YouGov December poll

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph, and presumably their last poll of the year, has topline figures with changes from last week of CON 43% (-2), LAB 31% (-1), LDEM 16% (+2).

The Conservative lead seems steady, though they aren’t quite up to the 45% they reached last week. While the 1 point drop itself is not significant, this is the lowest YouGov have recorded for Labour since Tony Blair was leader. Gordon Brown’s net satisfaction rating is down to minus 36, with 24% satisfied with his performance as PM and 60% dissatisfied. The lowest Tony Blair ever reached on the same question was minus 38, but it took him 9 years to get there.

It’s also a good sign for the Liberal Democrats from the pollster that tends to produce the lowest figures for them. This poll was carried out between Monday and Wednesday, so almost entirely before the announcement of Nick Clegg as their new leader and the attendent publicity, so they may well get a further boost – ICM’s monthly poll will presumably be out next week and in contrast to YouGov they normally give the Lib Dems their highest scores, so look out for their score there.

Meanwhile, fun little story on the Telegraph’s politics blog. Apparently Labour didn’t bother with daily polling during the Tory conference this year, so while the Conservatives were seeing the polls rapidly reverse as the days went past, Labour were still sailing merrily onwards towards an early election until the weekly polling figures arrived…

48 Responses to “YouGov December poll”

  1. LOL, that is an amusing story. Perhaps if they had they wouldn’t have made such an mess of it in the end, instead it seems a classic tale of hubris causing a fall.

    12% lead to end the year on for YouGov, not a bad note. Wonder what 2008 will bring?

    How many more polls do we have left? Is it just ICM?

  2. Urgh, writing in CAPS LOCK is bad. It’s e-shouting.

    There are many reasons why I would never vote for Brown, but making it illegal to have sex with a prostitute would never get anywhere near the list. Nor would it for most “young and middle aged men”. I doubt any poll would see that as a major concern ever.











  5. “If Gordon Brown makes it illegal for Men not to have SEX in Massage Parlour in the UK not to have SEX with a Prostitute is a vote loser with Most Young and Middle aged Men anyway.

    He Hope Brown does this for a laugh and teach Men the CHRISTIAN RELIGOUS PRESPERTIAN WAY!!!!”

    I don’t know about that one. Some men will want that they be legally obliged to have sex in massage parlours. Some may not, but they can always avoid massage parlours, eh?

    What does “Prespertian” mean?

  6. ANTHONY :-

    You need to apply your censorship to a few entries above – lets have an equal playing field !

  7. Weighted Moving Average is 42:32:16 and the C Lead is now 10.2 continuing the 4% per month tend. Of course this trend can’t continue indefinitely, but it is continuing for now. The WMA C vote is another new high (42.2 up from 41.9 if you want 3 sig figs). It also seems that the last Populus poll was out by 2.2 points and I/Mori by 3. I/Mori really needs to look into their anti-C bias: on average it is 1.4 and in the last 6 months it has averaged at 1.9.

    FWIW I think I was predicting a WMA C lead of 10% by the end of the year.

  8. Well that’s not the final WMA yet NBeale is it? We still have ICM to come and since they’re normally lower for the Tories will that lower the WMA? Or is it an average of one of each of them?

  9. Are the electorate that fickle…? The changes on one week look rather excessive, not least because it has been a relatively quiet week.

    How much of the movement is the result of rounding? Does Yougov take a sliding average of past polls when calculating the headline percentages?

    On a separate matter, the rules of the blog are clear. Poor e-etiquette, whilst unpleasurable, should not be censored. Nor should comments that portray a political-party bias, so long as it adds to the core of the debate. One man’s ranting is another man’s thoughts. One should know. :)

  10. Looks like the Uk has an old tired Labour Government like we have in New Zealand.

  11. The figures still look good For the Tories and bad for Labour. I think we are now almost at the core Labour vote of 29-30%. The Government still has plenty of time to turn things around but where’s the good news going to come from ?

    Given the current sceanrio in the economy, house prices, Northern Rock etc all of which in one way or another the Government can’t really control its hard to see how the Government is going to be able to turn this around before the next election.

