Take a chill poll, Singapore!


  • Is the Punggol East ST poll just a storm in a teacup?
  • Are all polls created equal?
  • How accurate can polls be?


Fifty. Only fifty people polled (with almost half of the respondents being “undecided”) and the police comes into the picture.


Granted, there may be concerns that publishing such polls will influence members of the public (PEA aside), but surely anyone reading with a bit of common sense would know that FIFTY respondents hardly represent the more than 30,000 people living in that area!


Had The Straits Times used percentages instead of real numbers, maybe the poll wouldn’t have been such a big issue.


Then again it’s true that we Singaporeans love polls, and we especially like polls and survey that rank us high. Whether it’s educational achievements, economic statistics, or simply quality of services, we love getting high marks and accolades.


Although lately we’ve been winning some pretty high scores in dubious categories; we’re ranked as the most emotionless and unhappiest society in the world by a Gallup survey, in which 150 thousand people were polled. In a country of 2.12 million labour force and 5.31 million population, that’s respectively 3% and 7% who just sealed the world’s labels on Singapore.


I say the police should go after Gallup for inflicting such demoralising survey results on our poor and vulnerable minds!


And this is a matter of national and economic welfare since we are potentially scarred from helping Singapore maintain its productivity because we are so unhappy and emotionless.


The other ‘poll’


If any poll was an indication of outcomes, I would say watch out for the implicit Internet ‘polls’ – namely, the search traffic trends on a keyword.


For the 2004 US election, Google Trends showed that George Bush had slightly more search volume than John Kerry. Bush won, with a small margin at that.


For the 2008 US election, Google Trends showed that more people were searching for Barack Obama than John McCain. Lo and behold, Obama went on to win the election.


Understandably, when this article came out just before the 2012 election results, with Google Trends showing higher search results for Mitt Romney, one may certainly doubt Obama’s chances at a second term.


He may have won in the end, but imagine if online search volume had been an accurate indication of election results for the third time!


Granted, people may have searched more about Romney due to “popularity, interest, controversy, awareness, news headlines, or people who just don’t know Romney.” Still, who’s to vouch for how people behave online?


Goes to show that there are other ways people can tap on to predict an outcome. Heck, if all it takes are 50 entrance poll voters to accurately predict EACH and EVERY election, then it’s not too late to get The Straits Times to poll your 50 best friends on things that really matter to you.


I can see the headlines: “Breaking news: 50 friends think I deserve a raise as well as a massage every night when I get back home from work”.


So, poll-schmoll. Let the media create its own harmless hype. Nothing’s set in stone until the Punggol East residents draw their perfect ‘X’.

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