Polling in SA is a mess, if not a scandal. In Brazil, Canada, the UK, Australia and elsewhere polling is regulated. If you publish polling results you are obliged to make public your method. Not so in SA. Anyone can say they’ve conducted a poll and release the findings, and if you ask how they reached their conclusions they are not obliged to show you.

We have in SA a natural experiment in what happens in a world without regulation. The results sometimes border on the comic. When Change Starts Now released the results of the poll it commissioned in February it failed to reallocate nonresponses, in effect fabricating a new party with 18% of the vote. The Brenthurst Foundation’s poll carried glaring internal contradictions — a 10-minute exercise in simple arithmetic rendered some of its key results puzzling. We are not talking here about fine differences of interpretation, but of work that is just bad...

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