How did you feel when you read about the public opinion poll released to the media on July 7? Did you feel: A) much happier, B) slightly happier, C) ambivalent or D) not happy at all? The opinion poll in question is the one by Suan Dusit that reported 90% of respondents feeling happier after the National Council for Peace (NCPO) took charge of the country. You might be confused by how the poll would measure post-coup happiness in Thailand. You also might deduct that the biggest beneficiary of the poll result is the NCPO, the coup maker, as it can point to confirmation of its popularity. Those with a neutral political stance might thus be feeling left out of the majority sentiment.
This example illustrates the power of polls in Thai politics. Despite being created in order to understand public opinion and behaviour, polling is more often used as a tool for politicians to advance their goals. For Jerome Hervio, managing director of Ipsos (Thailand), a respected research firm, there are a few things the public and media need to know about polls before reading, writing or making decisions based on their results.