Books in brief: More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box

October 13, 2016
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More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford (Biteback, £14.99)

Having voted to “Leave” the European Union in June, and looking ahead to the presidential election in the United States, it’s fair to say that interest in politics and polling is higher than it has been for a long time—the perfect climate for Philip Cowley and Robert Ford to publish More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box.

Each of the collection’s 50 1,000-word essays (just one of Cowley and Ford’s strict criteria), covering politics all over the world but predominantly Britain, is written by one of today’s best political researchers or academics—such as Kingsley Purdam from the University of Manchester and Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent—setting out why today’s politics looks the way it does.

The essays cover serious subjects such as why pollsters couldn’t accurately predict the result of the 2015 general election, and the eye-opening conclusion that Muslim candidates suffer considerably more discrimination when standing at elections than any other minority group. There are more light-hearted examples dotted throughout the book. One chapter shows that Scout volunteers are 22 per cent more likely to vote than non-Scouts, and another that nearly 25 per cent of Americans believe Santa Claus votes Democrat.

But there is a serious point to this book, just as there was with the first volume published in 2014. Cowley and Ford want the public to discover the valuable work that academics are doing because they strongly feel we will all be better off for our improved understanding. Despite the slightly tabloid title, their effort is admirable.