30 January 2011

In the shadow of the opinion polls

Everyone who is on twitter will know that the political opinion polls are a fact of life.

This spreadsheet from You Gov looks at the detailed breakdown of answers on 28/01/11

My guess is that for anyone working as a party communications officer this must act as an end of the week test to show how well they are doing at getting the message across.

If you look at the phrasing of the questions that people are answering it shows how important it is to have a "message" and "counter messages" and to get in with rebuttal before messages have a chance to stick.

The questions in these polls are designed to polarise opinion. We have seen how when it comes close to elections, that the emphasis on polls and movement of the polls becomes obsessive.

This is the highly pressured world in which communications officers and journalists are operating.

What is interesting as you scan through the spreadsheet, is that it is for the most part highly predictable. Peoples opinions divide on their voting intention. They will espouse the "line" that has been promoted by the papers they choose.

There are just two issues in this particualr poll which show a high degree of cross party agreement. The first is that life for most people over the next year is going to get worse. The second is a very high level of agreement (all parties over 80%) that phone hacking is wrong.

If people are constantly measuring their progress in the battle to win ground, then the pressure must be to use techniques that persuade, rather than perhaps to assist people to understand the complexity of the issues in hand.