Why you cannot embargo opinion polls

Why you cannot embargo opinion polls

    It must be assumed that market sensitive information will seep out

all pollsters logos RH.JPGIn many ways I was greatly relieved last night that I was not given an advanced copy of the Sky News YouGov poll of Lib Dem party members on the Huhne-Clegg battle. For if I had had it then, like Iain Dale, I would have felt compelled to hang onto to the information until the stated time, 10pm, and not make available information that was highly market sensitive.

After publishing the story at 4.35pm my next action was to get as much money as I could on Nick Clegg because my reading of the poll was that the 56%-44% margin meant that the younger contender was now a near certainty. The £700 I placed with PaddyPower at 2/7 looks like the easiest way of picking up an almost risk-free £200 profit that there’s been for months.

Throughout yesterday, before the poll came out, several people commented on the main thread that the Clegg price on Betfair was tightening. My assumption is that others who had seen embargoed copies of the SkyNews story had jumped in to get their cash on as well.

As regular visitors here will know I bet quite heavily on political outcomes and as soon as a new poll enters the public domain I assess it and adjust my positions accordingly. Thus on Monday evening, as news of the ComRes 13% Labour deficit was emerging, I bought Tory seats on the general election spread betting markets.

    Which brings me to my general point – pollsters and media organisations should not place embargoes on polls – information, to use the famous NuLab phrase should be available “for the many and not the few”.

This will become increasingly important as we get closer to the general election when the amounts being gambled are likely to soar.

One encouraging development is that the main media organisations are now making their polling information available on the evening before, sometimes as early as 6.30 pm.

Mike Smithson

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