You know when you follow the elections in countries like the USA (yes, we know you do) and you hear stuff like, ‘the Democrats are ahead according to polls.’ They will be referring to opinion polls taken. Opinion polls being surveys of public opinion from particular samples.
Although we tend to associate polls with elections and politics, they can be taken for a variety of matters. The information gathered is useful to many organisations and individuals and so it is quite exciting that there is now an opinion poll platform in Zimbabwe: Voices of Zimbabwe.
So what or who is Voices of Zimbabwe?
We are a community of opinion-makers, influencers and leaders sharing our opinions and shaping the future of our country. The organisations involved are Zimbabwe Alliance and Research and Advocacy Unit.
So if there is matter for which public opinion is required, members of the community are asked to respond and that opinion is taken to be representative of the opinion of all Zimbabweans.
Now you might be wondering just how they chose who gets to join that community because a poll is only as good as its sample. Voices of Zimbabwe has an open invitation to all Zimbabweans, from every walk of life to join the community.
How does one join?
You simply send your age, province and gender to +263 782 794 640 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By providing that information those looking at the poll results (this includes you) get a better picture of not only what but who thinks what.
The information on the composition of the community was shared. The average age of respondents is 36 years old and 75% were men. You can find more about the make up of the community on Voices of Zimbabwe’s social media accounts.
Several polls have already been taken and shared to social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. One of the polls taken asked people whether they marched on 18 November 2017 and also what they were hoping would happen. The poll results are also shared on their platform’s social media accounts so head on there to check it out for yourself.
A few things to remember
As you peruse the poll results remember that polls only give an indication and not guarantees. You cannot possibly poll the entire population and so you have to choose a sample. In this case the sample is made up of volunteers who have access to the internet, which is not representative of all Zimbabweans as the active internet penetration rate in this country is just below 50%.
The most recent American presidential elections are the best example of polls giving a false picture. The polls taken had Hillary Clinton leading by a comfortable margin only for her to lose to Donald Trump.
Sometimes it so happens that the sample is quite skewed, for example an online poll in Zimbabwe only gives a faint picture of what the Urbanites think as most in the rural areas, who actually make up the majority of Zimbabwe’s population, are not included.
Sometimes people lie on polls when they know that their opinion is not the popular one. Come election day, the truth comes out on the ballot which often leads to accusations of cheating by the loser who had confidence as a result of polls. That’s why election polls are often wrong with some even questioning if they are even necessary as a result.
This is not to say let us ignore Voices of Zimbabwe, it’s the contrary actually. Election polls are hard but most polls will be helpful, especially after the sample is analysed along with the poll results. For Voices of Zimbabwe to best serve us, as many people as possible need to join the platform. Let’s all do that.