Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why I Am Skeptical of Some Brazilian Poll Numbers

This episode from 1998 demonstrates perfectly a couple of things: the unreliability and partisanship of some of the major polling institutions in Brazil; many media organizations' (and not just Datafolha's) ties to the PSDB; and their efforts to either swing Brazilian voters to the PSDB and its allies, or to persuade those who would vote for another party to just abandon hope before the election. Additionally, as a sometimes-collateral effect, this type of activity also does a great job ratcheting up hatred for the PT among the more conservative elements of the middle-class; not only is it a "Workers' Party," but this type of misinformation (which was not an isolated incident in 1998, but continues today) lowers expectations for how the PT will do; when it does much better than predicted, the outrage increases, as people expect one outcome but receive another.

Though complex, this article gives a pretty strong and accurate portrayal of one of the "darker" sides of how Brazilian electoral politics and the media's role in them function, not just at the state level but at the national level as well, and it reminds me why I have a hard time taking any non-IBOPE polling results seriously (and though IBOPE has erred before, it has also done the best job of showing complete non-partisanship and a commitment to just reporting numbers).
(And again, sorry for the choppy translation, but at least Google Chrome makes it possible to actually link to Portuguese articles for non-Portuguese readers now, too).