Forced votes: How to ruin your online poll

by Jonathan Wellons

If you loosely follow the US presidential party nominations like I do, you know the second republican debate was last night. I heard there were surprisingly strong results for Ron Paul in the MSNBC online survey, so I thought I'd have a look myself at

Six questions, a vote button, then a little note instructing me to "Vote to see results." Well, I didn't watch the debate and can't even name all the candidates, so I'd really like to just see the results. If I were to make up answers, it would serve only to inflate the size of their sample with garbage.

Well... who knows, maybe they thought of this and I'm just supposed to press the Vote button with no selections to get through. Nope, a pop-up informs me to "Please make a choice before submitting your vote."

So I did.


2007-06-07 12:06:15
if the vote was affected by this i would have expected Brownback (the first in the alphabetical list) to receive a large number of votes in each category. he didn't...
Jonathan Wellons
2007-06-07 12:19:27
Thanks jester,

I would expect the easiest thing to click to be higher, and that's Tom Tancredo on the last question since he's closest to the Vote button and where you find out you have to vote before you can see the results. Tom Tancredo's score on the last question is more than 5 percentage points higher than his score on any other question. Similarily, Tommy Thompson, who is perhaps the second easiest to choose, is up to 3 points higher on the last question than any other.