Earlier this week NatCen released new polling on what people want from Brexit. The vast majority (90%) of people would like to keep free trade with the European Union. By 70% to 22% people would also like to limit the amount of EU immigration into Britain. Getting these two things together does not, of course, seem particularly likely. Asked if Britain should agree to keep free movement in exchange for keeping free trade, people are much more evenly split – 49% think we should, 51% think we should not (the full report is here).

Personally, I still think the best way of judging public opinion on Brexit is probably not to ask about individual policies, but to test some plausible scenarios – when it comes to it, people will judge the deal as a whole, not as the sum of its parts. YouGov released some updated polling on Brexit today that repeated that experiment, and again found that a Canadian type deal is likely to get the widest support from the public (that is, no freedom of movement and a more limited trade deal). The problem with a Norway type deal – retaining full free-trade with the EU in exchange for keeping freedom of movement and a financial contribution is that most of the public would see it as not respecting the result of the referendum.

I’ve written a much longer piece about the YouGov polling over on the YouGov site here, so I won’t repeat it all. One interesting bit though is looking at the possible outcomes of an early election, fought on the issue of Brexit. Now, I should start with some important caveats – hypothetical election questions are very crude tools. While I’m sure an early election would be dominated by the issue of Brexit, there would be other issues at play too, so a question like this will over emphasise the impact of Brexit policy. Nevertheless, it suggests some interesting patterns. YouGov asked how people would vote if Brexit could not pass a Parliamentary vote and instead an early election happened. In the scenarios the Conservatives and UKIP back Brexit (as they undoubtedly would) and the Lib Dems back a second referendum (as they’ve said they would). YouGov offered three different scenarios for Labour – one, where Labour back Brexit, two where Labour back only a “soft Brexit”, three where Labour also offer a second referendum. In all three cases the Conservatives would win easily – even the closest scenario gives them a twelve point lead. The interesting finding is the Lib Dems – in the two scenarios where they are the only party offering a second referendum their support goes up to 19% or 22% (if Labour also offer a referendum the Lib Dems don’t gain nearly so much). So, while these are hypothetical questions that need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it does suggest that appealing to those voters who really are set against Brexit could be a route back for the Lib Dems, especially if they are the lone “anti-Brexit” party. The full results for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile Ipsos MORI released their monthly political monitor. In terms of voting intention the Conservative lead is halved from last month, but that is likely something of a reversion to the mean after a towering eighteen point lead last month. Topline figures are CON 42%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 7%, GRN 3%. As ever, wait until you see the change echoed in other polls before concluding that the Conservative lead is waning.

Theresa May still enjoys a positive approval rating – 54% are satisfied with the job she is doing, 30% disatisfied. The new government also have a net positive rating at their handling of the economy so far – 51% think they’ve done a good job, 30% a bad job. Where the public are not convinced is on how the government are handling the biggest issue – only 37% think the government are doing a good job at handling Brexit, 48% think they are doing a bad job. Full details of the MORI poll are here.


424 Responses to “NatCen & YouGov polling on Brexit and MORI’s political monitor”

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  1. I think , perhaps, that the casual dismissal of any risk attaching to a Renzi resignation is either a familiar Europhile insousciance about any suggestion of problems in EZ ; or a failure to understand the actual elements of risk in Italy.

    Stiglitz describes them in this piece :-

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/joseph-stiglitz-on-italy-collapse-and-the-end-of-the-euro-2016-8

    If Renzi loses and resigns, it remains to be seen whether Italy’s House of Cards Banking sector will begin to crumble.

  2. I wonder if the elements of risk to the EZ residing in Italy have been fully appreciated?

    Stiglitz describes them in this piece :-
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/joseph-stiglitz-on-italy-collapse-and-the-end-of-the-euro-2016-8
    If Renzi loses and resigns, it remains to be seen whether Italy’s House of Cards Banking sector will begin to crumble.

  3. @ Colin

    Re your two examples.

    Surely they prove my point.

    The University of Chicago is engaging with its students to explain to them the need for a broad and diverse education based on challenge and openness. I would hazard that the curriculum there is broader now than it was 25 or 50 years ago.

