Great Britain

Why should we believe opinion polls about attitudes to coronavirus?

Independent PremiumPolitics explained

The opinion polls suggest that people are three times as likely to think the new coronavirus restrictions don’t go far enough than that they go too far – but can we trust them, asks John Rentoul

Boris Johnson announced new restrictions to control coronavirus last week
Boris Johnson announced new restrictions to control coronavirus last week
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henever people with strong opinions come across opinion polls they don’t like, there is a tendency for them to say that polls cannot tell you anything useful about public opinion. Usually this happens before elections, but it is also happening now, because there are people who feel strongly that the government has overreacted in its response to coronavirus, and is curtailing freedom unnecessarily.

Many of them find it hard to accept that they are in a tiny minority in Britain. Only 13 per cent of people told YouGov that the new measures announced by the prime minister on Tuesday “go too far”. The overwhelming majority think the “do not go far enough” (45 per cent) or “are about right” (32 per cent).

That means there are lots of people on social media who respond to news of such polls with variations of the following:

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