Where have all the opinion polls gone?

Where have all the opinion polls gone?

    After the poll famine – the feast: we hope!

With the opening of the offical campaign for a May 5 General Election only weeks away there’s been a dearth of opinion polls. So far in February there have been just three national surveys and we are now three-quarters of the way through, what is admittedly, the shortest month.

    Compare that with January when we saw a total of ten polls including five extra surveys beyond the five regular ones that are usually commissioned every month.

So far Labour’s pledge card, Tony Blair’s “I want to make up” speech in Gateshead, and the party’s response to the Tory plans on immigration have hardly been put to the test. Likewise the Tory move on health checks for immigrants has not been surveyed in terms of its impact on the party shares.

The Lib Dems, meanwhile are anxious to see if the big drops reported by Populus and NOP are also there from other pollsters.

    Although we all moan about the polls – when we don’t have them those who try to gamble or predict the outcome of elections have nothing to go by. We are flying blind.

Well the period of poll famine is nearly over. The Guardian’s monthly ICM survey should be published in the next day or so; the Telegraph’s monthly YouGov poll is usually featured on the final Friday while the Independent on Sunday has made the last weekend of the month the slot for its Communicate Research report.

We wondered whether the newspapers that commission opinion polls have decided that the election is such a foregone conclusion that they are preserving their polling budgets until the campaign itself.

© Mike Smithson 2005

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