A recent poll, apparently showing Labour has closed the Tories’ lead in the polls to just five points, has caused a bit of a stir among Vox Political readers.

It seems that some of you are unhappy that Steve Walker’s recent article referred to the ‘raw’ figures, rather than those produced by Ipsos Mori after the company added arbitrary ‘weighting’ of its own.

So Rachel Hodge wrote: “I’m sorry but your reporting of polling is woefully inaccurate, the figures you quote are before weighting. The headline figures show a 12 point lead for the Conservatives. Most of that is a new leader bounce and shouldn’t be taken seriously, it will fall back within a few months. Judging by historical precedent the new leader bounce is probably about 10 points which puts the Tories about 2 points ahead. But we will have to wait and see.

“So, why the difference between the raw figures and the headline figures and why is it important? The difference is likelihood to vote, the headline figure is discounting people who are Labour supporters but say they aren’t certain they will vote. This is a real problem for Labour and ignoring it won’t make it disappear. We could reasonably assume that some of the softness in Labour support has to do with the coup and the bad publicity it has caused but that’s not the whole story. Personally I think the softness in Labour support has its origins in the expenses scandal, no one cares if Tories cheat the public, that’s what Tories do. But Labour MPs cheating the public is much more damaging.”

And our old friend and resident Tory, Hayfords, added: “The actual figures are CON 45%(+9), LAB 34%(-1), LDEM 7%(-4), UKIP 6%(-2), GRN 4%(nc). The chart you are using is only the left hand side from MORI

“Here is the narrative that goes with it on Ipsos/MORI’s web site: ‘Voting intention figures show the Conservatives widening a lead over Labour to their highest since 2009. The Conservatives currently stand at 45%, compared with Labour at 34%, the Liberal Democrats at 7% and UKIP at 6%.’

This is the full chart. The web address is [here].”

Before going to Steve Walker for his reply, it’s worth pointing out that politics is going through a period of extreme change. Recently there has been a large number of people who say they support Labour but don’t vote – and it’s entirely possible that this is due to the poor behaviour of Labour MPs. But we have a new leadership and a new approach. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are all about bringing lapsed Labour supporters back in – and throwing out any corruption, any disloyalty to Labour and its ideals. That is starting to resonate with the wider public. It has taken a while because we have hostile media trying to support the status quo – but consider the result of the Victoria Derbyshire hustings last Wednesday, when all but four of the ‘undecideds’ in the audience moved to Jeremy Corbyn’s side at the end.

Okay, over to Steve. I promised to contact him about his choices in writing the article – and did. He was happy to provide this response:

“The 4% is the result of the raw data. The 12% is the result after they play around with what they *think* it means and how they *think* people will act based on their expressed intention.

“Used to see it all the time in unemployment data etc – huge increases in unemployment would turn into a fall after ‘seasonal adjustment’ – but the figures in the same season the previous year would often have gone the opposite way.

“Even if you trust the people doing the adjustment to do it honestly, in the end effectively they’re just guessing – and we’ve all seen in recent elections how wrong the guess-based expectations have been.

“There’s a huge disconnect between the not-yet-changed paradigms of political commentators and pollsters and what’s actually happening out there, so you have to at least ask the question whether any of their adjustments are likely to be correct.

“Recently, the results of the raw data have been much more accurately reflected in actual voting results, so I know which way I tend, at least until the pollsters have a clue what’s going on in the real world!”

Some of you are undoubtedly already sharpening your keyboard fingers to provide a pointed reply. “You know what they’re going to say already, of course,” I suggested to Steve.

“Of course. But the relentlessly wilful ignoring of the significance of actual results in favour of ‘lick your finger and stick it in the wind’ (or outright skewed) polling needs to be confronted head on sometimes.”

Yes it does. With polls making all sorts of wild suggestions that aren’t supported in elections, it is right to question the accuracy of the ‘adjustments’. Isn’t it?


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