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Labour’s YouGov lead down a touch to 8%

August 31st, 2007

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    Is the Lib Dem share of 14% down to the firm’s methodology?

In the first of four major polling surveys that we will see in the next few days the internet pollster, YouGov, for the Daily Telegraph has the following shares with the changes on its last poll almost three weeks ago CON 33% (+1): LAB 41% (-1): LD 14% (nc).

So the Tories will be a touch relieved that like ICM on Monday YouGov is showing a reduction in the Labour lead. Even so an 8% margin is a massive gap and would suggest a near landslide Labour victory if this was to be repeated in a general election.

    If YouGov continues to be reporting figures which are out of line with the rest of the industry there’ll be much more focus on its methodology – which is totally different from everybody else.

As we have noted before YouGov does not make any adjustment for the likelihood to vote – a factor that with other pollsters sharply cuts back Labour shares. Its samples are restricted to members of its polling panel on whom it has got a lot of data and who can get surveyed time and time again.

The firm seeks politically balanced samples by using a weighting system based on “party identification”. This was gathered from 44,000 respondents at the time of the general election. Excluding those who said don’t know this splits CON 34.2%: LAB 45.2%: LD 15%. In the general election, of course, Labour came out with 36.2%, the Tories had 33.2% while the LDs got 22.7% of the GB vote. This might explain the poor shares for the Lib Dems that YouGov usually comes up with.

The last time that YouGov was out of line was after Michael Howard became Tory leader unopposed in late 2003. For six consecutive months from December 2003 to May 2004 the firm had the Tories on 39% or 40% – numbers which caused a lot of discussion at the time about its methodology. This helped create its reputation as a pollster that favoured the Tories. Well things have changed dramatically since.

We’ll be able to compare YouGov with Ipsos-Mori, Populus and Communicate Research which are all due to be publishing polls within 4-5 days. If these are pointing to 8% Labour leads then it would surely increase the pressure on Brown to call an early election.

    But one thing’s for sure – Gordon needs more than YouGov to make such a momentous decision.

According to Ben Brogan’s Daily Mail blog “Tories say privately their internal Populus poll paints a completely different picture – the parties are level pegging and Mr Cameron’s approval rating is climbing.” That would seem to be a very risky thing for the Tories to be saying to journalists like Brogan if it is not the case.

My betting. Having taken my profits on Labour in the commons spread markets earlier in the month I will continue to stand aside. My main position is on how long it will be to the general election where I’ve bet against Gordon going early. That remains.

My holiday. This is my last article before my holiday in the old fishing port of St. Jean de Luz in the Basque country about 12km from the Spanish border. Doing a full-time job as well as running this blog is very exhausting and I very much need the break. I’ll be back on September 17th.

Paul Maggs takes over as guest editor and is looking for guest articles. He can be contacted here.

Mike Smithson






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