Treat with caution

The Sunday Mirror this morning claims to have a poll showing that 45.5% of people in Barking will vote BNP in the local elections – I would treat it with a buckload of salt. It appears that the poll was conducted by the Sunday Mirror itself, rather than by a reputable polling company. This raises of the questions of whether the poll was properly sampled (the article says it was face to face – according to proper quota samples, or just random people off the streer?), whether it was weighted at all, how professional the interviewers were, how balanced the questions were, how was turnout factored into what will probably be a very low turnout election, etc, etc. Add in the fact that the BNP are only contesting 7 of Dagenham & Barking’s 17 wards anyway and you have even more of a problem.

Local newspapers often do the same sort of straw polls prior to elections and are almost always hideously wrong. The chances are this is the same thing (though that said, it could potentially have been carried out by a reputable pollster who the Sunday Mirror has failed to credit – in which case the polls figures should at least be accurate, though you still have the question of dealing with the wards with no BNP candidate).

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