There is a startling YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Times. The topline figures, with changes from Thursday, are CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2) (this is from the News of the World which doesn’t have the Lib Dem figure). The 2 point lead is the smallest YouGov have recorded since the election-that-never-was back in 2007 and if repeated at a general election would leave Labour comfortably the largest party in a hung Parliament.

The poll will no doubt send a shiver through the Conservatives (and perhaps tempt Gordon Brown towards calling a general election, though the speculation over a March 25th election would require the dissolution of Parliament on Monday, and a “wash up” period for outstanding legislation of only a single day seems exceptionally unlikely. The early election rumour de jour now seems to have shifted to April.).

The question people are likely to ask is whether it is real. Well, the changes from the previous poll are well within the margin of error. YouGov’s polls this week have been very consistent in showing a 6 point lead, and these figures are actually within the margins of error of a true position of CON 38%-39%, LAB 32%-33%, which has been the position all this week. It could just be sample variation – or it could be a further narrowing of the lead. With just a single poll, it’s impossible to tell. All I can say is what I always say when a poll shows sharp movement – until we see some more polls that support or contradict the further narrowing of the polls – be wary.

With a poll like this I expect there to be a lot of rather, erm, excitable discussion, there is a second open thread here for all your gloating, yelling, arguing, ranting and hair-pulling needs, while the normal comments policy will apply here for non-partisan discussion of the poll itself.

UPDATE: The Lib Dems are on 17% and the full tables are here


350 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead dropping to TWO points”

1 2 3 4 5 7
  1. The sudden trend in the polls is astounding. Some commentators above offer valid reasons for this sudden change, but one thing perhaps overlooked or underestimated is the effect of GB’s commitment to AV.

    Surely, large numbers of LDs will be voting Labour in Lab/Con marginals?

    Does the timing of the AV announcement and the start of the sudden drop in Con vote share coincide?

  2. Good God… assuming this poll is accurate, this really is a game changer as far as the election is concerned. With the Tory lead crashing and the Lib Dems in the doldrums, a Labour majority is now highly plausible and perhaps even more likely than a Tory majority.

    The question is of course that if Labour gains a lead, will “Brown to remain Prime Minister” headlines shock the country into throwing its weight back behind the Tories? Personally, I doubt it.

  3. Not sure if this is allowed but on a lighter note, after al polls and politics can be fun too, this cartoon from Steve Bell made me laugh out loud http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2010/feb/26/steve-bell-gordon-brown-rawnsley

  4. I think YouGov is loosing its shine. I think that the Times decided to blow it out of proportion just to sell a story. I beleve AR and Harris polls more than YouGov any day.

  5. From Mike Smithsons’ site:

    To be clear – there was no change in The Sunday Times poll lead between editions, so this thread is based on a misconception. All that happened was that the latest party ratings were held back until later editions of the paper. No mystery. No conspiracy.
    by David Smith February 28th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    It hasn’t got a lot of attention because David Smith is a very inconspicuous name, but he is the Sunday Times journalist who deals with their polling and the author of the story on their website, so he should know.

    No idea what Greg Dyke was looking at

  6. Even professional journalists can be mislead into reporting on the rumour of a polling result rather than wait for the real one. It’s not just bloggers who get mislead by twitter.

  7. HT – if you’re predicting a Tory lead of only 3% in the general election, this poll can’t be a rogue.
    Kyle Downing – you believe what you want to believe, but give us a reason, otherwise your contribution is a waste of time.

  8. @ KYLE DOWNING

    RE: I think YouGov is loosing its shine. I think that the Times decided to blow it out of proportion just to sell a story. I beleve AR and Harris polls more than YouGov any day.

    Well AR & Harris are the new kids on the block. It’s very kind of you to be bigging them up. But YouGov have a very good track record, so I think I’ll give them some credit.

    Maybe this 2 points is a bit premature & ahead of the trend – but in itself, it’ll be accurate.

    And I belive YouGov did make the effort to stop their pool of respondents being ‘monstered’ by CONS with an agena. Anthony will correct me if I’m wrong about that but I’m sure I read that on a previous thread.

