Polling junkies be warned: the Guardian plays ICM striptease

Polling junkies be warned: the Guardian plays ICM striptease

    If you want to know how the parties are doing you’ll have to wait

guardian july 25 06.jpgIf you had hoped to wake up this morning to read how the parties are getting on as recorded in the longest running and most authoritative polling series in British politics – then tough.

The Guardian has decided to play polling striptease with its ICM July poll so although there are hints of goodies to come the paper is making us wait for the key data that we yearn for.

For although the Guardian has its July ICM poll as the splash story there’s no information, in the online edition at least, of what the actual voting intention poll shares are. There is the odd “glimpse of flesh” with data on how supporters of the different parties are viewing the US and events in the Middle East but not the real thing.

Because the ICM poll in the Guardian has been carried out at least once a month since July 1984 and because the pollster has pioneered techniques to ensure representative polling samples it’s the one with the most clout. The other two polling series with monthly newspaper slots, by Populus in the Times and YouGov in the Telegraph, only started after the 2001 General Election.

Amongst the findings that are published this morning are:-

  • 30% of those surveyed say Blair has got the relationship with the US about right, while 63% saying he has tied the country too closely to the US.
  • Amongst Labour supporters the figure is 54% while Tories came out at 68% with 83% of Lib Dems being critical
  • On Israel’s operation in Lebanon those surveyed split 61-22% in the view that the country had over-reacted.
  • There’s also been a big decline in those believing that the Iraq invasion was justified although Labour supporters are still in favour of Government policy by 48-36
    • This is all interesting information which will add to the backcloth as the domestic political reaction as the events are examined. But these figures give us no hint at all about how the next General Election might go.

    To those who say that the polls are totally irrelevant this far from a General Election I would point to ICM’s record with the Tory vote in the two years between the Iraq War and polling day. The pollster carried out 26 surveys for the Guardian recording the following shares:-

    1 poll had the party at 35%
    4 polls had the party at 34%
    11 polls had the party at 33%
    5 polls had the party at 32%
    3 polls had the party at 31%
    2 polls had the party at 30%
    Actual election result – The Tories got 33.2%

    All this is why I, for one, will take notice of what ICM reports tomorrow. Hopefully all will be revealed then – or like the good striptease act could they make us wait even longer?

    Mike Smithson

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