News and New Resources on Public Opinion in Slovakia

Because of formatting problems with certain versions of Internet Explorer , this page is now available as a .pdf file: 2009_12_30 Pozorblog Public Opinion.

I should begin with apologies for such a long hiatus and also with hearty congratuations to Monika Tódová of SME for writing one of the best articles on the process of public opinion polling in Slovakia: Prieskumy môžu politikov miast. It’s not very long but it finally addresses the problem of dueling headlines–“SaS/Most-Hid poised for success” v. “SaS/Most-Hid has no chance” (often in the same newspaper in the same week) and asks “How is it possible?” The answer lies in the ways that various pollsters survey the public, and it turns out (perhaps I should have known this) that FOCUS and MVK (and previously UVVM) offer a list of parties to choose from whereas Median gives no list. The latter method, of course, will tend to benefit those parties that are best known, while the former can give a boost to parties that are little known (and the process by which firms choose to add parties to their formal lists is fraught with difficulty.

The question now, is whether Todova’s article means a change in approach. Her article is the first instance I can remember outside of election campaigns when an article juxtaposes results from multiple pollsters. I can only hope that this will be the beginning of a trend even if (especially because) it might put this blog out of business. But I’m fairly secure that the time and space constraints of Slovakia’s papers will not let that happen and so there will be room for a blog obsessed with the minutiae of public opinion in Slovakia.

But just so that this blog does not immediately become obsolete, I want to share a new method I’m working on for displaying public opinion results. This is not quite ready for prime time, but using the Timeplot application developed as part of the astounding SIMILE project at MIT, it is possible to create dynamic charts that are fully modifiable and easily updated on the basis of simple text files. Of course that meant that I had to clean up my database, but now that that’s done, I should be able to present updated public opinion results with a minimum of effort (that’s the theory) and can even, theoretically, create a dashboard page on the blog itself for those who want to look at the numbers rather than read my analysis.

Below are examples of what is possible. I’m preparing a year end summary, so you’ll see these graphs again soon with some analysis attached.