The Coalition takes the lead

Taloustutkimus, the polling company used by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), has come up with a new poll (fi) on party support, the first one I've seen since the election. The National Coalition Party has taken the lead with 24.1 percent. The party's best parliamentary election result ever is 23.1 percent from 1987, so they're flying high indeed. The Centre Party follows in second place at 23 percent and the Social Democratic Party are third at 20.7 percent. Behind the big three, the Green League has passed the Left Alliance, 9.4 percent to 8.2 percent, and the True Finns are up to 4.5 percent.

The figures suggest that the new government is enjoying something of a honeymoon with the voters. This applies especially to the two new government parties, the Coalition and the Greens, which are also the two parties the opposition has criticized the most. Apparently the criticism hasn't had much of an effect, at least for now. The Centre in particular has received remarkably little flack from the opposition considering their leading role in the government. The appointment of Paavo Väyrynen as Foreign Trade Minister was widely attacked, of course, but that mostly came from the media, not opposition politicians.

YLE and Taloustutkimus have discussed (fi) how to improve on the results of previous polls, which have been criticized for underrating the Coalition's support. According to Taloustutkimus, the problem was the Coalition's unusually low support in the 2003 parliamentary election. My understanding is that pollsters don't generally trust that their sample of respondents is truly representative and therefore adjust the figures in various ways. The idea is to use the turnout from previous elections to build a turnout model that tells the pollster which respondents' answers to emphasize. Taloustutkimus's turnout model was bad because they didn't account for the increase of enthusiasm amount certain types of voters who favored the Coalition.

The problems with the previous results shouldn't be exaggerated. In absolute numbers Taloustutkimus's estimate of the Coalition's support have mostly been passable - within the margin of error in the recent election. The issue was that the difference was large enough to relegate the Social Democrats to third place and raise the Coalition to second - and into government. Had there been a similar error which didn't affect the the parties' order, it would have hardly caused any consternation.

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