Can we rely on the polls?

Dr. Ido Liberman explains why the pre-election polls and exit polls were right - and wrong - about the results.

Benny Tucker,

Survey (illustrative)
Survey (illustrative)
iStock

Dr. Ido Liberman, a professor at the Western Galilee College, explained why the exit polls did not accurately predict the results of Israel's recent elections.

"Polls are something we need to learn to use," he said. "They can be relied on, but they have drawbacks. The polls predicted the general trend, including the tie between the two [leading] parties and the advantage held by the right-wing bloc. On the other hand, there are the smaller things, the movement within each bloc, and that's harder to predict."

He also noted that those conducting the polls could not identify the slight movement of some right-wing voters who voted Likud, or of the left-wing voters who voted for Blue and White instead of Meretz and Labor.

According to Dr. Liberman, the pessimism regarding former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party and the optimistic predictions for Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party were the result of active interference by those parties.

"These are two incidents with the opposite result but the same problem," he said. "Feiglin encouraged his supporters to be active on the internet, which caused him to be over-represented. Think about the fact that every Zehut representative answered the surveys, versus the other parties whose supporters answered less [surveys]."

"In the case of Yisrael Beytenu, the problem was the opposite: Liberman very much discourages internet activity and participation in polls, and so their representation was very low and did not represent the the true situation."

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz's victory declaration was a mistake.

"There's a lack of experience and understanding of how polls work, including exit polls, which are no more reliable than any other poll. Even in exit polls, not everyone cooperates, and some put in a different ballot than they put into the ballot box.

"From a sociological perspective, there was initial celebration because the party jumped significantly from the thirty seats predicted by the polls to thirty-five. It was an outpouring of happiness and an attempt to feel victory. But he obviously at the end of the day he erred and he's paying the price."




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