In a remarkable piece of ‘content for sale’ this morning, the Daily Telegraph leads with a story about the Brexiteers ‘falling behind by 13 points’ – with men and older older people switching to the Remainder herd. As a former member of the Market Research Society (MRS), The Slog deconstructs this piece of naked propaganda clearly orchestrated by ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby.
The “news” that the Remaindeers are shown as opening up a 13% lead in the Brexit referendum will probably make for a good day on the FTSE: more “favourable” polls in recent days have seen Sterling back at 1.29 to the euro. If that trend sticks until polling day in a month’s time, we can expect the rate to be back up at 1.35 within weeks, if not days. So strong is the case for Remain, allegedly, our currency will strengthen against the disaster of a currency that is running the eurozone ragged. There’s no logic to any of it.
The only problem for the Remaindeers is that the analysis of the ORB study is totally misleading.
I long ago gave up on the Telegraph ever giving an objective view on anything…with the exception of two writers on the business and finance pages. But in publishing this travesty today, the Telegraph has surpassed itself: so blatant is the manipulation of the data, it’s up there with the infamous Zinoviev letter of 1924….a fake published by the Daily Mail – who else?
First up, ORB used a telephone methodology – on fixed lines. The bias there is beyond belief, and the method not one I take seriously. The weightings on ORB research I always find odd.
Secondly, the sample size is a measly 800 people. The margin of error on that number isn’t particularly large, but once you start to break it down into sub-cells of demographics and region, any analyst is in dangerous waters reaching conclusions about anything.
Yet that is exactly what the Telegraph has done.
Or to be more accurate, it’s what Lynton Crosby – who seems to have virtually dictated this article as a whole – has done. Lest we forget, Crosby is the Aussie who works for the Remaindeers on electoral strategy.
This is the propagandised piffle Crosby offers us:
“The Remain campaign, according to the latest ORB Telegraph poll, continues to strengthen its position among voters with another week of effective campaigning while the Leave campaign dwindles, having failed to quell ongoing concerns about the financial and economic consequences of a Brexit.
“This week’s ORB poll suggests that the Remain campaign is beginning to really work. Its vote share has risen by three points to 58 per cent among all voters, opening up a sizeable 20-point lead. When taking into account likelihood to vote, Remain’s position has improved by four points to 55 per cent while Leave has fallen by three points to 42 per cent amongst definite voters.”
The man in charge of the Remaindeer campaign saying “the campaign is really beginning to work” comes under the heading of “he would say that”. But the hokum charts refer to 35% of this and 20 point leads over that (20?) on sample bases unlikely to be more than 75 respondents. The error margin on 75 is so big as to be pointless for any kind of conclusion. And if you think he looks shifty in that shot, well….on the basis of this hype, he very clearly is.
Let’s leave this Down Under Drivel and look objectively at the poll of polls data. This too is tricky to read because of the methodology differences and weighting ideologies the different companies have. But I’ve annotated the list to point up some obvious factors that negate the entire Daily Crosbygraph codswallop:
I’m sorry if this looks daunting, but it isn’t really.
Starting with the right-hand column, the red circles around ORB studies, you can see that 2 out of 3 have 800 respondents….as did the third one out today. They all show big leads for Remain. The one where ORB uses 2,000 respondents, however, shows that just three weeks ago, it was a 50:50 dead heat….because in this study, ORB used forced choice questions.
The green rectangles highlight the other smaller samples…. all of which show a bigger Remain lead.
But look at the blue rectangles – where we have samples 50% or more larger in size – and they too show much closer results – a 4% margin, with 16% still undecided. The Opinium study of May 19th (just five days ago) means Crosby & Co are trying to persuade us that – in a week during which Cameron performed badly on TV, and the eurozone news was uniformly awful – the Brexiteers lost 9 point of popularity. It is incredible – and should be treated as such.
The reality is that, from the off, ORB’s small sample surveys using phone methods have been the rogue elephants in the room.
Now look to the left hand side’s black rectangles, where I’ve grouped all the studies using sample sizes from 1650 to 3,378. This tells a story 180° opposite to the Lynton Crosby narrative.
Whereas ORB consistently shows very small numbers of undecideds, all the larger studies show numbers ranging from 11 to 19. Whereas ORB consistently shows Remain in the lead, all the others show 2-4% differences either way. The 5-day old Opinium study says 16% remain undecided.
Very little has changed over the month, and if anything it is the Remaindeers that seem to be stuck in the mud between 42-44. Far from Brexit support dwindling, there is still absolutely everything to play for.
Lynton Crosby is not a market researcher, he is a marketing communications electioneer: his job is to persuade effectively, not tell the Truth. The latest ORB poll is flawed, and the beknighted Digger has compounded the crime by hyping the results to be something, when in fact they mean precisely nothing. His mission is to create a self-fulfilling snowball effect without snow. Voters should ignore him, and weigh the arguments for themselves.