Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Ipsos MyView Drink Survey Shambles

With telephone response rates falling, and people who answer polls by phone becoming less and less representative, many pollsters have turned to online panel polling.   As part of my interest in polling I have joined a number of online panels, to get some insight into the experience of respondents and ways in which their experience may shape how they respond.  Being on polling panels is also helpful because I get to see some of the polls that are in the field and how they are designed (polling disclosure being as poor as it is, and many of these pollsters still not being Australian Polling Council members).  By this method I also earn a very small amount of extra income by answering surveys on a range of topics.  It's worth mentioning that despite some misconceptions to the contrary I am not a professional pollster or market researcher, so there's nothing stopping me taking most such surveys, though now and then my honest answers to a particular screening question will see me rightly screened out.  There's also not a lot stopping the panels from kicking me off.  

One of these panels is Ipsos MyView and I thought I should share a recent experience with them that I found especially absurd and that might provide some insight into the lives of online panel poll recipients.  I may not have gone public had it been entirely a one-off, but my general experience is that this panel is very buggy compared to at least some others.  Surveys sometimes crash or screen the respondent out without providing any points, or lurk in the respondent's dashboard as awaiting completion for weeks but if you click on them you are told the survey isn't available as you may have already taken it.  There has been some improvement in this in recent months, with the panel more often referring the respondent to a different survey rather than screening them out immediately, but there are still far too many glitches.

Updated note to email subscribers

 In June I posted a note to say that the Feedburner system that sends out automated emails from this site was "going away" (ie stopping working).  I was expecting this to take effect from the end of June, but the date seems to have now been pushed back to mid-August, and most of my posts seem to have still been sent out via the email system in the meantime.  There may be further changes and at this stage I cannot be sure that the existing email feed will stop working altogether at any time.  

In the event of the Feedburner feed stopping working (ie I am still posting articles but subscribers are not receiving emails about them) then I recommend that email subscribers sign up to other services that will allow you to enter your email address and a site name and receive an email feed of that site.  You may want to bookmark this post to come back to it should you realise you haven't heard anything from me for more than a few weeks and wonder why.  Anyone who wants to be sure of getting any article I write may want to sign up to such a service right away.

In comments to the previous article commenter Et3e! mentioned two example feed sites: and blogtrottr,com.  I have tested these and find that they work in more or less the same way except that Blogtrottr includes ads with the email of the article text. 

I've considered maintaining my own email list about the site and decided not to do it - too labour intensive and fiddly.  (I edited an email newsletter for a few years once and have no desire to repeat the experience.)

I should caution that both Feedburner and Blogtrottr are very fast in sending out emails (depending on the options chosen).  Initial release versions of articles are often sent out when an issue is fresh and information is emerging - they are more likely to contain typos, unfinished sentences and other errors.  I often say that I only have time to write this stuff, not to proofread it! I view all articles on this site as like a one-person Wikipedia - often I get them out as quickly as I can, but the articles are polished and more content often added later.  So what you get in the initial email and what the article looks like 24 hours later are sometimes rather different.  

I also recommend that anyone wanting to sign up to a feed of this site starting from now uses one of these services or find another similar service.  I've taken down the link to the Feedburner feed signup because I am not sure if the signup system is still working.  If Feedburner reverses all these mooted changes and does so in a language I can understand I may restore it.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Tasmania 2021: Voters Who Voted In One House Instead Of Two

This year Tasmania controversially had Legislative Council elections on the same day as a House of Assembly election, for the first time ever.  With the election being called for May 1st on March 26 with no prior warning the Tasmanian Electoral Commission had very little time to adapt to the logistic challenges of some voters having to vote in both houses.  These voters were the voters in the eastern Launceston division of Windermere, which occurs entirely within the Assembly division of Bass, and voters in the large division of Derwent, which is mostly spatially in Lyons but includes many voters in the northern suburbs of Glenorchy within Clark. 

The initial controversy around the holding of the elections on the same day concerned potential unfairness to candidates.  Party candidates could benefit from generic party funding for the Assembly campaign while independent Legislative Council candidates were restrained by the Council's strict spending caps.  There were arguments about whether parties could even legally run generic campaigns without in the process incurring expenditure on behalf of their Legislative Council candidates, though so far in terms of post-election challenges this aspect has not come to anything.  As it happened voters voted quite differently in the two houses, so while the Lower House campaign may have distorted the Upper House outcomes, there isn't any clear sign that the latter are different to what would have been expected anyway.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Could A Major Party Soon Take Control Of The Tasmanian Legislative Council?

The recent Tasmanian state election featured the holding of Legislative Council elections on the same day as the House of Assembly election for the first time ever.  This was controversial in fairness terms, and there were suggestions that parties might be breaching the Electoral Act, in particular by their candidates benefiting from generic party advertising that fell outside the strict Council spending requirements.  All has gone quiet on the challenge front following the election so far, but the Tasmanian Electoral Act allows a snoozy 90 days (!) for would-be challengers to get their act together, so it's too early to be certain that we've heard the last of it.  The strikingly different voting patterns in the overlapping booths could make it difficult to satisfy the court that Lower House generic advertising affected the upper house results, if that was something that the court considered relevant.  

One of the three seats contested saw a change in party status, with Liberal Nick Duigan picking up Windermere on the retirement of three-term conservative independent Ivan Dean.  This took the Liberals up to four seats out of 15, with Labor on five and six remaining independents.  

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tasmanian Senate Contest And Integrity Commission Polling

Over the last two days results have been emerging of an Australia Institute Tasmania poll about the Tasmanian Integrity Commission, together with one about the next Tasmanian Senate race.  Unfortunately both these polls are unreliable.  In the Senate race case, the main problems are that polling Senate races is very difficult because standard polling platforms do not simulate the Senate voting experience, and also a recent robopoll at state level was way out.  In the case of the Integrity Commission poll, however, the main problem is the use of a skewing preamble.  This polling is also of interest because I believe it is the first uComms poll to be covered by the Australian Polling Council's disclosure requirements, so it will be interesting to see what surfaces on the uComms website over the next day or two.  

Distrust The Evidence Of Distrust!

The Tasmanian Integrity Commission was established in 2010 via a bill passed in 2009 by the then Bartlett Labor government.  Political tragics and commentators generally view it as at best a modest specimen of the integrity commission genre and at worst the sort of commission you have for the sake of saying you have one.  

There has been increasing frustration with the Integrity Commission's powers lately after it ruled that it could not investigate matters relating to Adam Brooks' candidacy at the 2021 state election because the election campaign occurred while parliament was dissolved and was therefore outside its jurisdiction.  The Greens made a complaint to the Commission (no they did not "refer" the matter*) asking it to investigate "the circumstances of Adam Brooks' pre selection, the support that the Premier gave him throughout the campaign and the manner of his resignation,".  Partly this complaint seems to have been an attempt to fuel the silly and sore-loserly "tainted election" claim surrounding Brooks (the Liberals would have easily won three seats in Braddon anyway), but there are some genuine questions up for grabs here.  Was Brooks a recent party donor?  Did the tipoff that resulted in Brooks facing charges in Queensland come from a party-connected source, or was it simply coincidence?