Sunday 20 February 2011

Just A Quirk Of Fate, That's All

Mike Smithson at Political Betting has pointed out an oddity with YouGov's polling methodology.

The target weightings for Mirror/Record readers that YouGov in its daily poll and don’t seem to take into account the fact that the combined circulation of the two papers has declined much faster than other segments.

The result is that the views of readers of the Mirror and its Scottish sister, the Daily Record, appear to be given a value of 80+% more in YouGov polls than the latest circulation figures suggest - and what could that be doing to the findings?


Maybe it’s also a partial explanation of why YouGov can, at times, appear to be out of line with other pollsters.
I'm sure this is just an oversight, and the fact that the opinions of those who read left-leaning press are being over-represented has nothing to do with YouGov's President, Peter Kellner, being "married to Catherine Ashton, a Labour Party politician and the first High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy".

Likewise, YouGov's odd conclusions from polls on issues to do with smoking.

These figures may be true of ASH/YouGov polls, but it's worth noting that surveys conducted by Populus and the ONS prior to the ban produced very different results. For example, a poll by Populus for Forest, published on 7th February 2006 (a week before MPs voted for a comprehensive ban), showed clear public support for the government’s manifesto pledge to allow smoking in private members’ clubs and pubs that don’t serve food.

According to the survey, 59 percent believed that smoking should be allowed in pubs that don't serve food; with 63 percent supporting smoking in private members' clubs. The poll also found overwhelming support for the introduction of designated smoking rooms in pubs and bars that do not serve food (66 percent in favour, 30 percent opposed).

Meanwhile, annual surveys by the Office for National Statistics found that while the majority backed curbs on smoking, the majority did NOT support a comprehensive ban.
This anomaly, of course, isn't linked at all to the fact that anti-smoking propaganda sheet "Beyond Smoking Kills was produced by an editorial board of scientific and medical experts, chaired by Peter Kellner, President of YouGov"

Because YouGov being a polling company - a vital facet of which is presumably unchallengeable impartiality - would never countenance any manipulation in favour of the personal standpoint of their President, now would they?

No. Absolutely not. It's purely coincidental.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kellner is a trustee of ASH UK. He once owned 6% of YouGov. Don't know whether he still does.
YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council. As such it is required to publish the exact wording (where practical) of all its polls. It failed to do this with the sequence of annual polls commissioned by ASH on the success of the smoking ban. We only now have the exact wording of such a poll because it was commissioned by 5news. I asked ASH for the details of its polls, and it refused to send me them.