An email to the editor of the Daily Telegraph

I’m rather puzzled by the story that your paper has run questioning the use of weighting in YouGov’s polls (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7546322/YouGov-pollster-gives-Labour-an-unfair-advantage.html).

Indeed, the piece takes such a suspicious attitude towards weighting that it puts the word in inverted commas and talks about YouGov having “admitted” that it uses weightings.

My puzzlement is quite simple.

Every single political opinion poll published by The Telegraph during your time as editor has also involved weighting.

If it’s such a questionable act, why hasn’t your newspaper shopped itself first? And will you be abandoning your own practice of publishing weighted figures?

Yours,

Mark

Note: I do think there are some reasonable questions to ask about YouGov’s methodology, such as the different picture it gives of the gender gap in politics from some other pollsters (a topic I’ve written about before). But to suggest that the concept of weighting is somehow a dodgy practice is a weird misjudgement by a newspaper that has knowledgeable people on its staff who regularly – and rightly – use weighted data and understand the need for weighting.

Update: turns out my record of who is editor of the paper is out of date, so updated post in line with comments below.

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7 Comments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 2nd Apr '10 - 10:01am

    That article betrays an astonishing ignorance about the fundamentals of opinion polling. Was there no one at the Telegraph who could have warned them not to publish such nonsense?

    The article implies that both the raw data and the fact that it had been reweighted were concealed by YouGov. Of course, we all know that the raw data and the details of the reweighting are published in full on YouGov’s website. Surely this would be defamatory if it weren’t so laughable.

  • Andrew Suffield 2nd Apr '10 - 10:20am

    That article betrays an astonishing ignorance

    If ignorance was a barrier to publication in the news media, they’d never print anything. It’s best to assume that everything you read is, at best, misleading and poorly informed.

  • Simon Titley 2nd Apr '10 - 12:47pm

    There’s a good discussion of the Telegraph’s attack on YouGov at the UK Polling Report blog:
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2549

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