Archive for September, 2011

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Putting the latest YouGov daily poll into context

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Is too much weight given to the views of Mirror readers?

The YouGov daily poll overnight saw an opening of the gap between Labour and the Tories with shares of CON 37%: LAB 43%: LD 8%. The Labour 43% is only two points below the party’s post-general election high.

For well over a year the online pollster YouGov has consistently been reporting higher Labour shares than the other firms. Thus in all but two YouGov polls since December the party has been in the 40s. During the same period  ICM  has not had Labour out of the 30s.

One issue which I’ve been raising here since 2005 is YouGov’s use of newspaper weightings. The chart above shows how much value is put on each person sampled in today’s poll based on their declared newspaper segment. A target number is established and if there are too many in one group their views are scaled down while the reverse occurs if not enough people in the sample meet the target for a particular segment.

The pattern featured is very similar to that which we see almost every day. At one extreme too many Guardian/Indy readers take part and their views have to be scaled back. The reverse happens with the red-tops, notably the Mirror/Record, and the views of those who do participate have to be scaled up.

The overall impact is that in this latest poll the “value” of a Mirror/Record reader in calculating the voting intention shares is getting on for six times that of a Guardian/Indy one.

This shouldn’t matter too much if the views of participants broadly reflect those in the segment. But the larger the uplift the greater the margin of error.

A reason, I’d suggest, why YouGov has so much difficulty every day reaching its target of Mirror readers is that its weightings do not appear to take into account the big decline in the paper’s circulation.

In February the former head of polling at ICM, Nick Sparrow, sharply criticised the YouGov approach in a PB guest slot here.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Over to you in the PB Nighthawks Cafe

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

A busy day and it will be interesting to see what the papers make of the Miliband speech.

Have a good evening in the cafe – and, once again, thanks to Marf for her excellent spoof of the famous Hopper painting.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Labour – the party that boos election winners

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

So what’s the verdict? How did EdM do?

For me the most striking feature of this afternoon’s speech was the outbreak of booing in parts of the audience when Miliband mentioned Tony Blair.

Maybe they’d forgotten that the target of their hostility was one of only three Labour leaders ever to lead their party to overall majorities in general elections – something that Blair did a record three times.

Miliband declares that he’s not Tony Blair yet the speech did little to persuade this observer, at least, that he has the qualities to win a general election outright.

Blair realised that the only way Labour could do it was by moving to the centre ground – something, I’d suggest that is even truer today. The speech seemed devoid of ideas on how that could be achieved.

Miliband’s oratorical style can often sound pedestrian – the way he pronounces the word “you” jars in the ear.

At the end of the day the speech did little to flesh out our view of what Miliband wants – it was strong on cliches but very short on specifics.

I rated it 4/10 – somewhat behind the 6/10 I gave to Clegg last week.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Will this be the speech that changes the narrative

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Discuss EdM’s here on PB

It is due to start at 2.15pm



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Can EdM start to change perceptions this afternoon?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Are leaders able to build from a low base?

The above is the breakdown of responses to the big non-voting intention question in the overnight ComRes telephone poll for the Independent.

It’s not good for Ed Miliband with a third of those saying they’d vote Labour in the disagree column. In a general election people are voting for much more than a party and these poll findings can be highly indicative.

As I’ve repeated several times here the polling experience ahead of May’s Holyrood elections in Scotland underlined why numbers like this should be taken seriously.

Almost all the voting intention findings until the final three weeks had Labour with comfortable margins and heading to be the biggest party. But poll findings on leadership qualities and who would be best First Minister had Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray a long way behind the SNP’s Alex Salmond and so it turned out to be.

The set-piece leader’s conference speech that we’ll see in Liverpool this afternoon is crucially important partly because it gets guaranteed saturation broadcasting coverage.

It can be hard in normal time for opposition leaders to make their voices heard. This is Ed’s big chance and his speech matters.

I think that the manner in which he presents himself is as important as the content. Can he convince more voters that he is a credible alternative PM to the one we’ve got?

@MikeSmithsonPB

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ComRes: Tories ahead for the first time since Oct 2010

Monday, September 26th, 2011

And more poor numbers for Ed Miliband

For the first time since October last year the Tories have moved ahead of Labour according to ComRes.

On the Labour leader just 24 per cent agreed and 57 per cent disagreed that EdM was a credible prime minister-in-waiting.

Only 27 per cent thought that Ed Balls would make a better Chancellor than George Osborne, while 43 per cent disagreed. Four in 10 people (40 per cent) said they would be more likely to support Labour if it said sorry for the mistakes it made in running the economy, but 52 per cent disagreed.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent believe trade unions enjoy too much influence over the Labour Party, but 37 per cent do not.

Note that the changes recorded in the chart above are with the last phone poll from ComRes which also carries out online polling.

The voting intention moves are minimal and within the margin of error.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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ICM: Balls gets better ratings from LD voters than Labour ones

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Will today’s speech start to win more support?

New polling data issued today by ICM suggests that Ed Balls is rated more highly by Lib Dem voters than Labour ones.

When asked whether the shadow chancellor was doing a good job/bad job the sample split 45% to 27% against the Labour shadow chancellor. Amongst those intending to vote Lib Dem the split was 38% good to 39% bad.

With Labour voters, however, only 34% were ready to put him into the “good job” slot with 38% saying “bad job”.

Given the crucial importance for Labour of recovering public confidence on the economy these should be worrying particularly as he can’t even win round party loyalists.

He had his big speech at the Labour conference this afternoon – I wonder whether he’ll see an improvement.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Is it really this gloomy for the blues in their marginals?

Monday, September 26th, 2011


Will Ashcroft’s new poll make uncomfortable reading?

There’s another one of Michael Ashcroft’s massive polls out this morning which involved an overall sample of more than 13,000 in 41 marginal seats. They were all contacted by telephone – I assume by Populus the firm that has done much of Ashcroft’s research.

Eight of the seats are Tory-held seats with the LDs in second place. The rest are Tory seats with Labour in second place.

The key numbers are in the tables reproduced above and the message is not very promising for the Tories, quite encouraging for Labour and even more so, in the circumstances, for the Lib Dems.

On voting intention two questions were asked – a standard national one and a second which sought to get respondees’ views on what they would do in their own constituencies.

The figure that stands out is the uplift from 18% to 31% in the Lib Dem share in CON-LD marginals when the constituency point was pressed. More than half the increase comes from Labour voters who, seemingly, are ready to switch to stop the Tories.

The third table points to a possible explanation. Even this far out from the general election Lib Dem activists appear to be working harder in the seats that matter to them.

The Tories might also be disappointed by their party’s polling in the CON-LAB marginals where Labour have a nine point lead. Given that these are all currently Tory held then that sets out the scale of the challenge for Cameron and his team.

The next election, of course, is likely to be fought in fewer seats and new boundaries – a factor that looks like helping the blues most. It also takes place in three and a half years time and the world could look very different then.

@MikeSmithsonPB