Don’t Get Carried Away With Survey Stats


Public opinion pollster Merdeka Center has reported a drop in prime minister Najib Razak’s popularity, falling 2 percent since December last year to 61 percent as at January 2013.Over the past 12 months, Najib’s popularity has steadily declined from 69 percent.

“The survey shows that satisfaction among Chinese and Indians respectively remain at 34 and 75 percent, but among Malays it has dropped 4 percent from 77 to 73 percent,” says the research centre.

Read more here and here.

The Opposition supporters will cheer on this and BN supporters will cry foul over this. Just what does the survey results actually prove?


Let’s not get carried away reading the Merdeka Survey results. Always remember that although they say there is a 3% error, in actual fact it is probably much higher given the way the survey is done.

Also, surveys are not exact science but useful attempts to show trends depending on the way the questions are asked and what you want to squeeze out of the numbers.

Did you know that the survey sample size was 1,021 in number?

Did you know there is over 13 million registered voters for GE13?

Did you know that slightly over 3 million of this number are new voters?

Although care was taken by Merdeka Centre to simulate racial balance, it will be difficult to include age, gender, urban-rural ratios, etc to get a more realistic view. The sample size for one is just too small, representing 0.0078% of the electorate views.

To be fair, they have regularly surveyed using similar sampling sizes and recorded the trend of the selected populace to chart a trend.

Since this is not exact science and the quality of the survey may not be high, one can generally observe the trend and surmise from there.

Note that this is not to be mistaken that it is how voters will vote but a snapshot of how those surveyed are feeling at the time this was conducted.

The trend shows the popularity of Najib falling over the past period. It may not be a material fall given a small sampling size. But it may reinforce those who feel that Najib is losing his popularity battle with recent events like Deepak expose and the events surrounding the flawed land deal.

As long as we are not carried away and treat such survey results as a snapshot feeling of those who participated in the survey, then all is well.

Najib won’t be losing sleep over this. The Opposition should not be celebrating either. The polls are coming and both BN and PR must step up their act as the results point to a perception that it is a close fight.

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