  9. I still think what I thought late last night- that this must be an outlier. But there are some interesting messages on brown personally and Labours competence and trust issues. Sure not all of these messages are good for Brown/ Labour….but a few months ago NONE of them were.

    We are clearly- and it started with the PBR in November as I have been saying all along- into a whole new phase of this battle now. Those looking for respite in the Harris poll or the AR marginal poll need to be more circumspect and look at these numbers of the last weeks and the sub sets of questions behind them. This is a clear trend now.

    I am going to be interested to see how the YG daily polls later this week stand- I suspect a lead of 5/6 to 7/8

    A particularly interesting element (and I hope this is polled by YouGov or someone else) will be responses to Cameron’s “you are an unpatriotic person who hates their country if you vote for anyone other than us” speech today.

    Interesting to see just how that one impacts upon the polls. I would have thought it a slightly strange tactic to- just at the time a clear majority of people are swinging behind parties other than your own- to dismiss and criticise them for lacking patriotism. Which is what is he doing even if the language is of ‘my patriotic duty to defeat Brown’. Very strange

    I have to say I think this is a big mistake and I would not be surprised if it did not actually appear in his speech today: that would definitely be the smarter short term move.

  10. I took a vow of non-partisanship last night but, ye gods, it’s hard to stay away from the Old Partisan’s Single Malt when I read comments by the likes of Roberty Sheffield.

    Have some mercy on a recovering partisan, can’t you?

  11. Kyle Downing
    ‘ I beleve AR and Harris polls more than YouGov any day’

    Is this a new religion Kyle?.

  12. @ Amber Star. YouGov have been polling day after day after day and it has always been the same. I know that you are exited about a two point lead but it has been massaged by the Times to sell their story. Labour ratings are always overestamated and the campaign hasn’t even started yet and I beleve in time AR and Harris will be just as competent as YouGov if not more. Remember 1992? its going to happen all over again.

  13. Bring on the televised candidate debates.

    Could it be very interesting now and could these be a last minute game changer?

  14. @James LUDLOW

    “I took a vow of non-partisanship last night but, ye gods, it’s hard to stay away from the Old Partisan’s Single Malt when I read comments by the likes of Roberty Sheffield.”

    May I enquire why ?

  15. On a purely “objective” point, I’ve often wondered whether the people living the consituencies we’ve been told Ashroft has been trying to “buy” recieve much local coverage of their own status in the campaign and of the money said to be pouring in to sway them…and whether that knowledge in itself shows any sign of making the effort counter productive.

    Is there any anecdotal evidence of this?

    I would imagine if I was not already predisposed to voting for a particular party that being bombarded by postive coverage and leaflets etc locally would not win me over if “everyone knows” we’re being targeted by big money.

  16. @KYLE DOWNING

    “I know that you are exited about a two point lead but it has been massaged by the Times to sell their story”

    Proof please

  17. @GATTINO

    “I would imagine if I was not already predisposed to voting for a particular party that being bombarded by postive coverage and leaflets etc locally would not win me over”

    I made this point before chrsitmas and was lambasted by a lot of people many of whom are rarely posting in recent weeks……

  18. Looking from what Cameron’s been up to in today’s papers, it does look like Osborne and Coulson have won the battle for who is in charge of the campaign.

  19. Some contributors such as Martin – whose scholarly contribution I reproduce in full –

    My guess is that either a) you all have cushy jobs in the public sector or b) you want to see the country bankrupt out of some misplaced anti-UK agenda.

    Why on Earth else would anyone vote for Labour now?

    The real shame is that the Tories have some real plans to sort out this mess and put the country back on track.

    – cannot have read the comments policy. You have a thread for comments like this, please use it.

    Just for the record I am a Labour voter who doesn’t wish the country to be bankrupt & work in the private sector.

  20. @ MARTIN

    RE: The real shame is that the Tories have some real plans to sort out this mess and put the country back on track.

