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Were the Indy and the Guardian at the same meeting?

February 25th, 2006
    Is Ming Campbell at 6/4 the value bet?

The seemingly never-ending saga that is the Lib Dem leadership contest takes on another bizarre twist this morning with both the Guardian and Independent reporting on separate surveys of attendees at Thursday’s London hustings meeting.

    The challenge for anybody trying to predict the outcome is that the two ex-broadsheet papers come out with completely different findings.

The Guardian spoke to 422 people who were there and found Huhne had 152 first preferences (36%). Ming 124 (29%) and Hughes 87 (21%). Of those they spoke to 59 (14%) were still undecided. There was an almost even split of Hughes second preferences which, if this “sample” is representative would give the race to the former MEP.

But the Independent’s survey talking to 100 people at the same meeting overwhelmingly points to a victory for Ming Campbell. The acting leader had 51 giving him their first preference with 31 to Simon Hughes and just 18 to Chris Huhne.

    Neither of these could be described as proper opinion polls because nobody knows whether those who attend a meeting in Central London on a cold February evening are an accurate sample

So with just five days to go before the result is declared this has become a very hard contest to call. The only full poll of party members to be published was funded by a Huhne supporter and was carried out by YouGov from February 7-9th. The only problem with this survey is that the vote intention question was put last and it could be argued that this skewed the result.

Another YouGov survey was carried out privately a few days beforehand and we have only had a partial disclosure of what it found. In a bizarre act confirmed by Peter Kellner of YouGov an anonymous poster on this site sent us the second preferences findings which showed that Campbell was well ahead with the second preferences of Hughes supporters.

While all this has been going on there have been the suggestions that the betting prices are somehow “being managed” – that someone with very deep pockets is using her/her money to maintain the Huhne-Campbell prices within a very narrow range.

My current view: Both Campbell and Huhne have an evens chance. Campbell prices beyond 1/1 are good value and Huhne prices tighter than that level are bad value. I am maintaining an even book between the two front runners.

Betting prices here.

Mike Smithson






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