Pollster Peter Wickham under fire

For several Peter Wickham has travelled the Caribbean region making Political persuasion calls in which he claims to have scientifically predicted the elections outcomes in several countries.

What is unfortunate is that many persons are willing to promote these calls especially when it favours the political party that they support.

This year is no exception with Peter Wickham writing in the Barbados Nation Newspaper claiming that the UWP will win the elections by a 9:8 margin.

Most lamentable is the fact that the United Workers Party of Saint Lucia has hired him despite the fact that he failed the Saint Lucia Labour party in the 2006 elections.

In fact Peter Wickham has never been able to even “guess”  the right outcome of any elections in the Caribbean in his many years of parading as a scientific pollster and  political analyst.

Mr. Wickham has made these public statements over the years yet he has never disclosed or allowed any scrutiny to his research methodology data analysis and results. An ethical pollster would have disclosed his methodology, sampling method etc. and allow other professionals to scrutinize his work.

In fact the most horrific truth is that all investigations show that there is little or no evidence of persons being scientifically interviewed by Mr. Wickham in Saint Lucia despite the fact that both political parties have hired him to make statements that their party would win elections.

We must understand that these political persuasion calls or “push polls” are a campaign advocacy technique used to “push” a voter away from a particular candidate or issue and toward another – they are not a legitimate, scientific poll. Peter Wickham who is well schooled should know that a persuasion call under the guise of a poll is a particularly unethical and deceptive activity.

We Professional and ethical pollsters have been battling against “push poll” activities for years, seeking to educate consumers, political professionals, and legislators and regulators on the difference between bona fide research, and political persuasion under the guise of research – and the damage that such deceptive activities inflict on bona fide research.

The practice of “push polling” is abusive to voters, candidates, parties, and organizations.

More broadly, such effort abuses the research profession by giving recipients a mis-leading and negative view of what research is and how it works – making them much less likely to participate in future survey and opinion research studies.

In an era of ever-shrinking response rates, the research profession cannot afford such impugning by persons like Peter Wickham.

In short, “push polls” are designed solely to influence potential voters – sharing information instead of collecting it, and shaping opinion instead of analyzing it.

In short these actions are fraudulent, it is a clear violation of the code of ethics for pollsters, an assault on people’s rights to be educated and a degradation of the political process.

His actions should be condemned.

Perry Lendor
Institute of Public Policy & Social Research

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