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My political pollster of the year: Lord Ashcroft

December 17th, 2013

We are at that time of the year when we look back at what’s happened in the past twelve months and highlight and reflect. PB will be no different. Over the next few days there’ll be a number of posts with “……of the Year” in the heading.

My first is for the man who, through his extensive and well-designed polling, has made a greater contirubtion than anybody during 2013 to understanding what is going in electorally.

We all know where Lord Ashcroft stands politically but that does not stand in the way of his search for as accurate a picture. Quite often his findings and analysis don’t make comfortable reading for his own party.

He’s been the main provider of by-elections polling, has tackled serious issue like immigration, and most of all have been his comprehensive looks at the marginals.

These have provided a mine of information going well beyond the simple voting questions and the issues.

What’s hugely impressive is the scale and his adoption very often of the most resource hungry method for getting data. His September marginals polling, for instance, involved talking by phone to a sample size of 12,800 – a massive undersaking. To put this into context this is more than the aggregate samples that the Guardian/ICM polls as well as the Ipsos-MORI Political Monitors have in an entire year.

He is completely open about his methodolgies and all the data is made available very soon after publication. My only minor quibble is that I think he should be including UKIP in his main party prompts.

If I had the resources of Michael Ashcroft I’d love to do the same.

Long may he continue.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004