Stuff poll manipulation

A reader writes:

I have been watching every poll that has something to do with a political topic over the last few weeks and every one has started out one way and then low and behold 12 hours later it has completely skewed the other way.

This is not surprising. I have blogged on this stuff several times previously. The media need to be more pro-active in not just detecting and preventing fraud, but also in exposing those who do it. Even though these polls are unscientific, they are reported on and seen by many people.

Generally the polls all start out favouring the nats and then magically skew the other way, and not by a little, were talking massive swings. Now from a statistics point of view, this is not generally possible.

Yep – this is a pattern, always the same way.

Here is an example that i have emailed into stuff.co.nz today. I live in London, and last night the poll “National MP Lockwood Smith’s comments about Asians and Pacific Islanders were …” was dramatically on the side of ‘Fair Enough’ and ‘Undiplomatic but no big deal’. So i get to work this morning and have another look at the poll and low and behold it’s completely flipped again.

So i thought i would take some sample data:

Hard data is always useful.

At 12:20 am (NZ Time)
Racist (12485 votes, 56.7%)
Fair enough (3893 votes, 17.7%)
Undiplomatic but no big deal (5653 votes, 25.7%)

At 2:20am (Nz Time)
Racist (15215 votes, 61.2%)
Fair enough (3922 votes, 15.8%)
Undiplomatic but no big deal (5715 votes, 23.0%)

Difference
Racist +2730
Fair enough +29
Undiplomatic but no big deal +62

And here we are at 2:45am, when most kiwis are snug in bed and the ‘Racist’ side is still climbing a a rate of a vote every second or so.

That is absolutely damning. Fairfax should not just take measures to eliminate those fake votes, they should expose the IP address the multiple votes are coming from.

Now i know that stuff polls are not scientific in any way but if someone is doing this intentionally and i believe they are they are trying to skew public opinion because if they see that 70% of the population is voting a different way to them they will start to think that maybe they are wrong. There are a lot of people that look at these polls and in an election where every vote counts, if only a few change their votes because of ‘supposed’ public opinion, then we have a big problem.

The NZ Herald had to fix up their polls a little while ago because of tampering, so now it looks like stuff should do the same.

The solution is not that difficult.  Fairfax staffers should be monitoring their polls, as this reader has done, and take action when they detect obvious fraud.

I sometimes have people try to do bulk multiple voting on my own blog polls. Generally I notice it within an hour or two, and reverse it. And I expose where it was done from – for example a VUWSA computer was used one time to do it.

A quick follow up. It’s now 4:20am NZ time and i have taken the next sample. This data is from 2:20am – 4:20am

At 4:20am
Racist (18051 votes, 65.1%)
Fair enough (3934 votes, 14.2%)
Undiplomatic but no big deal (5742 votes, 20.7%)

Difference from 2:20am
Racist +2836
Fair enough +12
Undiplomatic but no big deal +27

Beyond any doubt, And I just had a look myself at 6.40 am and the growth in the last two hours has been:

Racist +3080
Fair enough +6
Undiplomatic but no big deal +20

The reader who sent this to me has also e-mailed Fairfax/Stuff. I’ll publish any response from them.

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