The Guardian

How do you know whether you can trust poll results? Here’s what to watch out for | Rob Vance

The industry adage is that if it looks too good to be true it’s probably wrong. But the data reveals what’s really going on
‘Treat polling findings in a critical and informed way, subject to the potential bias you look for in any writing.’ Photograph: Rancz Andrei/Alamy

With the science of opinion polling under greater scrutiny than ever, and a somewhat misleading headline spreading in an instant, how can you know which? Perhaps counter-intuitively, it’s less about sample size (let’s avoid a poor joke) than about quality. You will rarely get less than 1,000 interviews reported in the UK media, but twice the sample size does not mean double the quality. If there are issues with your sample then making it bigger doesn’t necessarily improve it.

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