BU has hesitantly support the science of polling and by extension the work CADRES has done in this area over the years. In Barbados CADRES has developed an enviable track record. Peter Wickham, head of CADRES has always published the methodology used, a desirable approach. Wickham has been at pain to point out that his samples are random. Over the years he has been able to gather learnings with the result his poll predictions are always close to bull-eye when the real result is known.
However many – including BU – have become concerned at the unfettered access to media space where Wickham has been peddling his views. BU has no problem with Wickham being a social commentator, it is a free country, however a problem emerges if he is able to propagate views formed out of his polling through his contributions weekly newspaper columns and as a host of a popular talk show. Bear in mind his polls capture the views of the population at the time taken. BU suggests that the apparent success of CADRES polls fuels Wickham’s credibility as a social commentator. The result: his views have become influential on the very population he will have to poll in the future.
The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) political strategist Maureen Holder, who succeeded Peter Wickham, has been very scathing in her critique of the methodology of the recent CADRES poll. UWI lecturer Dr. Tennyson Joseph has also been searching in his feedback of the poll in his weekly column. Many have dismissed these concerns based on party stripes or ignorance about the science of polling. We should all take a deep breath and dispassionately discuss if there is merit to the concerns raised by the Holders, Josephs and others.
On another blog BU posted the following comment:
On a related note BU has been doing some research to ascertain if there is any country in the world where a pollster, a shaper of opinions, is also the host of a popular talk show. So far we have come up short. BU believes with all respect to Wickham that we have created a ‘monster’.
So far BU’s research about polling has turned up some interesting information. To be honest if Wickham continues on his current path some will begin to label him a push pollster. Here is what push polling is all about quoting from Wikipedia:
“A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or knowledge gleaned from opposition research on an opponent. They are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning. This tactic is commonly considered to undermine the democratic process as false or misleading information is provided about candidates.”
Peter you should think on these things!