How to understand a survey within the electoral context

Surveys must be assessed within the electoral process. As the survey portrays the moment, results must be considered as another source of evidence within the analyzed context. Data should always be assessed in the light of experience, common sense and other information relevant to the electoral process.

It is also required to bear in mind that surveys are not infallible, as results are not exact numbers, but estimates. As estimate, the survey is an important tool because it allows that, through statistical samples, the opinion of the entire society is known.

Survey perishability and volatility

Public opinion variation determines the surveys perishability. As public opinion is dynamics and responds to stimulus, it is subject to varied influences – campaign, unexpected facts, debates etc. Thus, a survey made a week prior to election may not be considered as electoral prognosis.

Reviewing recent elections, we may find several results that changed significantly from a day to another. Frequently, about-faces happen in the last days approaching the election. Therefore, surveys must always be inserted to the context which they were carried out.


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