The debate about the future of opinion polling goes on. One view holds that fundamentals which worked for it no longer apply: fewer people use landlines, some of them vet calls through voicemail, e-mail may not get representative samples, and the polls got it wrong over the 2015 general election, the EU referendum and America’s presidential election. Another answers that problems with landline use can be gamed, e-mail can get proper samples and that some polls for some of those events have been pretty much bang on.
Our psephological culture has not yet reached the stage – if it ever does – at which social media is established as a more reliable guide than opinion polls. David Cameron made the point when he said that “Twitter isn’t Britain”. But it is not impossible to imagine a point at which the sheer volume of posts on Facebook or Twitter, say, becomes so large as to provide enough numbers to be reliably crunched. In other words, if the tools are there to probe the material, the results will be as good as that the best polling can provide.
Which is where a new feature on ConservativeHome may come in. As of tomorrow, we are partnering with Blurrt – a software platform “which identifies, collects and understands social media data in real-time”. In very crude terms, we will be able to use Blurrt to find out what people on Twitter are saying about current events. And since this is a conservative site, we will naturally be taking a special interest in what people who identify as right-of-centre not only say but feel about them (which Blurrt has the capacity to do).
It also has the capacity to communicate responses “in real time”: on other words, it can track how people are feeling and saying about an event live. We will kick off Blurrt on ConHome tomorrow with the Budget. Whatever the future of discovering public opinion may be, I am very pleased that this new initiative is launching on the site, and look forward to seeing what Blurrt has to tell us. If you want to know more about it, please read what Jason Smith, Blurrt’s CEO, wrote about it last year on the Huffington Post.