Online or Face-to-Face?: Different Method, Same Result

Travelling just now, so just time to do a quick post – in fact,many may be relieved to hear that this will be a shorter one than usual, given some recent ‘accidental epic length’ posts…anyway, news is coming in that Nicola has – again – triumphed in a leaders’ debate, with Survation giving her some excellent post-debate results. As there is only one poll in so far, I’m going to wait and see if any more get released before I write that up more fully…and also see if the Establishment puts out another smear story  within 24 hours like they did after her success in the first Leaders’ Debate. 🙂

What I was going to mention, briefly, was a TNS poll that came out this week, giving Westminster voting intentions in Scotland as SNP 52%, Labour 24%. You might say that these are just ‘same old same old’ figures, pretty much matching IPSOS-MORI in both January and the now legendary October poll that signalled the start of the SNP surge. But TNS is different – they conduct their polling on a face-to-face basis. As James Kelly notes, almost all other polling companies use a component of online polling for their Scotland-wide figures. Now, you can see the possible problems there, as your panel is self-selecting, and therefore usually atypically politically engaged.

Face-to-face interviews are a slightly different business – for one thing, it takes a lot more footwork and time to do your sampling of 968 people…so some of TNS’s work was done before ‘FrenchGate’ occurred. This is important, because TNS’s last poll in March gave the SNP a lead of only 16 points – now they are showing 28 points over Labour. Does that mean that the real growth is larger, and they have missed part of it in their polling?.Only time will tell – it will be interesting to see how the figures change – and with rumours that Lord Ashcroft is using Populus to do a third poll, with 9 constituencies across Scotland, that could mean anothr big (and – possibly – illuminating…) announcement in under a week’s time, if he follows form and announces on Tuesday.

Other results from the poll were fairly mundane, showing Conservatives on 13%(-1), Libdems 6% (+3), Scottish Greens 3%(-1). But the increase in the demographic share for the SNP is also interesting, not only showing 71% support amongst the expected 18-34 year olds, but also 57% of 35-54 year olds, leaving the always difficult 55 and overs on 40%…which is still not be sneezed at. In the TNS sample, the most popular hung parliament option remains Labour-SNP on 25% (including almost a third of all Labour voters).

Oh, and when I said that only one other polling company apart from TNS does not rely on a self-selecting online panel for its Scotland wide polling? That company is IPSOS-MORI.

Yes…the other 52%/24% company.


“Particularly difficult to understand is the hysteria surrounding the suggestion that an anti-Tory majority could work together to lock out David Cameron from Number 10. Such a result might not give the majority of people the government they voted for…but it would mean the majority of people would not be forced to accept a government they specifically voted against.” (Richard Walker, 2/4/2015)

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