July 10, 2015 | By Dina Smeltz

Why Were the Greek Polls so off the Mark on the Referendum?

While the final round of polling conducted on the referendum in Greece showed that a no vote would prevail, the actual vote was far more decisive, with 61% saying no and 39% saying yes. Why did the polls get it wrong? For one thing, it is not clear whether the Greek polls took into account voting turnout—and whether only very likely voters were isolated for their projected vote. In addition, Mark Blumenthal of the Huffington Post  and Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight help explain the discrepancy in two recent postings. These include some items particular to polling about referenda (for example, differences between wording of survey questions versus referendum ballot). But they also include other issues that haunt most polling organizations today, including accurate coverage and volatile response rates. 
  • Different wording on the survey questionnaire than on the actual ballot language, which was quite complicated (see translation by New York Times in the Huffington Post article)
  • Greater likelihood to vote yes in surveys about referenda 
  • Volatility in polling response rates so close to vote 
  •  Possibility that cell phone coverage was limited, which could understate young people’s votes
  • “Herding” of results
See the full articles linked above for more details. 
 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive

Americans Not Sure Trump's Policies Will Make America Safer

The 2017 Chicago Council Survey finds that majorities of Americans continue to think that international terrorism is one of the most critical threats to the United States. But the overall public is not convinced that the Trump administration's policies will make the United States safer from terrorism. 








On his Europe trip, Trump will be crossing into hostile territory

Donald Trump kicked off his second official foreign tour today in Warsaw, Poland, giving a speech condemning Russian aggression amid a crowd enthusiastic about its government’s show of friendship with the US leader. For Trump, this first stop will likely be the easy part.


#TBT 1974: #NOTNixonian

Is the US public turning on President Donald Trump like it turned on former President Richard Nixon? Running Numbers is digging out its archived polls to look back at Nixon’s approval ratings compared to those of Trump to see whether US public opinion is following a similar path.



Heading into Brexit talks, Britain is as divided as ever

On the heels of the shocking General Election outcome, the UK-EU Brexit negotiations have begun. But the road ahead for these talks is far from smooth: recent polling indicates that the public is increasingly split on what exactly would qualify as an acceptable deal.



| By Craig Kafura

UK General Election 2017: Parliament and Polls Hung Out to Dry

As the results of the United Kingdom’s snap election filtered in last Friday, most headlines echoed shock: Theresa May and her Conservative Party had lost the large majority in Parliament that seemed almost guaranteed just a few weeks ago. What drove this shocking shift? Did anyone see it coming?


Trump’s Paris Pullout: Not Popular with US Public

President Trump recently announced that he plans on pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a decision that is out of step with the views of the public. According to a number of surveys conducted over the past year, a majority of Americans support US participation in the agreement.


| By Dina Smeltz

The Urban-Rural Divide?

Are Americans as divided along geographic lines when it comes to key foreign policy matters as their voting patterns suggest?