Indonesia Votes, 11 July 2014
In the immediate aftermath of Indonesia’s presidential election, there has been intense scrutiny of not only a rack of quick count results, but the institutions conducting these and the media promoting their findings. In what was already a tight race between Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto, eight quick counts have Jokowi ahead while four show Prabowo leading. How should we read these quick counts? And how significant are they?
Quick count results are gleaned from a sample of final results from the polling station level—as distinct from exit polls, which are a survey of voters as they leave the polling station (and are therefore not final and subject to levels of voter comfort in honestly declaring their choice).
Campaign talking heads in Indonesia have attempted to discredit quick counts—particularly those that show results leaning against their candidate—by suggesting that surveying results from around 2,000 polling stations, from some 500,000 polling stations around the country, cannot give an accurate picture.
This is baloney. To paraphrase an old saying, you do not need to eat a whole bowl of soup to sample the flavor; just one taste will suffice—assuming all of the ingredients have been mixed well.
The “ingredients” refer to the methodology that ensures quick count integrity. Credible quick counts will use a random sample of polling stations, taking into account factors that have a sufficiently significant impact on the distribution of votes among voters across the country to ensure against bias in the data.