Are we now seeing the phenomenon of the “shy yellows”?

Are we now seeing the phenomenon of the “shy yellows”?

Poll/publication End date CON (%) LAB (%) LD (%)
ICM/Guardian 21/11/10 36 38 14
ICM/Guardian 24/10/10 39 36 16
ICM/NOTW 22/10/10 40 36 16
ICM/Sunday Telegraph 07/10/10 38 34 18
ICM/Guardian 29/09/10 35 37 18
ICM/Guardian 15/08/10 37 37 18
ICM/Guardian 25/07/10 38 34 19
ICM/Sunday Telegraph 24/06/10 41 35 16
ICM/Guardian 20/06/10 39 31 21
ICM/Guardian 23/05/10 39 32 21
ICM/Sunday Telegraph 13/05/10 38 33 21

Labour take a two point lead with ICM

Tonight’s Guardian ICM poll has god news for Labour and Ed Miliband with bad news for both the coalition partners. The Tories are down to their second lowest share with the pollster since the election whilst the Lib Dem fall to just 14% – a level that they last touched in October 2007 just before Ming Campbell decided to step aside.

More than any other poll this will be treated very seriously by the yellows because traditionally ICM has produced the best and, when tested in general elections, some of the most accurate shares for the third party.

I’ve just got back home after spending the day at the British Polling Council general election post mortem in London and a lot of the discussion focussed on why all the pollsters in their final surveys had what turned out to be inflated scores for Clegg’s party and understatement of Labour.

A lot of the blame was put on to where the yellow support was coming from – younger age groups who have a strong tendency not to vote.

There was also discussion about the shy voter syndrome – where those who support parties that are going through period of unpopularity are reluctant to take part in polls and, if they do, to admit their allegiance. This happened with the Tories in the 1990s and with Labour before the last general election – a key reason why they did better than predicted.

As Jonathan Glover writes in the Guardian: “The accuracy of the Lib Dem score – then and now – was the subject of much discussion at ….the post-election British Polling Council conference. Some pollsters suspect the party’s rating is now artificially low and that the party would outperform it in a general election.”

More than one of the pollsters suggested that we now might be seeing a “shy yellows” syndrome.

We shall see.

Mike Smithson

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