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Opinion polls do not lie (yeah right!)

Posted by Helen Thursday, October 12, 2006

A small and seemingly irrelevant to the core interests of this blog story has come my way. Being a generous sort of bod, I should like to share it with our readers to give them some idea of the way opinion poll organizations operate. That, on the other hand, is very important to us all.

An organization called StandUp4Israel, horrified by the anti-Israeli bias in the British media throughout the war in southern Lebanon, commissioned YouGov, that well-known and, as they say, blue-chip polling organization to conduct a survey of readers of Jewish Chronicle for one very simple reason. They wanted to know whether these people, reasonably representative of the Jewish community in this country, wanted to see an advertising campaign in support of Israel in this country.

I understand that 92 per cent of those asked said yes but that is not really the story. Let us not get into the rights of wrongs of such a campaign.

The point is that without telling StandUp4Israel YouGov used some of the money to conduct a survey of non-Jews in this country for their opinion of Israel. Then they leaked the results to the media (where most of us read it with some astonishment).

This is so blatant that the complaint against YouGov has been upheld by the Market Research Society.

Opinion polls and their results are thrust at us all the time and over the years we have learnt to deal with the understanding of bias and inaccuracy. Much depends on the questions that are asked and the order in which they are asked. But to have a polling organization effectively misuse its clients’ money for political purposes of their own is, perhaps, something we have not come across before. It is certainly a new one on me.