Pseudo ratings as a weapon: political technologies in the mayoral election in Kharkiv

Can the publication of the results of various polls affect voters? Where does sociology end and agitation programming begin? Observatory of Democracy investigated how and why non-representative opinion polls were used in the 2021 election campaign in Kharkiv in September.

“Open sociology” or agitation technology?

Sociological polls have become a traditional element of the election campaigns in Ukraine. According to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, at the end of 2020, 41% of Ukrainians said they trusted the results of polls from sociological organisations that have been working for a long time and publishing the results of their research (21% did not trust, others did not answer).

At the same time, firstly, it is difficult for the ordinary voters to distinguish “long-working sociologists” from others; secondly, “veterans” of the sociological market who try to maintain their monopoly have also demonstrated their political involvement (for example, using manipulations at the stage of formulating questions and answer options as well as due to the stable overestimation of the ratings of certain politicians, which have become apparent after the election day).

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