Nothing like trusting yourself

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Herding has become a real challenge in politics. And I think it has something to do with our society becoming more and more interconnected. In Austria, seven polling institutes published surveys prior to the last election. Their numbers were all similar and they were all wrong – notably with respect to the losses of the FPOE. It’s possible that they all undersampled FPOE-voters. But I think it’s more likely that herding was the issue. If a poll is different from all the others, it sure will get a lot of media attention. So pollsters adjust their weighing to fit in.

In 2016, all pundits said that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. I remember that a few days before the election, her chances of winning went down a little bit in Nate Silver’s model (who correctly argued that Clinton’s position in the electoral college was weaker than Obama’s). During the closing of the campaign, Silver got a lot of heat for that, so on election day, Clinton’s chances in the model went up again. We all know what ultimately happened.

In my consulting work, I often tell candidates and parties both in Switzerland and abroad to do things differently from all the others. It takes a lot of courage! I’m not advising to do things differently for the sake of doing it differently. And being different in itself may not be enough. But if it’s based on a coherent, sound strategy, it may be the way to go. There is nothing better than trusting yourself.

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