Wednesday, June 04, 2014

There is another myth that we must consider

Peter Kellner (YouGov polling organisation) has written an article entitled Five Myths About UKIP:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/02/five-myths-ukip-conservatives-farage-Newark

He may or may not be right about his assertions.

However there is another myth that we must consider - whether polling organisations are accurate in gauging sentiments rather than recording intentions.

People are complex.  They are sophisticated.  They are mischievous.  They are contradictory.  They are wary of strangers (except for a minority).  They have learned to mistrust establishment people and establishment organisations.

Therefore a polling organisation can ask a straightforward question ("Will you vote next Thursday") and get a reasonably straightforward answer.

But when asking more nuanced questions it is not enough to just ask once and record one answer.  To get an accurate picture you have to ask the same question several times, in different wording, and then compare all the answers.  You will often find that the answer first given is not what they really think.

To survey a thousand people in this way would of course be very expensive.

But it would be more valid than the "evidence" presented here by Peter Kellner.

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