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How much can we trust this Scottish Euro poll?

March 24th, 2009


STV News

Remember the pollster’s 17% Labour lead in Glasgow East?

Last July as the Glasgow East by election campaign was going into its final weekend there was a poll from a firm called Progressive Scottish Opinion suggesting that Labour had a 17% lead. On the following Thursday, of course, the SNP won.

This had an immediate impact on the betting with the SNP price moving out and Labour becoming and even tighter odds-on favourite. For those who saw this by election as a 50:50 chance this created an opportunity to get more on the SNP at much longer odds.

A couple of days after the poll’s publication I was sent a copy of the data which showed, amazingly for a by election, that no certainty to vote question was asked. In by elections this can often be the deciding issue – which party can get its vote out. Also the sample did not appear to be past vote weighted.

So what are we to make of these latest poll figures from the same firm for June’s Euro Elections north of the border which was reported on STV this evening? On the face of it this is great news for Labour.

But was the poll structured like the Glasgow East one or was an attempt made to find out about who would actually vote? This is critical for the Euros because turnouts are notoriously low – particularly in Scotland. See the table at page 12 here on the 2004 results. All the UK’s ultra low-turnout areas, down to 21% in places, were north of the border.

It might be that there have been big methodological changes since the by election. We don’t know. Progressive Scottish Opinion is not listed as a member of the British Polling Council.






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