The limits of private polling

The limits of private polling

Both had private polling showing they were going to win.

For we followers and obsessives of opinion polls, there are two words that grab our attention like no others, those two words are “private polling”, there’s some belief that “private polling” is much more sophisticated and accurate, than the normal public polling, but is it?

Mitt Romney’s internal polling in 2012, showed him believing he was on course to win the Presidency, and today The Daily Record reported

Alex Salmond was convinced he was on course for a historic referendum win right until the votes were counted. Private polling by a firm of election experts had the First Minister believing he would pull off a shock victory.

The nationalists had employed Canadian voter contact specialists First Contact to conduct secret opinion polling. And an analysis of their findings by two leading academics in New York said the Yes campaign would win by 54 per cent to 46. The SNP were widely thought to have the most sophisticated data-modelling system in the UK before the vote……And First Contact were so confident of the result they revealed their 54 per cent Yes prediction to the Canadian press before the votes were counted.

So the next time you read or hear that a party or candidate’s private polling has them leading, particularly when public polling has them trailing, remember that Salmond and Romney thought they were on course to win, according their own internal polling.


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