Bath and North East Somerset Lib Dems were criticised for posting the results of a survey on Twitter which appeared to show their candidate was polling only 6 per cent behind the Leader of the House.
Social media users quickly noticed in the small print below the Survation poll that 405 respondents had been asked how they would vote if “the result between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives were very close”.
Professor Will Jennings, Deputy Head of School, Research and Enterprise, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, told Yahoo News UK: "The presentation is obviously misleading, as the question heavily primes respondents with a scenario that doesn't reflect the result in the previous election.
“Asking people how they would vote if one of your main opponents wasn't standing or competitive is a very odd thing to do."
In a caption posted alongside the tweet Bath and North East Somerset Lib Dems said: “If we work together, and back @nickcoatesnes we will beat Jacob Rees-Mogg in North East Somerset #VoteNickCoates #StopMogg.”
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They later posted the results of the “headline voting intention” figures which show the Lib Dems at 28% (+20) in second place behind the Conservatives on 44% (-10).
Nick Coates, the Lib Dem candidate set to contest Mr Rees-Mogg’s seat in North East Somerset, inisted, however, that his party was in a “challenger role” in the constituency.
For critics of our recent use of a bar chart it's worth reading the whole of this thread. Tories down, Labour down and Lib Dems up into a clear challenger role. In that context our question and the use of the bar chart makes perfect sense.#northeastsomerset #GE2019 https://t.co/RWEWYYt3mj— Nick Coates NES🔸️ (@nickcoatesnes) October 31, 2019
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“For critics of our recent use of a bar chart it's worth reading the whole of this thread,” he tweeted alongside the full results of the Survation poll.
“Tories down, Labour down and Lib Dems up into a clear challenger role. In that context our question and the use of the bar chart makes perfect sense.”
Mr Rees-Mogg won North East Somerset with a majority of around 10,000 from the Labour candidate in second place back in 2017.
Bath and North East Somerset Liberal Democrats later told ITV News: “The clear conclusion from this poll is that Lib Dem support is surging in North East Somerset, the Conservatives are dropping fast and Labour are in free fall.
“That is true whichever of the two questions you look at.”