I’ve mentioned in various comments over the last few weeks that YouGov were still looking at their post-election methodology and what changes to make. It is a rather more complex task than one might think (especially since all of us in the team took breaks for holidays at various points during May or June to recover from the general election campaign). Anyway, we have finally rolled out the new methodology, and the pre-budget figures yesterday were the first using the updated method. On the whole, the changes are minor and build upon what we were doing anyway. It is mainly updating our weighting figures, and upgrading them where we can – there are no big departures from what went before.

Anyway, below is a copy of paste of my article on the YouGov website explaining it in full:

The polls at the general election were something of a mixed bag. For the first time in the quarter of a century the polls did not overestimate Labour support. YouGov’s own final poll got the Conservative lead over Labour and, therefore, the swing from Labour to Conservative exactly correct. However, at the same time all the pollsters, including YouGov, overestimated the level of Liberal Democrat support.

I am sure there are many debates to come about why the polls overestimated the Liberal Democrats. What we can be relatively sure about it is that it wasn’t due to individual problems with pollsters’ methods – every company got the Lib Dems wrong, whether they polled by phone, online or face to face, and regardless of the political weighting they did or did not use. This was a systemic error. It has been suggested that it is due to a late swing (including on the day abstentions), or young people who hadn’t voted before not actually turning out, or a disproportionate likelihood for polls to be answered by Liberal Democrat supporters or people interested in politics who had seen the debate. Some of these explanations – such as late swing – are not necessarily things that pollsters can do much about.

On election day itself and the days that followed YouGov carried out a massive survey of our panel, contacting just shy of 100,000 panellists. We used this data to analyse exactly what happened and what we could do to make our samples and weightings more accurate, and for the last month we have been testing updated samples and weights on the back of it.

After considering many possible changes, the result is that YouGov will be making modest updates to our methods, rather than any drastic change. Given we actually got the swing from Labour to the Conservatives right, and that the reasons for the over-estimation of the Lib Dem vote may well have been a late swing or a temporary reaction to “Cleggmania”, we needed to be very careful not to over-react. We wouldn’t want to artificially weight down the Lib Dems and end up underestimating their support come the next election.

While there are no big changes though, we are making various tweaks and updates to our methods to bring things up to date. In most cases these are just things that need updating regularly anyway, or where the growth of our panel or the availability of more data on them has allowed us to do things more accurately.

First, we are introducing more advanced social class weighting. Up until now YouGov have only weighted social class by ABC1 and C2DE – essentially a middle class vs working class divide. We have now got more detailed social grade classifications for a large proportion of our panel, so we can switch to weighting AB, C1, C2, DE separately. For those not versed in social classifications, these roughly equate to professionals and managers, clerical and office workers, skilled manual workers, and unskilled manual or reliant upon benefits.

Secondly, we have changed our age weightings slightly. This one isn’t really a result of the election, but because older people are now far more likely to be on the internet. Our top age band used to be over 55s, on the basis that over 55s were one of the hardest groups to recruit to the panel. These days there are more older people on the internet, more older people on our panel, and we have the opportunity to weight them more accurately – so our oldest group is now the over 60s.

Thirdly, our old party ID weightings were based upon the party ID we found at the time of the 2005 election, adjusted to take account of panellists joining YouGov since then. Obviously the election gives us the opportunity to take a new fixed point of reference for party ID, so we have collected party ID from most of our panel afresh, and taken a new snapshot of 2010 party ID to weight to. Over time some people have changed party ID as the Conservative party became more popular, but nevertheless our target weights are not actually that different from the figures we used to weight to. We have updated our newspaper readership targets in the same way, mainly to take account of a growing number of people who no longer read a newspaper.

Moving forward, we are weighting party ID to Conservative 28.5%, Labour 32.5%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 3% and none or don’t know 24%. Note that the proportion of people identifying with the Labour party is still actually higher than the Conservatives, the Conservative lead at the election was due to Labour identifiers voting for other parties or staying at home, and unaligned voters backing the Conservatives.

