Will the Mayoral result resolve the YouGov row?

Will the Mayoral result resolve the YouGov row?

    Punters still reluctant to bet on a Cameron majority

Ever since Ken Livingstone sought to discredit the YouGov polling organisation after the firm’s February poll put him behind for the first time the result of next Thursday election is going to be about more than who runs London. It has become, also, about the confidence we can have in surveys from the online pollster and the conventional firms.

This has become more the case this morning as the political world digests the sensational 18% Tory lead that is being reported in the firm’s April poll for the Daily Telegraph. This massive Labour deficit comes only three days after ICM in the Guardian reported that the margin with the leading phone pollster had been reduced to just 5%. The two surveys seem totally out of line. One of them, surely, has got this wrong?

Labour and its cheerleaders in the media will take comfort that for the moment this morning’s poll is “only YouGov” – something they weren’t saying last September when the firm was reporting double digit leads for Gordon at the time of the Labour conference – the biggest margins in media-commissioned polls.

Back then, it will be recalled, there was some rubbishing of the firm from Tory supporters – the same factions, no doubt, who were lauding ICM in March when it had a 13% Conservative lead.

Memo to all those with strong allegiances and the Guardian: If you attack a pollster when it is showing that your party is up then it gives you more credibility when the opposite is the case.

My main explanation for the ICM-YouGov difference is that fieldwork for the former took place in the immediate aftermath of Gordon Brown’s trip to the US which received extensive and, in the main, positive coverage. Fieldwork for the YouGov poll took place as the split within Labour over the 10% tax band abolition was at its peak.

So all eyes are on next Thursday’s result which I think will have a big impact on general election betting. If Boris wins by a decisive margin it will give more credence to the polls that have reported him ahead. If not then the reverse. The spread markets are not yet indicating a Tory overall majority.

Mike Smithson

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