Polls, polls, polls

New poll found, interesting stats surfaced, and the role of the SGP as a canary. Welcome to Political Quirks, poll edition.

Fifth pollster: Buzzpeil

Yesterday I found that there is a fifth pollster: Buzzpeil. It’s a “social media” pollster that doesn’t actually ask people what they’re going to vote, but instead looks at their tweets and Facebook posts — or something.

The poll is mainly remarkable for the complete absence of 50Plus — apparently the elderly don’t tweet enough. Also, a few weeks back the left block got 76 seats, something it’s never got in any other poll.

I don’t really believe in Buzzpeil’s methodology since there’s no way of correcting for those voters that don’t use social media, but I guess we should give them a chance and see what their error is after the elections. So I added it to the polls page.

The plan seems to be to publish a poll per day, but I’ll restrict myself to copying one per week. Oddly, the last published poll is from 20th of August, nearly a week ago. Let’s hope Buzzpeil will continue polling.

What do party voters do?

Translation of legend:

Zelfstandig ondernemer
Working for themselves
Werkzaam in loondienst
Working for a boss
Werkzaam bij overheid
Civil servants
Jobless for reasons of health
Jobless because they can’t find a job
Housewives or ... househusbands, I presume

De Volkskrant and TNS-NIPO did interesting research about whether voters for the six big parties work or not. Unfortunately the research is not online; this picture is the best I got.

The take-aways are the following:

Take a look yourself; I hope the translation of the legend helps. (These terms are not easy to translate, I can tell you, so it sounds a bit stilted.)

The SGP as a canary

If a new poll is released, the first thing you should do is look at the SGP — the ultra-orthodox protestant party that’s against women in politics, TV, and doing anything on Sundays. It will win two seats in the elections, but recently quite a number of polls from all pollsters gave the SGP three seats.

Why? Don’t the pollsters know that the SGP always wins two seats? Yes they do, but the problem here is turnout.

Back in 1998 the SGP won three seats because turnout was so low in that election — only about 70%, if I recall correctly. Since SGP people always vote no matter what, they can help their party to a third seat if the rest of the electorate is lukewarm.

As far as I can see that’s what’s been happening in the polls recently. The number of SGP voters remained stable, but the number of voters for other parties declined. Turnout is low, in other words.

It’s clear that this turnout problem exists mostly on the right. The left is doing well with a healthy score of about 70-74 seats. The right is doing lousy with a score in the low sixties.

That’s understandable: the Rutte government consisted only of right-wing parties, so right now disappointed right-wing voters have no place to go. (Well, to D66, but that’s not for everyone.) An abstention is logical.

Now the really interesting part is that the SGP is going back to two seats in three out of five polls. That’s not unexpected in itself, but I expected the parties on the right to do somewhat better now: apparently turnout is rising, which, with most non-voters residing on the right, should mean that the right gets more seats.

To be honest I don’t know what’s going on. It could be that the pollsters tweak their SGP scores a bit because the elections are looming near and they all know the SGP will win two seats. It could also be that significant numbers of right-wing voters shift to the left, but I don’t believe that. It could be that all pollsters underestimate the right, which is possible, but not really convincing.

Let’s wait for the next set of polls and then look at our canary again.

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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.

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