Have you ever wonder how reliable poll surveys are in general and in Malaysia in particular? Even in the United States of America the vast majority of pollsters got it wrong during the Trump-Clinton 2016 election despite their advanced aggregating and analytical modeling techniques. Many went back to the drawing board trying to ascertain how it was they were so far off the mark. Given the plethora of surveys that exists on the forthcoming general election in Malaysia, could such a situation like what happened in the US occur here?

Most of the poll surveys in Malaysia have to some extent allowed the opposition coalition to claim that asides from Penang and Selangor a few more states will come under their administration in the next general election. Of course these studies were carried out by think tanks such as Penang Institute, Invoke and Institut Darul Ehsan, all are linked to opposition parties as well as newspapers such Malaysiakini, which is pro-opposition. So how credible are these “independent” surveys and how confident are we with the results?

On the other hand, newspapers, academicians and prominent thinks tanks such as the International Islamic University Malaysia, University Utara Malaysia, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Politweet, Merdeka Center and Oriental Daily among others have also been conducting research on Malaysia’s electorates. Findings from the various studies have all churned out interesting results including that Malays’ support for Barisan Nasional (BN) remains strong and BN could possibly add more seats into its fold.

One must remember any study conducted will likely have a margin of error. It is just a matter of how big or small the margin of error is. Then there are flawed questions. These are questions that are biased or provide too little options. PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli had admitted that a question was poorly prepared in a survey done by Invoke. There is also the problem of too small of a sampling, which may not necessarily represent the views of the general population. Well you get the idea. Surveys are not full proof. That is a fact. One should also bear in mind that surveys do not take into account recent events such as the fall out within Pakatan Harapan over state seat negotiations. This will undoubtedly have an impact on voters’ sentiment.

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