We are continuing to look at whether to separately weight Labour identifiers who were “loyal” or “disloyal”. At present we will be controlling it in our sampling, rather than weighting as we did during the election campaign. We will keep it under review, in case we need to begin weighting by it again in the future.

Finally, we have made a slight adjustment to our sampling – the only change directly aimed at addressing the Lib Dem over-representation in the election polls. In analysing our elections polls we found that amongst some age groups respondents tended be too educated, with too many having degrees and not enough with few or no qualifications. In future we will specifically sample people in those age groups with low levels of educational achievement to make sure respondents are not too “graduate heavy”.

Taken together, the effect of these changes reduce the recorded level of Liberal Democrat support slightly and increases Conservative and Labour support slightly, but not to any great extent. In test surveys we have asked respondents how they voted in the 2010 election, and the new weighting tends to produce answers within 1% of the actual election result. That isn’t necessarily a guarantee of accuracy, since we know that some of those answers will affected by false recall and we’re not quite sure how that will affect the Lib Dems, but we are confident that the new weighting scheme accurately represents the British public.


121 Responses to “YouGov methodology review”

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  1. Moving forward, we are weighting party ID to Conservative 28.5%, Labour 32.5%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 3% and none or don’t know 24%. Note that the proportion of people identifying with the Labour party is still actually higher than the Conservatives, the Conservative lead at the election was due to Labour identifiers voting for other parties or staying at home, and unaligned voters backing the Conservatives.
    ——————————————————
    @ Anthony,

    Please would you be so kind as to tell me what the identifier %s were before YG updated them; or provide a link to that information.

    It will be interesting to know the changes from last time this was asked, before I become too smug about Labour still being highest ;-)

    It will also be interesting to see if they change at YG’s next major review (even if it is as far away as the next GE). This is surely the ‘ultimate’ test of a party’s popularity, IMO – so changes to this are, in some ways, more important than % of vote in any specific election. 8-)

  2. Anthony. Would it not make more sense now, and be more useful, to poll the coalition v. Labour and Others?The true impact of the Budget – and eventually of the Party conferences – would be much clearer.

  3. @Colin
    Surely that would only make sense if Conservatives and Lib Dems were not going to contest the same seats?

  4. Commonsense would suggest that , in Labour marginals, they won’t contest seats where the other coalition member has the strongest chance.Why give Labour a gratuitous chance of holding the seat? If this happened, it really would be panic time for Labour.In the other seats – friendly rivalry, perhaps.

  5. @ COLLIN

    I do hope you are correct in assuming the Dems & the Cons will join forces in this way. If they do, it will be all the more votes for Labour as they’d be the only alternative to the coalition (i.e. the Tories).

  6. Anthony,

    Excellent post.

    The newspaper changes are eminently sensible. I have red (pardon the pun) the Telegraph for years but I would not vote blue if I was paid. The party ID changes are also more sensible…. I wonder in 30 years if there will be such as thing as party ID? (tongue in cheek but the sentiment is there).

  7. Still trying to get my head round these changes . Now for most of the last parliament Yougov understated Libdem support compared to most other pollsters and greatly understated it to what they actually achieved at the last GE and you have now made some changes to understate it even more . Hence latest polls Yougov LD 18% Mori 19% ICM 21% Comres 23% .
    Surely your massive polling day sample tells you whether there was a late swing away from the LD’s or one or more of the other possible reasons you cite
    Yougov rightly (IMHO ) received much criticism for their tinkering with their methodology immediately prior and during the GE and I doubt whether this will restore their credibility which has been pretty much shot to pieces.

  8. Amber – the old figures were LAB 32%, CON 26%, LDEM 12%, Oth 3% – but remember that it isn’t something that YouGov ask, it’s something that YouGov weight to. We won’t necessarily change it for many years, since we weight information collected at a fixed point in time to the overall targets at that time (so in future, we will weight panellists party ID from 2010 to the overal party IDs for 2010. It’ll only be updated as new people join the panel and the proportion of people who we only have 2011 party ID, or 2012 party ID, starts to change.