    A diverse range of speakers is still being invited, the debates and lectures are still going ahead, discourse is enjoined, freedom of speech is not curtailed.

    The academic staff are not retreating into puerile name calling of their students: no mention of ‘snowflakes’ here.

    Likewise at Oxford. Rhodes’ statue still stands, but a debate has been enjoined about not only that dark episode in the history of the African continent, but the naming of prizes, scholarships and college’s after ‘Great Men’. It has also brought into the open the ambiguity (which persists to this day) of universities accepting vast endowments from morally dubious sources (and let us be clear Rhodes was known to many then to be and is certainly regarded today as a morally dubious figure).

    This whole episode it seems to me was rather discomforting for the university insomuch as it had present day resonances and indicated the ongoing reach of corporate power, though I am rather ambivalent as to whether the statue stays or goes – most public ornament is highly temporary.

    Young people will protest, that is the nature of things, they will find new matters and new means to protest with each generation. Often they will be far ahead of the curve of the establishment and rightly pointing out the folly of their elders. Sometimes they will be right – Vietnam, women’s suffrage, civil rights in the USA, Apartheid. Others hopelessly off beam.

    So be it, it’s how a democracy and a university works.

    It’s this final point you seem totally to misunderstand, a university comprises of all its parts students, lecturers, researchers, professors and a dialogue between them. It is not a glorified school, nor is it the merely the sum of its parts.

  4. Another analysis of the Italian Banking risk

    http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/09/italy-banking-problem-bigger-dilemma-than-brexit/

    Whether a Renzi resignation will start to crystalise this risk remains to be seen.

  5. ASSIDUOSITY

    @”Young people will protest, that is the nature of things, they will find new matters and new means to protest with each generation. ”

    Indeed -and that is as it should be.

    But the topic at hand is the increasing reluctance of students to allow protest/discussion/presentation on their campuses which they disagree with.

    Free Speech applies to everyone, and it is quantified as being increasingly censored in our Universities -by Students.

  6. ASSIDUOSITY

    @”The academic staff are not retreating into puerile name calling of their students: no mention of ‘snowflakes’ here.”

    An ironic observation given the origin of the term-which was puerile name calling by students of their faculty head.

    “Author Claire Fox used the term in 2015, in reaction to a confrontation between university students shown on a viral video and Yale faculty head, Nicholas Christakis.[9] The confrontation arose after Christakis’ wife, Erika Christakis, a lecturer at the university, had suggested students should “relax a bit rather than labeling fancy dress Halloween costumes as culturally insensitive”.[9] Fox described the video showing the students’ reaction as a “screaming, almost hysterical mob of students”.[9] Fox said the backlash to the viral video led to the disparaging label “generation snowflake” for the students.[9]”

    Wikipedia
    Generation Snowflake.

  7. @ASSIDUOSITY Just to say how much I enjoy your posts, only reason I come to this site nowadays.

  8. LIZH

    UKPR as an Echo Chamber ?

    Discuss :-) :-) :-) :-)

  9. @Colin you should have addressed that comment to TOH and yourself.

  10. LIZH

    I have never written that the only reason I come here is to read TOH’s posts-or any other CR contributor.

    Indeed only recently I was bemoaning the loss of many stimulating contributors to UKPR over the last few years. Most of the ones I have in mind were Left of Centre -one of whom regularly tore me in tiny pieces , in posts which were exemplars of brevity & precision.

  11. @Colin

    @ASSIDUOSITY’s posts are pretty stimulating when one reads them without spectacles tainted by partisanship. IMO of course.

  12. @assiduosity
    “most public ornament is highly temporary. ”
    Think Shelley beat you to that one.

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.[

  13. Tancred

    I am totally commited to democratic values and justice. It’s one of the main reasons i want to leave the EU.

  14. WB

    Great Poem, always liked it.

  15. @toh

    Thanks for your considered reply. My proposal of “illiberal mob” was, of course, made tongue in cheek to illustrate the point about the dangers of describing people we disagree with by lazy generalities.

  16. HIRETON

    No problem.

  17. I love the way those who say “the polling might be wrong, look at actual election results”, are labelled “post-truth” by folk who fervently believe that opinion polls are “truth”!

