Polling the Poles

Tusk Following Those Graphs
Tusk Following Those Polls

The joke begins: “What do Poles and polls have in common?” The answer is, of course, “they are both unreliable”. While the first idea (Poles) is far from the truth, there is no doubting the second (polls). Moreover, put the two together – Polish polls – and we are left with one of the most unreliable weapons in today’s political arsenal in Poland. One needs to simply spend a few moments looking at the opinion polls conducted in Poland, and their results, to realise how bizarre they really are. What is more, these results, however skewed or odd they might appear to be, do not seem to stop politicians, and political commentators and journalists alike, from following them on a daily basis. Poland really is the Land of the Polls.

Kaczyński Can't Believe the Charts
Kaczyński Can't Believe the Graphs

Following the recent ‘gamble-gate’ scandal which saw PM Tusk dismiss several members of his government together with the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), PiS-oriented Mariusz Kamiński, opinion polls have been all over the place and, at best, contradictory. Some polls suggest an erosion of support for Tusk and Civic Platform (PO), others find Tusk gaining even more ground on Lech Kaczyński and Law and Justice (PiS). All in all, Polish opinion polls, rather than clarify the attitudes of Poles, seem to confuse, confound and obscure what the masses think.

Olejniczak & Napieralski Hoping for More
Olejniczak & Napieralski Hoping for Better Charts

In recent times, opinion polls seem to have begun exerting a huge influence on political spin doctors who in turn have an increasing say in creating the images and policies of leading politicians and parties in Poland. But can these opinion polls be trusted? Looking at the research we can see a wild array of statistics:

PO 39%, PiS 18%, SLD 9%, PSL 7%
Wirtualna Polska – Gemius (6 Oct 2009)

PO 48%, PiS 28%, SLD 10%, PSL 6%
Gazeta Wyborcza – PBS DGA (4 Oct 2009)

Taking a look at what has been going on in the past six months we see that either the institutions that undertake the research for these opinion polls are making some heinous mistakes in their calculations or Polish people are fickle in their political alleigances. One way or another, polls simply cannot be trusted.

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16 thoughts on “Polling the Poles

  1. In my life I have never once met someone who has ever taken part in an opinion poll.

    Who do they ask? Do they just phone a thousand people at random out of the phone book?

    Maybe the people they ask are annoyed at the intrusion and lie to them on purpose in order to screw up the data.

  2. I guess they try to influence our opinions, be manipulative and not informative. What’s the point of showing us what the majority thinks, especially if it’s doubtful where this majority comes from?
    I sometimes wonder, if the media themselves believe in what they present 😉

    1. Hania, but who are THEY? Do you think there is a gang of people standing behind the results of polls in Poland? It seems we are left with another -gate, this time “a poll-gate” scandal… maybe it’s time to ask people what they think about that 😉
      I think polls are not 100% reliable (but what is…), but still, they show something to us: that Polish politicians are thrashing around and Poles vacillating… well, these are characteristics of a young democracy… I’m sure everything is improving, at least Toilet Test indicates that.

    2. Most Poles don’t even rely on polls. Their decisions are based on traditions and regional tendencies (+religious factor, but mostly in the eldest group). When questioned about their favourite party some wouldn’t tell the truth, for they somewhat feel ashamed or think that it doesn’t matter what they answer. The target group is not always a reliable one. Furthermore, if we watch polls presented in TVP and TVN we can suddenly observe slight differences 🙂

    1. yeah and a very convincing music journalist ^^

      If a Pole is on screen (esp. TV series) for 10 seconds the term ‘actor’ is appropriate. I understand that British people have a different point of view 🙂

  3. Let me not comment that “actor” dispute, for didn’t see that episode. As to our main subject, I believe polls are unreliable for several reasons. One of them is that people who are asked questions in the street do not concentrate on the subject of the poll but on how to escape or what would be the “proper” answer. I guess Poles are still afraid of saying what they really think, especially about the politics. Certainly, when sitting at the table during Christmas or other “suitable” holiday, we all have our opinions and fight for them fiercely, but when it comes to polls, we suddenly want to be correct and give “corretct” answers. I don’t believe polls, for they are similar to generalizations about an average Pole. Have you ever met an average Pole (40 years of age, blond hair, brown eyes, 5 sexual partners, secondary education, etc)?

    1. Yes, Ania you’re completely right. People rarely say in polls their real political preferences or how they’re going to vote. Very often they simply answer the survey without consideration as quickly as possible. I also don’t believe polls.

  4. Seeing so much differences in Polish polls, nobody would say that they are reliable. Neither would I. People taking part in such polls may not be saying what they think. Or they may simply trying to get rid of the person who keep asking him/her questions. There is also a posibility that polls are manipulated at some degree. It wouldn’t be difficult since it is hard to check. And to be honest, I do not like polls, too. I prefer to look at things and then make my own judgement.

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