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YouGov reports that the Tories are down a point

July 28th, 2006

    But is Anthony King right with his historical comparisons?

This month’s YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph has with changes on last month: CON 38(-1): LAB 33 (nc): LD 18 (nc). So the only difference is a one point fall in Tory support reducing the margin over Labour to 5%.

These shares are broadly similar to this week’s Guardian ICM survey which had the Tories on 39% – four points ahead. The big difference between the two pollsters is the trend – ICM had the Tories moving forward by quite a big amount – YouGov has them moving back a notch.

The big story of the morning perhaps, is the way the Daily Telegraph is reporting its poll. In his report Anthony King makes this remarkable statement “the Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.” Eh?

I cannot find numbers to support this. In early 2004 YouGov was showing Tory shares of up to 40% but was very much out of line with other pollsters.

Certainly it’s hard to back up King’s assertion based on the only firm that’s been carrying out surveys using similar methodology since before 2002 – ICM. The only valid historical comparisons are those where you compare like with like.

The Tories will be a touch disappointed that the big surge that ICM found has not been picked up by YouGov but will feel reasonably comfortable that their substantial progress on the General Election is being sustained. Their main concern should be the Daily Telegraph’s reporting.

Labour will be relieved that the party funding stories are not having any real impact amongst the voters and will not be too uncomfortable with their deficit.

The Lib Dems will be pleased that the pollster that has been showing poor shares for the party is not recording a further reduction.

    What we are all going to have to get used to is that we are now in an era of stable polling without the turbulence of years ago.

The techniques that the three pollsters with the monthly newspaper contracts, ICM YouGov and Populus, use to ensure representative samples mean that big shifts are much less likely to happen. It is also my view that public opinion does not move all that much.

Apart from using the Internet rather than the phone the big difference between the YouGov approach and ICM is that the latter adjusts its figures to take into account the likelihood that people will actually vote. The reason the Lib Dem have been dropping is that barely half of their supporters in the latest ICM survey said they would be certain to turnout at a General Election.

Mike Smithson






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