Thursday, February 21, 2008

SMS Polls

Deccan Chronicle runs an SMS poll everyday, asking for readers' opinions on one of the burning issues of the day ('Do u thk v shd lynch SRK pblcly or in prvt?'). Now, what kind of folks take part in such polls? It's not like all the entries are placed in a lucky draw or something. If people still send in their votes, it's either because they are interested in shaping public opinion (i.e. vested interests), or they think voicing their opinions will lead to a more informed public discourse.

Both of these reasons don't seem plausible to me, especially in light of the poll numbers; invariably the percentages are too round for my liking, like 60% ayes and 40% nays: it's exceedingly unlikely that the total number of votes was a multiple of 100. Yeah I know, the stated percentage can be reached for any total, say, 50 (30/20), but this actually leads me to my postulate: I suspect that the totals are usually less than 100. Knowing DC, I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually in the single digits -- a DC reporter, his editor and the typesetter voting 'Aye', and said reporter's wife and dog voting 'Nay'.

A look at the results of yesterday's poll: 76% for 'Yes', 24% for 'No'. Hmmm, what's the smallest number that yields whole numbers for these percentages? 25, I think. I bet the DC folks are jumping with joy.