Is this why the Tories have dropped a few points?

Is this why the Tories have dropped a few points?

BBC news programmes search results

Is it simply the “Cameron being invisible” effect again?

It’s more than three and a half years since I put forward the theory that a key driver of the voting intention poll numbers is the level of coverage that David Cameron has been getting on the TV in the week or so before the survey’s fieldwork takes place.

What’s interesting is that this seems to hold good even if the story is a negative one. It’s the fact of his profile being heightened by being on the telly that seems to impact on the the poll numbers.

The screen shot above shows the results as at 2am when I typed “David Cameron” into the news clips search box on the BBC website. Just enter “Nick Clegg” and see how much he has featured during his party’s conference week. The same goes with Gordon Brown

So just looking down the list you see that Cameron has been off our screens for nearly a fortnight. The result:yesterday’s drop with YouGov and today’s fall with ICM.

The reason, of course, is that most people have very little interest in politics and their views are shaped by the fleeting glances that they get from their TV screens. I think the same effect works with Nick Clegg but not with Gordon Brown.

All of this, of course, is why polls taken during the conference season have to be treated with some caution. Wait to mid/late October when we’ll get a better feel.

  • For just over three months at the start of 2007 this helped me to make a bit of money when one of the spread-betting firms ran a weekly market based on YouGov’s brandindex ratings on the level of popularity of leading politicians. I would regularly bet up or down on Cameron after doing a quick search of BBC news programmes to show how often he had been on. Dead simple and, as I recall, a winner in all but two weeks of that market existing.
  • Mike Smithson

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