Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quite possibly the most bizarre opinion poll finding in history

Believe it or not, I'm not talking about the BPIX poll that puts the Liberal Democrats in the outright lead for the first time. I'm instead referring to the latest ComRes survey, which has purportedly found that 1% of adults in Great Britain are planning to vote SNP - and that none of them actually live in Scotland. The SNP supposedly have a zero rating in the Scottish subsample, but a decidedly impressive 2% vote share in the Midlands and 1% in both the south-east and south-west of England. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru do fare marginally better in their homeland - but still somehow manage to have more than three times as many supporters in the Midlands and the south-east of England as they do in Wales!

I don't want to tempt fate, but that does look pretty clearly like a gremlin that's got into the works somewhere. Hopefully ComRes will clarify the situation shortly...

The first figures from a post-debate YouGov subsample look at least a touch more plausible. As ever with subsamples it's just a straw in the wind that may not mean much, but given the obscene disparity between the TV coverage in recent days for the London parties and the SNP (and especially between the coverage for the Liberal Democrats and the SNP) it's intriguing to see any early signals of how resilient the SNP vote is proving to be in these circumstances. The figures are -

Labour 44%
SNP 18%
Liberal Democrats 18%
Conservatives 17%
Others 3%

I can't give percentage changes from the previous poll, because as far as I can see the Scottish breakdown from that survey hasn't been published yet. These obviously aren't great numbers for the SNP, but given the hype of recent days, there will be a degree of relief if it turns out that the Lib Dems haven't got away from them. Perhaps the party has now weathered the most difficult part of the campaign - the next of the rigged UK-wide leaders' debates will not attract anything like the same live audience due to being screened on Sky News, while we still have all of the (admittedly Mickey Mouse) Scottish debates to come. I don't think I'm being too bold in predicting that Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson will probably get the better of Mundell and co.

Incidentally, YouGov asked a side-question that produced a significant disparity between Scottish and English responses. By a margin of 51% to 42%, English respondents agreed that Britain "is a three party state", whereas in Scotland there was an even split. Of course the reason for the disparity is blindingly obvious - but I do wonder of it was quite so obvious to the pollsters who devised such a blatantly flawed question. They probably imagined that anyone who disagreed with the statement was automatically saying they live in a two-party state, rather than one that in fact contains four (or more) major parties.


  1. James, YouGov weightings for Scottish subsamples in UK-wide polls is totally off--and they admit it. They stated (you can find this on their website) that it wasn't worth bothering correcting the weightings. It is at least 4 percentage points off.

    That doesn't keep them from adding these totally flawed polls together and publishing them as though they were meaningful. When you put that together with the fact that a sample the size of the Scottish subsample has a margin of error of about 10% anyway--You end up with SNP and Labour a heck of a lot closer than the propaganda would suggest.

    In fact, those numbers aren't necessarily bad for the SNP at all.

  2. Why can't they do a full Scotland only poll??!

  3. Anon. We're not important enough I guess. No one is prepared to pay for it.

  4. Jeanne - yes, I know that YouGov don't weight their subsamples properly, although that's the case for most pollsters. As far as I'm aware, only Angus Reid weight their Scottish subsamples separately.

    You're quite right that the YouGov figures I've given above aren't untypical of recent weeks, and therefore we shouldn't (yet) jump to the conclusion that the rigged TV debate has changed anything in Scotland.