  12. Philip – we do indeed still have ICM to come and quite possibly ComRes as well.

    Fluffy – remember you will get small changes in a poll due to normal sample error. I always avoid mentioning the margin of error too much since people tell to fixate upon it and view everything through that fixed 3% figure. Strictly speaking margin of error calculations apply only to randomly selected samples (ICM or Populus, but not MORI or YouGov), that are genuinely random and have a 100% response rate (no-one at all). Comparing polls methodological differences are far more important than sample size anyway.

    Anyway, despite those concerns over the actual calculation of the 3% (or whatever) it doesn’t take away the reality of sample variation. Small changes of 1 or 2 points don’t need to mean anything, they can just mean that the pollster happened to end up with a sample with more of that party’s supporters in it.

  13. Anthony is of course perfectly right. As explained in earlier posts the 90% confidence interval of individual polls is in fact rather large (about +/- 4.2%) although yougov has a noticeably lower standard deviation than the others, and probably has a 90% confidence interval of +/- 3%.

    Philip – ICM seems on average to overstate C Leads by 0.5, with a Standard Deviation of 2.5 so it’s not a big deal. ComRes has a StD of 3.6 and their last 6 polls have over-stated the C Lead by 3% on avearage (though over the whole series of 13 their mean error is 0.6).

  14. Earlier this week Brown & Darling said that the economy is fundamentally sound and well placed to ride out worsening world conditions

    Yesterday we were told that 07Q3 Trade Deficit was the biggest since records began some 50 years ago-around 6% of GDP. Government borrowing is (again) overshooting Treasury forecast.

    Today’s Telegraph YouGov Poll question-“who is more likely to run the economy well”- showed Con 34-Labour 31. At 2005 GE, opinion was Con 27-Labour 49

    Labour has already lost it’s economic competency lead-and that is before the 2008 downturn which is generally being predicted.
    The Conservatives have achieved a higher economic management rating than Labour-from Opposition and on one of the key topics which caused them to be thrown out of office in 1997

    This puts Labour in a very difficult place.

  15. Nick the fact that Yougov had a lower Standard Deviation than the other pollsters is meaningless as a measure of Yougov’s accuracy compared to other pollsters . As Anthony mentions Yougov is not a randomly selected sample but a selection from a limited number of self selected people on a panel who are more politically aware/interested than the population as a whole .
    If a pollster was even more restrictive in it’s sampling than Yougov using an even smaller sample the standard deviation may well be even lower than Yougov but the final figures may be more incorrect though by a consistent amount .

  16. Mike,

    People just ignore it so why bother censoring it.


    We have to put up with ours possibly until 2010, whilst yours will be gone in less than a year.

  17. Mark. I’m not comparing YouGov polls with other YouGov polls (which would as you say be somewhat meaningless). To get the best data on error, I compare each poll with the average of 5 polls (2 before, this one, 2 after) which is the best (retrospective) estimate of the underlying position.

    As it happens Yougov is on average almost spot-on on this basis, with an average error of just 0.02% in the C Lead. But even they can be out by up to 4.8(!) and looking more carefully at the data their uncorrected 90% confidence interval is +/- 3.2 so corrected it’s about +/- 3.6. Bottom line – single polls on their own are pretty meaningless.

    by our parliamentary correspondant

    Talk of a new Tory leadership challenge grew today at Westminster as the news of the latest YouGov poll spread like wildfire around the dark corridors and smoke filled rooms of the House of Commons. Many shaken backbench Conservative MP’s were said to be openly discussing the possibility that a ‘stalking horse’ candidate may come forward to challenge David Cameron for the leadership. Early favourite Ann Widdecombe was quick to deny that she is a horse saying she had’nt had a decent gallop in ages.
    Away from the feverish atmosphere at Westminster arch Tory fanatic Mark Richardson was today still in intensive care as doctors battled to save his brain from further damage following a seizure overnight when news of the latest poll first broke. Plans to place him in a private ward alongside MerseysideMike were suspended after the latter was discovered outside the intensive care unit singing ” I Want to hold your Hand” .


  19. I assume that Anthony’s deleted the post that my second post was in response to, mine looks quite odd now. In case anyone’s confused why I’m suddenly talking about ALL CAPS and prostitution etc it was in response to a post that’s no longer there (although 2 more by the same person are after it).

