by Atul Hatwal
Remember the general election, when most reports on voting intention turned out to be total tosh?
Well, here we go again.
The general election hopelessly wrong-footed most commentators for two reasons: dodgy polls and shouty lefty Twittervists.
The polls created an illusion that Ed Miliband and Labour were a nose in front. Labour’s voluble activist base on Twitter then leapt on every iffy poll and each tweet describing yet another great session on the #Labourdoorstep to amplify and broadcast the narrative that Ed Miliband was about to become prime minister.
Understandably, most journalists looked on and followed the crowd. The pollsters and the Twittervists seemed to be saying the same thing.
A self-reinforcing spiral of delusion took hold that was only broken when the public’s actual votes shattered the Westminster’s conventional wisdom on the evening of May 7th.
Now, it’s happening again in the Labour leadership race.
YouGov have provided the poll and the Twittervists have been hard at work since news of it broke last night (though in truth, this process was already under way, with the equally misleading CLP nominations being used as the metric of choice by Corbyn’s online barmy army).
The problem, as at the general election, is that the polling is misleading.
In the case of the Labour leadership race, the capability of any polling company to accurately sample members is highly questionable.
For online polling, the problem is particularly acute.