26 August 2012

Something For Everyone In Latest Polls.

The Survation poll this weekend comes with some surprising polling.

Opinion polls can be strange beasts and they sometimes tell you more about the pollsters and their paymasters than about what the general public actually think.

But having said that, they can contain some very interesting data.

People don't always tell the truth to pollsters and wording of questions and 'weighting' can be critical to results.

Not all pollsters apply these guidelines the same and paymasters have an agenda - good polling for them can be self fulfilling prophesies - (people will change their views because of polling and 'follow the crowd'), so they choose both pollsters and questions accordingly and media outlets suppress results they don't want and give extra publicity to the results they like.

Saying all that, a lot of pollsters now make the raw data freely available. Lets look at some raw data in the latest Survation poll.

The poll was conducted online amongst 1023 respondents on their 'online panel'. 973 expressed a voting preference.

I don't know about you, but I can see 2 glaring problems already.

1. Surely people who sign up online to polling panels are self selected, i.e they already are showing more interest than most. This must skew results in some way. Of course, lots of polling is online. I am not singling out Survation. But generally this makes me suspicious of results.

2. Considering only around 60% of UK adults vote, 973 out of 1023 is very high. Like I say, not surprising considering this is from a self selected panel.

But anyway lets look at some surprising figures.

UKIP are on 12%, yet, another poll the same day puts them at 6%. Seems suspect to me. Polling companies claim 3% either way accuracy. So they could claim one poll is 3% high, the other 3% low. Yet, I never hear a 6% lead for one party described as a statistical insignificance! I could probably take calculated guesses that would mostly be in this sort of range. Hardly useful polling.

The Greens have around 10% support amongst 18-34 age group, 5% amongst 35-54 and 2.5% for over 55s. It seems their support is doubling every 20 years. So expect a Green government in 2070!

Labour lead the Tories amongst social class AB and C1 voters. And of course are 20 points ahead amongst DE voters. So it seems Labour are the party of the middle class and the 'scrounging' class but not...

The Tories amazingly are ahead amongst C2 voters - the manual skilled 'aspirational' working class. The importance of Sun and Murdoch support perhaps?

Amazingly 20% of DE voters are Tories. Considering how they are being squeezed to death by Tory policies this is hard to swallow for us lefties. But it does goes to show how people don't necessarily vote in their own interests.

When you consider the regional breakdown, Labour are virtually dead amongst manual workers in the South.

Overall though, Labour lead with 37%, Con 30, UKIP 12, LD 10, GRN 5, OTH 6.

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