    LOL Nick :D

  20. Colin’s post is interesting. He’s absolutely correct to point out the contradiction between the rather well recieved Brown/Darling press conference and the latest string of economic data, which does make sombre reading for everyone, not just the Labour party.
    However, I have said before that a gloomy outlook may not favour an untested opposition – ‘The Devil You Know’ argument, and it’s clear Brown is attempting to position himself as the ‘Tough Choices’ candidate.
    Long term, I’ve always felt that Cameron has blundered by fighting the last election, not the next one. Tories fought the last three elections on tradition areas – tax, immigration etc. Cameron claims to have ditched these, which I felt was a tactical mistake – he even said its not the economy but society that will be the big issue. 2009/10 could be the year when the traditional Tory strengths are back in vogue, but it will be very hard for Cameron to capitalise without reopening the chameleon tag.
    I know people are getting very excited about the current crop of polls, but an awful lot hinges on the economy next year. Overall, the indicators are poor, but not disastrous, (although that could change). Clear up Northern Rock, house price dip but no crash, economy slows but doesn’t collapse, PSBR takes a hit but starts to recover – by spring 2010 Brown/Darling might not be public enemy no 1 any more.
    I’ve said in previous blogs that Cameron has yet to convince many that he is up to the job, while Brown is disliked but until recently earned grudging respect. It will be very interesting to see reactions all round if the poll gap narrows, and if the Tories have another bananna skin like the grammar schools issue.

  21. There are two big dangers for Brown

    1: As you say Alec, he is not liked but many respect him. If he loses the respect (which the last few months have started to do) then he has nothing. Little worse than someone neither liked nor respected.

    2: The public does not like to be told its wrong. “He’s a danger, don’t elect him” works, but “we told you so, he’s a danger you shouldn’t have elected him” normally does not. So elected incumbents often get the loyalty of the electorate who have already placed their faith in them and don’t want to see it was misguided. Brown’s lack of a mandate, having not been elected as PM by anyone at all means he may not get this loyalty.

    Nobody voting against how they voted last time need feel they made a mistake last time, since the people at the top have all changed in all 3 parties.

  22. Sadly there is a long-established rule with Brown which is that the better received a press performance on the Economy he makes the worse the news actually turns out to be. They must have known about the Economic Data and the fact is that at the top of major businesses people are very worried about the credit crunch.

    As others have noted, the Gordon Bean image is really damaging to Brown: a PM can be liked but not respected very much, or respected but not liked very much, but if he is disliked and not respected there is a BIG problem.

    PS Darling almost certainly won’t be Chancellor in 2010. Brown (if he’s still around – probable but by no means certain) will put Ed Balls in that job.

  23. Ref: Gordon Brown. “The best way to drive out the devil, if he wil not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

  24. I,m not sure that GB has retained much respect now.
    I say “retained” because he clearly had it when Chancellor-but this was as a rather dour reliable “accountant” looking after the books.But there has always been adverse comment on his disruptive & fractious relationship with TB.

    The respect for him continued-if only for a short time-as PM because he wasn’t Blair & was seen as an “Honest Son of The Manse”.The respect was thus in large part a function of his perceived honesty-as distinct from TB’s lack of it.

    I think this started to unravel for GB when he said that he would not have called an election even if the Polls indicated that he would win it.That was an insult to the electorate’s intelligence because it was so clearly unbelievable.Nothing we have read since about the frantic & triumphalist preparations for crushing the Tories into oblivion, reduces that impression.

    His readiness to adopt the Opposition’s policies, and jettison previously held”principles” in doing so supported this loss of faith in his “honesty”.
    In the same vein,the sight of an aged Margaret Thatcher being pushed in front of the cameras on the steps of No.10 by the man who wrote a 1989 indictment of Thatcherism, entitled ” Where There Is Greed. “did nothing to sustain GB’s image as Honest Conviction Politician.

    Increasingly the Press have been more willing to examine rather than accept his oft repeated mantra of “competence when things get tough”. He often quotes ( or used to!) The Floods & Foot & Mouth in this respect.The Press now remind us that the post Flood Enquiry criticised preparedness and co-ordination in the Public Services,and Foot & Mouth was caused by a State Laboratory-twice.

