Two days before the ACT election, The Canberra Times
splashed with the results of an exclusive opinion poll: "Labor will hold power," ran the front-page headline
The Patterson Research poll tipped Labor would coast to victory with the help of the Greens, who would retain their four seats, while the Liberals would make little headway. Previously, some commentators and bloggers had argued it would be a close race as the Liberals gained traction and the Greens struggled. Those forecasts were junked. The poll set the result in stone before ballots were cast on October 20. Sportsbet paid out
on a Labor victory -- the day before the election.
There was just one problem. The poll was wrong.
The Liberals won more votes than Labor; the major parties tied on eight seats apiece. The Greens haemorrhaged votes and lost three of their four seats (see a comparison of the poll with the results here
). The parties are now negotiating over who will form government, and while the most likely result is a Labor-Greens alliance there is a chance the Liberals could form a government.
The fiasco of The Canberra Times'
dud poll -- the sole opinion poll of the campaign, in the territory's sole daily newspaper -- raises questions around the national obsession with polls, along with questions on the way they are conducted and reported on. Psephologists are scratching their heads, the ACT Liberals are fuming and The Crimes
has gone very quiet.
ABC election analyst Antony Green told Crikey
the poll was clearly wrong and pollsters and the paper had "egg on their face". "Opinion polls should be published on the astrology page," said Green (who, it should be noted, reported on the poll on his election blog
The image below shows The Canberra Times
election result prediction on the left (from October 18) and the actual result on the right:
Some quotes from The Canberra Times on October 18: