Candidates for Page in the 2019 Federal Election on May 18: Kevin Hogan (Nationals), Patrick Deegan (ALP), Daniel Reid (Greens), Alison Waters (Animal Justice), John Mudge (UAP), Peter Walker (CDP) (no photo supplied) and Fiona Leviny (Independent).
Candidates for Page in the 2019 Federal Election on May 18: Kevin Hogan (Nationals), Patrick Deegan (ALP), Daniel Reid (Greens), Alison Waters (Animal Justice), John Mudge (UAP), Peter Walker (CDP) (no photo supplied) and Fiona Leviny (Independent). Bill North

BUSTED: Party faithful hijack poll, skew results

DON'T read every poll at face value.

This time I can declare that our Page federal election poll results ARE unreliable.

People visiting The Daily Examiner website in recent days may have noticed a poll result too unbelievable to be true. And guess what - it is.

Sure, blame can sometimes be apportioned to a small sample audience not giving a true reflection of the overall community sentiment. But not on this occasion.

On May 6 we published a poll asking Clarence Valley voters who they would vote for in the seat of Page in the federal election on May 18.

Similar polls run by Lismore's Northern Star firstly had Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan holding on, and then subsequently losing out to Labor's Patrick Deegan. We published ours to see whether our readers in this half of the electorate were leaning the same way.

From previous experience (ie NSW election), I know from our digital analytics that political stories do not rate the highest among our readers, and that we could expect a few hundred votes at best.

So I was somewhat surprised when I arrived to work and saw the article POLL: Who will you vote for in the seat of Page? sitting top of the charts. We never have 11 readers on a single political story at one time. Save that for breaking news, crime stories and anything about Kmart - far more engaging topics than politics (at least according to the majority of our online audience).

Admittedly, the story was not premium (free), and the settings were set to "least secure", which lets people vote multiple times from the same IP address. I guess the temptation was too great for some.

After noticing an abnormal skew in favour of Labor's Patrick Deegan (68%) over The Nationals' Kevin Hogan (18%) just a day after the poll went live, I did some digging.

At the time there was very little traction from our initial post on The Daily Examiner Facebook page, however every viewer was accessing the story through social media channels. All but one of those was based in Sydney, in places like Baulkham Hills, Pyrmont and Turramurra (the other in Merewether) - not exactly a true representation of our market audience.

I checked in yesterday just to see how absurd this poll had become, and (laugh out loud) John Mudge from the United Australia Party - who had an eye-raising 6% upon first inspection - had acquired 1856 votes out of a total of 3423, which equated to 53 per cent!

Mr Deegan accrued 1387 votes, while Mr Hogan - obviously without enough internet trolls on his side - a more legitimate 152 votes.

Over-zealous political supporters hijacked The Daily Examiner's poll to skew results in favour of the Labor Party and United Australia Party.
Over-zealous political supporters hijacked The Daily Examiner's poll to skew results in favour of the Labor Party and United Australia Party.

Interestingly only nine people (genuine pollsters too, I suspect) were undecided.

Meanwhile, not one person was game enough to suggest on an anonymous poll that they would be voting informal, which leads to perhaps the most reliable conclusion from this poll, that most informal votes are a consequence of people not understanding the voting process - and therefore not likely to be reading political articles containing such polls in the first place.

I just wonder who's responsible? Is it purely a result of obsessed supporters sharing the story on echo chamber Facebook pages? Or is it a more sinister motive led by the staff on the books to cleverly influence public perception?

I'll hazard a guess that one is the former and the other is the latter. And what does say about the mindset of some of the followers of those particular parties?

In any case, due to our poll being hijacked by over-zealous supporters eager to coerce voters by manipulating the numbers, I'm no closer to understanding how you will vote - at least not according to the poll.

The most reliable figures are those found in the betting market - a betting agency's sole objective is to ensure it doesn't lose money, not to preface a political agenda.

Although, it could simply be that every person to bet on the election is out of touch, or of a particular political persuasion, but I highly doubt it.

Late yesterday Ladbrokes had the Coalition installed as favourite to win Page at the relatively comfortable odds of $1.62 (out from $1.50 earlier in the day), followed by Labor at $2.50, and United Australia Party into $21 from $34.

So, we've shut down the old poll, and introduced a new poll, with tighter restrictions, and not embedded in a specific story promoting said poll, which will run across the final days of the campaign with those results also shared in Saturday's DEX.

  • Bill North is the editor of The Daily Examiner which covers the Clarence Valley which takes up about half of the seat of Page, which also encompasses much of the Northern Rivers including Lismore.

Who will you vote for in Page at the 2019 Federal election?

This poll ended on 17 May 2019.

Current Results

FIONA LEVINY - Independent

2%

ALISON WATERS - Animal Justice Party

4%

PETER WALKER - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

2%

JOHN MUDGE - United Australia Party

3%

DANIEL REID - Greens

4%

KEVIN HOGAN - Nationals

44%

PATRICK DEEGAN - Labor

35%

Undecided

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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