Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The problems of polling the electorate

A very interesting report from the Polling Observatory which looks at recent trends in voting intentions: How to read the polling tea leaves

In particular there is a helpful discussion of 'house effects', i.e., the tendency of a polling company to report high or low figures for a particular party. However,if a pollster tends to show one of the parties doing better than the polling industry on average, it does not automatically mean their estimate for the other main party will be lower than the average.

Prompting for the Brexit Party and controlling for past vote appear currently to have significant impacts on poll numbers. In the former case, pollsters that prompt for the Brexit Party in their surveys tend, unsurprisingly, to report higher numbers for the party.

The use of past vote (i.e. how people voted in 2017) to weight samples to make them representative is a longstanding practice in the polling industry. However, this can introduce error through people misreporting their past vote, leading supporters of a party to be overrepresented in the poll.

They wisely conclude, ' There can be no way of knowing which pollster is right before election day, but it is worth urging some caution in how these sorts of numbers are interpreted by those in politics, media and the wider public.'

Monday, 9 September 2019

Impeachment a non-starter

I don't think the call by Westminster's Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts to impeach Boris Johnson is going to go anywhere: Impeachment

Impeachment is when a peer or commoner is accused of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours, beyond the reach of the law or which no other authority in the state will prosecute.’ It is a procedure that is ‘directed in particular against Ministers of the Crown’. This arcane procedure has not been used since the 19th century and has never been used against a prime minister.

A House of Commons Library briefing paper on the subject can be found here: Impeachment

The Government says that it thinks it has a way of by-passing the Brexit extension law, but won't say what its cunning plan is. I suspect this means that it doesn't exist other than as more bluster.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

How Parliament works

What we used to call a cut out 'n' keep guide to how Parliament works from the Institute for Government: Parliament

Also all you want to know from the same source about the Prime Minister's power to set the date of an election: Setting the date

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The coming election

An excellent analysis by Philip Cowley which argues that it is more of a gamble than Boris Johnson realises: Is he such a good campaigner?