    Collin – not unless the Conservatives and Lib Dems agree an electoral pact! In the meantime, feel free to add them up yourself, or look at government approval figures (reading on, I see that’s what your thinking… but I think it would be jumping to gun to actually ask it as the regular question unless the two parties agree such a pact).

    Mark – there are no changes to gratuitously reduce the Lib Dem score, they are all based on actually identifying places where the sample looked like it could be improved when compared to known demographics. On the educational sampling, in analysing our samples we found that there were too many people with degrees and too few who left school without qualifications when compared to data from the BSA survey and other ONS sources. People with degrees were also more likely to vote Lib Dem, so that could have been some of the overestimate in Lib Dem support. Either way, it is clearly better to try and get a sample that is representative in terms of education. The new changes assume that there much have been some late swing or on-the-day abstention, since with these weightings the final poll would probably still have shown a slighly higher level of Lib Dem support than they actually got.

  9. ANTHONY

    Very interesting indeed – I don’t think we need to worry about LibDems and Tories looking after each others interests at the next election too seriously- once the real cuts come on board in 9 months or so things will fall apart for the concession especially as we are likely to get a double dip. One LibDem backbencher has broken ranks I’ve just heard on FiveLive.

  10. FWIW I suspect that the Tories are in a win win situation. If the economy recovers they will take the credit. If – as I fear – the European economy stalls and things get very tough indeed the British people will be easily scared off the Labour Party by the British press. The Labour Party will I suspect find it very difficult to get its narrative heard. Thought the Labour benches looked very glum today.

  11. glad you are changing the figures. are you going to change the polling in Scotland than is very very wrong -and constantly incredibly underestimates Labour and wildly overestimates the SNP?

  12. It seems to me that despite the normal lack of logic regarding peoples voteing patterns, the messages we get seem to suggest that the voters still dont trust the the Tories outright. But much more than Labour, and the LDs are seen as a counter weight to keep the Tories under control. In other words, just the way the people voted. We the budget change things?

  13. @Johnty,

    I think it all depends on whether we will avoid a double dip recession. If we don’t, and the Uk’s finances improve, I can see the Tories being re-elected with an overall majority. If not, Labour will win the next GE. It’s really that simple IMO.

  14. Doug – Scotland, Wales and London will indeed likely all need updating too.

  15. Labourites will be looking for massive gains in the next set of polls. Like I have said previously, I think they’ll be disappointed if they are not at least 4 or 5% ahead of the Tories within the next year or 2. As a blue, I’d be happy if the Tory lead shrinks, so long as Labour don’t develop a very healthy lead of more than 3/4% over the Tories by 2012.

  16. I think it is a little bit premature to anticipate (is this the right word? In French, it is “anticiper”) the result of the next GE, whenever this takes place. I would nevertheless like to point to a historical precedent. In 1994, after the German and the Italian GE, all four major European countries (Germany, France, UK, Italy) were ruled by the center-right (Kohl IV, Juppe, Major, Berlusconi I), whereas the fifth one (Spain) had a socialist government (Gonzalez). Yet in 1998 the landscape was quite the opposite: After 1996 GE in Italy, 1997 GE in UK and France and 1998 GE in Germany, the socialists, alone or with their allies, were now in power (Schroeder, Jospin, Blair, Prodi I), and, inversely, Spain was center-right (Aznar). Now, in 2010, after the UK GE, all four major European countries are center-right (Merkel, Fillon, Cameron, Berlusconi III) and Spain is socialist (Zapatero). So, if the same scenario repeats itself, in 2015 Spain will be center-right (Rajoy) and the Big Four center-left. This prophecy is already in the process of being 60% fulfilled: All polls give the victory to the Spanish right and to the French and German center-left. Italy is very uncertain, Berlusconi is losing ground but the center-left opposition does not appear (yet) to be up to the challenge, yet I think that in 5 years the “usure de pouvoir” of Berlusconi will be irreversible. So, the only question mark comes from the UK. Who will win in 2015? Under the present economic and political circumstances, this is very unclear. Any psychics?

