Political polling produces instant public response

Stephan Shakespeare
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THE big news here in Manchester is “daily polling”. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but never before have we seen the effect of the sound and fury at the party conferences producing, almost instantly, accurately recorded public response. The chart shows how Gordon Brown’s speech led to a very slight uplift, which disappeared the next day as The Sun weighed in. Labour needed to come out ahead after their conference, but the Conservatives maintained their lead even before they started talking. The chart suggests that as Labour slips, the LibDems pick up. This is important, and it will be interesting to see at whose expense will be any gains and losses from David Cameron’s speech tomorrow. The Conservatives need to win from both of the other parties if we are to conclude that they have broken through into a genuinely positive new relationship with the British electorate, rather than just benefiting from the government’s unpopularity.

In the age of EasyJet and Ryanair, if you want more than the basics, you have to cough up. British Airways costs more, but you get more: they claim no sneaky underhand charges or extras. So BA’s decision last week to charge customers for the right to choose their seats has dented their reputation for fair pricing. Many other airlines, either officially – or unofficially at the check-in desk – have been charging extra for the emergency exit seats for years. BA has branded its new process as giving customers “real control over their flying experience”. But maybe this just makes them look more like their lower-cost rivals. Customers, unfortunately for BA, aren’t buying that. They don’t want to pay for the privilege of choosing their seat four days in advance, rather than the standard 24 hours. BA’s “Buzz” score fell from +1 to -9 in six days after the announcement.
Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.