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Are the Tory polls gains illusory?

April 15th, 2004

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Following the posts about how pollsters try to find elusive Tories a reader has suggested that with the leadership of Michael Howard the party is more sure of itself and that supporters are much more likely to admit this to interviewers.

    Thus it is not that there are more Tories – just more of them ready to say so!

If that is the case, and with all the pollsters’ balancing measures that are in place to redress the Tory position, could it be that the recent poll gains are not real at all?

You would expect this to show in the gap between the internet pollster, YouGov, and the Populus Poll in the Times which uses weighting adjustments. Certainly this has narrowed from about 7-8% to about 5% but that is not really significant.

What seems to be happening at the moment is that all the polls are putting Labour in the 34-35% region – where they differ is with the Tory – Liberal Democrat split. The higher the LibDem share the harder it will be for the Tories to make inroads in terms of seats. We might get a 2001 repeat where the Labour vote lead was cut by 1.6m but this produced less than a handful of extra seats for William Hague’s Tories.

We will have a clearer view after the Euro, Local and London elections on June 10. Michael Howard has to show that he is making a real impact and the Tory share of the vote needs to be in the YouGov territory of 39% rather than the 34-35% of the other polls. If it is the latter then Tony Blair has no problems at all even if his Euro and local results are disastrous.

I will need a lot of convincing to switch my call on Labour winning most seats at the General Election.






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