    —————————————————————-

    If you’re talking about the economy, they don’t actually. Nobody has a watertight plan. Capital markets now have a disproportionate influence on the national economies of almost every country. This situation is unprecedented. None of us know what the markets will do.

    And that goes to heart of the matter. The voters don’t want a CON government that is blown about with every breeze. LAB have made a decision & will try to chart a course accordingly. It won’t be plain sailing but LAB will try to make it as comfortable as possible.

    CONS can’t decide if it’ll be austerity or tax cuts. Or a mix of both – back to services lite, everything for business, nothing for the public, trickle down…maybe …eventually …who knows?

    Let’s be clear. The money markets, as they are today, are not friendly towards any government. CONS – & the UK – will get no help there.

  21. @Gattino and Rob
    ‘would imagine if I was not already predisposed to voting for a particular party that being bombarded by postive coverage and leaflets etc locally would not win me over if “everyone knows” we’re being targeted by big money’

    They are not targetting the likes of you two – come on you know that surely!

  22. @Kyle Downing

    And if/when they start showing slender or non existent Tory poll leads, who will you believe then. Has some one said recently, many Tory supporting posters on these type of sites are like frogs sitting in a pan of water on a stove.

    I would just add though, I hope YouGov’s reputation is not threatened by their association with News Intl. They need to get News Intl to stick to an agreed time for release of the figures. Because it is only YouGov who are doing this almost constant polling, they, i think are the only pollsters who find themselves in such a position.

    Anthony could you tell me, not as a YouGov employee but as someone in the know, who is YouGov’s actual client? Is it the actual titles or News Intl? What I am getting at is, when the result was first aired in the NOTW, were they publishing them as clients, or as insider knowledge?

  23. “@KYLE DOWNING

    “I know that you are exited about a two point lead but it has been massaged by the Times to sell their story”

    Proof please”

    A friend of mine who works at the Times said that the editors thought that a five point lead wouldn’t be as eye catching so they added and extra couple of points to Labours score and thats how we have got two points.

  24. @Martin

    If the Tories want to try and portray a vote, and by extension any voter, for Labour is/as an unpatriotic vote/voter, then it just goes to prove that they have learnt nothing, and despite all the talk, have not changed at all.

  25. @ C.L.A.D.

    Polls tend to exagerate certain Labours ratings and I would beleve the poll with the lowest Labour score. And no, I am not a tory supporter (yet) but I am natually skeptical to polls that show sharp switches of support. I think it is a matter of pollsters saying “I,ve got the Tory lead down to five points, beat that.”

  26. KYLE DOWNING – so your ‘friend’ thinks 2 + 2 = 5?

    More seriously, your post is libellous. The thought that YouGov would allow false figures to be published in their name is ridiculous.

  27. @Kyle Downing

    I can’t see why you would bother commenting on this blog, which is for the discussion of polls, if that’s how you feel about polls. You could go in search of a site dedicated to discussing AR, I think that is what you are searching for.

  28. @Kyle Downing
    Your inside knowledge from the Times is dynamite. i assume that Peter Kellner will now have to resign, to protect his reputation :-)

    Which of these two threads is the partisan one, wiill someone remind me?

  29. @BARNABY

    “- cannot have read the comments policy. You have a thread for comments like this, please use it. ”

    I’m really sorry – I tried to post at the thread I was reading here – http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2476 – I’m not sure how my comments ended up on this one! I’d be really happy for the moderator to move them.

  30. @ Rob – you can enquire but my vow of non-partisanship prevents me from answering.

    @ general – no discussion at all here of Flockers interesting article on PB. Anyone read it? Any opinions on the questions he raises about YouGov’s recently revised methodology and its possible effects on results?

  31. @Kyle Downing

    I take it your last post was a joke!!

    RE: “A friend of mine who works at the Times said that the editors thought that a five point lead wouldn’t be as eye catching so they added and extra couple of points to Labours score and thats how we have got two points.”

  32. @ Gary M G

    No joke. This is not a forum for joking.

  33. @HOWARD

    @Gattino and Rob

    They are not targetting the likes of you two – come on you know that surel”

    That was not my point:: which was- you have to be predisposed (as increasingly less and less people are) to vote Tory to take the stuff at all seriously and give it any of your attention.

