Should opinion polls be banned? Your task Research the following points from your Roberts, p.83 What are opinion polls? How accurate are the forecasts? How influential are polls on voting behaviour? What are opinion polls? Surveys of the political behaviour & attitudes of a sample group (1,000 – 2,000) at a particular moment Exit polls are held following voting at polling station Conducted by professional organisations (e.g. MORI, Callup, ICM) Conducted face-to-face, by phone or online How accurate are the forecasts? Error margin of +/- 3% 2001 GE, Assoc. of Prof. Polling Organisations claimed ‘polls were most accurate since 1987’ Crewe, polls overestimated Labour and underestimated Tory vote 1992 GE, nearly all polls failed to predict Tory victory. Average predicted lead for Labour Party was 1.3%, but the Tories actually won with a 7.6% lead. ITN paid Harris £200,000 for such inaccurate polls! Opinion Polls & 1992 GE Statistical data on accuracy of polls How influential are opinion polls? ‘Bandwagon’ effect – voters attracted to winning party British love the underdog ‘Boomerang’ effect – Encourage voting apathy (Butler & Kavanagh, e.g. Lab lead in 2001 GE lead to low turnout) Tactical voters use opinion poll data Influence political parties (many commission own polls) Opinion polls banned in some countries (e.g. Germany) Your task Draw up a list of as many reasons to explain why you think opinion polls can be so inaccurate. Reasons for inaccuracies Respondents not registered – esp. prevalent among potential Labour voters (Poll Tax effect) Respondents lying – on issues such as health care many might support Labour, but wouldn’t vote for that party; embarrassment at admitting to personal political preferences Respondents unrepresentative – samples too small Respondents floating – ‘late swing’ due to undecided voters Your task Should opinion polls be banned? Divide the class into two. The lefthand side support the motion, the right reject it.