    The subsequent drip drip of administrative incompetence-including in a department which GB headed for ten years & on which he imposed a badly botched merger-has stripped more and more layers of credibility from GB,s competence credentials. He begins to look accident prone and indecisive . The Times’ economist Anatole Kaletsky wrote this week that the former is a function of the latter in GB.

    Now the very core and centre of Brown’s reputation -the economy-is up for re-evaluation.And this too is not what it seemed, and what he claimed.The picture emerging is of growth generated by unsustainable public sector spending & private debt, whilst international trade balances crash to record lows-and new jobs go mainly to immigrants, thus putting more pressure on public services and local authorities.And GB promises “British jobs for British Workers”

    Brown is losing respect because he is appearing to be less than honest.Blair could carry this off-the Press now reminisces about Blair’s ability to turn a criticism or difficulty with self deprecation and humour. GB it seems cannot do this-his demeanour when under attack is sour and introverted.At the last PMQs he threw at Cameron his usual last defence” I will not take lessons in competence from the Tories”…somehow it didn’t have the sting it had ten years ago.

    Yes Cameron is untried-but so were Blair & Brown as Prime Ministers.
    Both Brown and Cameron are walking a tightrope of electoral confidence at present.But I think Cameron is gaining a sense of balance slowly-whilst Brown is wobbling badly.

    Respect is earned through being honest-I’m not sure that Brown understands that.
    I finally realised that when he presented his last Budget. The schoolboy grin on his face as he trumpeted a reduction in Standard Rate Income Tax, was hard for a Conservative supporter to take after Labour had taunted the Tories for ten years for wanting to reduce taxes. But my sneeking admiration dissappeared the following morning when the Press explained that he had paid for it by scrapping the 10% lower rate band & increase NICs.
    To poke fun at the Tories & for a day’s headline GB had increased tax on the lowest earners, but didn’t tell them.

    I have no illusions about GB-he is a ruthless and tribal politician who will do anything to stay in power. I predict that the election campaign-when it comes-will be very nasty

  25. Breaking news

    A new rogue poll


    Lab: 34


  26. ICM Gaurdian

  27. 601, just because its rogue doesn’t mean its wrong… But I expect it is wrong

  28. Oddly I think I will defend Brown/Darling.

    Right now they really have no option but to talk up the economy and try to stabilise the markets. We have an odd and dangerous situation at the moment.

    A lot of people have talked about last weeks huge injections of central bank cash as an attempt to ward off recession next year, but it’s much more serious than that.

    Over the last 25 years the principle toll of central banks has been using interest rates to control the economy. If they want to expand it they cut them if they want to slow them they raise rates.

    However where as in the past this has worked in the last month it hasn’t , Where as CB’s have cut rates the LIBOR rate has actually risen. As a lender of last resort my council has actually been lending to banks at over 6.6% in the last month. They will lend and borrow from us before approaching each other.

    The implications of this are profound, the main weapon in CB’s arsenal is currently firing blanks, CB base rates are being cut but the market isn’t buying it and that represents a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the two.

    Response, pump in money to oil the wheels and hope that it gives banks the confidence to start lending again and that the inter bank rate follows the base rate down.

    If not? Then we really are in uncharted waters. How much money can they pump in? Where will we be if it doesn’t work?

    I see two possibilities, the first and I think most likely, is that like most systems that have evolved over time rather than by design, they tend to creak a bit when tested to the limits or when something unexpected happens but it’s usually temporary and it goes back within normal parameters after a bumpy ride.

    The second, less likely but much more worrying, is that we have reached a tipping point that will take us from the current state which has prevailed since the seventies in to a new stable but different set of rules that we don’t really understand.

    Some people are already drawing parallels with the great crash and depression (although it should be said that someone is always drawing comparisons with the depression).

    So in a way whether it be King at the BoE or The PM and Chancellor, they really have no option but to come out and say the system is stable.

    Given the size of the worlds financial markets the total sub prime losses even if bigger than expected shouldn’t be enough to damage the global economy, but with banks acting like NR depositors that fundamental seems to have got lost as each tries to look after itself, ironically like NR creating the very crisis they feared in the first place.

