ICM provides least surprising polling result of election (least surprising to discerning readers, that is)

Less than shocking news: naming candidates in a constituency poll in a Liberal Democrat held seat provides a significantly better result for the Lib Dems than not naming them, which is Lord Ashcroft’s approach.

The dodgy purveyor of this biased polling technique clearly designed just to fiddle the figures for the Lib Dems (to summarise the usual sage social media reaction to Lib Dem polls which name candidates)?

Oh, just ICM. You know, that pollster which keeps on getting things right.

But of course, discerning reader, you already knew that.  Indeed, as I wrote before of Lord Ashcroft’s approach, despite his love of mocking comfort polling, the problem with his approach is that it is comfort punditry – persisted with, but without supporting evidence:

Lord Ashcroft has addressed these sorts of criticisms [of his approach], but he’s done so without evidence:

“I have not gone so far as to name individual candidates, as the Lib Dems do in their own private polling. Doing so usually boosts the Lib Dem vote share (especially when, as in the Lib Dems’ research, the voting intention question is preceded by a warm-up question asking whether the respondent has a favourable opinion of the incumbent, of whose name they are reminded). Whether this produces a more accurate assessment of real voting intentions is a different question. Indeed I have coined the term “comfort polling” to describe the practice of parties conducting research in such a way as to maximise their own apparent vote share.

“On balance I continue to think that when people are prompted to consider their own area and the local candidates, an MP’s personal reputation should be baked in to their voting decisions.”

No actual evidence presented for his viewpoint yet followed by “I continue to think…”? Ashcroft’s right to criticise comfort polling but this is comfort punditry, not evidence-based punditry (on which point see Stephen Tall’s excellent post).


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