Becoming a statistic

So there I was, trying to catch up on all the sleep I’d missed out on during the week, when the phone rang. “Hello, could I please speak to the person over 18 in the house who most recently had a birthday?” That would be me. “I’m calling from Newspoll…”

Political polling is like the Oztam TV ratings; the ratings must come from somewhere, but you never hear of anyone who’s ever actually been polled. (I’m an exception there - one of the regular readers of this blog was in the Nielsen people meter pool a few years ago. This may have explained a sudden surge in the ratings for Buffy.) The interesting thing about being Newspolled is the variety of topics they cover. Typically, when you see “Newspoll” or “Roy Morgan”, you think “voting intentions” or “preferred prime minister” - and they did ask about my voting intentions. Given that the Labor Party is having a little bit of leadership trouble at the moment, they were very interested in my opinion on who should lead the party going forward - and would I prefer that person or John Howard in an election. There were other questions as well, mostly geared around brand recognition. Was I aware that certain groups were associated with the Deaflympics; where would I go to buy a wood heater; what brands of tinned tuna and tomatoes would I buy. I suppose it’s nice to know that I’m influencing the marketing decisions of outdoor furniture companies. It’s more interesting (in a political-geeky way) to know that sometime early next week, Very Important People In Canberra will pick up The Australian and see that out of 1200 Australians, at least one of them knows about the Deaflympics, and can name Ardmona as a brand of canned tomatoes without being prompted. (On an unrelated note, it’s about time someone implemented something like “nofollow”. Aside from putting a dent in comment spam, bloggers can finally link to things they disapprove of without giving PageRank bonuses to the linked page.)