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Saturday 1 June 2019

Is YouGov Push Polling?

Push polling. The live rail accusation for pollsters. A discredited technique that verges on misusing polling, turning it into propagandising, manipulating, another form of dirty tricks. No reputable polling organisation should go anywhere near the technique. But one pollster in the UK is being quizzed right now on whether it has gone there.
The Wikipedia definition is a useful place to start. “A push poll is an interactive marketing technique … in which an individual or organization attempts to manipulate or alter prospective voters' views under the guise of conducting an opinion poll … in all such polls, the pollster asks leading questions or suggestive questions that ‘push’ the interviewee towards adopting an unfavourable response towards the … candidate in question”.
Bear that in mind as we consider an extract from a recent YouGov questionnaire, which discusses Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. It begins with the preamble “People have made different criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn which we list below. Please choose the ONE which you personally think is most worrying”. So even before the respondent gets to the criticisms, they know that it’s going to be “worrying”. Ri-i-i-ight.
Anyhow, bring on the first criticism. “Corbyn supported the IRA, he said the death of bin Laden was a ‘tragedy’, he can’t be trusted to take tough action on security, crime and defence”. It was advertised as “worrying”, then backed up with one flat-out lie and a blatant taking of a statement out of context. Can we see the next one, please?
Here it comes. “Corbyn is an old fashioned socialist who supported the Soviet Union and will take Britain back to the 1970s”. They do like the flat-out lies, don’t they? Don’t tell me, one of the remaining two options is about immigration, isn’t it?

Well, yes it is, and here it comes. “Corbyn has said repeatedly he doesn’t believe in ANY limits on immigration, it’s not too high, so if he’s PM it will be out of control”. He did? I must have blinked and missed it. But the message of this exercise is clear.
By that stage, anyone thus questioned will have been softened up by being told that Corbyn means “worrying”, and then most certainly moved in the general direction of, er, “adopting an unfavourable response towards the candidate in question”.

This looks like push polling. It appears to walk like push polling. And that sound it makes suggests it quacks like push polling.  So what has YouGov to say for itself?
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Anonymous said...

YouGov comes out with leading questions like that all the time. I just did one yesterday that said something like: Do you believe that Trump could negotiate a better deal exit deal with the EU? - The choices were yes, no, or don’t know - I just had to write in the comments that that was a shit question and they must be just looking for some manipulated statistic to put out in the press.

Rob Smith said...

Couldn't the 2016 referendum be a push poll writ large ?

Anonymous said...

So it's a flat-out lie that Corbyn is a socialist? He's the only one in the party!

Tunnel Vision said...

Anon 1 June 2019 at 20:19
The Year 6 SATs English paper* advise all to read the complete passage before answering questions.
You, Anon, appear to read the first six words of a statement and ignore the rest of it.
* For pupils aged 11 years.

Unknown said...

A few years ago now, I was asked by YouGov to take part in a questionnaire/poll. One of the questions had four options all of which blamed Labour for the 2008 financial crash. Now, I'm mildly dyslexic so I read and reread the options dozen times and no, no matter how read it, all four answers blamed Labour for the financial crash. You could not finish the survey without blaming Labour for the financial crash in some way. I contacts them where they ask for feedback on their polls and pointed out that this is not a right and proper question or methodology from a company claiming to be an independent polling organisation. They didn't even acknowledge the message.

Clive said...

I in no way blame labour for the 2008 crash
It started in America in 2007 with reselling packaged sub prime mortgages. Making short term profits on something that was unsustainable in the long term
In this country too much deregulation of the banks
Tories wanted to deregulate even more but labour resisted
Were it not for labour mitigation it would have been far worse