Here’s a weird story. OK, so we’re into the last lap of the Irish re-referendum; Jean Quatremer has the latest polls, which put the yes camp well ahead. But what about that weird poll last week that put the noes ahead?
British blogging institution Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report seems to be about the only media outlet to have hit the nail on the head, denouncing it as a voodoo poll as far back as the 21st of September.
As far as I can tell, this poll is hokum. The company donâ€™t seem to have a website so I can only go on what Iâ€™ve got, but the sampling of the poll seems to have been conducted at just ten sample points, suggesting a face-to-face survey with no attempt at a broad representative spread of sample. Compare this with a professional Ipsos MORI face-to-face poll, which uses in the region of 200 sampling points. Worse, a couple of sources indicate there is no attempt at weighting the poll…
Now, it turns out, not only is the poll indeed deeply flawed, but it’s the work of an ex-IRA terrorist who left the organisation because it wasn’t nationalistic or Catholic enough. It seems that his “Gael Poll” consisted of asking people he and his friends knew, thus constructing a sample they knew would provide the right answer.
The researchers were friends of the organisers who in turn interviewed people in their social groups, paying some attention to the spread of social classâ€¦ It is, in effect a huge straw poll of the friends of Gael Poll, a derivative project of a pretty extreme ultramontane Catholic magazine, The Hibernian.
But the really interesting bit is how they got it into the news; they passed the fake poll to UKIP, who distributed it to bloggers, including Mick Fealty’s much respected Slugger O’Toole, and used the blogfroth this generated to reflect it back into the mainstream media. Even more interestingly, the no campaign turns out to have been receiving actual financial subsidies from UKIP; even their anti-Europeanism is European, it seems, and possibly paid for with European Parliament expenses.