A new YouGov poll for the News of the World has topline voting intention questions of CON 46%(-1), LAB 26%(+1), LDEM 17%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 6th and 8th of August. I do tend to be slightly wary of August polls – most pollsters do weight samples by the number of foreign holidays respondents take to even out the bias of people being on holiday in August, but all the same. In this case though, we still have what amounts to a ‘no change’ survey. Thanks to Mike Smithson for ferretting the voting intention figures out of the News of the World, whose report concentrates on 46% of respondents wanting Brown to quit.

The SNP have also released details of a second YouGov poll, commissioned by themselves, which asked respondents in Scotland whether they thought Alex Salmond or Gordon Brown were doing a better job. 52% thought Salmond, compared to 12% for Brown. The SNP have no yet released the voting intention figures, though given they have a breakdown by voting intention I think YouGov will be obliged to show it in the published tables next week.

26 Responses to “YouGov show 20 point Tory lead”

  1. Thanks Anthony. I think Labour is up one point rather than two.

  2. At this stage of the last Parliament YouGov (September 2004) were showing Lab 36, C 34, LD 21. Therefore since then the changes are C +12, Lab -10, LD -4 which is an 11% swing from Labour to Conservative.
    If one prefers to compare with September 2003 due to the likelihood of a later election next time, there were Tory leads ranging between 1 and 3 points – equating to swings of 8 to 10 per cent from then to now. All this points to an incoming Conservative government – at the moment at least.

  3. The polling numbers look to be pretty stable at the moment; boringly changeless almost. Can anyone explain how poll weighting works to me; does it tend to act as a moderating influence against change? Ultimately, isn’t weighting quite a major factor in the result; with the right weighting couldn’t you get whatever result you liked?

  4. I’m not entirely sure how weighting can moderate against change unless you change the weighting between polls. I always thought the weighting got us from those who said they would vote and more towards “actual” votes at our notional general election – basically by eliminating the no-shows at the polling station.

  5. Yes, one could manipulate the polls via weighting to arrive at whichever conclusion one wished. However, these companies are likely to weight theirs to engender accurate values; they often publish their weightings and these weightings apply to other, more commercial polls that they do.

    Weighting is the process of separating the answers according to, say, the gender and age of the polled people, and then varying their influence (“weight”) in the poll. For instance, let us say that 18-24-year-old males are twice as likely to answer the poll than the average voter. In this case, you only count the 18-24-year-old males as 0.5 of a voter, and so on for each group. Obviously, it gets more complex than this, but this is the idea.

    Weighting can change, but this is generally stated implicitly as the weighting is given with each poll.

    Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. There is no good reason for the polling to change at present. But come October I will be surprised if we do not see a small drop for Labour, and then a further small decline by May 2009.

  7. ‘a further small decline by May 2009’–surely only if the cast remains the same….

  8. The purpose of weighting is to correct any errors in the sample – any area where the demographic make-up of the sample is different from something we are confident is actually true.

    For example, from the census we know that around about 52% of the adult population in Great Britain is female, 48% male. All properly representative polls will include data on whether respondents are male or female. If a pollster found their sample was 55% female and 45% male, then as Richard says, it would be weighted to correct the figures – every woman answering the poll would count as 0.94 of a person, every man answering the poll would count as 1.06 of a person.

    The same is done with things like age, class and region and – in a more complicated manner – how people voted at the last election. We know that, of the people who voted at the last election, 33% voted Conservative and 36% voted Labour. If a pollster conducted a poll and found that in their sample 45% of people claimed that they voted Conservative back in 2005, they would clearly have a sample that is too Conservative and would need to weight them downwards. (In actual fact, people are not very good at reporting or remembering how they voted in 2005, so pollsters weight to a higher Labour share of the vote than they actually got in 2005 – but that needs a whole article to discuss).

    As Richard said, nearly all the pollsters publish the figures they weight to. For things like age and gender it would be blindingly obvious if they got things wrong and it would damage a pollster’s reputation if they did so… so they don’t.

    For past vote weighting, there is no *right* answer. The pollsters all use formulas to calculate their past vote weightings – so they can’t chop and change them from week to week, and they are again published so we can see them and we’d know if a pollster was obviously weighting one party too high or too low. They do vary slightly – that’s one of the reasons why, for example, Populus tend to give slightly nicer figures for Labour and slightly worse figures for the Lib Dems than ICM do. The contrast between pollsters though is very small indeed, fractions of a percentage point.

