UK General Election 2017 has been a rollercoaster for pollsters. We had the Strong and Stable Surge (peak May, early in the campaign) and we’ve since seen the Labour Fightback (shifting the inevitable loss from ‘catastrophic’ to ‘Millibandlike’). And polling is hard. It’s even harder in Wales, where this only ONE credible and regular poll, the Welsh Political Barometer.
It’s even harder for Plaid Cymru, a party with more Commons seats than UKIP and the Greens combined but, like the country whose interests they represent, they are almost invisible in the polls. That’s not because they don’t poll well (though it’s fair to say, not spectacularly) it’s because Wales is so infrequently polled – well, that’s what the BBC says.
The BBC runs a Poll Tracker – a poll of polls. It features the big English parties (Labour, Conservative) the Lib Dems, territorially limited (the SNP) and also those parties with 1 MP or fewer (The Greens and UKIP). Its exclusion of the Northern Ireland parties continues the wilful ignorance of the ‘British’ media of, arguably, the UK’s most interesting country but it’s really the absence of Plaid Cymru that seems odd.
To repeat, the poll tracker includes parties with similar territorial footprint of Plaid Cymru (the SNP) and it includes parties with fewer MPs (UKIP and the Greens). And, also to be clear, it doesn’t clearly explain why some parties are included or excluded.
So I asked.
And the answer, according to the BBC, is that there simply isn’t enough poll data (full response below). How do we fix this? Well, someone needs to commission more polls apparently.
Dear Mr Martin
Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC News website.
Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we are sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.
I understand you are unhappy that figures for Plaid Cymru do not appear in our poll tracker.
The poll tracker is simply a collection of polls carried out by other organisations. Some pollsters canvass opinion on several parties, including the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru. Others concentrate on just the three main Westminster parties and UKIP.
For the tracker to offer meaningful information, it requires consistent polling, so it is presented to include those parties featured in all or most polls.
Nevertheless, I would like to assure you that we value your feedback. Please know all complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and we have included your points in our overnight report.
These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensure that your complaint has been seen quickly, by the right people. This helps inform their decisions about current and future reporting.
Thank you once again for getting in touch.
BBC Complaints Team