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Opinion Polls

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore

Abstract

Apart from television, the most important new factor which has influenced elections in the post-war period has been the public opinion polls. No politician worth his salt is now ignorant of the latest state of the parties, as revealed by any one of half a dozen polls; and at closely fought by-elections the predictions of the pollsters receive incomparably more attention than the pronouncements of the candidates. At first the polls were used purely by the media, for publication in their reporting. But the political parties quickly caught on to their potential and started to commission private polls for their own use to plan their strategy and test their ideas (with the results kept confidential unless there is any benefit in releasing them). The private polls have been a feature of British elections for around 50 years, but suddenly came to greater public notice in 1997 when Labour’s campaign appeared to be more poll-driven than hitherto.

Keywords

Opinion Poll Election Campaign Labour Party Political Parti Public Opinion Poll 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 4.
    YouGov’s methodology is explained, and its strengths and weaknesses debated, in the International Journal of Market Research Volume 46 (2004) by Peter Kellner (chairman of YouGov) on one side and Nick Sparrow (head of ICM) and the psephologist John Curtice on the other.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    See Philip Gould, The Unfinished Revolution (London: Little, Brown, 1998).Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Figures from David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1987 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1987), pp. 140, 144.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    See David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1992 (London: Macmillan, 1992), p. 151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 10.
    See Robert Worcester (ed.), Political Opinion Polling: An International Review (London: Macmillan, 1983) pp. 109–10 for the full text of the 1974 Code of Practice. Details of the BPC’s rules and membership can be found at its website, www.britishpollingcouncil.org.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Frits Spangenberg, The Freedom to Publish Opinion Poll Results: Report on a Worldwide Update (Amsterdam: Foundation for Information, 2003) reviews the state of the law on the publication of polls in 66 countries worldwide.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dick Leonard and Roger Mortimore 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore

There are no affiliations available

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