Fake Polls Make Fake News

By: Mark Civitella  

Campaigning for US Presidency, Donald Trump dismissed media reports on opinion polls predicting his defeat as "Fake News". Trump was proven right. What has gone wrong? When media opinion polls overwhelmingly miss Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, their value as taking the 'pulse of the nation' is questioned. Once seen as an objective reflection of public attitudes, the media polls are now being seen as flawed and distorting of political debate. If polls also focus media discussion through the purported status of having a scientific measure of public attitudes - the failure of polls impact the media's ability to engage in informed and relevant political debate. The irony of more polls, through digital affordability and access, does not equal more information and informed debate. Rather, the digital platforms used to generate polls, exacerbate media error and further skew debate. At one extreme, research shows opinion polls suppress public opinion. If a healthy public debate is good for democracy - we need to do better with the measurement of public opinion.

Politics, Audience, Media, Democracy, Polling, Digital
2019 Special Focus: The Future of Democracy in the Digital Age
Focused Discussion

Mark Civitella

Lecturer, Communication and Media, La Trobe University, Australia