The Libyan intervention: Making sense of contradictory polls

The Libyan intervention: Making sense of contradictory polls

Pollster/publication Question wording Date Right % Wrong %
YouGov for the Sun Do you think Britain, France, the US and other countries are right or wrong to take military action in Libya? 20/03/11 to 21/03/11 45 36
Pollster/publication Question wording Date Agree % Disagree %
ComRes online for ITV news It is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gadafi’s forces in Libya 18/03/11 to 20/03/11 35 43

Is it down to timing and the wording?

At 10pm last night two polls came out seeking to show the public’s response to the military intervention in Libya. The findings of the key questions are featured above and show quite a different picture.

Is this down to the wording and timing or can it be dismissed as just a glitch?

Firstly all the fieldwork for YouGov took place after the action had started and we have seen before a tendency to “get behind out boys” when they are actually in conflict. ComRes’s polling started after the UN decision to authorise the move but before things started to happen. By the end of the fieldwork things were in full flow and there was a lot of coverage.

The second, and to my mind more critical, point is that the YouGov wording makes clear that this is a joint action with other countries which of itself gives a level of validation to the action.

By comparison the ComRes question simply refer to the UK alone. Many of us can recall the approach of the French to the Iraq conflict and the fact that this time they are on board in line with the US and others might make it more acceptable.

Certainly a key part of Cameron’s, and Miliband’s, rhetoric on the issue is this is that this is a joint action involving quite a number of different nations.

No doubt there’ll be lots more polling in the coming days.

  • The overnight YouGov daily poll had CON 365: LAB 43%: LD 9%. Also out yesterday was a regional poll for the south west from Marketing Means. This had with comparisons on the general election CON 39%(-4): LAB 29%(+14): LD 18%(-17): UKIP 6%(+1): GRN 6%(+5).

    So the yellows being hammered in line with the national polls. The Lib Dems must be quite pleased that in Cornwall and in a number of other places in the region that there are NOT local elections on May 5th. The figure I was quite surprised with was the relative lack of progress for UKIP.

  • Mike Smithson

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