politics & society | October 07, 2019

How do Election Polls Affect Voters? Shachi Kurl Explains the Science Behind the Data

Every day, there’s a new poll indicating how political candidates are faring with the public. But how accurate are these numbers? And what are their effects on voters? Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute Shachi Kurl joined CTV to explain. 

How is important but also why is really important. Because pollsters have different motivations for doing the work that they do,” Shachi Kurl explains. “Some pollsters want to get their political party elected, some pollsters are trying to push an agenda on behalf of a paying client. Some pollsters, like the work that we do at the Institute, just really want to understand what you all are thinking about important issues.”


Beyond the motivational driver behind different pollsters, Kurl explains that what’s often missing in the media coverage of the data is context: information like which regions are more important than others, or voter certainty—who has their mind made up, and who doesn’t. “Polling does a good job of slicing up the pie and measuring it, but it doesn’t tell you how big the pie is going to be.”


So, do the polls themselves actually affect voter turnout? “Certainly polling can have an impact on that,” Kurl says. “If you see a certain party is surging in momentum, people want to get on the bandwagon. They call it the bandwagon effect. They want to back a winner.” On the flip side, if people see their party is “winning,” it could trigger voter complacency.


You can watch Kurl’s full segment here.


To book Shachi Kurl for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

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