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Correcting for survey effects in pre‐election polls

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  • Christiaan Heij
  • Philip Hans Franses

Abstract

Pre-election polls can suffer from survey effects. For example, surveyed individuals can become more aware of the upcoming election so that they become more inclined to vote. These effects may depend on factors like political orientation and prior intention to vote, and this may cause biases in forecasts of election outcomes. We advocate a simple methodology to estimate the magnitude of these survey effects, which can be taken into account when translating future poll results into predicted election outcomes. The survey effects are estimated by collecting survey data both before and after the election. We illustrate our method by means of a field study with data concerning the 2009 European Parliament elections in the Netherlands. Our study provides empirical evidence of significant positive survey effects with respect to voter participation, especially for individuals with low intention to vote. For our data, the overall survey effect on party shares is small. This effect can be more substantial for less balanced survey samples, for example, if political orientation and voting intention are correlated in the sample. We conclude that pre-election polls that do not correct for survey effects will overestimate voter turnout and will have biased party shares.
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Suggested Citation

  • Christiaan Heij & Philip Hans Franses, 2011. "Correcting for survey effects in pre‐election polls," Statistica Neerlandica, Netherlands Society for Statistics and Operations Research, vol. 65(3), pages 352-370, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:stanee:v:65:y:2011:i:3:p:352-370
    DOI: j.1467-9574.2011.00489.x
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-9574.2011.00489.x
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    1. Franses,Philip Hans & Paap,Richard, 2010. "Quantitative Models in Marketing Research," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521143653.
    2. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
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