Friday, 22 August 2014

How Accurate Are The Scottish Referendum. Polls ? Not A Lot Maybe.

Over at Political Betting David Herdson wonders how much we can trust the referendum polls

The answer appears  "we don't know"

The argument is that such a referendum is unique 

Mr Henderson says 

Similarly, the methodologies used to try to ensure a balanced political sample become much more complex where there are apparently such disparities between how men and women are planning to vote, between those born in Scotland and those from outside.  Weightings can be and are applied but producing accurate figures is still akin to hitting a moving target, while standing on the back of a moving pickup truck, at dusk – which may account for the widely differing figures being published.
“Aha”, you might say, “then I’ll balance them out and take an average”, which is all very well except that there’s no guarantee that the average will be particularly accurate.  1992 remains the most famous example, but it’s not just a historic problem.  In 2010, every pollster overstated the Lib Dems and virtually every one understated both the Conservatives and Labour; five of the last six London mayoral polls in 2012 gave too low a share to Ken Livingstone, four of them by more than 3%; the Scottish election in 2011 saw the SNP under-reported for the regional vote in almost every poll, some by a considerable margin, even while those same polls got the SNP almost spot-on in the constituency section; most pollsters overstated those in favour of AV by 7-10% in the two weeks before the vote.

Which leads  him to come to the conclusion 

What does this mean for the vote?  My instinct would be to allow for a much wider range of possibilities than the polls are currently showing (and for once, perhaps because they can’t benchmark against their peers, there’s quite a spread already).  It may be that No has an even more commanding lead than the 22% YouGov found earlier this month; alternatively, it could be neck-and-neck, beyond even Survation or Panelbase’s findings.  We are in unchartered waters.  To that end, the value bet is with Yes – there is too great a degree of certainty in the odds at the moment.
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Which makes me wonder  are the pollsters beginning to worry that their credibility is on line?

Admittedly from siting at my keyboard in Beddau  I have no real experience of the campaign but the YES
campaign  seem to be more vigorous on the strets.

True politicians often try to counter negative polls but  claiming their own canvassing gave a different picture .

But could the pollsters begin to react to the actual "Reality on the Streets" and begin to start placing an "adjustment" to reflect this.

Don't be surprised that in the next few weeks the YES-NO gap starts narrowing in the polls

After all if the Pollsters are out by a large margin either way the excuse that they were not used to this sort of referendum will hardly be one that encourages us to pay attention.

Indeed we may be asking the question . Whats the point of these polls" unless they were designed to give the answer those who commissioned them wanted?


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