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Bean poll set to predict election winner

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bean poll set to predict election winner

A consumer poll that involves voters putting coffee beans in plastic holders has advantages over traditional polling methodologies, says a top academic expert.

Dr Andrew Balemi, from the University of Auckland's Department of Statistics, says the Muffin Break Bean Poll, held by the muffin and coffee chain since 2002, takes into consideration the communal strategy employed by voters, unlike traditional phone polls.

Held a month prior to the last three general elections, the Bean Poll has predicted the winning party every time - even in 2005 when the Labour Party won with a narrow margin over National.

Dr Balemi, whose area of expertise is in polls, surveys, market research and consumer behaviour, says the Muffin Break Bean Poll has advantages over other polling methodologies.

"While there's been no external validation* of the Bean Poll's accuracy on scientific principles, it's certainly fun. It strikes me as a low tech equivalent of election prediction markets which are popular in the United States and have proven to be reasonably accurate in the past," he says.

"One thing that the Bean Poll does have as opposed to a prediction method such as a telephone poll is that it takes into account the social aspect of the decision-making process whereby voters use the information from other voters to vote tactically."

The Bean Poll is the largest of its kind in New Zealand. More than 120,000 people cast their vote for their preferred party with a coffee bean in the month leading up to the 2008 general election.

Starting tomorrow and running throughout the four weeks leading up to this year's November 26 election, customers at Muffin Break's 36 stores from Whangarei to Dunedin will each be given a coffee bean, which they can use to vote for their preferred party by placing it in the relevant holder in-store.

The results are then tallied to give an overall picture of how Kiwis will vote on election day.

Muffin Break General Manager Garry Croft says the Bean Poll has become more and more popular every election year and 2011 will be no exception.

Additionally, for the first time this election people will also be able to cast their vote online as well as in-store.

"We love having a bit of fun around the election and feedback from our customers every time we have run the Bean Poll shows that they love it too," says Mr Croft.

"Plus, if it gets people thinking about the election and who they will vote for on November 26, we've played a part in the democratic process."

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