Exit poll adjustments

I’m having a hard time listening to talking heads even on TA3 talking about exit poll numbers as if they are real, when they are often quite far off.  There’s no attempt to say, hey, these polls were off systematically last time.  Instead, there’s blather by otherwise smart people (see the bottom of this post).  What if we adjusted current results by what happened last time?

First MVK:


MVK Exit poll Seats Adjustment based on last time   adj. seats
smer 37.3 69 6.79 44.09 83
kdh 10.8 20 -1.38 9.42 18
olano 7.6 14 ? 7.6 14
sdku 7.5 14 -0.38 7.12 13
Most-Hid 6.8 13 -0.08 6.72 12
SaS 5.9 11 -0.26 5.64 10
SMK 5.1 9 -1.47 3.63 0


FOCUS Exit Poll Seats adjustment adj. share adj. seats
smer 39.6 75 5.1 44.7 80
kdh 9.9 19 -0.6 9.3 17
olano 8.8 16   8.8 16
sdku 8.1 15 -2.7 5.4 9
Most-Hid 6.3 12 1.4 7.7 14
SaS 7.1 13 0.5 7.6 14
SMK 4.4 0 -2.0 2.4 0
SNS 4.1 0 -1.0 3.1 0

So what to read from this?  Better chance than might be apparent how for a one-party Smer government (or a Smer-coalition with an expendible partner).

Recaption: "All election-night political commentary"


MVK Exit poll Seats Adjustment based on last time   adj. seats
smer 37.3 69 6.79 44.09 83
kdh 10.8 20 -1.38 9.42 18
olano 7.6 14 ? 7.6 14
sdku 7.5 14 -0.38 7.12 13
Most-Hid 6.8 13 -0.08 6.72 12
SaS 5.9 11 -0.26 5.64 10
SMK 5.1 9 -1.47 3.63 0

Next Exit Poll


New results show similar rank ordering, flipping SaS and Most-Hid:

Party % Seats Party % Seats
Smer 39.6 75 Smer 37.3 69
KDH 9.9 19 KDH 10.8 20
OL 8.8 16 OL 7.6 14
SDKU 8.1 15 SDKU 7.5 14
SaS 7.1 13 SaS 5.9 11
Most-Hid 6.3 12 Most-Hid 6.8 13
MK 4.4 0 MK 5.1 9
SNS 4.1 0 SNS    

Neither gives Smer a majority of deputies, but (as the next post will show) both polls last time underestimated Smer and overestimated others…

Exit polls

OK, exit polls out from MVK:

party % seats
smer 37.3 69
kdh 10.8 20
olano 7.6 14
sdku 7.5 14
Most-Hid 6.8 13
SaS 5.9 11
SMK 5.1 9

Here’s what happened with last election’s exit polls.  Not great predictive capability:

Prediction was   points Prediction was points
Smer too low by 5.1 too low by 6.8
KDH too high by 0.6 too high by 1.4
Most-Hid too low by 1.4 too high by 0.1
SDKU too high by 2.7 too high by 0.4
SNS too high by 1.0 too high by 0.6
MK too high by 2.0 too high by 1.5
SaS too low by 0.5 too high by 0.3

If this holds, it would suggest that SMK may not survive the night, but we shall see.  Does suggest that since last time SNS was overestimated, and it’s not showing up, that it may not make it this time.  Again, shall see.

Smer on TA3 prepared statement immediately played the ‘zlepenec’ card (and just did it again).  Clear left or fragmented right…

Back from the dead–better late than never?

So I need to ask Slovakia not to hold elections during my winter teaching term.  It is highly inconvenient.  Research and teaching have taken precedence over blog updates recently, but now it’s election day and I’m looking forward to doing some live-blogging this election night.  I’ll keep updating as the time permits. 