    Plus most no aligned voters (i.e. the majority) already get enough garbage mailshots in their post box and I would suspect that the vast majority of these Tory postal items end up with all the rest: in the bin !

  34. @JAMES LUDLOW
    Yes James I read Flockers on PB. I also read several comments by Mike Smithson himself. However, I think now is a good time to keep our powder dry. “The suns out , the Tories are out” you remember the famous quote I am sure. To question some of the weighting issues now puts us at the same level as the Labour supporters who are currently letting theirs cups run over.

  35. I’m not sure that the majority of comments on this thread are non-partisan.

    I’d also like to remind folk to be polite.

    As a European (Brit by birth, yes, but 25 years living and working in Europe) I am constantly shocked by the level of agression in British politics.

    Please folks, of both sides, try to be polite even if you really feel you must be partisan.

    After all, as near 50 years of Political experience tells me, when it comes down to it, whoever wins, they will go back on their word and let most of you down.

  36. I have no axe to grind between Labour and Tory.

    However I think that YouGov has a problem with their “adjusted” data over the UK and certainly in Scotland.

    I don’t claim (as your some of the Tory posters do) that it is a Kellner conspiracy but it is a problem. I forecast that the next non YouGov poll will show a bigger Tory lead in the UK and the next non YouGov poll will show a very much stronger SNP performance in Scotland.

    The problem is that this outlier poll is now daily and therefore dominates the polling. If Angus Reid were the daily poll we would have the same issue but in reverse.

    However we are where we are and it behoves YouGov to give us a coherent explanation of the sharp revisions upwards in the Labour results from the raw data and for political commentators to remember that we are dealing with a poll which has results at the margins not the centre of polling.

  37. @ James Ludlow

    ….further to the Flockers article on PB, I also thought that very interesting. The Feb 23rd 6% Con lead was against an unweighted Headline Voting Intention of 260 ex 807 (32.2%), while the Feb 25th/26th 2% Con lead was against an unweighted HVI of 465 ex 1436 (32.4%). Yes, the weighting is of course critical but when the tribal votes for all parties is at its lowest for many years/ever (opinion!) that would seem to indicate that it’s harder to get the weightings accurate since they have to be based on past form.

    The accuracy of weightings would seem to best depend on a strong tribal vote I’d have thought. If so, then we may be back to the pre-1997 era of polls that bear little relation to reality, but maybe that’s crap.

  38. Anthony

    Can you PLEASE (as a YG employee) clear up this complete nonsense below (and I am being polite).

    I know you already posted on this specific issue in this thread- and Kyle either has not bothererd to read the thread or has chosen to ignore it (why I cannot guess…!).

    But his assertion (from a “friend”- yeah right) is that the ST (he says Times but anyway) has been given a poll by You Gov and then misreported it on purpose to give so-called You Gov figures that were actually not the figures You Gov supplied them with i.e its a 7 point lead not a 2 point lead.

    Its the same thing that agent provocateurs have been bombarding Political Betting with ever since last night (possibly/ maybe because a 2 point lead overshadows a certain persons speech….

    ““@KYLE DOWNING

    A friend of mine who works at the Times said that the editors thought that a five point lead wouldn’t be as eye catching so they added and extra couple of points to Labours score and thats how we have got two points.”

  39. @KYLE DOWNING
    Kyle I am a vile ranting Tory who mocks Labour supporters views on political correctness and debt ect.
    But you are a big embarrasment to the cause.

  40. @James Ludlow

    “@ Rob – you can enquire but my vow of non-partisanship prevents me from answering.”

    OK- just general misery at the turn of events over the last few weeks and irritation with anyone pleased about the current trend. Understood.

  41. Does anyone know if there is going to be a non YG poll (mainstream) this week.?

    To get back on thread I think this is an outlier/ rogue and I’d be interested in seeing a non YG poll just for an alternative methodology/ sampling technique.

