More bull than bullseye

An article in today’s Oz has Newspoll boasting that their polls for the South Australian election “hit the bullseye”. Bold stuff for a company who had Labor winning with 52% of the two-party vote a month out from the 2004 federal election, and called the election a draw on election eve (for the record, Latham ended up with a mere 47.3% of the two-party vote).

After the 2001 and 2004 elections, Justin Wolfers and I pointed to the poor performance of opinion polls, and showed that betting markets are superior. In response, pollsters often say that their polls aren’t designed to predict the future. But it seems they’re happy to make the reverse claim on the occasions when their polls coincide with the actual result.

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