Attack of the dodgy polls

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The Times and The Guardian both have some interesting – but not very convincing – polls today.

The Times has a poll conducted by Populus in which people were asked if they recognised the candidates. Not surprisingly, Ming came top at 41%, Simon scored 34% and Huhne scored 4%. In and of itself, this is hardly surprising. Indeed, the good news for all three candidates is that if they get elected they are likely to end up very recognisable: Kennedy scores 83% and beats Waynec Rooney.

The Guardian meanwhile go all mystical on us:

The survey, which was carried out after Mark Oaten dropped out of the race but before he stood down as home affairs spokesman, draws on polling techniques used in the United States, which try to discover how people respond to the look and feel of candidates, rather than a specific political message. Research suggests many voters base lasting decisions on their initial response. Voters are shown a brief silent video clip of candidates at work before being asked for their response. For the first time, ICM used an internet panel.

On this basis, I’m not at all surprised that Hughes did well. He’s a good performer, no doubt about it. But is the Guardian seriously saying that it the sole criteria for electing a leader?

Even with that caveat, the small polling size makes the statistics so open to error as to be meaningless. And then there is the question of what bit of footage they chose for the three candidates.

All in all, this is pretty meaningless. I’m sure – quite reasonably – that Simon Hughes’ team will leap on it, but to what degree it will influence the outcome remains to be seen. Notwithstanding his interviews on Monday, Hughes remains remarkably the most low profile of the three candidates.

4 thoughts on “Attack of the dodgy polls

  1. I agree that it is not worth placing too much reliance on this. Although the Guardian article did make interesting reading.

    Whoever gets elected will start to score higher in these exercises.

    Being leader gives them a profile that being candidate cannot give.

  2. I’m sure the Guardian isn’t suggest being a good performer is the *only* criteria, but it is by far the most important.

    This election is *not* about policy. All the candidates policies are pretty similar anyway, and it’s conference that decided policy anyway. This election is about who the general public will vote for.

  3. I agree I’d like to see the clips that the Guardian used for this exercise. I still have some suspicion that the David Cameron deliberative poll for Newsnight was highly prejudiced in both audience selection and use of selective video clips.

  4. Having seen the full figures in the paper edition of the Guardian, I’d agree with Peter that it makes interesting reading.

    I’d agree that presentation is a very important factor, but you would be ill-advised to over-estimate it at the expense of other things. Hague was superb presentation-wise, in terms of speech delivery better than Cameron, but he came unstuck because of the direction he was taking the party in.

    The ideal candidate has both political nouse and presentation skills. To a lesser or greater extent both Ming and Chris have that (not that there isn’t room for improvement). Simon in my view has bundles of the latter but a severe lack of the former. Keep him on the front bench, by all means, but don’t assume that just because he can make a good fist of a speech when he makes an effort he would make a good leader.

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