Numbers can lie: the science behind opinion polls

Recent months have seen a peculiar, yet recurring, trend. Revelations of a scandal or an out-of-touch comment from the federal government causes significant outrage among much of the population, particularly on social media. The government seems on the ropes. Then the polling numbers come out, showing the opposite. Then out come the commentators, proclaiming that people on social media – particularly the “Twitteratti” – are out of touch.

And so it is with the latest Newspoll, which shows Morrison still the preferred Prime Minister, and more “likeable” and “caring” than Anthony Albanese; meanwhile, the two-party preferred numbers remain neck and neck. 

These events might seem to occur independently. They don’t. Polling…

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