Pre-election polls can suffer from survey effects. For example, surveyed individuals can become more aware of the upcoming election so that they become more inclined to vote. These effects may depend on factors like political orientation and prior intention to vote, and this may cause biases in forecasts of election outcomes. We advocate a simple methodology to estimate the magnitude of these survey effects, which can be taken into account when translating future poll results into predicted election outcomes. The survey effects are estimated by collecting survey data both before and after the election. We illustrate our method by means of a field study with data concerning the 2009 European Parliament elections in the Netherlands. Our study provides empirical evidence of significant positive survey effects with respect to voter participation, especially for individuals with low intention to vote. For our data, the overall survey effect on party shares is small. This effect can be more substantial for less balanced survey samples, for example, if political orientation and voting intention are correlated in the sample. We conclude that pre-election polls that do not correct for survey effects will overestimate voter turnout and will have biased party shares.

Additional Metadata
Keywords bias correction, data collection, intention modification, pre-election polls, self-prophecy, survey effects, turnout forecast
Publisher Erasmus School of Economics
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/18637
Series Econometric Institute Research Papers
Journal Report / Econometric Institute, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Citation
Heij, C, & Franses, Ph.H.B.F. (2010). Correcting for Survey Effects in Pre-election Polls (No. EI 2010-20). Report / Econometric Institute, Erasmus University Rotterdam (pp. 1–42). Erasmus School of Economics. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/18637