First, my own highly unscientific guesses about the results:

Turnout: 54%
Party Votes Seats
Smer 40.5 78
OL 4.5 0
SDKU 6.5 12
KDH 12 23
Most 8.5 16
SaS 6 11
SNS 5 10
SMK 4.5 0
99% 4 0

Next, a brief guide to exit polls.  Here’s what happened last time:

Type Source Average raw difference Average percent difference
Final Monthly Polls Polis 1.5 12%
MVK 1.8 22%
FOCUS 1.9 19%
ASA 2.0 21%
AVVM 2.2 22%
Presov 2.9 30%
Median 3.2 41%
Exit Polls MVK 1.4 12%


In other words, even the exit polls were off by an average of 1.4% or 12% per party. I’ll try to post the specifics about the exit polls from MVK and FOCUS in a short while

Finally, a few brief words about how to read the very early results:

Party Expectation at certain levels of counting
  Very early (200-500) Early (1000 polling stations)
Smer May be much too high Will drop by about 5%-7%
SDKU May be very low May rise by 10-15%
KDH May be a bit high Should stay approximately the same (2010) or fall slightly (2006)
Most-Hid May be very low should rise considerably 10% (2006 SMK) to 30% (2010 Most)
SNS No clear pattern Should stay the same (2006) or rise slightly by a about 5-6% (2010)
SMK May be very low should rise considerably 10% (2006 SMK) to 30% (2010 SMK)
SaS May be very low Should rise by about 5-7% (2010)
OLaNO No clear pattern May rise slightly? 2-5% (2010 based on SaS)
99% No Clear pattern SF rose in 2006, SDL fell in 2010, SaS rose in 2010

Just in time for Christmas

Slovakia’s first winter election creates all sorts of new possibilities. Several weeks ago the Slovak National Party tested the limits with a new billboard guaranteed to raise eyebrows:

The most surprising thing about this, however, is not its characterization of the EU stabilization (benefiting Greece, and Spain and Portugal and Italy) as the work of the devil.  That’s pretty normal for Slovakia’s politics (and particularly so for SNS).

Equally unsurprising, but rather more unsettling, is the depiction of a Santa wearing a political armband, and not just any red armband, but one that includes an eagle clutching a round symbol with clear straight lines set against a deep red background.

Slightly more surprising is the demon’s choice to wear fashion with designer labels not only by the current government parties SDKU, KDH and Most-Hid, but also SNS’s recent (and, from its perspective only potential future) coalition partner, Smer.  Of course Smer joined with the others in supporting the Euro stabilization, but this may be a sign that SNS will (like SaS on the other side) make strong use of the Euro question in its campaign.  The question is whether in trying to pull voters back from Smer, it also pushes Smer to the other side, though this may not be that big a risk since Smer has shown itself inclined to pick the weakest coalition partner, and it is hard to imagine that not being SNS (assuming it crosses the 5% threshold).

But the surprises don’t end there.  I had a nagging feeling about this that was confirmed by Martin Votruba of the University of Pittsburgh.  Martin writes:

The telling thing … is that SNS [despite its nativist approach] is dragging in an alienimage for Christmas, [using the traditional American icon of Santa Claus instead of the] traditional depiction of Jezisko (Baby Jesus) who brings presents.

[Furthermore,] images like the one on the SNS billboard were first imported from the Soviet Union as Dedo Mraz (Grandfather Frost) to replace Jezisko and imposed on people, with no success except in public St. Nicholas and Christmas events, and now by advertisers as Santa.

Many don’t care, of course, but there’s been a good deal of internet comments in the past on advertising that uses Santa Claus, in which people ridiculed ad statements like “Santa Claus will bring you…” [and noted that] that the manufacturers/advertisers clearly don’t have a clue that presents in Slovakia are brought by Jezisko.

This “alien” image brought in to represent the Slovak National Party is very much like when HZDS in its nationalist fervor put up billboards in the 1990s with images of “Slovakia” where the pastoral landscape in front of the the highly symbolic Tatras mountains turned out to be a stock picture of the Swiss countryside.

