Has YouGov’s AV polling question been overtaken by events?

Has YouGov’s AV polling question been overtaken by events?

Shouldn’t last week have led to a re-wording?

This is the precise wording of the YouGov AV referendum question that was asked yesterday and the results published last night.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government are committed to holding a referendum on changing the electoral system from first-past-thepost (FPTP) to the Alternative Vote (AV) At the moment, under first-past-the-post (FPTP), voters select ONE candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. It has been suggested that this system should be replaced by the Alternative Vote (AV). Voters would RANK a number of candidates from a list. If a candidates wins more than half of the ‘1st’ votes, a winner is declared. If not, the least popular candidates are eliminated from the contest, and their supporters’ subsequent preferences counted and shared accordingly between the remaining candidates. This process continues until an outright winner is declared. If a referendum were held tomorrow on whether to stick with first-past-the-post or switch to the Alternative Vote for electing MPs, how would you vote?

Just compare that with the simple two stage question that ICM asked at the weekend. The first part is non-judgemental and is on turnout.

Q1. “Parliament has confirmed that a referendum will take place on 5th May 2011 on possibly changing the voting system for electing MPs to the House of Commons. Many people we have spoken to have said they will not vote in that referendum, while others have said they will vote. How certain is it that you will actually vote in the referendum?”

Then the second question uses the precise words that according to the act passed last week will be on the ballot.

“At present, the UK uses the first past the post system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the Alternative Vote system be used instead?”

Mike Smithson

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