Friday, April 24, 2009

Polling clichés

While I'm waiting with baited breath to see how AM2 plans to persuade us that the latest YouGov poll somehow represents yet another unmitigated calamity for the Nats, it's worth pointing out Caron's rather desperate attempt to paint yesterday's two Lib Dem triumphs in local council by-elections as being more significant than the poll. Doubtless the SNP will be bitterly disappointed not to win the Inverness seat, but when Caron goes out of her way to suggest a specific local reason for this failure, it does rather counteract her efforts to portray the result as being of huge national significance! The line about the by-elections being more important because 'five times as many people voted in them' is a fairly tired piece of spin as well. It's rather like the individuals who seriously think they're undermining the results of an opinion poll of 1000 respondents by making objections like "well, which 1000 people was it?" or "hmmm...I note they didn't ask the remaining 4,999,000 of the population".

Back in the real world, there are several health warnings that need to be attached to a single poll - there's a margin of error of 3%, there's a 5% chance it might be a rogue poll, it's only a snapshot of opinion at a particular moment in time, etc, etc. But for all that and everything, we all know - and that includes Caron in her heart of hearts - that a well-conducted opinion poll is a better guide to the national state of play than a local council by-election.

"Who's soaring now?" asks Caron. If that's a serious question, the serious answer is the jury's out, but on the basis of the available evidence it's rather more likely to be the SNP than the Lib Dems.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marketing Sciences : 'Others' gain ground as Labour takes massive hit

Given the extraordinary sequence of twists and turns that have occurred in the present parliament, it would be extremely dangerous to suggest the events of recent days represent some kind of defining moment that has effectively settled the outcome of the next general election. However, a drop in support for Labour of five full points in the first poll since the McBride affair certainly looks potentially significant.

Conservatives 43% (-1)
Labour 26% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 21% (+3

Could this be a game-changer in Scotland as well? There appears to be no Scottish breakdown available at this stage (and I suspect there won't be) but it's interesting that it's the Liberal Democrats and 'others' that appear to be benefitting from the Labour collapse. And, of course, the general rule of thumb is that a slump in Labour's fortunes can only assist the SNP, whether directly or indirectly.