    Without doubt pollsters determine their weighting figures with a mind to accuracy. Here’s why: there’s no money in political polling in the UK. For most pollsters the proportion of their income that comes from political and media polls is well under 10% of their total income, often done at cut price rates. The reason they bother to do it is because it is fantastic publicity – newspaper polls are the pollsters shop window, and by calling general elections right they show potential clients they are accurate.

    There would be very little point any pollster fiddling their weighting to suit the desires of media or political clients – who pay comparatively little – and risk damaging their reputation for accuracy which attracts all the big commercial clients where the money is.

  9. Weighted Moving Average is .. 46:26:17. The WMA CLead (19.8) is the highest to date, but essentially the picture remains static.

  10. Not tp do with polls but in the recent Maldon DC council by-election neither the Labour Party nor the LibDems fielded a candidate. It must be a very long time since that occurred.

  11. Having returned only yesterday from sunnier climes I have only just caught up with developments over the last month. First of all belated congratulations to Peter Cairns and the SNP for a brilliant victory in Glasgow East. Without the hard work put in by party workers victory could not have been achieved.
    Secondly the polls have as NBeale says become quite static and are likely to remain that way unless and until the economic picture changes. The chances of that happening before May 2010 diminish by the day but cannot be ruled out.
    Lastly a leadership challenge to Gordon Brown still seems unlikely although it would be interesting to know what Labour supporters think is going to happen at their conference next month. And could somebody please tell me why the mere mention of Alan Milburn’s name drives some Labour supporters into such a rage.

  12. We are coming up to an anniversary on 20th August – it will be 4 months since Labour last got over the 30% mark in the POLLS !

    The news today of 4.4% inflation won’t help & the news the other day that the indecision about dropping the housing tax has caused a further slump in house buying !!

    This government must be running out of bullets from the amount of shots into their feet .

    Looks like they may never get above 30% as i earlier predicted – it’s a long slow demise.

  13. Still no change – and that’s during the summer holidays when one might have thought that the gap would close just a little.

    This Government is in dire trouble and the electorate knows it.

    They are about to breach their own spending rules.

    They won’t cut public spending even though they are getting further and further into debt.

    They have no clue about how to get the public purse going back in the right direction apart from hope for the best.

    We may even be in recession as we speak.

    The RPI is now at virtually 5% which is the increase they have to pay on public sector pensions with much less money coming in.

    They are in trouble and I expect the polls to get even worse for Labour(if that’s possible) when politics gets back into full swing in Septemeber.

    As for GB – I hope he is still there at the next GE !

  14. KTL So do I!

    Still no headlines saying “Recession”, most forecasters seeing inflation easing early next year followed by cuts in interest rates. Lowering prices of corn, wheat and oil, and the housing marjket haasn’t been flooded with distressed sales. It isn’t all doom and gloom!

    Whether improving conditions will result in an improvement in Brown’s poll results is quite another matter – I suspect his best chance of staying around is if the economy worsens. if it improves, and his ratings continue to flat-line, he’ll be out.

  15. KTL-agree with your post

    The BoE report/forecast out today will not help GB if indeed the economy is a critical factor in his Poll figures :-

    No growth over the next year.
    0.1% growth in 09 Q1 with “possibility of a quarter or two of negative growth”
    Inflation falling mid 09-though that’s not necessarily the same thing as prices falling-back to 2% in two years provided interest rates remain at 5% & economic downturn impacts it.

    Unemployment now up for the 6th consecutive month & Item Club indicating 2 million plus a possibility.

    Only wage growth-slowest for 5 years in encouraging.

    I’m not sure about the equation of GB’s fortunes with economic outurn. Maybe it would remove the risk of his party removing him-but the last YouGov Poll indicates that voters are more concerned about his lack of leadership ( 68%) than his handling of the economy ( 48%).

  16. “We are coming up to an anniversary on 20th August – it will be 4 months since Labour last got over the 30% mark in the POLLS !”

    Dont know if ‘the oracle’ has a dictionary handy but if so might be worth checking out the word anniversary.

    Interestingly with this in mind the definition of the word oracle is : “A person considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinions.” hmmm.

