Was the coverage of the poll that moved the markets a step too far?
Since December 2002, almost without exception, the Times has published the regular Populus poll on the Tuesday of the first full week of the month. So far this December there has been no Populus poll in the paper and yesterday the BBC produced a survey from the pollster on the Today programme. Was that survey originally intended for the Times?
Looking at the detailed data it is clear that the regular General Election voting intention question was put but this was not included in the BBC reports.
A month ago the boss of Populus Polls, Andrew Cooper, shocked many in the polling industry by his forthright comments on Politicalbetting about the way the Times had given splash front page treatment to an element in the November poll that Davis was leading 50-37 amongst Tory supporters. Cooper wrote here: “Personally I would not have put the headline they (the Times) did above the findings, but that isnâ€™t a matter for me. “
The head of another polling firm told me a few days later that he was amazed that Andrew should criticise his main client in such a public way.
It will be recalled, as we showed a few hours after its publication, that the Times lead story was based on the views of just 122 people in a survey of 1,500. The 50-37 finding flew in the face of other polls at the time and caused the Cameron price to move from 0.09/1 to 0.5/1. Many punters, including me, went into the market as a direct result and picked up bets that proved to be profitable bargains.
Populus has been the most transparent of all the major polling firms and Andrew has always been ready to come onto this site to discuss issues. It will be interesting to see how this develops and it might, of course, be that the December Populus Times survey will be published a bit later this month.