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September 23, 2017

Should Kenyans believe the pollsters? Certainly

Pollsters creditability
Pollsters creditability

Clients come to survey companies like GeoPoll because they trust them to provide impartial data to show them when they are doing well and where they can improve.

This is a key characteristic of Market Research ethics. GeoPoll is a proud member of the market research organisation ESOMAR, and we adhere to its guidelines that ensure that survey companies maintain trust with both respondents and clients when carrying out important work.

ESOMAR is the global voice of the data, research and insights community and it is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the value of market, opinion and social research and data analytics. It has been providing ethical and professional guidance and advocating for 70 years.

GeoPoll works with brands and organizations worldwide to help them make decisions to better serve you and your community.

We at GeoPoll do not conduct political polls, but what I can say is that the beauty of a sample survey is that it depends on the sample size and confidence level chosen.

For statistics that are approximately normally distributed, a sample size of 2,000 individuals would yield a maximum margin of error of ±2.19 at the 95 per cent confidence level.

This means if 50 per cent of respondents reported they liked the color blue, 95 times out of 100 we would expect the true value of the population to lie somewhere between roughly 48 per cent and 52 per cent. There are other types of non-sampling errors that must be managed and reported in order for a poll or survey to claim to be representative of the population. It is essential to be skeptical of any survey that is run and make sure the entire methodology is shared and available for review. This is true in Kenya and anywhere else a sample survey is run.

Should Kenyans believe the pollsters? Certainly. While Kenya, like many countries, is certainly complex and varied, a well-conducted randomized sample survey can provide useful estimates of population statistics, like anywhere else in the world. Surveys must be done in a way that is randomized and transparent and by a reputable agency.

Because we do not conduct opinion polls on the popularity of political candidates and their parties, we would not want to comment on the decision by NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga to contract US opinion polling firm Zogby.

Richman is a Data Scientist at GeoPoll

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