May 20 2019


The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) today announced that it would be conducting a review of political polling methods in Australia with a view to determining why all the election polls incorrectly called the outcome at Saturday’s Federal election and how methods can be improved in the future.

“As the election results started to roll in on Saturday night, a lot of Australians would have been asking the question ‘How could all of the polling companies call the Federal Election result incorrectly?’” said Craig Young, AMSRO President.

“Political polling has an important place in Australian society and the reality is that it is not going away. So it is important that polling companies take this opportunity to improve their collective accuracy, because nowadays accurate polling underpins the operation of a modern well-functioning democracy. It’s also important for the credibility of the polling companies, as well as the wider market research industry, that the public has confidence in the results of the major polls. The results are taken seriously by political parties and the general public, so as an industry we need to get it right.”

AMSRO will be approaching the media organisations and other clients who commission political polling to participate in the review, and will also seek the involvement of companies who undertake their own polling.
“While the detailed terms of reference of the review are still to be worked out, it will no doubt include looking at the sample source and sampling, interviewing methods and analysis techniques used. In terms of the sample sources used, I note that access to a single, comprehensive, national sample source for telephone interviewing, such as the Integrated Public Number Database, is not currently available to the industry. This will no doubt be one key issue for the review to explore,” Young said.

Ipsos CEO Simon Wake, whose company produces the Ipsos Poll, said: “We welcome the review and as an AMSRO member company we look forward to participating. While our published figures on the two party preferred outcome did not accurately predict the final outcome, they were within the poll’s margin of error. We do, however, believe it is important we do better in future.

“Ipsos upholds the very highest standards of polling using interviewer conducted telephone surveying with sampling based on randomly generated mobile phone and landline numbers, coupled with demographic quotas and weighting to Australian Bureau of Statistics population numbers. While we strongly believe our approach is robust, we recognise there is work to be done to understand why our results differed from the final election outcomes and how to best address this in future polling. Separate to the AMSRO review, we will be conducting an assessment of our polling over coming weeks with our local team and the global Ipsos polling experts.”

Young said: “lt is important to note that in Australia, we have a long history of the major polls usually getting it right. That makes it critical that we look at what might have changed recently in terms of methods employed, sample sources used, and the environment within which polls are conducted, to get to the bottom of what went wrong and how we can do better as an industry.

“Similar reviews have been undertaken in recent years in the US and UK, also in response to the polling results not matching election outcomes, so there are international precedents for what may have happened to polling accuracy, as well as industry responses. AMSRO looks forward to working with the polling companies, and those who commission the polls, so we can share knowledge and try to improve our approaches. I think it’s what the Australian voting public expects and deserves, and is also vital to the perceived credibility of our industry.”
The review will commence this week with the establishment of terms of reference and the formation of a review panel, and is expected to release its report in July.