The full tables for the mysterious ICM poll in the Sunday Express are now up on their website. While they are of very little use in predicting the local elections, the reasons for the strange results are now pretty clear.

The poll was indeed about local election voting intention, however the question was asked as part of one of ICM’s normal omnibus polls, and therefore went out across the country, not just in areas with local elections. ICM did not include a question on likelihood of voting as they do in their normal polls (which would have been hypothetical anyway, given that many respondents don’t have local elections), didn’t make their normal topline adjustment for the spiral of silence and, looking at their weighting information, didn’t weight by past vote either. On their website they have the disclaimer “The standard ICM adjustment techniques were also not employed and therefore the figures that were published in the Sunday Express do not represent standard ICM vote intention scores.”

Even with that in mind, wasn’t the 22% for other parties unusually high? Yes, and for good reason. The actual voting intention included prompts not just for the three main parties but also for the Green party, the BNP and UKIP, thus artificially inflating their scores.

In short, the voting intention question on the poll is of no use to anyone, I suspect simply because the newspaper wasn’t willing to spend the money it would have cost to pay for a proper bespoke poll covering just the areas with local elections.

There were, however, some other questions on the poll with more interesting results. ICM also asked about the four scandals currently facing the Labour government, and asked respondents to say how damaging they thought they were. The most damaging was seen as being the laying off of NHS staff and criticism of the government by the RCN – 93% thought this was damaging. 89% thought the authorities failure to consider deporting foreign criminals after their sentences was damaging and 77% thought the appearance that Labour had given peerages in exchange for loans was damaging. However, only 46% of people thought that John Prescott’s affair was damaging to the government.


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