Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Breaking : ICM change their question sequence again

A week has passed since the last full-scale referendum poll was released, but we should certainly hold on to our hats, because at the very least a new ICM referendum poll is on its way - which probably means it will appear in Scotland on Sunday at the weekend.  The reason I know is that someone whose wife took part in the poll yesterday very kindly sent me screenshots of all the questions (apart from the routine demographic questions at the start).

The big news is that the absurd introductory "comfort" question from last month is still there, but it's been moved to the very end of the question sequence where it can't do any harm.  It would be interesting to know whether ICM have reflected on their blunder from last month and realised it may well have distorted the results on the main referendum question, or whether it was always part of the plan to do a "split test" to see if the results are the same regardless of the order in which the questions are asked.  If the latter is the case, I must say it seems extremely unprofessional of ICM to have compromised the integrity of a high-profile published poll simply to enable them to conduct some speculative testing - it's a bit like a football stadium using the middle of a World Cup match as an opportunity for a fire drill.

If we learned anything from last month's experience, it's that we should be extremely cautious about the headline results of any new ICM poll until we find out whether any other methodological changes have been surreptitiously made - and that might not become clear until a day or two later.  For a third month in a row, ICM have asked for people's country of birth, so it'll also be important to see whether it remains the case that Scottish-born respondents are significantly under-represented in the weighted sample, and English-born respondents are significantly over-represented.  And will the bizarre under-representation of male respondents in the last poll have been corrected?  All of these factors played a role in suppressing the reported Yes vote in last month's headline figures.

The standard supplementary questions about the economy, equality, pensions and the future of devolution are asked, but there are also a few additional questions -

* Respondents are asked to assess how risky they think it would be to choose independence or to remain in the UK, on a scale of 1 to 5.

* Respondents are asked to agree or disagree with a series of six statements, one of which indulges the bee Martin Boon has in his bonnet about the possibility that people might think they'd be seen as unpatriotic if it was known they were voting No.  (In my view a much more interesting question would be whether some people feel blackmailed by their employers to vote No.)

* Respondents are asked the question that comes up with tedious predictability every four years - do they want England to do well or badly at the World Cup?  This is about as pointless as asking people how much they've given to charity in the last year, or how many sexual partners they've had in their life - in many cases they'll have given the answer they feel casts them in the best light, rather than telling the truth.


  1. England at the world cup?

    Looks like one designed to try and manufacture some anti-Englishness.

    Not sure why unionist push this 'blood and soil' nationalists stuff; all it does is generate Yes votes. I mean if you are thinking about independence and know you are not a xenophobic bigot, all such talk does is push you to Yes. That and make you more likely to lie to pollsters / BT campaigners chapping your door.

  2. Surely it must occur to them that a large number of people actually really don't care whether England does well or not at the world cup, and will gloss over any news about it, for reasons which have nothing to do with any feeling of nationalism and a lot more to do with the fact that they don't like football.

  3. I'm noting that the last ICM poll was 42% yes, 58% no.

  4. Do we think Britain's only living psephologist, John Curtice, might actually do his job this time and finally notice methodology changes in polling?

    Only if it benefits the No campaign if his past actions are anything to go by.

    Anecdotal but the football fans I know are far more pissed off by the corruption at the heart of the World Cup these days and with sponsors making threats about withdrawing it would be pretty bloody odd if that corruption and scandal wasn't featured as a polling question.

    Patriotism only bothers BritNats when it's scottish patriotism of course. 'Better together' and it's cheerleaders were quite clearly delighted with royal weddings, royal babies, World War 1 'celebrations' and all the union jack waving associated with those.

    If they have such a problem with scots feeling scottish then it's a bit f***king late to try and complain about that now since it hardly happened overnight or in a vacuum.

    BTW James, news reaches me that politicalbetting and Smithson fell for some obvious bullshit reheated nonsense on a £200,000 No bet that was thoroughly debunked by Wings yesterday.

    We expect the out of touch right-wing twits who dominate PB to be completely clueless about politics but it's quite something when even on matters of betting they end up with egg on their face looking comical and inept. To add even more irony if Stuart stopped posting there would be almost no betting talk at all on that site these days.

    Must have stung the herd quite a bit when Wings was revealed as more popular the PB.


  5. Oh and it somehow doubled and is claimed to be £400,000 on PB. That makes it even more plausible since punters being able to saunter into betting shops and plonk £400,000 on a political bet is of course totally believable.