99% of people want Britain out of the EU? Daily Express North Korea’s style polling

Article published on Nov. 29, 2010
Article published on Nov. 29, 2010
“ "An exclusive poll conducted on the first day of our crusade showed an astonishing 99 per cent of people agree we should quit the European Union." The Daily Express has launched a “crusade” to get Britain out of "Europe" (sic). These kinds of campaigns are common in tabloids who always boast incredible support. In this case The Daily Mail claimed a support of 99% from a poll. Gosh!
we all know UK is the most eurosceptic country in Europe but 99%, really? Well reading a tabloid is like entering the Twilight Zone where the notion of truth becomes incredibly fuzzy. So let’s read the Express to find out the “polling methodology”.

We learn that it is a “Daily Express phone survey”. It is not a poll carried out by a private polling company, like the YouGov polls for the Sun, but the Daily Express taking care of it on its own. Fine, why not?

Then we learn that “tens of thousands of people swamping our switchboards”. Well that is weird, in a phone survey, you call people, you do not receive their phone calls. Things get clearer when the paper fully describes its rigorous methodology: “The newspaper’s phone lines and website were flooded with people backing our pioneering decision to become the first national newspaper in the country to call for British independence from the EU. “ So here we are, there was never any poll really, the paper just counted the proportion of supportive phone calls. Given that the Daily Express is a highly conservative and eurosceptic newspaper it is not surprising that they did not receive many contradicting phone calls.

Leaving the Daily Mail and its Kim Il Young polling numbers, the real proportion of British people wanting to leave the EU (and not "Europe" as this would prove to be a tad harder) is unclear. In official polls, depending on how the question is asked, the number of people saying they want the UK to leave goes from 16% to 55%. Why such a discrepancy between these numbers? Well it is likely to be due to the fact that people are not giving much attention to this question. Europe is now at the bottom of people's priorities with less than 1% of British people saying Europe is the most important issue for Britain.

BritainEU A somewhat different picture than the one The Daily Mail is giving to its readers...