Question Wording and Data Sourcing

This article briefly considers two issues: question wording in public opinion polling, and statements about where data comes from.

A Question of Wording

Questions on whether the British public should have a further referendum on exiting the European Union have a panoply of variants. How these questions are worded induces different responses, based on conceptual differences and mere choice in language.

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At least, that is clear. (Image: Twitter)
  • The Times: Do you think there should or should not be a new referendum held on whether Britain should leave the European Union or remain a member?
  • Means: the former question specifies that this referendum should have leaving without a deal on the ballot paper;
  • A Public Vote: the former question uses the term ‘a public vote’, whilst the latter uses the term ‘referendum’.

Data Sourcing

The ‘Right to Vote’ campaign is part of the Best for Britain group, and seeks another referendum on exiting the EU. At the time of writing, they are running social media adverts claiming that a specific percentage of local voters want another referendum:

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We’ll wait for this to all blow over. (Source: Facebook/Right to Vote)

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.

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