… but does it interpret the answers?
Recently, government-owned tabloid Today published the results of a survey of Singapore “heartland voters” and their reactions to a set of yes/no questions about key issues the country is facing as it prepares to go to the ballot box in May. Today opens its analysis with the following:
As the drumbeats of the General Election get louder by the day, a survey of 618 voters commissioned by Today has found that the rising cost of living here is more likely to influence how the voters cast their ballot than supposedly hot-button issues such as the influx of foreigners or housing. – Today
Unfortunately for editors at Today, the Singapore’s citizens are increasingly more statistically savvy than their reporters. A quick read through the 30 plus comments will give you some sense of feedback – generally skeptical. But the interesting and I think accurate read on the survey and the way it was reported is from one of Singapore’s citizen bloggers – Yawning Bread. In a two-part post, YB has taken a close look at the results and the sample and come up with interesting findings and questions about the poll and its interpretation.
YB’s Part 1 reviews the sample and methodology and finds some interesting assumptions and skews. For instance the sample is limited to citizens who presumably own HDB flats. Existing homeowners then would naturally expect to find the cost of housing to be less of an issue than those young Singapore families who have yet to acquire property. Yet, apparently these citizens were excluded.
YB’s Part 2 reviews the results as presented in light of the sample and comes up with some very different interpretations than the reporter from Today.
However you read these numbers, the discussion should remind everyone that polls can be manipulated to tell any story – “fun with numbers”. But in a country like Singapore with perhaps the best educated and most online engaged citizenry on the planet, be prepared that the population will eventually either dismiss the findings or render a better interpretation online.