My Election Notes 2019: E-Day – 6

by Pseud O'Nym

It struck me only this morning that opinion polls are a bit like ready meals.

Last Friday, I was meant to attend an event at the London School Of Economics concerning a new methodology for the measuring of opinions that make opinion polls, so they can appear more trustworthy and indicative of the opinions they present. Because as we all know, the standing of opinion polls has been low since their disastrous misreading of the 2015 election, one that was only eclipsed by the failure to call the 2016 referendum. Mind you, that was only eclipsed by their utter failure to in any way predict clearly the 2017 election. So, improvements were urgently needed, as every newspaper and media outlet said in 2015, again in 2016, and er, in 2017. But be be that as it may, despite this the same newspapers and media outlets still need stories so are still reporting the findings of opinion polls as if none of this ever happened. Its almost as if newspapers only commission and publish polls whose findings they know either their proprietor or readers will agree with. Arrant nonsense I know!

Even though conducting interviews face to face is better than virtually every other method, as it allows for follow-ups and clarification, it is also much more expensive. Much, much more. That’s why online polls published by polling companies that offer incentives are not worth the paper they’re not printed on. I wrote a blog about them here and them helping to cause the ‘bandwagon effect’, namely, because how everyone likes to back a winner, so the polls help create the very thing they purport to show.

In much the same way people proclaimed themselves outraged by the ‘horse-meat’ scandal few years back when it turned out that one wasn’t able to buy a £3 lasagna ready meal and for it not contain the best cuts of meat. Inexplicably they imagined that they imagined could buy the quality for next to no money and this lack of credulity turned to anger when the whole sorry fiasco was revealed. The consumer wanted everything but the blame. No matter that horse meat is a far healthier meat to eat. Apparently what mattered that the people had been misled. It was the principle of the thing! This principle didn’t however last until the following Christmas, which had the temerity to be only a month or so later. Now their outrage was all forgotten.They wanted tables laden with food, they wanted to stuff themselves silly.  They wanted cheap food, 3 for 2 and ‘buy one get one free’ offers, because they really did think there was such a thing as a free meal.

That’s why opinion polls are much like ready meals, people remember what they want to remember!