Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Politics Is Not About Numbers But Issues

A Catholic University professor of Sociology mentions in her column in the Peace Weekly that she approaches the subject of live broadcasting of public opinion surveys and exit polls with trepidation. 

Number of those questioned is very small, and the response is smaller still. Humans quickly change their minds. This makes the predictions unreliable, but they continue to take the pulse of the electorate. Exit polls are also often wrong. Why do they continue when the expenses are so large? The reason is that live broadcasting of the results gets many viewers and the price of  advertising increases:  making the surveys and those who broadcast the results all benefit.

Many years before we began converting  public opinion into  political numbers, we were doing it in the financial field. Numbers become the reality with which we think we are dealing.  We forget what the numbers represent, and only remember the numbers. This is what happened in 2008 during the financial crisis.

Korea's history with political parties is short and consequently; changing of party names continues. It takes about ten years to determine exactly what  a special area of study is all about. In politics, newcomers are welcomed and the learning begins.
Election time brings the nominating of candidates for the different parties, and pressures begin, for they again use numbers often to select the candidates. Difference of candidates, policies, the meaning of reform all is figured out by numbers. Going from quantity to quality takes time and is difficult. All of this is determined by public polls and surveys: policies and discussion yield to numbers. When one candidate leads another by just one percentage point, all discussion disappears.

We were all surprised at the results of our recent election on April 13th. We saw that the results of the surveys and polling were not accurate. Very little was said about this except that  polling used home phones rather than mobile homes ( the younger generation was not contacted). Political words were translated into numbers, and numbers were converted into our social reality. No one gave this any concern. 

Voters this past election were alert, and they made a collective appeal to intelligence. It's  nonsense to think that live broadcasting of  public opinion will help us understand issues. She hopes public opinion numbers will be ignored, and we go directly to discussing politics. This past election helped us to wake up.

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