I am personally glad to see this usage by SNS as it helps to reinforce a point raised by a colleague of mine during Detroit’s Noel Night celebration as we passed an “Occupy Detroit” activist dressed in a Santa suit.  He noted the interesting juxtaposition between Santa’s apparently left-wing socio-economic ideology (giving stuff away for free) and his rather right-wing cultural predispositions: demanding to know who is naughty or nice, engaging in surveillance about whether children are awake or asleep.  This insight actually helps me solve a teaching problem that has been troubling me for a long time.  When I teach American politics (or indeed the politics of almost any country), I try to point out that political competition may be multi-dimensional, and that in many countries there is a disconnect between the economic and the cultural.  I often have students take online tests like, The Political Compass or Idealog which print out their results on 2-dimensional charts like this one.

One of the problems with this, however, is that of the empty quadrant: America’s two major political parties occupy the lower left and upper right, and students can see that the Libertarian party occupies the lower left, but who’s the opposite of the libertarian?  Who in the United States believes in widespread distribution of selective benefits while at the same time demanding strict adherence to cultural norms?  Pat Buchanan?  Maybe, sometimes.  The real answer, clearly, is Santa.

Postscript.  Santa’s hot these days.  If you don’t like the SNS ad or my own infographic, try this one.

Thank you, Vaclav Havel

I know no better way to mourn the death Vaclav Havel to remember the congratulations on his birth that friends snuck past censors back in 1989.  Then they wished him health and continued success.  Now I thank him for that success–success I not in his fame or political success but in his constant attempt to live honestly and responsibly, whether as prisoner or president–and I extend to him my vague hope that effort to live in truth somehow endures after death.

havel closeup1

“On the day 5 October 1989 Ferdinand Vanek of Maly Hrad celebrated his birthday.  Thanks to him for the hard work which he has done in in his life and continues to do, and his friends and co-workers wish him many more years of health and further success in his work.”

Thanks to my student Daniela Brabcova from Plzen who knew enough about Havel to spot this gem when it came out, kept a copy and shared it with me in the spring of 1991. More here: http://www.pozorblog.com/2009/10/it-was-twenty-years-ago-today-or-the-audacity-of-hoax-prequel/.

What little they have shall be taken away from them

While it has not always been easy to feel sorry for Vladimir Meciar’s Movement for a Democratic Society, this week’s FOCUS poll offers yet another way in which insult has added to injury.  I have waited for some time for the results of the October FOCUS poll and when it did not come out around the end of October, I guessed that the firm had waited for things to settle down rather than conduct a poll during the collapse of a government.  Yesterday’s early release of November numbers seemed to confirm that, but a look at the actual FOCUS press release reveals that they /did/ conduct an October poll and simply did not release it during the turmoil.  So now we have yet another set of numbers.  For the most part these are nothing interesting, falling roughly in between the numbers for September and those for November, but in one case they are quite different: in October 4.7% of respondents opted for Meciar’s HZDS.  Does this mean anything?    Probably not, since the month before it got 3% and the month after it got 2.5%.  But the only reason it was ignored is that we did not get the October numbers until after we got the November ones which showed October to be simply an irrelevant blip.

I take two things from this:

First, I have commented frequently on the tendency of the Slovak press (and to be fair, the press of any country) to treat polls as if they are a real, actual indicator of political attitude rather than simply a sample that must be understood in context of other samples.   The Slovak press ignores blips only if they are clearly just that, but without context we have a harder time knowing whether they are simply a blip.  With context, we can make a better judgement.  Had I in October received the news of a 4.7% score for HZDS, I would have looked at the numbers and said a) This is at least a full point out of line for HZDS for FOCUS polls and a reversal of the trendline and b) all of the other polls are mixed, showing either a small rise or none at all.  I hope I would then have said, “this is probably a blip” and then taken the easy way out by saying “time will tell.”  Had the Slovak press received this news in October, I would not have been surprised to read a headline saying “HZDS back in the game” (though to be fair the article might have contained somewhere below the fold a quotation from one of the usual suspects of Slovakia’s political commentary that said “this is probably just a blip but time will tell.”)