    How many more polling upsets do we need for people to stop looking at things through their particular biases and see what is actually happening?

    Both Brexit and Trump happened in countries that are growing and have relatively low unemployment. The low unemployment allowed 18-28 year olds to vote for the status quo because they had jobs, so no worries. It was the struggling middle-aged who opted for change. Also both countries are “donors” in that they are supporting other countries financially and are tired of it, and both were thinking about principles like for whom does the state exist to serve, investment banks or the citizen?

    Scotland is a recipient country – recipient countries never leave because they don’t know how to make up the money. See Greece for another example.

    France is a donor country, if they leave the EU, they can still afford a domestic version of CAP. It also has unemployment of nearly 10% and youth unemployment of 24%. These are desperate people. They won’t be backing the status quo. France keeps going in and out of recession. Add in that across the board there is a recognition that their problems stem from the euro, and only one candidate is proposing to do something about it.

    People assumed that Clinton v Trump would be decided by who was the more deplorable. But it turned out to be the economy, stupid. Economics might be the driver in France, unless they are the only country on earth unconcerned about how to put food on the table. It is true Chirac defeated Le Pen senior, but that was in more prosperous times.

  18. @ TOH

    Mine too: it is widely believed to relate to a statue of one of the Rameses.
    It should make all of us realise that life is short and our impact on the world limited even if we achieve positions of great power. My view is summed up by a quote attributed to JM Keynes “most economists are arguing about how to re-arrange the deckchairs on the titanic”
    I have recently come to believe that a person’s politics are generally an expression of a personal aesthetic connected to their view of the human race outside of their family and friends. This would explain the emotional reaction to political controversy and would also explain the visceral emotional pain felt when the party or position you support loses. Whilst we have intellectual arguments e.g. it is a waste of human resource and economic capacity to have rough sleeping beggars on the streets, my real reason for disliking that state of affairs is that it offends my sensibilities that some should suffer in that way. No doubt the more right wing would be indicating that they are prepared to see beggars in a free market situation, however the emotional response would be they could work if they wished.
    My purpose in this philosophical discourse is, given the difficulty in polling recently, a psychologically based emotional response test might be a better predictor of election results?

  19. Candy: “I love the way those who say “the polling might be wrong, look at actual election results”, are labelled “post-truth” by folk who fervently believe that opinion polls are “truth”!”

    I’m puzzled. Can you give examples of this labelling of polling comments as post-truth?

  20. @Somerjohn

    See Alan on the previous page. He kept citing opinion polls and labelled me “post-truth” because I said the polls might be wrong. In his mind opinion polls are “truth” and election results are “false”, and dealing with so many election results that contradict opinion polls means from his point of view, we’re in a post-truth world! You couldnt make this stuff up.

  21. WB

    @”My purpose in this philosophical discourse is, given the difficulty in polling recently, a psychologically based emotional response test might be a better predictor of election results?”

    Polling for VI only needs to rely on a representative sample. The reason why people respond in a given way is not relevant to the search for the nature of their response -if I have understood anything at all from UKPR !! ?

    There are polls which specifically look for Key Issues & the like.

    But I wonder if you are on to something which is changing in political expression? I say “expression” because I think political affiliation is becoming more transitory & malleable.

    I’m not sure what has changed-but I wonder for example whether a historic Rich/Poor divide ( to put it crudely) -represented by traditional Right & Left -has been replaced in a world of generall higher standards of living, by divides like Identity & Culture ?

  22. @ TOH

    “In summary then I guess that we need new terms to more accurately define these groupings:
    Liberal Elite can stand and we could add:- &c”

    I find myself in full agreement with much of your post, especially the final section following on from the above.

    I think that more precise terminology is required not only to identify and distinguish between the various different groups within the elite, but amongst other socio-economic groups too.

    There are manifest differences it would seem to me between people not only according to their geography, education, political inclinations and affluence, but increasingly their preferred leisure activities and socio-cultural outlooks.

    In the US these divisions are much more understood and the ‘segmentation’ of the electorate is more advanced. It might not make for consistently more accurate predictive polling but it is fascinating from a survey perspective.

