5 years of this blog: my favourite 5 charts

I’ve been writing this blog for five years.  Most grateful to anyone who’s bothered to read it and to everyone who’s re-posted it or used my findings elsewhere.

In the spirit of these things, here are my five favourite charts that I’ve produced over the years:

5. Most people don’t understand the word ‘progressive’ 

Words are useful when they help people understand things. The word ‘progressive’ has become code among politics people for left-wing, or perhaps centre-left, or perhaps liberal in general.

It seems more common in the US and perhaps there people understand it as meaning ‘left-wing’. They don’t here though.

Here, for most people it has no political meaning at all: it just means “someone I like”:

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4. Wind farms are really popular, even when they’re built nearby

On one level I sort of understand the Tory Party’s opposition to wind farms. I’m sure there are some people that viscerally hate them, maybe even majorities in some communities, and perhaps Tory policy wonks think they’re a bad investment.

But the way some senior Tories talk, it’s as if wind farms are as popular neighbours as paedophile collectives – particularly compared with how they talk about fracking. They seem to assume that wind farms are hated, and everyone knows they’re hated.

Which is odd, because this is what people think about potential local power sources:

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3. People no longer think the monarchy make Britain better

Support for abolishing the monarchy remains barely above Lib Dem voting intent. Republicanism does not feel like a movement whose time is coming any time soon.

Yet there has been one dramatic, and largely unremarked, change in people’s attitudes to the monarchy.

From the mid-’80s to mid-’90s there was a collapse in the numbers who thought Britain would be worse off without a monarchy. Not many think we’d be better off – the winner was indifference.

Not enough for a revolution, but perhaps enough to begin preparing the ground for one.

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2. Climate scepticism is complicated

While just under 60% say that climate change is real and man-made, around a third say it’s real but natural, and a small number say it’s all a hoax.

But the views of many of those who say they disagree with most scientists are a bit odd. Because when you scratch the surface, it seems that they might not be quite as doubting of climate change as they initially suggest.

After the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 published an Accord to cut worldwide emissions, a poll found that the large majority of people who said climate change wasn’t real or man-made were satisfied with the plan to cut emissions. Another poll for Carbon Brief produced a similar result a couple of years later.

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1. This popular polling question is generally meaningless

Pollsters often like to ask questions that take the form “Would X make you more likely to do Y?”. They shouldn’t.

A Survation poll asked people who had never taken drugs whether they would be more or less likely to take drugs if those drugs were guaranteed to be free of contaminants. 32% said they would be less likely to take drugs if they knew they weren’t contaminated.

Obviously they don’t really mean that. They’re saying “I would never take drugs and nothing you can suggest would make me more likely”.

It’s all fun nerdy polling stuff, but then someone runs a poll about whether alternative leaders would change the vote for a particularly party, and everyone forgets these questions are generally meaningless.

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That’s all. Thanks for reading!


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