Political Polling in Asia-Pacific
Edited by Alastair Carthew and Simon Winkelmann
Also available in Deutsch
Political polling came late to Asia compared to places like the United States where George Gallup pioneered the art of using statistical methodology of survey sampling to measure public opinion. In some Asia-Pacific countries, such as Singapore political polling remains a somewhat immature science, but one that is slowly developing. But in others, such as Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines it has developed into an integral - and often controversial - segment of the political fabric. Australia and New Zealand have taken political polling to even more sophisticated levels.
This book examines political polling through a number of perspectives. Renowned German pollster and academic Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Donsbach sets the scene in Chapter 1 when he states: “Four things had to emerge and come together for modern public opinion research as we know it today: counting human beings, using humans’ answers to questions as a source of scientific evidence, the principle of sampling, and thinking in variables.” That observation sets the scene for an unfolding analysis by a number of authors, all experienced exponents in their respective fields.
We examine the impact of social media on modern political polling and the often testy and tortured relationship between pollsters and the media and how broader public opinion is influenced by both with the media, itself, becoming an essential financial and editorial - even manipulative - partner in the political contest. Case studies of political influence on pollsters at election time, in this regard in Thailand, give a revealing insight into the unique political pressures pollsters can face in some Asian countries.
Then there are the arguments for and against focus groups as an effective means of gauging public opinion; the question of how ready Asia-Pacific is to embrace online polling, with its many advantages but some drawbacks compared to traditional polling methods and the effects of polls on political opinion and the electorate. Why are governments worried about the publishing and dissemination of public opinion?
There is much here to examine, consider and analyse. Thanks to their collaborative effort, the authors of this book provide a highly articulate, useful tool for anyone interested in political polling to absorb and learn from.
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Singapore, February 27, 2012