  17. Toby – you are clearly new to this site – The Oracle is a soi-disant title and brings a smile to most readers’ faces.

    He generally is only picked on by those slightly to to the left of lunacy, and the Scots, ( who are north of lunacy, and good for them )

    The polls indicate that New Labour is stuffed.

    Whether the great general public desire a move to interventionist, big state, cut taxes during downturns, raise them during upturns, (ie Big Labour)

    OR Redwood economius of lowering taxes during upturns and raising taxes/firing people during downturns is still very much in doubt.

    What’s confusing me is that Osborne wants to raise tax during the upswing so that he can mitigate in the bad times without having to increase national debt.

    Osborne versus Redwood?

  18. Toby Perkins is the Labour candidate for the Chesterfield constituency, jontt.

  19. Oracle: an inhabitant of Delphi or of the former workhouse in Reading, both with connotations of social standing.

    My feeling is that MR falls into the latter category as a little ora’ – perhaps he’s drunk on courage!

  20. Toby – you are clearly new to this site – The Oracle is a soi-disant title and brings a smile to most readers’ faces.

    No, not particularly new to the site, I’ve obviously been on different pages to you, I guess. Mike brings a smile to my face too.

    “What’s confusing me is that Osborne wants to raise tax during the upswing so that he can mitigate in the bad times without having to increase national debt.”

    Confusing indeed, as the Tories now seek to claim that this global economic crisis was caused by Labour not raising enough in tax during the upswing, did I miss the point at which the Tories were telling the Government that taxes were unsustainably low and that more should be being taken from people to stock up for the bad times?

  21. ” the Tories now seek to claim that this global economic crisis was caused by Labour not raising enough in tax during the upswing,”

    From a positive cornucopia of NewLab twaddle about the Conservatives that about takes the Gold Medal.

    a) UK tax policy cannot cause Global economic crises.
    b) They said Reserves should have been built up in the good times.That doesn’t mean more taxes ( a Labour mindset)-but less excessive & wasted government expenditure ( a Conservative mindset)

  22. b) No, they said the proceeds of growth should be “shared” in the form of tax cuts, not saved

    At no point in the last 11 years have they suggested re-payment of national debt instead of investment in the NHS and other “wasteful” endeavours.

    The principle behind Osborne’s fuel duty idea is quite clear – raise tax when the sun shines in order to lower it when it rains. That’s the principle, and it’s not consistent with the rest of Tory Tax policy, which is all about lowering tax when the sun shines (and presumably raising it when it rains)

  23. I recently interviewed William Hague about the Conservative’s prospects based on the opinion poll findings. He said that there was no room for complacency but that there should be an immediate election. I think I would call an election if I was that far ahead in the polls!

  24. Cameron & Osborne have committed to a adopting a plan put forward by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which would involve scrapping the current borrowing rules – the golden rule that determines how much is spent over the course of the economic cycle and the sustainable investment rule, which sets a ceiling for the total amount of debt the Government can take on.

    Instead, the Government will set a broad target for borrowing over future years, and whether it is likely to meet it will be assessed by an independent body.

    During the last eleven years -well since 2001 when GB opened the public spending floodgates-the Conservatives have consistently argued that the proposed levels of public spending , when not allied to appropriate reforms are unsustainable. It seems to me that these warnings have been vindicated.

    Your opposition to the proposed fuel tax stabiliser is noted.

  25. Johntt

    “.. and presumably raising it when it rains”

    That’s a non-sequitor (or is it a syllogisme ?)

    Tax is not an umbrella. It is the means by which public expenditure is financed. The less expenditure in good times, the better the reserve position, which allows expenditure to rise in bad times, and the lower overall tax levels required – come rain or shine.

  26. I think a syllogism is where a dog is defined as a cat.

    but they don’t intend to lower expenditure during good times, just keep it steady and deliver a reduction in taxes. Sharing the proceeds of growth. It follows sequitously (tautologous and probably not even a word!) that the tax burden will rise as growth diminishes, and lead to cuts in spending to balance the books.

    I’m all for parasols myself – lowering the national debt rather than cutting tax during the good times. Once the hospitals are clean.

    I’m surprised that raising borrowing (again) is still a Tory policy – I thought they were having a go at Darling for intending to hand over £2bn of borrowed cash to poor people this Autumn.