    It also just crossed my mind that if there is an AR poll this week we could quite realistically have a Tory lead 12-14 points higher than today’s !!!

  42. @ Rob Sheffield

    Don’t shoot the messanger. I was asked for proof by you and I gave it. (Sorry I ment the Sunday Times) I know it is hard to beleve and I had trouble believing it at first but my friend was dead serious. I am sorry to spoil Labour supporters time in the sun but it ONE poll and there are many more to come. End of discussion.

  43. @ ROLAND HAINES

    I am not a Tory supporter.

  44. @DAVID IN FRANCE
    If you have 50 years of political experience and 25 of it in Europe, you will know the first 25 years of your experience, before you went to Europe were far from non-aggressive there. Assassination attempts on De Gaulle, Baader Mienhof, ETA, Greek Civil War, a GE every quarter of an hour in Italy, many quite violent.
    Makes us look like the peaceable Saxons, Scots & Celts we are.

  45. @ Kyle Downing

    Proof ?!!

    Nothing of the sort- it is what is referred to in a court of law as heresay- and that is only if someone actually said this to you. Which I very much doubt I am sire it is all in your head !!!

    Just have a read of Anthony’s postings in this thread to put yourself back on planet earth..

  46. No British polling company would risk their reputation by falsifying polling figures, they are not only used by newspapers for polling politics, but also by private companies and organisations for general trends in the public.

    Those private companies have to know that the polling company will give them an accurate result and not just the result that they want to hear. Newspapers won’t falsify the polling result either, since the polling companies would start crying blue murder if they did so, and it would kick up a fuss.

    Every poll has been showing a narrowing Tory lead, and most polls are now suggesting a hung parliament, there is no conspiracy going on, people are not looking at what is on offer and are seriously considering what is on offer by each party, and at what each party stands for.

    A ComRes poll for the BBC Daily Politics few days ago, I believe highlight this and suggests what might be another problem for the Tories at the moment, where a poll showed at 36% of people didn’t know what the Tories stood for. Only 28% knew what the Tories stood for and liked it, and 36% knew what the Tories stood for and didn’t like it. This could well be one of the things behind their shrinking lead in the polls.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/feb/26/new-poll-tory-lead-five-points

  47. @KYLE DOWNING
    Christ, thats a relief.

  48. As I have observed on the CoffeeHouse blog, it is striking that the unweighted results paint a very different picture for the two main parties: Con 41% and Lab 31%. Not only is this just one poll, but its relevance is heavily dependent on the weighting model being used by the pollsters. I have a hunch that the model may not make sufficient allowance for middle-class antipathy to Cameron or blue-collar antipathy towards Brown …
    I have had a quick search to see if I can find the unweighted results for last week’s ST/YouGov poll but could not find them on the Times website; it might be instructive to look at how the weighting was operated on that poll and see if the approach is consistent.

  49. To add some “proof” to the YouGov poll debate, Greg Dyke appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show this morning with both the early and late editions of the paper. The first had the poll showing a 5-point lead and the second only a 2-point lead. Sounds like someone is stirring things up to me.

  50. @ROLAND HAINES

    re Europe

    My second agreement with you in a week or so. Crikey.

    It’s not only the European past that is violent it is also the present with fascist parties all across Europe having made much more traction than in the UK.

    Part of what I lecture in covers European Comparison of my subject area. Granted the European ‘model’ means that you almost always have coalitions between centre left and centre right (and one or two from greens / liberals etc) meaning there are not big shifts like there were in 1979 and 1997 from one side to another. So Europe never had a Thatcher…but it also never had a Blair so both of us could recommend it I suppose !

    But what that has meant- along with the more proportional voting systems (which I tend to agree with) is that the ‘opposition’ becomes those parties that are not part of the “permanent coalition” i.e. these fascist parties that have gained reasonable support in most west, north and east European countries (and huge support in several).

    There is also a European cultural trait that is the antithesis of the Anglo Saxon ‘get it all out in the open’ culture: very secretive and they don’t like to talk about let alone admit to the many similar social and inter communal problems they are dealing with.

1 2 3 4 5 7