What conspiracy theories do Brits believe? Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on August 16th, 2018 by Leo – Be the first to comment

On this week’s Polling Matters Keiran and I take a different approach to the podcast and look at public opinion on conspiracy theories using some exclusive polling from Opinium.

How many Brits think the earth is flat? Is Elvis alive? Were the moon landings faked? Is Paul dead? Is Nessie real? And how about climate change and chemtrails?

Also on the show, we discuss how Corbyn’s latest troubles might impact the polls and what the public think about Boris Johnson’s recent comments on the Burka.

 

Are the public turning against Brexit and what do they really think of Communism? Polling Matters

Posted in Bad polling, Politics, Polling Matters on August 2nd, 2018 by Leo – Be the first to comment

This week’s Polling Matters podcast is split into three parts.

In part one: Keiran and I discuss this week’s Sky Data poll and look at the evidence for whether the public really are turning against Brexit and what this might mean for the debate in Westminster.

In part two: we look at some exclusive Opinium polling on different political systems and ideologies. What do the public think about socialism and capitalism? Is communism really being rehabilitated? And what do the public really understand about the different ideological terms that are often bandied about in the press

In part three: I ask about who pays for polling and how much we should know / pollsters should be made to publish about who pays for their work (see my previous articles about this here).

 

Deal or no deal Brexit, support for the far right and the death penalty – Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 26th, 2018 by Leo – Be the first to comment

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast Keiran and I look at the levels of public support for a no-deal Brexit and how that may factor in to decisions in Westminster.

Also on the podcast, we look at polling on support for the far-right and other potential new parties by YouGov as well as public support for the death penalty in light of Sajid Javid’s decision not to seek assurances that suspected British Jihadis will not face execution when facing trial in the United States.

 

ComRes and We, The People back with another loaded poll

Posted in Bad polling on July 16th, 2018 by Leo – 1 Comment

ComRes and We, The People, a new secretly-funded right-wing lobby group, are back with another loaded poll – a few weeks after they got the Mail to cover their pro-Brexit poll.

This poll got the Mail’s front page today, with the claim most people think the police have lost control of the streets.

As with the pro-Brexit poll, the design of this survey is likely to have helped the We, The People get the answers they wanted. Here are a few of the problems with the poll:

  • An early question asks whether respondents have seen a police officer on their street in the last year – a ridiculously high bar (how much time do you actually spend looking at your street? A couple of minutes a day?). Not surprisingly, most people said no, preparing them to think policing is insufficient when they come to the next questions.
  • When the idea of political correctness is introduced, respondents are led to see it as something that limits the police’s effectiveness. Respondents are forced to choose between: “The police feel like they’re on my side with my priorities and interests at heart” and “The police increasingly feel as if they have their own politically correct agenda which does not match my interests”. This assumes political correctness is opposed to respondents’ interests: the choice is between being politically correct and acting in respondents’ interests. While it’s normal for these questions (known as polarities) to force respondents to choose between extreme positions, this question conflates two different debates (are the police politically correct? is that good or bad?) and in doing so leads respondents to think negatively about political correctness in policing.
  • In a series of statements, which respondents can agree or disagree with, six of the seven are phrased where agreement gives the answer that We, The People presumably wanted. This is bad polling practice. If you really want to measure public opinion you ask a question that presents both sides of an argument equally, then allow respondents to choose which they are closer to. Or if you really have to ask agree/disagree questions, the questions should be balanced overall so you’re not pushing a particular argument and you can compare skewed questions against each other.

In fairness, the poll is less bad than the previous one: the wording of each individual question is less skewed this time. But the order and overall balance of the questions still add up to a loaded poll.

A good guide of a fair poll is that you shouldn’t be able to guess the view of the organisation commissioning the poll from the questions. This clearly fails that.

It is also arguable the poll fails the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct, which says (33d) “Members must take reasonable steps to ensure … that participants are not led towards a particular point of view”.

Amusingly, despite the leading questions, the poll still got some results that the Mail choose to ignore, including:

  • 48% agreed “The police need to act with political correctness as it encourages acceptance and decency in society”, with 32% disagreeing (strangely, this was missed off We, The People’s press release).
  • 59% agreed “Hate crime is a blight on our society and the police are right to try to tackle it” compared with 24% saying “The concept of hate crime is well intentioned but threatens Britain’s heritage of free speech and open expression”.