  17. Just back from avoiding the bandits of Corsica, I think it would have value to poll on a ‘coalition’ basis until the country votes for AV. If that does not happen then the voter will only think in terms of Coalition vs Labour (and the nationalists will be dependent on assembly politics more than anything I suspect -see Labour’s revival in Scotland and the reverse in Wales).

    We still don’t have insight of why the LD’s lost 3 – 4%on the final day. The corrections on sampling would have applied just as much on GE day minus 1 as thereafter surely (??).

  18. Being realistic though, I’d say a good 10-15 point Labour lead is not out of the question by 2012. Given the unpopularity of the impending cuts during this government’s lifetime, I can only see the Tory’s popularity taking a massive hit rather akin to Labour’s in 2008, which resulted in the Tories leading by 20% in the polls. I don’t think the Tory’s unpopularity will reach those levels though.

  19. @Howard,

    “We still don’t have insight of why the LD’s lost 3 – 4%on the final day.”

    Too many students/younger people who failed to show up. The problem is that the Libs are more likely to appeal to students and a younger demographic. The grey vote is always the most reliable, generally speaking.

  20. Anthony

    There would be nothing surprising if there had been a late swing against the LibDems in favour of LAB in England. In Scotland there was a late swing aginst the SNP in favour of Labour.

    The causes of the latter are clear: the view of many that the SNP is irrelevant at Westminter; a presidential TV campaign focused on a two horse race, and especially the fact that, throughout the campaign, Labour argued that only a vote for them could prevent a CON govenment.

    Split voting is well established in Scotland and the late and probably soft swing to LAB should not be assumed to carry over into the regional vote next year, and would be unrelated to the likely explanation should LAB emerge as the largest party.

    If that happens it would not necessarily be the result of LAB gains, but rather SNP losses to minor parties.

    The Socialists may be back, at the cost of SNP list MSP’s in Glasgow and the West.

    The SNP will be rewarded for their performance in government, but some of the votes they gained from the Greens last time (by AS for FM) will revert.

    If this churn results in LAB being the largest party it might be assumed that this due to an increase in their support, or dissatisfactn with the SNP government.

    It ain’t necesrily so.

  21. Matt
    ‘Too many students/younger people who failed to show up’

    Bearing in mind I’ve been away, where is the exit poll /posts GE poll proof of that please?

    I mean, I agree with your contention being posssible, probable even, but I would like to see it proven.

  22. @ colin & howard

    stop trying to eat my party

    “We still don’t have insight of why the LD’s lost 3 – 4%on the final day.”

    one word IMIGRATION

  23. Howard,

    Good to see you back!

    I hope you enjoyed your trip :)

  24. @Howard,

    “I mean, I agree with your contention being posssible, probable even, but I would like to see it proven.”

    Yes, me too. It’s just a theory. The other possibilities are, of course, that the Lib campaign simply ran out of steam, or that the press campaign against Clegg eventually took its toll on the Lib Dems. It could even be a combination of all three IMO.

    I share your desire for proof or certainty, however.

  25. @Howard,

    “Good to see you back!

    I hope you enjoyed your trip :)”

    I second that. Your contributions were greatly missed.

    @Anthony,

    I need to be cleared from moderation. Unfortunately, I forgot the old email address I used for this site. Apologies.

  26. @ Anthony

    Thank you for the reply. I am guessing that Conservatives identifiers are up 2.5% because their voters have recovered from shy-Tory syndrome. :-)

  27. Eoin
    Thanks for your welcome back, – I had time to read the local press and see regional TV (my pigeon French runs to that) . It’s only just over a decade since the Prefect was murdered in Haute Corse. I do not suppose Old Nat and his friends have quite so similar plans for Michael Moore.

    I still don’t see the proof that immigration issue caused the late swing but my PPC thinks it was one factor and mentions Trident as well (now I do find that unlikely).

