Will Peter Kellner win the battle of the pollsters?

Will Peter Kellner win the battle of the pollsters?

    Which pollster will overstate Labour the least?

There’s another battle taking place on May 5th where passions are almost intense as the General Election itself as this piece from Bob Worcester (left) boss of Mori, shows.

Which of the pollsters will get closest to the actual result and will the traditional telephone interview-based surveys see off the threat from Peter Kellner’s, YouGov – the internet firm that is just completing its floatation today. For it is only when you can test real results against real final polling figures that you can determine which has the best approach and here YouGov point to their
record which in the UK at least appears to put them ahead of all the conventional pollsters.

    The 2001 General Election, the 2003 Scottish Parliament election and last year’s Euro election were all ones where YouGov we on par with or did better than pollsters that used interviewers.

Given the extent to which opinion poll ratings frame the political debate in the UK this has a much broader significance than just an argument over market research methodologies.

And almost since YouGov began its regular polling for the Daily Telegraph three years ago it has, in the main, been showing Labour to be in a poorer position than the telephone interview pollsters such as ICM , Populus or NOP.

YouGov’s critics attack the self-selecting nature of the 60,000 strong panel from whom the pollsters makes its selections for each survey. The critics also argue that internet penetration is nowhere near as big as those with telephone landlines so they produce a distorted picture.

YouGov supporters argue that their panel provides a more representative sample than those used by the phone pollsters which have to make up to six phone calls for each successful interview. It is also said that taking away the interviewer allows the survey to take place in conditions closest to a secret ballot.

    It is important to note that like ALL the other pollsters YouGov have a record of overstating Labour so unless there is a huge reversal of trends the top pollster on May 5th will be the one with the smallest Labour overstatement

Today’s YouGov poll has CON 33 (nc) LAB 37 (nc) LD 24(+1).

A full round-up of all General Election Betting is available here

Mike Smithson

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