The student vote

I’m normally somewhat dubious about opinion polls of sectional groups that try to say how teachers, accountants, plumbers or whoever would vote. You quite often see polls of students like this, and I’ve always been rather dubious about how representive they can claim to be. This poll by Opinion Panel seems to be pretty sound though – they have an online panel of students who they poll in a similar fashion to Yougov, weighting them to the demographics of the student population as provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (so by gender, region, year of study and by type of institution – new universities, the Russell Group and so on).

As you might expect given the issue of tuition fees (and probably the war in Iraq), their political polling shows the Liberal Democrats to be consistently the most popular party with students, followed by Labour then the Conservatives. Their most recent poll, taken in December shows the same sort of swing to the Conservatives that we’ve seen in the national polls – the Conservatives under David Cameron are up 7 points to 27%, putting them equal with Labour. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats, while still the most popular party amongst students, fall 8 points to 38%. The poll was conducted between the 7th and 14th December, so the Lib Dem fall is not connected with Charlie Kennedy’s more recent troubles.

On the subject of which the Christmas period is a bit of a desert for polls – it is considered tricky to get a decent sample over a bank holiday because people are away visiting family, and the Christmas period is obviously loaded with bank holidays. As a result, despite the Liberal Democrat leadership refusing to leave the news, there still haven’t been any proper polls on the future of Charlie Kennedy – supporters and opponents of Kennedy have been reduced to quoting internet petitions (which seem to happily accept submissions from [email protected]) and numbers of letters received at Charlie Kennedy’s office. While YouGov has done regular polls of Conservative party members, and ICM have done at least one poll of Labour party members in the past, I can’t recall anyone having done any polls of the Liberal Democrat membership. It should be possible; we can only hope that someone somewhere commissions one.

Finally, Yahoo have been kind enough to nominate YouGov’s website – or more precisely, my particular corner of YouGov’s website – as one of their finds of 2005. Thank you very much!

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