Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Is the stunning lead of Fidesz in the polls misleading?

March 29th, 2014

A passionate liberal critic of the government is convinced that opposition parties are significantly underrated in public opinion polls, but no one can tell to what extent. “All we know is that we don’t know”, runs her headline.

In Népszabadság, András Boda and Tamás Lajos Szalay report that according to the latest polls the union of left-wing forces has not produced any positive results. Fidesz has consolidated its lead, while the Left has lost ground and leads by a mere one percentage point over the radical right-wing Jobbik party. Quoting experts they remark that slthough the figures differ according to the methods used by individual pollsters, the trends more or less converge.

In Élet és Irodalom, sociologist Mária Vásárhelyi recalls that 12 years ago pollsters grossly overrated Fidesz a week before the elections and instead of losing as they predicted, the Socialist Party turned out to be the winner. Apart from the lame Fidesz campaign and the success of the Socialists in mobilizaing their supporters, the main reason behind the mistaken predictions was that anti-Fidesz voters systematically declined to reveal their voting intentions, she suggests.

Since then, pollsters have encountered a steeply increasing tendency to hide voting intentions,  and now have to make as many as 10 phone calls to get one respondent, or 4 door-to-door attempts to make one interview. Similar trends have been reported in other countries as well, as a result of the  massive effort by commercial pollsters to sense various consumer preferences. Nevertheless, Vársárhelyi is convinced that in Hungary, refusal is systematically higher among those who are prone to vote against the present government. The reasons she gives are twofold. On the one hand, refusal rates are higher among highly educated people and they tend to be more hostile to the right wing than the average. On the other hand, people who feel they are part of a minority are less inclined to reveal their opinions on sensitive issues, and opposition voters, including far-right sympathisers, may feel that way because of the superiority of the pro-government campaign. On top of it all, Vásárhelyi is convinced that people feel more intimidated by the government than 12 years ago. All in all she is certain that the opposition will get more votes than their showing in the polls, but she does not dare to estimate how many more.


Tags: ,