    Whilst I wouldn’t want the UK to go down the route of American style ‘identity politics’ and the huge, sometimes violent conflict that ensues over social issues, and would prefer to retain our broad coalitions of interest, I do think that our democracy would be better served if a wider range of opinions were mapped and represented in politics.

    I wonder if pollsters may be taking more account of this, there was the interesting work which found that attitudes – if I recall correctly on the death penalty – most closely aligned with those towards the EU. This concert with the BBC work on a nuanced picture of class including social networks and cultural activity might give us a clearer picture of the richness and diversity of the electorate.

  23. @ Nicholas

    “There was a time when lying in public could ruin reputations (eg Profumo and, as time went on, Eden). Now the opposite seems to be the case.”

    I meant to comment on your very sage words earlier but forgot.

    How true.

    Once deception discovered disbarred one from public office, now the display of deceit is a mere prerequisite.

  24. Candy

    I didn’t refer to “post truth” in relation to opinion polling at all.

    I used opinion polls as evidence to challenge your claim that Le Pen will gain support of the socialists in the run off between her and the republican candidate.

    This wasn’t in connection to “post truth” at all.

    Of course evidence isn’t much use when people choose to practice “post-truth”.

    The only solution is to not engage with them.

  25. Something else about Fillon. He is proposing supply-side reforms, and these are definitely necessary, but they take a long time to transform an economy, about 15 years on average.

    So you need something else to take the edge off, like a falling currency, and fiscal stimulus, both of which are forbidden because France is locked in the euro and Maastricht Treaty. So unless he renegotiates the Treaties he is doomed to failure. He may be able to renegotiate treaties if he is bloody-minded enough to force the Germans to back down – but Merkel standing again means he is unlikely to succeed.

  26. @ Colin

    “Now given your final, and if I may say so, typically, overbearing lofty dismissal, I hope you can agree that we have concluded our interesting exchanges on this topic”

    If you come back with some evidence that turns out to be something other than a ragbag survey put together by a bunch of libelling former radical communists turned intellectually threadbare libertarians with hulking great chips on their collective shoulders, I’ll be happy to engage in more ‘interesting exchanges’.

    I’ll even dispense with my typically lofty and overbearing tone if you’ll promise extend your reading matter and research criteria :-)

  27. @Alan

    You used “post-truth” in response to my statement that the French primary opinion polls were wrong, and the presidential polls are also likely to be wrong.

    You claim that opinion polls are “evidence” – but they are not, they are opinion not fact. And opinions are frequently wrong as a slew of elections has shown us.

    Your belief that opinion polls are “truth”, “evidence” and “fact” is leading you down a path where everthing that contradicts them is “post-truth”, even election results!

  28. @ LizH

    Thank you for such kind words. *Blushes*.

    I do hope you’ll come back and comment more (not on me!).

    We could do with “refreshing the cast”.

  29. @ assiduosity
    “I wonder if pollsters may be taking more account of this, there was the interesting work which found that attitudes – if I recall correctly on the death penalty – most closely aligned with those towards the EU. This concert with the BBC work on a nuanced picture of class including social networks and cultural activity might give us a clearer picture of the richness and diversity of the electorate.”

    The death penalty has always been a difficult one. I am from a working class community in a sink council estate in Swansea. The reality was that a large number (not the majority) of people had a more than passing familiarity with the justice and prison systems. Despite that, and the fact that generally nobody would vote anything other than Labour (which in the 1970’s and 80’s would mean no possibility of the death penalty being re-introduced) most people I knew, law-abiding or otherwise, were passionately in favour of the death penalty. I have moved away but my family have not and as far as I can see that attitude has not changed over time.
    I personally believe that taking life is wrong and therefore for the state to take a life in cold blood was abhorrent, I was seen as a little odd and now am considered just one of those intellectuals by the contemporaries of my youth. From my experience I am convinced that the working class have always held much more vengeful attitudes when it comes to crime and punishment, I am sure this has been consistent in the polls (and if not in focus groups) as it was one of the reasons for the popularity of Blair’s “Tough on crime. Tough on the causes of crime” because it straddled the working class and middle class sentiments and was designed to.

  30. @WB

    ““most public ornament is highly temporary. ”
    Think Shelley beat you to that one.”

