31 July 2009

The Telegraph, the polls and the facts

The Telegraph is not having a good week.  First, we had the expenses story demolished by Dizzy.  Now, we have a YouGov poll.  The topline figures are:

CON 41%(+1), LAB 27%(+2), LDEM 18%(-2).

Here is the sub-heading of the article:

Gordon Brown's Government is now as unpopular as John Major's the year before his Conservative party suffered a landslide general election defeat, according to a new poll.

Within the article:

A YouGov poll found that 70 per cent of voters now disapprove of the Government's record, with only 17 per cent approving. That is identical to the Major government in July 1996.

All very well, but Brown has been more unpopular than Major, as Anthony Wells, who should always be read when a poll is published, explains:

In the Telegraph’s report they concentrate upon the extreme negative rating for the government. Only 17% of people now approve of the government’s record, with 70% disapproving - a net approval rating of minus 53. The Telegraph seem to have focused on this because the dying Major government got the same figures in July 1996, a year before their annihilation. It’s worth noting however that this isn’t actually the worst this government have recorded - they managed minus 57 back in May. (For that matter, it’s not the worst Major recorded either!).

Now, it wouldn't have taken much for the Telegraph to have included this within the article.  Facts are important when it comes to the polls, as they are with everything else

Clearly, the Telegraph’s concern is with headlines and sales. Some of us would like the complete picture, even if the details, important or not, have to buried in the small print of an article.

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