Second, I take from this a sign that HZDS simply cannot get a break these days:  after months of irrelevance its one (in-retrospect meaningless) piece of good news, a story that might have helped its chances at election (by persuading some people that it had a chance at election) gets wiped out by a change of government.  Alas.

Volby 2012: FOCUS poll actually does show what Slovak press says it does… but context matters more

According to press reports in SME and Pravda, the most recent FOCUS poll shows the party Smer-SD with a commanding lead and the capacity to gain a majority of seats in parliament.  And for once those press reports are correct.  This does not mean that Smer will win the majority, but this FOCUS poll is a fairly strong sign of the party’s raw level of support.

Three quick points:

  • First, this is the first time I have seen a convincing suggestion of the possibility of a one-party government for Smer, because here Smer manages to go above 75 even without have all other factors in its favor.  In many scenarios, Smer is able to get into power on its own only if all of the small parties (including SNS) should fail.  In this case, however, Smer’s gains its majority at the same time that SNS narrowly beats the threshold.  I would still put the odds well against this outcome, but I am now at least willing to take it seriously.
  • Second, it points to the relative role of the two factors that will affect Smer’s success: it’s own level of support and the support of those around it, particularly those near the threshold.  Smer’s 45.1% in November translated into 79 seats while its only slightly lower performance in previous FOCUS poll in October–43.1%–translated into only 70 seats.  Why the 9-seat difference?  The 2% rise in Smer’s preference actually contributed only 2 or 3 seats and would not alone have given the party a clear majority.   What is crucial here is that in the November poll 13.8% of the population supported parties that did not exceed the 5% threshold, whereas in October the share was only 7.4%.  That, plus a few small differences in the way the opposition vote is distributed explains 5-6 of Smer’s seat total.  In a rather literal sense here, it is not the size of the Smer vote, but the motion of the small waves around it that make a difference.  
  • Third, it is worth noting that if Smer becomes convinced that it can achieve a consistently high level of support at this level, it may begin take a different approach toward SNS.  In 2010 Smer’s failure to form a goverment had quite a bit to do with the significant drops of both SNS and HZDS–drops that Smer helped to encourage–and its inability to find other partners.  According to that thinking, Smer has clearly set out to make sure that other parties might consider it (particularly Most-Hid and perhaps KDH or even SDKU), but it has always kept SNS in its pocket as well, if only as a bargaining chip.  According to the current FOCUS scenario, however, at any level of Smer support above 35%, the failure of SNS to pass the 5% threshold actually help Smer, because half of the 8 seats that would have gone to SNS go to Smer and raise it to majority status.  It might be a bit too early for Smer to gamble on undercutting its closest political partner, however, because as the previous point suggests, relatively minor changes in circumstances have a big effect on the level at which SNS goes from hindrance to help.  Even having both Hungarian parties exceed the 5% threshold would give Smer pause, since in that case Smer would need over 41% to be able to regard SNS as a hindrance.   But don’t take my word for it: try your own scenarios in the online calculator: online results calculator.

Slovakia Party Tree 2011

Thanks to Sme for publishing a nice version of my 2010 Party Tree diagram (the tree is a helpful format I’ve been using for the last decade and first posted here in 2008) .   I wish SME had asked me though, as there is a newer version that might have saved them some work (I try to keep this up to date).  Attached below are my updated graphic and table (click to expand them to readable size).  They are not as pretty as Smer’s, but they have more information (and my graph does not cast Smer as “Red”).  A pdf version is here: Slovak Party Tree 2011.

Family Tree and Data for Slovakia’s Political Parties, 1990-2011

I must say, though, that I am much taken with another version “mapastran”, which I am ashamed I had not seen.  I am much taken for its sheer attractiveness and inclusion of information which is not in my version.  Check it out at :  http://www.mapastran.sk).