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Will Gordon survive the Frank Luntz test

September 24th, 2006
    Meet the man who could decide the next Prime Minister

Frank Luntz.jpgWith today’s YouGov poll in the Sunday Times reflecting a cut-back in the Tory lead and further unease amongst voter towards Gordon Brown a major hurdle in his campaign to get to Number 10 might be a film tomorrow night on Newsnight. Then he’s to feature in a controversial focus group conducted by the US pollster, Frank Luntz.

The programme has the Chancellor being compared with Alan Johnson, John Reid, Alan Milburn, David Miliband and John McDonnel.

Luntz’s famous “metering” first became known to UK audiences before the last General Election when we saw him show clips to small groups who were asked to press on hand-held electronic boxes to register their response to what they were being shown. The group’s reactions are then aggregated and we see a chart superimposed on the screen as the politicians talk.

His best known focus group was screened on the Monday of the Tory party conference last year and played a big part in David Cameron’s successful leadership bid. In the course of an hour the Cameron betting price tightened from 9.5/1 to 5.2/1 as punters changed their view of the race. You can still watch it online.

My judgement at the time was “..What was being presented suggests that Cameron appears to resonate with people …. If the young ex-Etonian does make it to the final membership ballot then there can be little doubt that he will win easily.”

Shortly before May’s local elections Luntz was back on the Newsnight screens and this time Brown was featured.

In those films Ming Campbell was dismissed as being “old” and not appearing to “have it”, Blair was almost universally opposed and while there was reasonable support for Gordon Brown it was on nothing like the scale of that for the Tory leader.

    Whatever people think of him Luntz’s judgements have been largely borne out by election outcomes and the quantitative polls.

Today’s YouGov survey reinforces ICM’s Friday poll that there has been reduction in the Tory lead over the past few weeks. This morning the internet pollster has CON 37:LAB 33: LD 18.

On the Labour leadership the Sunday Times reports “Brown is the clear leader among the candidates to succeed Blair, though none has resounding support. Brown is named by 23% of people as their favoured candidate for next Labour leader, followed by John Reid on 10%, Jack Straw on 5%, and Hilary Benn, the international development secretary, on 4%. Brown is well ahead among Labour supporters, 51% backing him against 9% for Reid. But Reid is favoured by Tory voters and Benn is second to Brown among Liberal Democrats.”

Mike Smithson






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