Tomorrow there is apparently a OnePoll survey in the People. Until some tables or full methodological details appear, I’m wary. In the past I’ve been rather rude about the sort of PR-puff polls that get churned out just to fill column inches, which celebrity would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with, which celeb has the nicest bottom, that sort of rubbish. If you are a company who would like to raise public awareness of their brand, an easy way to get column inches is to commission a quirky or unusual poll question, write a fun couple of paragraphs about it, and send it off to the tabloids who need to fill column inches. The company raises their profile, the paper gets a nice little story (and the polling company gets the money for doing it, let’s not be shy about it – PR companies doing this sort of thing provide a steady income stream for polling companies).

Ben Goldacre calls this sort of stuff “PR reviewed data”, and has been particularly disparaging about OnePoll, who specialise in producing this sort of polling for PR purposes (they will write up copy in the style of the newspapers targetted for example, and website says they offer advice on writing question to get “newsworthy” results, which isn’t necessarily the same as if you prioritising accuracy). Anyway, when Ben Goldacre wrote the article I linked to Harriet Crosse of OnePoll wrote this article in response, which essentially said that OnePoll did produce cheap and cheerful surveys to drive PR campaigns and get fun articles in the paper and so what? If people don’t like that sort of survey, don’t read the article. That’s a fair argument.

However, if you have a panel of 50,000 people for doing PR puff surveys on, there isn’t necessarily any reason why you can’t do proper surveys on them too. It takes different skills of course – a nicest bottom survey doesn’t need political weighting for example – but these are not insurmountable. The biggest barrier of entry to doing online polling is getting a panel.

The reported OnePoll figures in the People seem sensible enough – CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 21% and presumably others on 12%. Anyone can do post-hoc political weighting of a poll to get results that look sensible though – to judge it properly, we need to know more about how it was done, exactly what weighting variables were used, what sort of political weighting was used, how it is sampled and so on. Without anything to judge it by, we should be wary.

69 Responses to “Onepoll survey in the People”

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  1. @Eoin


  2. @Roland,

    Yes you are mostly right

    but on the same token put it 1% the other way and what to we have?

    Very very little is certain, surely even you will admit that.

    ps. Your daughter’s MP is a fine man indeed.

  3. @Roland

    “We are looking at Tories largest single party by a mile”

    “largest single party”….presumably in a hung parliament….

    roland I love you in that way military buddies can do without it getting all…you know…(BTW I did 2 years in the Gloucesters in my late teens before I eventually went to uni).

  4. The Tories need a swing of 6.9%. This poll shows them on 6%.

    Trust you to have two cap badges on one beret.

  6. Poll ignores 1st 50 marginals & assumes they are CON already, right?

  7. Ambér,

    We dont know yet. But swing is swing.

    For weeks I am sure you have heard hwo there will be extra swing in the marginals.. well this is the extra swing… 1%

    yes 1 (one) 1%.

    Not an awful lot to write home about…

    This is the reason Labour will be happy.

  8. Amber – the poll does indeed exclude them (though it doesn’t assume anything about them – those commissioning it might, the poll itself assumes nothing about them)

  9. I’ve had another look at the Marginals. I don’t see Gedling, or Wolves SW falling. I appreciate these are not the tops of the top targets and it may be that some outside the range of 6% swing will fall, perhaps, but I wonder if an in-detail examination of these marginals by an expert would be useful?

  10. Even better news for the Blues…….Chelsea 3-0..We’re going to Wembley ! :-)

  11. And Anthony has a thread up about the ICM poll so I guess we will all continue this discussion there :-)

  12. @Roland

    ditto my 2nd cousin who has been out in A with the rifles.

  13. Good for Labour to be reported as neck and neck in the marginals. Thought tories were supposed to be steaming ahead? Labour will get a swing back on polling day I believe. Staggering tories can’t do better than this with everything on their side and Labour asking for a 4th term. Will not be surprised if Brown wins at all. People poll encouraging too that tories are not making the headway they need.

  14. @Amber

    “Poll ignores 1st 50 marginals & assumes they are CON already, right?”

    I don’t think it matters because they ‘go’ along with the UNS.

    If this poll is true I am flabbergasted given what a p*sspoor performance this week it has been by my team.

  15. Rob – remember the last time this particular selection of marginals was polled by ICM was back in January, so any changes don’t need to be down to this last week.

  16. AW


    I saw this before going out- now my belgische bier won’t be so enjoyable !!


    If this poll is true I am flabbergasted given what a p*sspoor performance this week it has been by my team.
    My thoughts exactly!

    CON -4% LD +5% LAB n/c since last ICM marginal poll in January – That’s not too bad.

    Either ICM Bank Hol poll with LAB only 4 behind is accurate & CON’s do have a marginal advantage; or the national poll is wrong & CONs have only a tiny marginal advantage.

    Tory supporters can’t have it both ways, surely?

  18. Not liking this “My party’s better than your party” thing going on. Child playground stuff and I’m guessing majority on here are adults as they are anticipating voting on May 6th.

    @ Rob Sheffield. You make some interesting points. Local factors and candidates are increasingly playing a much larger part in where people’s put their X on the ballot paper. You mention WSM as one. The westcountry is a curious battleground with many influeneces. Devon North has a popular Lib Dem MP, with a disliked Con candidate and no one is suggesting it will be a Con Gain even though it is on their target for an overall Majority. The same goes for Andrew George in St Ives, Truro and Falmouth. 10 seats like this reduces a majority by 20, enough to totally change the balance of the GE. Also, with 146 MP’s standing down, incumbant loyalty factors are then competely different, so unless pollsters carry out a mock election and provides the names of candidates to be on the ballot paper, there will no way of knowing.

  19. The Surf Doc

    You are right in what you say about local factors. The problem is that they work indifferent ways in different constituncies. Class based politics has gone, and negaive voting (not quite the same as tactical voting) is in fashion.

    FPTP works upside down. It is used in Scotland to punish Tories for Thatcherism. It’s about hatred, really, and the Anti-cons arn’t picky about who gets elected. They don’t really care as long as long as it isn’t the Tory. I suspect that the core vote for the Anti-cons is bigger than the loyal vote for any party.

    In Scotland we have a retiring incumbent in a safe seat facing criminal charges. Were it not for the recent general fall in the perceived inegrity of politicians, the effect of that would have been marginal and limited to that constituency.

    Add to that a challenger suspended from the party list and ongoing revelations about a council leader ad there is bound to be a wider effect, but who can tell how much and where? Maybe it will be too diffuse to make any difference in seats.

    I also agree with what you say about “Child playground stuff.” Several months ago I pointed out that the problem on this site was not partisan argument, which is easily ignored, but partisan over optimism. It has increased in recent weeks.

    I have a very low opinion of the values and competence
    of both the main parties and the capabilities of many of the front bench teams. While I recognise that there are (or at least were) good people in both parties, the system under which they work is to blame for the bad behaviour of all kinds.

    I look forward with trepidation to the prospect of more “child playground stuff” from the next parliament (as well as the posters here) but one bonus of hung Labour would be that the people on here of the “..five more years of GB” tendency would have some explaining to do if that is what it turns out people have voted for.

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