Thankfully, though, we have Mike Smithson, who actually takes a genuine interest in how these polls work (because there's his reputation and real money at stake) - and has become, consequently, comfortably the most trustworthy source of wisdom on most things psephological around, especially when it comes to what can be succinctly put as the 'fudge factor'. Most polls are inaccurate, misleading fudges, given their reliance on generally untested, and/or deliberate bias-generating methodologies.
Take the latest MORI poll, for instance (which put the Tories just a handful of points in the lead). This is what Smithson has to say about it:
Ponder that for a moment, if you will. And then understand why it's a very good idea to put your money where your instinct is and back if not a Tory landslide (as I have) then a healthy Tory majority.
Just been looking at the detailed dataset from the the Telegraph’s Ipsos-MORI poll that came out late last night and in my view the underlying numbers are nothing like as good for Labour as the five point Tory lead might suggest.
After weighting for standard demographics we find that:
300 of those certain to vote in the sample said they had supported Labour at the last general election. Yet only 236 of everybody in the poll said they planned to vote Labour at the coming election. 229 of those certain to vote in the sample said they had supported the Tories at the last general election yet 274 of everybody in the poll said they planned to vote for the party at the coming election.
My simple calculation puts the 2010:2005 ratio for the Tories at 118.7% while with Labour it was 78.7%
So the MORI’s own numbers suggest that Labour is down more than a fifth on last time while the Tories are up by about a sixth. Given that the split in 2005 was L36.2-C33.2 then the latest poll, if it had had politically balanced sample, would have ended up with a lead a lot bigger than the reported 5%.
I know that this is me being mischievous and highly selective but it does show the massive challenge phone pollsters face - because of the systemic problem of the over-sampling of Labour past voters.
Whatever these dodgy polls say about Brown, the fact is that we, the British public, just aren't that into him - never have been, and never bloody well will be.
So one other thing I will savour from his total demise on May 6th (I think we can safely say now that that's when the election will be) is the prospect of the entire MSM and all the major polling houses being made to look like the mugs, charlatans and dinosaurs they really are. They all deserve to go as extinct as Brown come that fine day in early summer, this year.