UK polling company Survation criticized The Sun for misinterpreting its poll to say that 1 in 5 British Muslims sympathizes with ISIS.
Survation’s Director of Research Patrick Brione responded to the controversy surrounding The Sun‘s story in a statement on its website, saying that the company doesn’t agree with the Sun‘s interpretation.
Survation picked the question wording and was displeased with the way the Sun used it for its story. Brione wrote:
“The wording of the question on ‘sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria’ was not chosen by The Sun newspaper but was chosen by Survation in order to be completely comparable with previous work we have done, both among Muslims and non-Muslims and therefore enable meaningful and proper comparisons to be drawn.
“However, there is a distinction between the work we do and how clients chose to present this work. Survation do not support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted. Neither the headline nor the body text of articles published were discussed with or approved by Survation prior to publication. For reference, our own coverage and analysis can be found here:
“Furthermore, Survation categorically objects to the use of any of our findings by any group, as has happened elsewhere on social networks, to incite racial or religious tensions.”
In contrast with The Sun‘s claims, Survation argued its poll clearly “shows that ‘sympathy with’ (distinct from ‘support for’) those travelling to fight in Syria (among any group) exists as a limited, minority view among both Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly among young people of both groups.”
Further, Survation thinks The Sun missed the real story — that the number of sympathizers appears to drop: “This latest poll in fact shows a fall in sympathy with fighters travelling to Syria among Muslims since March, something which we would consider the most pertinent new finding of that particular question.”
Survation explained that its polling standards match with industry standards, writing: “The research published yesterday among British Muslims was conducted using academic-advised onomastic techniques and geographic targeting and called using a random stratified sample, in addition to our growing telephone opinion panel of British Muslims. The sampling methodology used was identical to a series of many polls we have done over the last year among different minority religious populations in the UK.”
“Whilst no poll can ever claim to be perfectly representative of the population being sampled, particularly so when sampling hard to reach demographics such as religious or ethnic groups, we believe that, despite criticism from some commercial rivals, the careful sampling and weighting used mean that this poll is broadly representative and meets acceptable methodological standards for media publication. We will, however, study the points raised to see if there are improvements that we can make in future work.”
iMediaEthics’ polling director David Moore previously weighed in on the Survation-Sun poll in his November 25 column.