Saturday, December 22, 2018

Election 2018: Sajeeb Wazed Joy's poll half-truths

Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the son of the Bangladesh prime minister and one of her key advisors, has published the results of a poll that he commissioned in 51 constituencies, with 1000 people surveyed from each of these constituencies. He says that
"The 51 constituencies were selected from a mathematical analysis of all national election results from 1991 to 2008. These 51 were the ones that switched parties the most or had the narrowest margins of victory on average. These were the constituencies that our party was most concerned with."
He goes onto say that, "The average AL vote is 66% to BNP's 19.9%, with an average 8.6% undecided."
"On a party basis the Awami League leads in all 51, with the smallest lead 12.2% in Joypurhat-1 and the largest 75% in Barishal-4. The smallest undecided vote is 2.5% in Tangail-3 where the AL lead is 41.5% and the largest is 19.8% in Shatkhira-3 where the AL lead is 64.7%, far above the undecided vote.
This all seems very positive towards the Awami League. However, Joy is not telling the full story about these polls.

Two versions
Joy was actually given two versions of the poll results. He has only published the results of one of them, not the results of the second one which were far less positive towards the Awami League.

The second set of results given to Joy were different as they assumed that:
-  a significant number of those who said that they would vote for the Awami League would actually vote for the BNP/opposition; 
- all of those who refused to say how they wanted to vote, would actually vote for the BNP/opposition; 
- half of those who said that they did not know would vote for the BNP/opposition
The reason why this second version was completed was because the survey organisers believed that many people are too scared to say that they support the opposition parties

The "significant" number of AL "voters" which the survey organisers estimated would actually vote BNP/opposition was 20%. This number was chosen on the basis of (a) the views of some of the enumerators involved in doing the poll and (b) the opinions of informed commentators whom the survey organisers consulted.

When these changes were made, the analysis found that the opposition won ten out of the fifty one seats

This is really interesting for two reasons:

First, it is pretty extraordinary that the AL pollsters themselves acknowledged that one fifth of all "AL voters" were too scared to say who they were actually going to vote.

Secondly, the speculative nature of 20%. Why 20%?Why not 35% or 40% of 15%? As soon as one acknowledges that there is a significant fear factor - see here for what people say in focus groups about this -  it is difficult to know what percentage of voters that impacts. If the numbers is actually 30% or 40% then the number of seats that the BNP would have the majority would have been much increased.

One can understand why Sajeeb Wazed Joy did not publish details of these second results - or the reasons for them.

There is one aspect of the methodology of these polls that would create a greater likelihood that those surveyed would more likely say that they were Awami League voters when in fact they would be BNP/opposition supporters. The surveyors used the voter list from each of the 51 constituencies to randomly choose who to question in the poll. This means that the surveyors knew the name of the person they wanted to question - and the person who was questioned would know that the surveyors knew who they were. 

The surveyors used this method in order to ensure greater control over the enumerators. 

However, one would expect that this method would more likely result in the person surveyed not giving accurate answers - as they know that the surveyors know who they are. This is not the way most opinion polls are undertaken.


Other 2018 Elections posts

- Dec 7:   Forced out, but service resumes
- Dec 7:   Disappearances before 2014 election
- Dec 9:   Exclusive: Results of Confidential Poll revealed
- Dec 11: Bangladesh's "Closing Democratic Space"

- Dec 13: Fear and Awami League leaders
- Dec 13: Challenging the Orthodox View
- Dec 15: Full Pre-election polls for download
- Dec 21: Why the Government is fixing the election
- Dec 22: Sajeeb Joy's poll half-truths
- Dec 22: Facebook exposes government's fake news
- Dec 23: A disgrace of a website

- Dec 25: Awami League's new crisis of legitimacy

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