 

Emergency podcast: Bye bye Boris & what happens next? Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on July 9th, 2018 by Leo – Be the first to comment

On a special episode of the Polling Matters podcast, Keiran and I discuss a momentous 24 hours in Westminster that has seen both David Davis and Boris Johnson resign. We ask what happens next and look at what polling of Tory members by YouGov tells us about the future direction of the Conservative Party and who might come to lead it.

 

Pollsters and hedge funds; Heathrow expansion – Polling Matters

Posted in Climate Sock, Politics, Polling Matters on June 27th, 2018 by Leo – Be the first to comment

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and I look at a recent Bloomberg story investigating links between hedge funds and pollsters on the day of the EU referendum.

We also talk about public opinion on Heathrow and the environment and ask what Blair hopes to achieve with his latest intervention (and why David Cameron seems to be so quiet).

NHS funding, ‘Brexit dividends’ and UK drugs policy – Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on June 20th, 2018 by Leo – Comments Off on NHS funding, ‘Brexit dividends’ and UK drugs policy – Polling Matters

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and I look at public opinion on the NHS as it hits 70 years old in light of the government’s promise to pump in extra cash. Keiran takes us through what the public think of the policy and whether they would accept tax rises to pay for it alongside data on how perceptions of the quality of care provided by the NHS have changed over time.

Later in the show, I look at public opinion on UK drug laws, especially those related to cannabis as the government looks to change the law and discusses how policy might shift in the future. I also raises the important distinction between ‘decimalisation’ and ‘legalisation’ that appears to go over many commentators heads.

Finally, we briefly look at US public opinion on the Trump administration’s policy of separate children of immigrants from their parents at the US border. Spoiler alert: it’s very unpopular.

Trump meets Kim and parliament votes on Brexit – Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on June 13th, 2018 by Leo – Comments Off on Trump meets Kim and parliament votes on Brexit – Polling Matters

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast, Keiran and I discuss Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. We debate the significance of the meeting and what happens now while Keiran takes us through the latest polling on Trump that shows what his re-election campaign might look like, why he remains in a tough spot and why these negotiations with North Korea could make or break him.

Later in the show, we discuss this week’s events in parliament. I go through some recent polling by Opinium on what the public think of the single market, freedom of movement and the impact that Brexit will have on their own personal finances. Finally, we discuss what might happen in the Autumn and what successfully navigating Brexit will mean for Theresa May’s legacy.

Pro-Brexit survey is a long list of loaded questions

Posted in Bad polling, Europe on May 23rd, 2018 by Leo – 2 Comments

A poll on the House of Lords and Brexit, doing the rounds today, apparently shows the upper house is seen as out of tune with the public, would be wrong to try to stop Brexit and so on.

A glance at ComRes’s data tables is enough to throw up doubts about the results (the tables were published promptly after the Mail ran the story, so credit on that).

The fundamental problem is that the questions were nearly all one-sided agree/disagree questions, with each one loaded against the Lords and Remainers. A couple of examples:

  • It would be wrong for the House of Lords to try and thwart Brexit [“thwart”!]
  • It is wrong that the House of Lords has already voted against the government on Brexit 14 times
  • There are currently 780 members of the Lords compared to 650 MPs in the Commons. This is too many

If you really want to measure public opinion you ask a question that presents both sides of an argument equally, then allow respondents to choose which they are closer to. Or if you really have to ask agree/disagree questions, the collection of the questions should be balanced so you’re not pushing a particular argument and you can compare the skewed questions against each other.

A good guide of a fair poll is that you shouldn’t be able to guess the view of the organisation commissioning the poll from the questions. This clearly fails that.

The poll was done for a new pro-Brexit campaign called “We, the People”. Their website gives few clues about who they are, other than that the Fitzrovia-based outfit is a “grassroots campaigning group” that wants to “remind the liberal metropolitan elite of the ‘other Britain'”.

After the barrage of anti-Lords and pro-Brexit messages, respondents are given the opportunity to describe the Lords in terms like “out of tune with the will of the British people”  and “an outdated throwback”. They do unsurprisingly well.

The poll hasn’t broken any rules, but surveys with such skewed questions hardly help rebuild trust in the industry.

What drives how we vote? Customs Unions & Northern Ireland – Polling Matters

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters on May 16th, 2018 by Leo – Comments Off on What drives how we vote? Customs Unions & Northern Ireland – Polling Matters

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast, Keiran and I look at the demographic and ideological trends shaping UK politics and how they drive voting intention.

We also look at public opinion on customs unions and the impact that polling is having on Theresa May’s calculations when it comes to Northern Ireland.