NEWS11 June 2024

Savanta hits back at Farage ‘bullying’ over poll

2024 elections News UK

UK – Savanta has defended its approach to measuring voter intentions ahead of the 4th July general election, after claims by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage that some polling companies are seeking to “suppress” the party.

person posting their vote in ballot box

Reform UK party leader Farage has called on the British Polling Council to have its members provide ‘greater transparency’ on how and when respondents are asked about the party they support, the Daily Express has reported.

The point of contention is around prompting; Savanta is one of several polling companies to include Reform UK and other parties under a ‘sub-prompt’ (i.e. after selecting ‘Other’, respondents have an opportunity to choose Reform UK).

Writing on X on Sunday ( 9th June), Farage claimed this had the effect of “suppressing” the party. 

In a statement, Savanta political research director Chris Hopkins said there would be no change to the way the company works as a result of Farage’s claims.  

“Savanta is an independent and well-established polling company that purely seeks to accurately measure public opinion, not promote or suppress one party over another, and any implication otherwise is entirely false,” he said.

“We are confident in our figures as they stand and won’t be bullied into making methodological changes by politicians, simply because they don’t like our results.

“We were the most accurate polling company from the last London & West Midlands mayoral elections, with an average error across both of zero percentage points when it came to Reform UK’s performance.

“As such, if Nigel Farage and Richard Tice would like to commission Savanta to get an accurate assessment of their party’s current performance, they are welcome to.”

The Green Party is another of the smaller parties shown as a ‘sub-prompt’ after participants express support for a party other than those first listed.

“We do this for accuracy, because we believe this prevents the artificial over-inflation of smaller parties in national opinion polling,” said Hopkins. 

“Such over-inflation may then in turn artificially suppress the support of the larger, more established parties.”

Savanta intends to switch to a “ballot prompt method” now that candidates have been finalised, something it says it had long planned to do and has done ahead of previous elections.

The BPC does not adjudicate on methodology, but all members commit to transparency in accordance with its rules of disclosure ( 2.2 and 2.3 ).