    Your comment immediately made me think of Andre Gide’s:

    “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

    Ozymandias. Wonderful poem.

    It’s strange, perhaps the spirit of the Romantics are haunting me… I was in Keats’ house on the fringe of Hampstead Heath on Saturday and have been reading the poetry of that other lost genius of the 1820s again these last few days.

    How appropriate his words too are for are times:

    “There is nothing stable in the world; uproar’s your only music.”

  31. Assiduosity

    Nice that we have more or less reached agreement. Interestingly although we hold different views about many things there is also a lot of common ground as well. Totally agree with last paragraph.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  32. Candy: “See Alan on the previous page.”

    Well, I’ve reviewed your brief exchange with Alan and I’m none the wiser. His responses seemed to be pretty much confined to polling matters, which we can probably agree is still a legitimate topic here. Maybe it was his remark to Laszlo that he (Alan) hadn’t yet got the hang of engaging in this post-truth world.

  33. ICM poll out earlier today shows a very damaging position for the Labour leadership on economic confidence. I am curious if anyone actually understands McDonnell’s stance: it is very complex. Perhaps he needs to simplify, that appears to have worked in recent campaigns here and overseas.

  34. I have a long post in moderation, I have no idea why.

  35. Assiduosity

    I love Ketas work as do my grand children. They often as me to read “To Autumn”, the language really rolls off the tongue, and Ode to a Nightingale which i often follow by playing the a recording of a Nightingale in full song.

    I noted the other day that you had been to the Wallace Collection. So much to enjoy and leaving aside the obvious painting they have a wonderful collection of miniatures and snuff boxes.

  36. @ assiduosity

    The Romantics, of course, are attractive generally to those with a radical turn of mind.
    However I am also a fan of the Modern version of Jonathon Swift the late Terry Pratchett whose gems include:
    “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it”
    and
    “Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil, but by people being fundamentally people “

  37. More Pratchett from Moving Pictures and this sums up my life:
    “The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”

  38. ICM really aren’t holding back with their polling analysis this week:

    “Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings can only be described as abysmal. One in five (20%) think he’s doing a good job (including a chunk of Conservative, UKIP and Lib Dem voters whose observations are probably based on irony)”.

  39. @WB

    “My purpose in this philosophical discourse is, given the difficulty in polling recently, a psychologically based emotional response test might be a better predictor of election results?”

    Intriguing post.

    I think this touches on some of the themes that @TOH and I have been discussing today regarding segmentation of the electorate.

    By modelling polling samples on past voting, pollsters may have missed a trick in terms of ‘beneath the surface’ changes in the public and their attitudes to parties, voting and the political process.

    To borrow @NeilA’s excellent term, it seems as though an increasing number of people have become ‘retail voters’ – choosing the party that meets their ‘consumer ideal’ of a best fit at election time.

    This notion that emotional / intellectual affiliation to party is declining seems to be supported by the BES survey that shows voters now identify more with the labels ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ than say ‘Conservative’ and ‘Labour’.

    Likewise, though it is only one poll, and considering AW’s caveats, the YouGov work showing that a large number would shift to the LibDems for the ‘right’ Brexit offer is another indication of this trend.

    Perhaps, rather that seeking to map the electorate in terms of social class and past voting behaviour, a sample frame based on social attitudes, levels and types of economic engagement and access to social and cultural capital – all proxies for psychology it could be argued – might be better able to capture changes in individual and collective voter behaviour.

    Under such a model, rather than a representative sample that reflected the previous voting habits, geographical distribution and social condition of the electorate at the last election, the sample would be constructed around geography, type of economic activity, attitudes to various social issues and lifestyle denominators of the electorate. The advantage being your commitment to your core beliefs, watching football, your job, bank and home are more important than a cross in a box every few years as a predictor of future voting behaviour.

    It would be a huge punt – so really only an academic study would ever go for it, though perhaps pollsters are collecting much of this information in their corporate and attitudinal survey but not maximising its usage.

    Just a thought – something I will mull over.

  40. @ToH
    I also agree with your usage of the term ‘Liberal elite’ – it’s nice to agree!

