The British Polling Council gets into election mode

The British Polling Council gets into election mode

Full datasets to be published within 18 hours

The president of the British Polling Council, Professor John Curtice, told a conference of academics, pollsters and journalists today that the rules on the publication by pollsters of the full datasets from surveys are to be changed for the general election.

The rule that has existed since the BPC was set up in 2004 was that pollsters had two clear working days to make the dataset available. So if the poll came out on Saturday it could be Tuesday, or maybe even Wednesday, before it came out.

Clearly in the fast moving environment of an election campaign this could mean that we could have to wait a considerable period for key information from a survey to be made public – by which time, of course, it would be of only historical interest.

The new rule is that the data has to be made available within eighteen hours of the first publication of the poll.

This is a good move and should be welcomed by all poll watchers. It’s a pity that they could not have been bolder – twelve hours perhaps?

I’ll be reporting more on several aspects of today’s excellent conference in the next day or so.

Mike Smithson

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