Pedro Magalhães

Margens de Erro

What poll results to publish?

Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 6:07 pm4 Comments

SIC Notícias made this piece about the last Eurosondagem poll. Expresso published this piece summarizing the results concerning mass opinion about the budget measures. Maybe more about this poll has been published and I just missed it. What I did not miss, however, are the actual marginals published here. And there are results I haven't seen published anywhere (rounded):

P.20 Acha que o governo cortou o suficiente na despesa?
Sim: 38%
Não: 43%
NS/NR: 20%

P21. Tendo em conta o Orçamento de Estado, vai mudar hábitos de vida no próximo ano?
Sim: 69%
Não: 27%
Ns/NR: 4%

P.27 Se estivesse em idade ou tivesse possibilidades considerava emigrar?
Sim: 61%
Não: 32%

I really don't like P.27, as it deals with too many hypotheticals. P21 was followed by a question for those who answered "Yes", and "Eating Out" was the most selected option for cuts in personal expenditures, and this is vaguely interesting too (although not "political" enough, I assume). But it is P20, and its deemphasis in the news coverage, that I find particularly interesting. Sometimes, journalists are puzzled by apparent contradictions in polls: "If a huge majority of people disagree with the cuts, as responses to other questions in the poll show, how can then a plurality believe the government has not made enough cuts?", I imagine them thinking. But the results are not necessarily contradictory:

1. People may disagree with the concrete cuts and prefer other ways of reducing expenditure. This is especially inviting in this poll because those "other cuts" that might make them "enough" remain unspecified. 
2. "Expenditure" may generically sound bad, in the sense of wasteful. People may react to the question by thinking that it is a positive thing to cut "waste", that more should be done in cutting it, and that the government has not done enough of it. This does not mean they should support the concrete government plans at all.
3. Talking about "enough", without specifying "enough for what", further increases vagueness and allows for these apparent contradictions. Does "enough" mean that there will not be more? Does it mean that it will be "enough to satisfy our creditors"? Does it mean "enough to prevent Portugal from entering the Greek death spiral"? Etc.

In sum, it is a very good thing that ERC allows us access to the poll data unfiltered by whatever journalists think is newsworthy in those data.

P.S.- A few days later, these results were published.

by Pedro Magalhães

More on the referendum

Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 2:52 pm4 Comments

Apparently, the Daily Telegraph reports that a 3/5 majority is needed to pass a resolution permitting a referendum. If so, this would probably make it impossible. But although this may be totally clear to a constitutional lawyer, it is not clear to me at all. Article 44(2) of the Greek constitution provides for two sorts of referendums: on "crucial national issues" and on "serious social issues". In the former, government proposals must be passed by an absolute majority in Parliament. In the latter, 2/5 of parliament proposes and a 3/5 majority is needed. But although we could spend a lot of time thinking about the fascinating distinction between "crucial national issues" and "serious social issues", I don't think we need to. The main distinction seems to be between who proposes the referendum. If government, absolute majority. If parliament, qualified majority. Therefore, if we are talking about the former, as I think we are, the referendum is not as impossible as a 3/5 majority would suggest. Unlikely, but not impossible.

It should also be mentioned that when the possibility of such a referendum was first announced - last June, no less - the government also announced that it would introduce changes to several procedural aspects of referendums, which nonetheless must abide by article 44(2) of the Constitution.

by Pedro Magalhães

Referendum in Greece

Posted November 1st, 2011 at 2:28 pm4 Comments

Ah, politics: always so inconvenient. Faced with intraparty dissent and horrible pollsPapandreou announced he is going to call a referendum on the debt deal. In the meantime, another PASOK MP resigned, the party's majority in parliament is now down to two MP's, and six members of PASOK's national council called for Papandreou's resignation. And a recent poll shows 60% of Greeks to be against the deal.

According to the database at the Center for Research on Direct Demcracy, Greece has not held a referendum in 37 years. The last time was in 1974, after the collapse of the military Junta, to decide whether Greece would remain a Republic. Indeed it did, 69% to 31%. Turnout was 76%.

Apparently, judging from this Venice Commission document, this is the procedure:

1. Government proposes referendum.
2. A majority of MP's must support a resolution.
3. The President calls the referendum.

And Friday there's a confidence vote in parliament. So we're not quite there yet...

by Pedro Magalhães


Posted November 1st, 2011 at 4:38 am4 Comments

by Pedro Magalhães

Spanish polls update

Posted October 31st, 2011 at 2:44 pm4 Comments

Several new polls in the last few days, as reported in Electometro. The overall picture since January 2011:

And a closer look at the smaller parties:

Looking at the more recent polls, especially by those pollsters who publish results more often, vote intentions for PP and PSOE seem very, very stable. The table below compares the results of the last to the next to last polls published by NC Report, Sigma Dos, and Metroscopia. Almost a little bit too stable, if we're talking about (as we think we are) independent samples.

by Pedro Magalhães

Science: What It’s Up To?

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 5:16 pm4 Comments

Marktest, 18-22 Oct, n=809, Tel.

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 1:04 pm4 Comments

Here. The government's PSD drops 5 points in voting intentions, but remains comfortably ahead of PS. The Prime Minister's approval falls 9 points. Having said that, the poll estimates 19% for blank votes and for other parties besides PSD, PS, CDS, CDU and BE, which is something so detached from any plausible scenario that one has to wonder what the whole results mean.

by Pedro Magalhães

Eurosondagem, 20-25 Oct, n=1032, Tel.

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 8:29 pm4 Comments

Unsurprisingly, following the 2012 budget plans, not very good news for the Portuguese government in the most recent poll. Government approval drops 7 points in relation to the previous poll by the same company, and there's now more people disapproving than approving. Drop in voting intentions for the PSD is less impressive: a 2.4 drop, bringing it to 36.9%, and a 3.4 drop in the lead over PS. Tomorrow, I believe, we'll know results on questions about the budget and its measures. What do you expect?

P.S- Here it goes: 81% oppose budget proposal, 80% against bonus cuts, 58% distrust the government, 63% support the strike and don't think the budget targets will be achieved. Disappointing that, as usual, most Portuguese pollsters offer no breakdown of results by party ID, or vote intention, or, in this case, whether respondents are civil service workers or pensioners.

by Pedro Magalhães

Polls in Portugal

Posted October 27th, 2011 at 5:32 pm4 Comments

Surprisingly few, as Pedro Lains suggests. The last I know of is from October 6th. Until then, as suggested here and can be seen here, good news for the government. But of course, what happened since may matter a lot. I like it when people complain there's not enough polling: I think they're absolutely right, but probably most of you disagree. By the way, we should have a poll on that too.

by Pedro Magalhães

More Spanish polls

Posted October 23rd, 2011 at 11:25 pm4 Comments

Two recent polls in Spain, one by Metroscopia and another by Sigma Dos. The Metroscopia poll has PP's lead over PSOE standing firm at around 15 points, while the Sigma Dos poll places that lead at 17, also like in their previous poll.

by Pedro Magalhães