How much can we rely on YouGov?

How much can we rely on YouGov?

    Is Chris Huhne right to start dancing in the streets?

After an extraordinary day on the Lib Dem leadership markets and the busiest forty-eight hours since PB.C started the big question is how much can we rely on YouGov – the internet pollster?

After the firm’s final poll before the December announcement on David Cameron’s election I raised my doubts about the YouGov approach. What worried me was that the same group of people, in that case Tory members, was being polled several times over and I questioned whether they could be truly representative.

In the run-up to the December 6th Tory announcement David Davis had repeatedly dismissed what YouGov was saying by questioning the accuracy of surveys on the internet. The same points that we have heard this week about web users being different in some way were raised.

    But on the day YouGov’s final poll which had predicted a 67-33 split was right to within one percent.

Given the time-table of when ballots have to be in the most direct comparison to today’s survey is the one that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on November 11th. This, like the final poll had 67-33.

But is the make-up of the Lib Dem party membership such that comparisons with what happened in the David-Cameron contest less valid. The answer, I would suggest is no. Lib Dem members are younger than Tories and the proportion with net access is probably higher.

The real difference is that the gap between the candidates is that much closer and there is the added complication of second preferences.

    I think that Huhne is going to win but I am less certain than I was of Cameron’s victory at this stage in the Tory ballot.

The current prices seem about right. One conventional bookie is offering evens on Huhne – take it.

Mike Smithson

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