Posted by: Ciaran | April 25, 2010

Poll chancing

You can’t move for opinion polls at the moment. The 24-hour news channels have them on rolling tickers, and the papers screech about public feeling every day.

But do they really matter? Opinions shift over time, as seen in this fantastic interactive poll tracker from the BBC.

Back on 1 October 2008, the Conservatives were the overwhelming favourites in the polls. Fast forward 19 months and you’ve got days, such as 21 April, where the Lib Dems are polling three per cent more than the Tories.

Add in to the pot the nature of the First-Past-the-Post system and you have to wonder just how much credence they have. They tell perhaps too simplistic a story: while they may give a snapshot of public feeling on a given day, factors such as sample size and the nature of the respondents means they don’t necessarily give neat conclusions.

They undoubtedly warrant coverage, but sometimes it seems the saturation of polls obscures the real issues.


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