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Let this week be a lesson for us all: Don’t get too excited about a single survey

January 31st, 2014

That was almost the polling week that was

We’ve now got to Friday in what has been a dramatic polling week and the chart above shows what’s happened to the five times a week YouGov “daily polls”. After three surveys which really looked as though Labour’s lead had narrowed we’ve now got Miliband’s party in its best position of the year with any pollster.

The latest could be an outlier but the lesson, surely, is not to pay too much attention to a single survey.

We are now just 15 months and one week from polling day and suddenly the opinion polls are getting a wider attention. As we are seeing the political environment is becoming much more febrile and not just the Westminster village is homing in on every developments that could affect the outcome on May 7th 2015. This is almost the pre-campaign mode.

    One of the big mistakes those of us who follow politics closely can make is to assume that each new move like Labour 50% tax rate plan is going to have an instant impact. So something big happens one day and the next poll sees a sharp movement we assume that these are linked.

Generally, though, things can take time to sink in and wise heads say that you should wait for up to a fortnight.

Later this morning we’ll see the latest from Populus online. Its last survey, taken at the same time as the ComRes 1% lead poll, had LAB with a comfortable 7% margin. It didn’t receive much attention maybe because it wasn’t out of line.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble