Monday, April 10, 2017

Lod Ashcroft's latest poll

The record of many opinion pollsters companies in predicting close votes over the past two years has not exactly been brilliant.

However, the pollster's record of being at least broadly right when they say that lots of people are leaning in a particular direction is much better. And the evidence polls produce is certainly far more reliable than anyone's anecdotal impressions - which can mean anything from "what my friends say to me down the pub" to "what the people who are willing to talk on the doorstep to someone wearing a rosette of my colour say."

At least scientific opinion polls, after taking due account of the problems pointed out in the famous Sir Humphrey "yes minister" clip, are much less the prisoner of confirmation bias.

There is a very large opinion survey of the state of public opinion in Britain from Lord Ashcroft out today which can be read in full as a PDF at

or in summary form on his website here.

This is absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what is going on with public opinion in Britain at the moment including what issues people are concerned about, which voters are switching between parties and why, as well as the usual stuff which we political activitists cannot help reading about how the parties and political leaders are doing, such as this chart which shows Theresa May continuing to do extremely well in the opinion of the British electorate ...

and Jeremy Corbyn continuing to do extremely badly, although Lib/Dem Leader Tim Farron and UKIP leader Paul Nuttall are even less well regarded than Corbyn.

(So is President Donald Trump, though as he is accountable to the US electorate rather than British electors this is not necessarily a problem for him.)

Asked what were the most important issues facing Britain as a whole, six in ten of Ashcroft's 10,000  poll respondents named “negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union on the right terms” among the top three. This put it at the top of the priority list for the country, both for Remain and Leave voters.

However, when asked what mattered most to “you and your family”, the Brexit negotiations fell to third place behind “improving the NHS” and “tackling the cost of living”. Only 39% of all voters named Brexit negotiations among the top three issues on this measure. An important point for those of us in politics to remember. There's a lot more detail on the above links.

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