Sonce Leoparddrengen reminded us about election night 1998, I thought I would write some words about what happened back then and why I still do not trust Danish TV when it comes to election coverage in general and opinion polls and forecasts in particular.
Now, 1998 was a very special election because it was one of the tightest elections in many years. In the end a couple of hundred votes decided that the government of Social Democrats and Social Liberals could continue for another term. But the margin of error was an issue right to the end when pollsters were making forecasts.
Not that this bothered any of the Danish TV stations covering the election. If you watched DR, the left wing had won and if you watched TV2 the right wing had won. No mentioning that there were problems in making forecasts and definitively no mentioning that the two broadcasters were making different predictions.
This went so far that the TV stations instructed politicians not to refer to competing forecasts – any glimpse of doubt would obviously ruin the framing performed by the respective stations. That the left wing eventually won is of less importance here – DR was just as guilty in misrepresenting the proceedings as TV2. The entire thing left me with the feeling that whatever the broadcasters were doing, it had nothing to do with reporting the counting of votes, and since then I have basically distrusted Danish TV when it came to covering election results.
The TV stations have done their best to live up to my lack of trust. Since 1998, the early prognoses have been supplemented with “exit polls” which are published increasingly early on election day. Today we had forecasts coming out during the afternoon. Not that either DR or TV2 had learnt anything from the 2009 fiasco when one of the stations during the afternoon confidently predicted that revision of the Succession Act was close to being rejected.
So, to make things clear: Anything published before 2100 CEST is pure and utter guesswork. We should have a picture of where the election is going at around 2200 CEST and a result between 2230 and 0000 CEST.