Voters not helped by botched opinion polls

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2000, 12:00am

In the closely contested US presidential race the real loser was the US media and thereby American democracy.

Having watched the race and been informed at about 10am Hong Kong time, on Wednesday (9pm eastern US time) that all the US media stated that the crucial result in Florida was won by Democratic candidate Al Gore, I was amazed to hear about 1.5 hours later that this result was now in doubt.

At one stage it was declared it had gone to George W. Bush, before going to a recount.

This is particularly important in a nation where time zones mean that polling stations in the western part of the county including many large states such as California, Arizona and Oregon were still open for voting.

No satisfactory explanation was given for the assumption made by the media of the Florida result.

In a number of European countries there are restrictions on the publication of opinion polls in the days leading up a national election.

The events of the US presidential election would seem amply to justify such rules in favour of personal choice and democracy.