Was the Labour 34% the trend or the exception?

Was the Labour 34% the trend or the exception?


Does YouGov point to Brown breaking through the 32% ceiling?

As PB regulars will know I’m very sceptical about averaging polls because the pollsters all operate in such different ways that lumping them all into one big number does not really add to anything and can often give a distorted view.

There’s was a well researched comment on this by Andy Cooke last night that’s now been made into a full post on PB Channel 2 .

A good illustration is the latest YouGov poll which had Labour at just 34% – only two points below its 2005 general election performance and a finding that has given Brown Central a real boost. Yet if you average it with the four other regular pollsters it dilutes down to 31% which points to a Tory overall majority. The gap is within the margin of error but such is the tightness of the electoral mathematics that the average and the single poll give totally different electoral outcomes.

The firm could have this one right and Populus might be the outlier. We simply don’t know.

Those ready to dismiss YouGov now might recall that in March 2008 the firm became the first pollster to pick up the rapid collapse in confidence in Labour following Alistair Darling’s budget – a situation that dominated the political environment until the bank crisis erupted in September. Yet at the time the poll was treated by some as a rogue.

Generally pollsters like to avoid doing surveys during the holiday period so I don’t expect to see a major voting intention poll until at least the weekend after the break. So we’re going to have to wait until we get a clearer view of where opinion is going.

All of this makes life a bit more tricky for election gamblers. But if you think there’s been a Labour recovery then get on now – the odds will tighten sharply if other polls follow YouGov.

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