Poll straw – Trump trumped

02/02/2016 | By | Reply More

An interesting set of results came in from the US caucuses last night. But it highlighted again that people don’t tell the truth to pollsters. I think I can explain.

Everybody hates an outsider

Nobody likes to be an outsider, apart from me it seems. But being an outsider is where some of the best decisions can be made. However it takes a great deal of strength to be different. So when a pollster phones you or harrases you in the street at a polling station its the brain age equivalent of a threat. You force an emotional reaction.


When you let emotion dictate a response you can pretty reliably predict how people will respond. In the case of polls, ‘I’ll act defensive and just say what I think they want to hear’. It’s like you are roaming an ancient landscape and see a bear in your way, you go and rationalise with the bear about why you are not a threat or do you take evasive action. When put under pressure, people instinctively act defensively.


When you engage your real rather than primitive brain then the result is remarkably different. As you evaluate the situation rationally you start putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. You think it through carefully and make a decision based on all outcomes. Sat in the quiet surroundings of the ballot box you start to make a judgement. Well, most of the time.

So I hypothesise that polls, especially political, are always likely to be errant unless you can survey in a way that doesn’t evoke emotion. From a trading perspective that’s ideal, as this often means that the market pricing is often likely to be errant. Trading heaven.

02-02-2016 14-46-42 - trump

Tags: , ,

Category: Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.