Magazine article The Spectator

Ask a Focus Group the Wrong Question, and What You Get Is a Nice Answer

Magazine article The Spectator

Ask a Focus Group the Wrong Question, and What You Get Is a Nice Answer

Article excerpt

CITY AND SUB URBAN

I have established a focus group in the Vatican. My sample, which extends from cardinals to altar-boys, has been asked a searching question: is the Pope a Catholic? First indications are that the answer appears to be Yes. This firm command of the obvious will then be made available to the Conservative party, as it comes home from Bournemouth resolved to be nice. Someone has introduced its policy-makers to a group of Kentish ratepayers who were asked if they would pay more tax for better services, and said they would. All focus groups say that, and all pollsters get the same answer. It makes the respondents feel nice, but it is not the way they vote, and it is, in any case, the wrong question. There is nothing to say that, when someone else spends your money, you will get what you want or what you pay for. …

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