HTV has published an opinion poll on the forthcoming assembly elections. I shan't comment on its contents because the only thing one can say about Welsh opinion polls is that they are consistently wrong.
For example HTV commissioned a poll in February 1999, just before the May Assembly elections of that year. The poll predicted:
The election result was
Labour 36.5% (wrong by -21.5%)
PC 29.5% (wrong by + 17.5%)
Con 16.1% (wrong by - 3.9%)
LD 13% (wrong by + 4%)
A much more inclusive poll was commissioned before the 2003 election. Because it was more inclusive it was more expensive and the cost of commissioning it was shared between HTV the BBC and S4C. Being a more inclusive poll it was better than the 1999 effort by HTV alone, but it still failed the + or - 3% test of a scientific poll.
Lab 37% (wrong by - 2%)
Plaid 20% (wrong by -11%)
Con 19% (wrong by + 4%)
LD 11% (wrong by - 3%)
The current offering from HTV is similar to the 1999 poll, so one can expect it to be as inaccurate as that poll was.
UK wide opinion polls are fairly accurate; they are conducted according to a scientific discipline called psephology. Psephologists look at the make up of an electoral community and poll people by selecting respondents who reflect that balance. They try to create a gender balance, age balance, education balance, social class balance, earnings balance etc. that is the same as the balance of the electorate.
Because of a lack of regular opinion polling in Wales there is no such thing as Welsh psephology. Wales is not a microcosm of the UK it is a completely different place, one needs different polling methods in Wales than those used in the UK to get an accurate picture of voting intentions.
In comparing the two opinion polls the most outstanding factor is how wrong the Plaid result is in both. Grossly underestimated in 1999, badly over estimated in 2003. This is because UK based psephology just can't account for the Plaid vote (even if Plaid won every single vote in Wales it would be a minuscule 4% of the UK wide vote). The way UK psephology deals with Plaid is to ignore the party. If Plaid has 4 seats after a general election - UK polls will show it having the same four seats through out the period leading up to the next election - no matter what the political climate in Wales. Which is fine on an UK basis, a few Plaid gains or loses are unlikely to impact much on the overall result of a Westminster election.
Because UK psephological standards are used to conduct Welsh polls, Plaid always stands still in Welsh polls too!!!
HTV's poll today, like the 1999 poll (where Plaid's result reflects its 1997 UK election vote) and the 2003 poll (where Plaid's vote is similar to its 1999 Assembly vote) puts Plaid on no change by % or seats won - which doesn't make sense. If Labour loses 4% of its vote (as the poll suggests) and Plaid stands still Plaid must gain at least 2 more seats.
For Wales see England doesn't work in psephology any more than it works in any other discipline. An opinion poll based on a for Wales see England attitude to polling is a waste of the poll commissioner's money.
My advice to all parties in response to HTV's poll is - ignore it, it's bollocks!
Other Bloggs on HTV's poll include:
Glyn Davies Predictable Poll
Blamerbell Briefs: Poll says Labour set for assembly election losses
Chanticleer: The first poll
e-clectig: Pol Piniwn
Ordovicius: Fudged Poll to Frighten Faithful?
Iain Dale's Diary: Tories Set to Become Largest Opposition Party in Wales
Live from the Socialist Fortress: Straw Poll: hands up if you learnt something new today
Peter Black AM: Ebbs and tides