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

| By Craig Kafura

O Canada! Public Opinion and the US-Canada Relationship

Canada’s newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, recently enjoyed a successful state visit to the United States. While Canadian prime ministers don’t visit the United States as frequently as they used to, that doesn’t mean American enthusiasm for Canada has flagged.

| By Dina Smeltz

Iran Is Holding Elections, Too

Iran is holding parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections tomorrow. A recent University of Maryland survey of the Iranian public found that six in ten Iranians prefer that most of the parliament to be composed of the supporters of President Hassan Rouhani.





| By Karl Friedhoff

Korea-Japan Agreement Here to Stay

Karl Friedhoff looks at polling done in South Korea on attitudes towards Japan to add perspective on the recent deal between Korea and Japan to resolve the "comfort women" issue.




| By Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura

Climate Concerns on the Rise

While Democrats and Republicans are at opposite ends of the spectrum in prioritizing climate change, Chicago Council Surveys going back to 2002 have shown longstanding public support for an international treaty to address the problem.


Americans Hungry for Food Information

There is a renaissance in America’s interest in food and, more specifically, how food is produced. A new Chicago Council poll finds that contrary to the debate about hot-button issues like GMOs, antibiotics, and local food, the vast majority of Americans value food that is above all affordable, safe, and nutritious.

| By Karl Friedhoff, Dina Smeltz

Strong Asia Alliances, Divided Publics

New Council survey data shows that US relations with Japan and South Korea are strong. But mutual distrust between Japan and South Korea continues, even as the United States encourages strengthened relations in the face of a rising China.

| By Sara McElmurry

Calling a Vote before the Curtain Call

Soon-to-be-former Speaker John Boehner has shot down immigration advocates’ requests that he call a vote on immigration before he leaves Congress at the end of the month. But numbers from the 2015 Chicago Council Survey suggest that advancing a vote might not be a bad idea.