The real bet in the London Mayor election – do you trust internet polls?

The real bet in the London Mayor election – do you trust internet polls?

What punters are being asked to do with the London Mayor market is bet on which polling methodology they most trust. Is it the tried and tested conventional survey conducted by telephone interviewers or is it the new kid on the block, YouGov, which does it all on the internet and is led by the former political journalist, Peter Kellner (above).

    The form-book is with YouGov – they got the 2001 General Election right; they got the 2002 London Borough election right and they were the best pollster last year for the Scottish Parliament. As Kellner will always point out – whenever their polls have been tested against real elections they have been proved right.

The big call that it was tight for Livingstone came out of a poll that YouGov carried out just before Christmas when Ken’s return to Labour was in the news. This remarkable bit of research showed the huge benefits that internet probing could achieve and – amazingly – the pro-Ken vote recorded then, six months ago, is precisely the same level as recorded in this final Mayoral poll.

We’ve referred to this before but just note the way the anti-Livingstone element increases with each question.

Q1 “How would you vote with Ken as an Independent?”
37 Livingstone, 19 Norris, 12 Hughes, 4 Gavron (Lab) 3 Others
ANTI-Ken Livingstone component – 38%

Q2 “How would you vote with Ken as official Labour candidate?”
33 Livingstone, 20 Norris, 15 Hughes, 5 Others
ANTI-Ken Livingstone component – 40%

Q3 “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for
Mr Livingstone if he stood as Labour’s official candidate?”

9 More 19 Less likely, 26 FOR anyway, 35 AGAINST anyway
ANTI-Ken Livingstone component – 54

The rise of the anti-Livingstone element speaks volumes and brings into question the way other polls are carried out because they just, we suggest, get the first reaction. YouGov’s probing in Devember convinced us that Ken was nothing like as popular as was being made out, particularly when he decided to throw his lot in with Tony Blair

The weakest part of the finalYouGov poll is the turnout prediction They have a “certain” and “very likely” total of 50%. Four years ago only 34% voted. This is the bit that worries us – but on all the evidence the lower the turnout the worse it is for Livingstone.

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