Thursday, 7 April 2011

It's a poll Jim, but not as we know it

This morning, the Western Mail (the main daily newspaper for Wales) had a report about a new poll it had commissioned on the subject of the Assembly elections. On the face of it, it looked a reasonable enough poll (conducted by rmg:Clarity, members of the British Polling Council) with Labour forecast to win 51% of the vote, Conservatives 20%, Plaid Cymru 17% and the Liberal Democrats on 8% so I naturally enough went to their website and downloaded the poll ready to make a comment on the impact of this poll and found myself stumped. Why? There was no regional list polling at all.

Now, that to me seemed as pointless as conducting a poll asking "What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?" and missing out vanilla. To misquote Strephon from Iolanthe, "What's the use of having half a poll!", so I decided to make the best of a bad situation and do a constituency forecast but whilst tallying up the votes (to enter the correct data) I found something amazing. Every constituency had been polled already and it was possible to create a map of Wales based on real polling data. So thanks to Ben Raue and his TallyRoom website which has a downloadable Google Earth map showing the Assembly constituencies, I came up with this little display of political power.

And yes, I will admit I was slightly taken aback at what this poll was saying. Blaenau Gwent, Aberconwy, Cardiff North, Llanelli, Preseli Pembroke and Carmarthen West going Labour is entirely understandable, but Monmouth and Ynys Môn as well? Not to mention the Conservatives gaining Vale of Glamorgan, Clwyd South and Alyn and Deeside? And although I am sure that Ceredigion will be close, a Lib Dem gain in the current circumstances does seem unlikely (but that said since when does Ceredigion follow electoral law?)

All of which poses the question, do we believe the national tallies (albeit constituencies only with no regional list polling) or the polling from those constituencies. As with many things, it is simply a question of you pays your money and you takes your choice.


  1. According to the UK Polling Report website the question itself wasn't much better "At the forthcoming election, do you intend to vote Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru or some other party?"

    We know people vote differently between Westminster and the Assembly, so perhaps it's a case of "ask a silly question, get a silly answer"

    For the Tories to gain Montgomeryshire, Alyn & Deeside and Clwyd South, but lose Monmouth is bizarre.

  2. The issue with using the individual constituency splits is that the sample sizes for each one are so small they are essentially meaningless. Then again, so is 'Labour: 51%' in an AMS election...

    Having wished for another company to poll Wales I am a little under-whelmed by this one, which is a shame given the amount of effort they have put in. The one good thing to come out of it is that the big Labour lead YouGov have been showing, and Plaid's slight drop, is backed up by rmg:Clarity.