    So Brown and Darling are right on two counts, the current crisis in the markets is overblown and risks doing real damage for no good reason, and they are right to come out and say it to try to prevent an unnecessary credit crunch destabilising the system.

    They really don’t have an option.


  29. This ICM is clearly a rogue – it was done at the same time as the yougov that gave a 12 pt lead. ICM Guardian polls this year have been about 1% less favorable to C than ICM non-Guardian, but this is not very significant.

    Anyway on this poll the WMA is 41:32:16 and the error from the WMA is 4. But it also makes the YouGov/Sunday Times poll show a retrospective error of 4.0 and that is very unlikely indeed: about a 3% chance.

  30. I should have added that as individuals we should either;

    A) Not panic and keep our heads, or

    B) Buy GOLD……..


  31. Slightly puzzled why everyone asssumes this poll is a rogue. I think it’s far more likely that polls showing Tories at 45% are outliers, as I don’t believe their support is that strong yet.
    The way the Guardian is reporting this is interesting, stating that the Tory recovery represents a surge in the midlands & north, has not gone very far in Scotland & Wales, and leaves them still behind in London but massively ahead elsewhere in the SE. They imply that these numbers come from all ICM polls since the summer, so there must be timing issues, but it certainly paints an interesting picture. If correct, it might mean a 5 point national Tory lead is enough for them? However, they also point out that the Tory surge in the north seems to have come from LD switchers, so any recovery there may well damage Cameron. Lots of politics still to come I think.

  32. So close to Christmas seems a strange time to be polling anyway. Politics is the last thing on people’s minds at the moment. January’s polls should let us get a better handle on where things are going.

  33. This poll must be a rogue as it does not fit with Nick Beales thoughts of what the Conservative lead really is . It certainly does not agree with the Yougov poll taken at the same time and a random telephone survey with weighting as to how people voted at the last election cannot compare with a survey from a self selected panel composed of people with a much higher interest in politics than the population as a whole with a higher proportion of Conservative over 55’s AB’s who live in London and the South East .
    Seriously though , all polls are one offs subject to a margin of error which may be influenced by the day of the week / time of year and should not be taken in isolation . FWIW my opinion is that Labour support in this ICM poll looks a little high but time will tell whether that is the case or not . We need to look at the detailed data when it is online particularly the comparison with how people voted in 2005 and who they say they will vote for now .
    The regional subsamples/surveys are worthless , the individual monthly subsamples by region and age group show wild changes because of the smaller unweighted samples and it is a statistical fallacy that accumulating them over a number of polls will increase the accuracy . To give just one example to illustrate the point .
    ICM 18-24 age group
    Poll 1 Con 40% Lab 37% LD 15%
    Poll 2 Con 18% Lab 34% LD 44%
    poll 3 Con 28% Lab 30% LD 26%
    All these 3 polls were taken in November

  34. Thanks ICM! This poll is like a little early Christmas present. :)

    I guess we’re going to have to wait until the New Year before we can really make sense of it. At the very least it shows it’s not all hopeless for Labour. My hope is that after we get back to politics after christmas we can put all the messyness of the last few weeks behind us. I am an optimistic kind of a guy.

  35. Steven it does not show it’s not all hopeless for Labour! It shows there is a possibility it’s not all hopeless for Labour. But that’s the nature of individual polls which can turn out to be unreliable. Yes we should look ahead but lets try to be realistic. None of us should take anything for granted (“events dear boy”)but you must realise that Brown is damaged goods and he is unlikely to turn it round. Also the fact that Labour is unlikely to remove him before the next GE is very damaging to labour’s prospects.

  36. Anthony I have just taken the time to read several of Mike Richardson’s pieces. Clearly they are biased and controversial but very clearly so and I would suggest they are harmless. Some of the comments above are just nasty e.g. Nick Keene’s and it appears that you are applying dual standards by censoring Mike but not Nick.

  37. It’s not a question of “my thoughts” but of the Weighted Moving Average: the numbers are completely non-partisan.

    I wonder whether one reason that the poll seems to under-estimate C support by 2% and over-estimate Lab and LibDem is that C supporters (and in particular people who have switched from L to C) are more likely to be out celebrating whereas diehard Labour and LibDem are at home?

