually (except perhaps for playoff races and big games) allows for low-intensity participation and ease of exit.  I haven’t thought enough about this, but it seems that being part of one of the virtual networks is a lot like going to a ball game or going to a bar to watch a game.  There may be some close friendship networks (going to the game or bar with a few close friends) but for the most part the interactions are fairly anonymous and place relatively low demands on the participant without a lot of reciprocal obligation.   I’m sure somebody out there has done great work on sports fandom and citizenship, and it would be great to see if any of that work translates across to electronic networks.

My typing here, however, is getting ahead of my thinking.  And at a certain level I post this here just because I like the maps (and because I like seeing three similar maps each probably derived from different data sources).