Findings of international expert study on election polls in Georgia

19 Jun, 2013

New research indicates that the credibility of Georgia’s presidential election polls could be at risk if 2012 issues are repeated. The report, Making Public Polling Matter in Georgia, commissioned by the Open Society Georgia Foundation and the Open Society Think Tank Fund, in partnership with international researcher associations ESOMAR and WAPOR, highlights a combination of factors, which impaired the predictive ability of pre-election polls in Georgia’s controversial 2012 parliamentary elections. These factors risk damaging the credibility of polls for Georgia’s forthcoming presidential elections unless urgent steps are taken.

Georgia’s historic 2012 parliamentary elections involved an intense campaign between the government and a single opposition party. Elections polls differed widely from each other throughout the campaign and from the election’s final results. In the wake of the election, polls were subject to intense criticism about their accuracy, their methodology, and the motives of those who conducted them.

The report finds that unwillingness to participate in polls by some Georgians, concerns about privacy, media coverage which exploited polls as election PR and an unexpected campaign event reported two weeks before the election all negatively influenced pre-election polling accuracy.

“In advance of this year’s presidential elections in October, the report details important recommendations which need to be applied if similar issues are to be avoided”, commented Kathy Frankovic, who chairs the international team of experts. Our research evaluates Georgia’s election polls against international standards and has found that although polling organizations in Georgia are serious and responsible, there are clear areas for improvement in the way election polls are conducted and reported.”

In addition to external influences such as media, the methodology of different polling agencies also played a role. Differences in questionnaires regarding how and when respondents were asked their party preference, as well as how polling organizations handled undecided voters, resulted in poll differences as well as the timing of the poll.

Making Public Polling Matter in Georgia recommends that polling organizations in Georgia take steps as an industry to adopt international standards and guidelines and highlights that transparency and the disclosure of methods can help raise the standard of opinion polls. The report also advises that those who use and report polls, including poll sponsors, journalists, media organizations and political parties, should improve their understanding of polls to instill public confidence in polls and increase participation.

“We must ensure that polls regain their status before October’s elections, so that they can provide information for decision-makers about the hopes and desires of their electorate and useful information to Georgians citizens so that they are well informed and represented in political debate in their country,” noted Frankovic. 




Full findings of the report can be accessed here:



1. In the spring of 2013, the Open Society Think Tank Fund and the Open Society Georgia Foundation in partnership with international associations of survey researchers ESOMAR and WAPOR, invited a panel of international experts to evaluate Georgian polls using international standards, and to recommend ways to improve the quality of

 conducting, publishing and using polls in Georgia, in order to bring such practice closer to globally-recognized standards.

2. The panel interviewed more than 40 people associated with Georgian elections and public opinion research. The panel explored claims of respondents’ unwillingness to be interviewed, criticisms of poor survey conduct, looked into news coverage about the election polls, as well as the election campaign itself.

3. Full details of the panel and research methodology are available in the report.

Read the full report here.