The Polls: Does anybody really know where we stand?

The Polls: Does anybody really know where we stand?

Polling ranges Oct 8 – 16 High Low
LABOUR 40 (YouGov) 34 (ICM & ComRes)
LIB DEMS 18 (ICM) 11 (YouGov)

Why the difference between the pollsters?

As we start this critical political week it is extraordinarily hard to come to any real conclusions about where opinion stands from the polling. Just look at the ranges that we’ve seen since last weekend and the different pictures that the three polling organisations – ICM, YouGov and ComRes – are coming up with.

Overnight we had two polls. ComRes, which now seems to have switched totally to online, showed 40/34/13 while the News International daily poll from YouGov which had 41/39/11.

There’s only been one telephone poll and we’ll recall from May that five out of the top six places in the polling accuracy table went to firms which operated in this manner while five of the bottom six firms carried out their fieldwork online.

A big difference between the two approaches is that theoretically anybody with a land-line can get asked to participate in a phone poll while the online approach is restricted to members of polling panels.

The only other polling published in the past few days, the Michael Ashcroft funded Populus telephone survey of the Sheffield Hallam and Eastleigh, only added to the confusion.

For as well as the standard “which party” question the pollster asked how people would have voted in their constituencies where Chris Huhne/Nick Clegg are MPs if they had they known the Lib Dems would form a coalition with the Conservatives.

The different results were striking. For Hallam had LD 33%: LAB 31%: CON 28% on the first question and LD 43%: LAB 27%: CON 20% on the second. In Eastleigh it went from CON 42%: LD 31%: LAB 21% to CON 35%: LD 42%: LAB 18%.

A look at the detail showed that nearly a quarter of the Tory Hallam voters and one in five Labour ones shifted to Clegg on the second question while Eastleigh one in six Labour voters and one in seven Tory ones moved to Huhne.

I agree with Anthony Wells at UKPR that whatever the bigger picture there is a strong personal vote for Clegg and Huhne.

Mike Smithson

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