How reliable is polling?

Four years ago, millions of Americans decided to stay at home on polling day because they didn’t like Hilary Clinton, as a result we have seen the worst President I have ever known. Inactions have consequences.

Like millions of others across the globe, I am hoping and praying that by the time you read this, Joe Biden will be the 46th President-Elect. If not, I really do fear for the world we know and for the people of America who will have shown a level of stupidity which has stripped them of all credibility and respect. There will be no free world left for their idiot in chief to have ceased to be Leader of.

As I write, it’s late morning on the 4th of November and still the election cannot be called. But it’s looking harder every hour to see the Biden path to the White House. This despite weeks, indeed months of constant opinion polling giving Joe Biden a consistent lead and prompting talk of blue tsunamis again. Yet the brutal reality is that the trumpet looks at the moment to be on course for re-election.

While this is in my humble opinion, a disaster, it raises some very serious questions for us.

  • Not least is the degree to which we can expect polling in Scotland to be more accurate than it is in the US?
  • Can we seriously contemplate some of the 2nd vote strategies which have been moted on the basis of the current polls.
  • Is there a systemic problem with polling or is the simple answer that people tell the pollsters lies?
  • How long can we delay getting back on the doorsteps?

So many column inches have been written on how we get the best result on 2nd votes, based on the premise that we are going to see an SNP virtual clean sweep on the constituency votes. Based on opinion polls! Why should we rely on polls when all the evidence is that they are not reliable? Sure we have had a consistent lead but then so did Biden.  

If, as I hope and pray, Biden does win, the US is going to be more interested in rebuilding international relationships than in trying to rescue the UK from the stupidity of its own actions and especially those which are illegal and threaten the Good Friday Agreement. Partly because of his Irish heritage. Partly also because he, like many Democrats, is proud of the part played by Senator Mitchell in pulling the deal together. The very powerful Irish lobby in the US will not let him ignore the UK trying to destroy the Agreement. As a consequence Bollocks Johnson and co will need to find a resolution to the border issue or there will be no trade deal which passes Congress. This also impacts us, because the unionists will try to use the potential of a hard border between Scotland and England as a major scare factor. It may well be that the deal on the island of Ireland will however be the basis of the template for how we defuse this issue. It’s just one of the gains we have from the softly, softly approach adopted through the pandemic.

On a different but supremely ironic note I watched the failed Labour Leadership candidate Andy Burnham rage against the way that London was imposing Tier 3 actions on Greater Manchester. I thought if only someone had suggested giving them their own elected Assemblies with powers! It’s fascinating that despite the rage of Burnham etc, his boss, Sir Keir Starmer, has not called for either elected Assemblies or even some of the much-vaunted federalism which they roll out so often for the Scottish media to salivate on.

Coming back to matters in Scotland. Am I the only one who wonders why, in the face of such a co-ordinated assault on the First Minister at her daily briefing that the only daily paper which claims to be supporting Independence cannot think of a single question to ask?  Having been a regular reader since its inception and a subscriber for a while, I am starting to wonder if its unwillingness to take part in the daily press briefings allied to a constant coverage of everyone who wants to complain about the SNP leadership tells me more about its real agenda? I am very close to the point where I regard The National as little better than the Mail, Express and cancel my subscription.


  1. Stephen, I think you do The National a disservice the coverage is fine. Glad it exists

    Jim Lynch

  2. While I am glad that it exists Jim, the coverage seems to concentrate on finding ways to highlight the differences, indeed in some cases almost create the differences, in the movement.
    It seems to me that they could highlight the fact that they exist just by being at the daily briefings but rarely ask a question. Sometimes some constructive questioning and scrutiny might make a change from the onslaught of negativity.

  3. Paper is largely SNP; however some of the letters are adventurous – or negative. We shouldn’t kick a gift horse in the mouth:-)

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