I firmly believe that polling should not be something made difficult for the average person to understand and critique. Unfortunately these days with the media being what it is it can be tricky to figure out just how accurate a figure being thrown out is. This is especially true when the issue polled in question is contentious.
As someone who has worked on and off in polling and socio-political market research for the past five years, most recently as Special Projects Manager for over two years at polling firm Survation Ltd (you may remember them for such hits as the 2017 and 2019 UK General Elections) I really appreciate just how difficult it can be for someone with no expertise to assess what they read. So I’ve started a weekly newsletter – The Smokeless Room – to help people navigate the topic in an easy to understand way, and whose archives you can find here.
The name ‘The Smokeless Room’ is a riff off the idea of “smoke-filled rooms” which the OUP’s Oxford Languages helpfully summarises as a term “used in reference to political decision-making conducted privately by a small group of influential people rather than more openly or democratically”. It’s at the core of my politics that information should be accessible, especially when it comes to important matters, and so making sure that the wider public are literate in polling is one way of promoting more open decision making.
If this catches your fancy, sign up here! Issues are out each Wednesday and I’m always up for receiving suggestions of items to cover.