When is a late surge not a late surge? (aka how Reuters gets the news wrong)

When all the changes in party support in an opinion poll are within the margin of error. Pretty obvious stuff you’d have thought, but take a look at the Reuters headline for its new marginal seats poll:

Poll shows late surge for Conservatives in swing seats

Now look at the actual vote shares:

Conservative 36% (+1)
Labour 36% (-2)
Lib Dem 20% (-1)

In other words, all the changes are within the margin of error. This is not a poll result that justifies the “surge” headline, even though curiously Reuters does rightly describe the Lib Dem share as “steady” which is a fair description for a change that’s within the margin of error.

UPDATE: Just to add to the mis-reporting over the poll, although initially it was reported as pointing to an overall Conservative majority MORI then issued a press release pointing out that’s not the case. Hence this juxtaposition of stories over on PoliticsHome:
MORI marginals poll reporting

UPDATE 2: MORI’s correction has been missed by the Telegraph, which today (Tuesday) has reported (wrongly) that, “An IPSOS/Mori poll of marginal constituencies for Reuters on Monday suggested the party was on course for a two-seat majority”.

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11 Comments

  • A headline that will be repeated by scores of other papers.

  • Silent Hunter 3rd May '10 - 4:34pm

    How the hell are Labour equal with the Tories on 36 at -2 ?

    Shurely shome mistake?

  • Time for you to register with reuters and add a comment.

    Ipsos Mori also say “However, given that national polls are suggesting the Conservatives are more likely to lose seats to the Liberal Democrats than gain from them, this majority is not necessarily guaranteed.”

    I bet that won’t be in many newspapers ! Just as well the poll reports that just 16% of people are getting most of their information about the election from newspapers, the same % as the internet.

  • Just like when all the commentators say “Cameron clearly has the momentum”. I see no discernible movement.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd May '10 - 4:53pm

    “How the hell are Labour equal with the Tories on 36 at -2 ?

    Shurely shome mistake?”

    As Joe said, it’s a poll taken only in Labour-held Conservative target seats.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd May '10 - 4:56pm

    I think it’s also worth bearing in mind that this poll was conducted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I reckon the Tories got something of a boost from the final debate on Thursday, but this appeared to be fading in the two polls released last night.

  • According to the Political Betting site this represents a 7% Lab to Con swing which would give the Tories a small majority. It underlines the importance of Lib Dems voting Labour in Lab-Con marginals where, eg, say, Tooting, Labour start at least 10 points ahead.

  • I understand MORI have issued a press release distancing themselves from the Reuters report.

  • Sky news still using the ipsoos mori poll that put the lib dems on 23% in there poll of polls. Ok, the poll is the ONLY one to have the lib dems so low since the 1st debate and is now well out of date even if if wasn’t a rogue (which it was) but it does decue the polling average by 1-2%

    With no sense of contradiction sky also reporting the ipsos mori margianl poll, which implies that the Libd esm are 21% in their worst seats and 23% in the others.

    On Conseravtive home they were discussing if a 1% increase in tory supporta nd a 2% drop in Labour support was a surge ! Well luckily the there is another poll today, Labour +3% Cons -1%, so I think we have the answer, only if it’s a margin of error movement in the Conseravtives favour is it a surge.

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