Political

The week in polls: consistent polling, poor media coverage and more

We’ve had six national voting intention polls come out with fieldwork at least in part in the past week. Six firms, six methodologies but one consistent picture: Conservatives on 33-35%, Labour on 39-42%, Lib Dems on 9-11% and the Greens on 3-7%.

Given the variations between the polling firms and their approaches, including two (Redfield & Wilton and Techne) who haven’t done a UK general election before, that consistency should be reassuring.

Techne’s recent appearance on the UK scene with a new weekly poll should be welcome, though disappointingly the media write-up, by the Express, of their latest poll was the sort of write-up that gives polling a bad name: exaggerated claims about movements that are within the margin of error but which suit the media outlet’s editorial line. (Media reporting of political polling is a highly variable thing.)

Disappointingly too, Techne seems to welcome the coverage despite those problems. This is, though, the tension at the heart of political polling – pollsters need to welcome coverage and make the most of their findings in order to attract the funding for polling. So the understandable financial interest tempts pollsters to over-egging their own findings and to turning a benign blind-eye to others who also go overboard with the eggs.

Away from the headline horserace numbers, there was plenty of other political polling to get stuck into too. In people care more about children than cars (phew), YouGov found that the Conservative policy ideas on fighting inflation floated about cutting staff numbers in nurseries went down badly with the public (55%-18% support/oppose) but the idea of moving to MOT tests every two years was supported (48%-36%). I suspect support for the latter would be quite soft in practice given how widespread opposition to the idea has been, even from many pro-motorist voices, so these figures perhaps say more about the public’s instinctive attitude towards motoring rather than this specific policy idea.

Expect more such ideas to appear, however, given the spike in public concern about inflation.

Overall, voters prefer Labour to the Conservatives when it comes to tackling the cost of living (38%-17%) and Labour’s lead on economic questions persists with YouGov through a variety of question wording with the Conservatives in the lead only if the question just mentions the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor. Ipsos-MORI puts the Conservatives ahead on economic issues, but by a much diminished margin. Rishi Sunak’s ratings, though, fell once again.

Brexit got a thumbs down from voters, with only 37% saying it was right, equalling the previous low. (There’s not yet a consistent trend downwards to new lows on this measure, so this may be noise or may be start of something more significant.)

The state of British democracy also got an overall thumbs down in a poll for the IPPR, with ‘badly’ beating ‘well’ 55%-32% in answer to, “How well, if at all, do you think democracy in Britain as a whole addresses the interests of people like you?”

YouGov also found that Thursday is the most popular day with the public for elections, though it scores only 23% support.

And on culture wars? The public is rather woke on most issues, as long as you don’t call it being woke and (to a much lesser extent) as long as you don’t call it being political correct. And Britons of all racial backgrounds don’t support giving the police more power to stop and search.

Polling UnPacked book cover and Sunday Times review quote

NOW AVAILABLE: Polling Unpacked: the history, uses and abuses of political opinion polls which, according to the Sunday Times, is “Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand modern politics … comprehensive yet surprisingly fun”.

3 responses to “The week in polls: consistent polling, poor media coverage and more”

  1. Thanks for pointing out Techne. I guess a ‘new upstart’, not Tory leaning? would be viewed with suspicion by the Express, possibly all right wing papers. The rest of your info is enlightening.

  2. Interesting polling info.
    Since the demise of UKPR it has been difficult to find an unbiased discussion of polls and uptodate coverage of the polls itself.Labour should be pleased with that steady lead despite the Daily Mails best efforts to upset it.

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