Lula, Chávez and the Pollsters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, yesterday, demonstrated the kind of appreciation for quantitative research and the mathematics of the opinion poll that we respect. Quoted in this morning’s Folha de Sao Paulo in response to a poll of voters in which 63% rejected the idea of change in the constitution allowing for a third term in office for Lula, the incumbent joked “If they had questioned me, it wouldn’t have been 63% but 64%” Clearly nobody told the President that the poll was not conducted with 100 respondents but 11,741…so potentially 63.01%.

That said, news from Venezuela demonstrates that a healthy suspicion of the polls may have its benefits. This mornings papers reported the following headlines “Urns give victory to Chávez in referendum”. Whilst the results of exit polls, including those from the respected Instituto Datanálisis were reported as giving Chávez a victory by 56 to 44%, the official count has proven the opposite with Chávez being defeated for the first time in 9 years of rule.