As Brown goes to the Palace, the opinion polls remain as helpful as ever. Last night one for ICM suggested a hung parliament, while another for YouGov suggested a comfortable Tory victory. As you are about to be drowned by a wave of commentary, here is a checklist of notions you can dismiss as guff.
Our latest poll shows that…
Opinion polls are done on the cheap by business research companies who make their money selling their work on consumer preferences to gullible marketing managers. Their political polls are loss leaders whose main purpose is to generate publicity for the brand. Often newspapers receive them free of charge.
They are not proper random samples, and historically have always had a bias towards Labour. Mike Smithson, of politicalbetting.com has a golden rule that “whenever polls have been tested against real election results it’s been the survey with Labour in the least favourable position that has been the most accurate”.
In other words, Labour supporters should be more worried than they are about their low poll showing. Their party’s real performance could well be worse.