  38. the ICM guardian poll is not a rogue. it is right in line with ICM’s last two polls, which have also clearly stuck out from the rest of the pack. It shows that the methodology used is favoring Labour alot more than the other pollsters. This is nothing for Conservatives to worry about, and certainly nothing for Labour supporters to celebrate.

  39. Oliver – you’re assuming ICM have got their methodology wrong and the others are right. I’m sure ICM will feel they are more accurate than the others. In the mid 90’s I didn’t believe polls that put Labour 25 points ahead. I currently don’t believe polls that give Cameron 45% are true reflections of public opinion either. I know its difficult to set objective commentary aside from personal desires, but I just don’t get the feeling that the country has decided it cannot tolerate another Labour government, as was the feeling against the Tories from late 92 onwards. I don’t think the country has really decided on any of the parties yet, which may explain why the polls have swung so dramatically in response to events and headlines – the deep themes have not yet been fully established, and I suspect that’s a problem more for Cameron than the rest. (If you can’t cement the ‘time for a change’ theme and give people a clear idea of where you would take the country after 2 years I think you have a problem). I think there is plenty for all parties to worry about, and postings here expressing satisfaction at the recent Tory ascendancy are in danger of being over confident hubris. Much will happen before 2010.

  40. Sorry – forgot to thank Mark Senior – your analysis of the ICM regional breakdown makes a good deal of sense. Begs the question why they bother reporting it if the numbers are so suspect.

  41. Alec They bother to report the regional breakdowns because they are news , they have paid pound notes for a survey and want to fill column inches in the newspaper . Whether the conclusions are justified or not is secondary . As I said let’s wait and see the detailed data especially the vote switches from how people voted at the last election . Usually by the time these come out most people have forgotten about this poll and moved on to the next .

  42. Just one more illustration of the inaccuracy in using regional subsamples . The same 3 Nov ICM polls
    Midlands subsample
    Poll 1 Con 44 Lab 33 LD 15
    Poll 2 Con 36 Lab 30 LD 26
    Poll 3 Con 49 Lab 33 LD 11

    The LD figure in Poll 2 is clearly way too high but simply taking an average of all 3 polls it is not statistically correct to say the true LD figure is 17 , none of the 3 polls subsamples are properly weighted only the poll as a whole .

  43. SLAM

    I am sorry if you think my last piece was nasty. I don’t agree but then I come from a generation some of whom were reared on the type of irreverent humour espoused by Private Eye.If people like Mike Richardson continually make the kind of outlandish statements that he does then in my view-which fair enough you do not share- they deserve to be ridiculed.

  44. Mark –

    If regional breaks are worthless, then so are breaks by past voting behaviour. Exactly the same caveats about sample size and not being weighted at that level (though obviously it wouldn’t be possible to do so even if you wanted to with past votes) apply.

  45. Anthony , the important point re the past voting behaviour IMHO is not so much the total figures but the changes between the parties . Take as just one example the figures from the last Populus poll .
    These show a net movement from Lab to LibDem though there are changes in both directions and larger net movements from both Labour and LibDem to Conservative in both cases with a small number of people going in the opposite direction . We may not have any confidence in the actual totals as you say but we can be confident of the trends that are shown .

  46. Slam,

    If there’s a possibility it’s not all hopeless for Labour then, by definition, it’s not all hopeless for Labour. All I meant was that there was a chance of a recovery, I wasn’t ascerting that there would be one. Like I said, I try to be optimistic.

  47. Mark – you need to be careful for the same reasons though, looking at (for example) past Lib Dem voters, in an ICM sample you’ve only got around 100 of them, so if there is a shift from month to month of lots of former Lib Dem voters supporting Labour to lots of former Lib Dem voters supporting the Tories, it’s unlikely to be significant beyond the margin of error on that very small sample of people who voted Lib Dem in 2005.

    I would only look at the breaks by 2005 voting behaviour in average over several polls.

  48. Alec- i am not assuming ICM’s methodology is wrong and the others are right, i am merely stating that this poll shows no significant changes from the last ICM guardian poll. Would you disagree that they are favoring Labour more than the others? Would you disagree that there results have a stark difference to the other pollsters? I never said that ICM was wrong, merely that their polls were always different, and that this poll is consistent and in line with the previous ICM guardian polls.