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Poll boosts for Lib Dems & Labour in UK and Kerry in US

July 30th, 2004

UPDATE 2pm
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    US ELECTIONS LATEST – Kerry/Edwards open up five point lead

A poll just published and surveyed during the Boston Convention shows that the Democratic ticket has opened up a 5% lead over Bush/Cheney. The figures from Zogby international are 48-43. Amongst men the gap is just one percent – amongst women it is 9%. Prices have stayed stable with most UK bookmakers staying on 5/6 on both. The Iowa Electronic Exchange – where “political futures” are traded like stocks, has Kerry just ahead.

    YouGov has Labour ahead for first time in 9 months

The July YouGov poll in the Telegraph, out today, shows its first Labour lead since last October. It also shows a further boost for the Lib Dems, up two percent on a month ago. Others, which includes UKIP is at 11% – down one percent on the month but still 5% higher than it was at the start of the year. The figures are:-

LAB 34 (+1): CON 33 (-1): LIBD 23 (+2): OTH 11 (-1)

It’s clear that the Tories are suffering, still, from the UKIP effect and from the unfavourable media coverage of the by-elections two weeks ago. However, as the Telegraph observes, the worst personal ratings for Michael Howard are still better than IDS’s best figures.

These figures would give Labour an overall majority of 46 according to Martin Baxter’s election calculator and a seat total that is at the bottom end of the current spread prices. We still think that our SELL call is a good one because the Baxter seat figures are based on a uniform national swing and take no account of the regional movements or the Lib Dems doing disproportionately well in target seats.

In recent months YouGov has been showing a substantially lower Lib Dem figure than the other pollsters and in the Euro elections, when its surveys could be tested against real results, had the party at just 13% against an actual 14.9%.

    Labour’s small upward move contrasts sharply with the big 3% downward dip reported in last weekend’s Populus poll. Given that YouGov is an internet poll where those surveyed have no contact with a human interviewer, could the differing pictures be explained by the thesis that Labour supporters have now become like Tory supporters of old and are reluctant to admit it?

This, together with the issue of whether polls are biased to Labour, has become a matter of some debate. The head of Populus, Andrew Cooper, posted this comment on Politicalbetting.com this week.

The Labour bias in the polls no longer applies. The practitioners responsible for that have either changed their methods (MORI, NOP) and/or left the scene (Gallup). Most pollsters now publishing political research draw heavily on the innovations and insights of ICM, the most accurate pollster in 1997 and 2001, but also erring slightly to the Tories on both occasions. Combined with the shift in the direction of the spiral of silence (which ICM and Populus correct for – as best they can – but YouGov and MORI do not), it is more likely, if anything, that the election polls will err in favour of the Tories than in favour of Labour.

The monthly Populus poll in the Times is usually out in the first week and it will be interesting to contrast that with the firm’s News of the World survey last weekend and today’s YouGov figures.

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