There have been a number of polls released on support for political parties, ahead of the 2019 national and provincial elections. The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) for one, has done two over the past three months and there will be more to come as election day approaches. Market research of this kind is often misunderstood and poorly reported on. It might be helpful, then, to generate a rough guide as to the strengths and weaknesses of polls, so that those people interested in them can get a better idea of how to read them, what their limitations are, and what value can be drawn from them. These are some general observations. There are three broad points to make upfront. The first thing to understand is that any poll can only tell you what it can tell you. They are not crystal balls; they cannot predict the future and no poll, ever, can tell you with 100% certainty what the current situation is. Every poll has a set of limitations built into it. That said, within those limitation...

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