    My concern is that it is used by others in the context that this very small sub-section of the Establishment actually runs the country and is responsible for various perceived wrongs, rather than the people who have actually been in charge all along.

    In that sense I think it fits rather neatly with the other discussion around ‘post-truth’…

  41. Assidiosity

    This was done, the research found 7 different political “families” when subjecting the population to a questionnaire and clustering analysis.

    I can’t recall which polling company is was done by but it was an example how that sort of analysis can be performed.

  42. ASSIDUOSITY

    @”threadbare libertarians”

    You prefer hirsute authoritarians then? :-)

    ……..any authoritarians will do I can see -provided their “reading matter and research criteria” are ……..approved.

  43. @TOH

    “Nice that we have more or less reached agreement. Interestingly although we hold different views about many things there is also a lot of common ground as well. Totally agree with last paragraph.
    Thanks for the discussion.”

    Indeed.

    Thank you a lively and informative discussion too.

    I often find that what unites people is much greater than they first imagine and, in turn, much greater than what divides them.

    I only hope that this practical approach prevails in all the forthcoming negotiations in the world over the next few years!

  44. @ TOH

    Keats – probably my favourite of the Romantics. Such a tragic life, cut short on the brink of happiness and in the midst of his most fertile creative period.

    I do try and make the very most of London’s cultural offerings – that’s what makes paying the premium for living here worth it for me.

    You’re quite right about the Wallace Collection – the snuff boxes, miniatures, majolica ware, all that Sevres porcelain, the furniture, the smoking room and the armoury. Such a unique collection.

    I personally always have an eye for the rock crystal items – boxes, vases, the small bust of a Roman Emperor. They fascinate for some reason.

    I was there again yesterday – walked home from Paddington after dropping off some friends who’d being staying over en route to Heathrow – for their trip back to Texas. It lifted the glom of these dark days.

  45. @ Alan

    “This was done, the research found 7 different political “families” when subjecting the population to a questionnaire and clustering analysis.”

    Thanks Alan.

    I will go and see if I can seek this out – I wonder how successful it was.

    My first thought is that seven sounds like a small number, my second is that they would need to persist and experiment around the core idea to test whether there was any actual mileage.

    We come back to this notion of there being ‘nothing new under the sun’ once more.

    I wonder if recent ‘lapses’ in polling might persuade whoever it was to revisit the work…

  46. @WB

    I’ve come rather late to Terry Pratchett I must confess, and mainly through his personal struggle with alzheimer’s disease rather than his extensive literary works.

    He does have a terribly good line in aphorisms though… to which I am mightily partial.

  47. Post truth

    Do those who use this expression know how stupid it is. It joins Post history in the pantheon of inanity.
    It implies a time of truth which can be measured.When was the time of truth ?when was this golden age?
    Was it 1979, 1996 or 2004 when tony Blair reassurred the nation about immigration or when he told us about weapons of mass destruction? were those the days of truth that we have now departed from?.
    As Orwell might have said: the truth is dead;long live the truth. Aint that the truth!

  48. @ Colin

    “……..any authoritarians will do I can see -provided their “reading matter and research criteria” are ……..approved.”

    The noun phrase was ‘Intellectually threadbare libertarians’, which has, as I’m sure you’re aware, quite a different meaning to the one which you have inferred.

    Also, ‘hirsute’ is not an antonym of ‘threadbare’. As an example, if I wore down the elbows on a merino wool sweater, thus rendering it threadbare, I might consider a patch or a new sweater as a remedy.

    I would not set about growing hair on my elbows as an appropriate reversal of the situation.

    I do hope that helps with your difficulties of vocabulary.

    As regards libertarians and authoritarians, being a democratic liberal I’m not overly given to either, but I prefer them to be equipped with the full fabric of intellect.

  49. Assiduosity

    The way this sort of analysis is done is the people involved in the research will try and select the number of groups to fit the data without “overfitting” if you pick more groups you risk fitting too much to the specific data set which will include sampling noise.

    Without the raw data it’s impossible to say why they chose 7 but I suspect they were ending up with some very small families which might have as easily been a product of the sample rather than the population. Larger samples would have helped here.

    I agree that more needs to be done but it is indicative of the type of research that goes on in terms of unsupervised learning.

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