  28. If the coalitionl asts the distance I suspect that the shy tory syndrome will return with a vengeance in 2015.

  29. Curious… Paddy Asdown: it is all D Miliband’s fault – the LDs having to join the tories and everything that follows from that. He put last minute call to Tony Blair(?) asking for an immediate declaration from DM that he supported a Lib/Lab pact. Miliband has pointed out he was not nominated to the negotiating team. Ashdown is obviously unaware of the tenor of LD demands… but perhaps an insight into the morale of the junior partners atm? Reveals also the depth of animus for the then PM… willing to work with anyone for the good of the country… except GB.

  30. @ Billy Bob

    I doubt Lord Ashdown’s comments about his chat with Tony Blair will have any impact on voters whatsoever.

    Lord Ashdown must believe it will, or what is his point in saying it?

  31. Amber Star 8.11.Your comment doesn’t seem to make much sense.If the coalition is succesful in at least beginning to resolve our dire financial problems (which I know you fervently hope,for the country’s sake), the coalition will go into the next GEwith a single aim – to increase their overall majority by sensible co-operation. Why you believe that LibDems are looking for a chance to vote Labour,beats me – not much evidence so far. The first significant by-election will perhaps tell us who is right.

  32. @Amber Star

    Labour gave you the Lib Dem/Tory coalition. Wrestling your conscience lead to twists and turns ;)

  33. These comments by Ashdown sounded quite flustered. He was criticising D Mili for persaonal attack on DC but resorted to a personal put down in response and also by the end of the interview on Radio 5 had begun to water down his initial claim, by saying that the LIb/Lab coalition was probably impossible anyway

  34. @ COLLIN

    If the coalition is succesful in at least beginning to resolve our dire financial problems (which I know you fervently hope,for the country’s sake)
    ——————————————————–
    I don’t concede that the UK had dire financial problems. IMO, there were short-term financial problems that were being addressed by the (previous) government.

    Therefore, I am fervently hoping that the UK won’t have dire financial problems over the next 4 or 5 years.

    In the event that the economy is on the up at the end of this parliament, people will vote for a government that will share the spoils of economic victory.

    That’s usually why a Labour government is elected. So, yes. I am hoping for stupendous economic growth over the next few years. 8-)

  35. We all know at heart really that Paddy is more inclined to Labour, I doubt he greatly regrets the meetings he had before 1997 about forming a progressive alliance with Labour, but nm.

    I generally trust yougov as the best of the main pollsters, generally all of them are similar and show similar trends, but it’s clear a little tweak here and there is needed to ensure that the Liberals aren’t over-estimated again. Although, in my opinion, the next election could be a Liberal blood bath either way, purely because history tells us the smaller party suffers, many who voted Liberal will feel cheated, and they’ve effectively changed their stance on many key issues, like erm, VAT

  36. @Johnty – “If – as I fear – the European economy stalls and things get very tough indeed the British people will be easily scared off the Labour Party by the British press. The Labour Party will I suspect find it very difficult to get its narrative heard.”

    I’m not so sure. If Osborne’s gamble (and it is a huge gamble) fails, the press will revive all the ‘Osborne the weak link’ stories and they will not be at all well disposed to them or the Lib Dems. If Labour have a credible leader they could be in.

    There are loads of ifs and buts, but looking at the detail GO is clearly banking on a massive export and investment led recovery, particularly in manufacturing. However, he has also effectively increased taxes on big manufacturers and decreased incentives to invest, and with the Eurozone also slamming the stimulus gears into reverse such a plan looks shaky.

    If the fabled gilts markets get a sniff that the plan is unravelling then GO is in real trouble – all the assumptions about lower interest rates andd debt servicing costs go out of the window.

    Effectively GO is gambling on other countries economies. The Eurozone holds our future in their hands, and it’s not a scenario I am happy with.

  37. Howard,

    they have clearly a methodological meakness that is exaccerbated by yellow popularity… the miniaml methodological changes are as much a hope that a yellow resurgence does not occur next tiem as anything…

    They need not worry- good old common sense travels far……….

    glad you ahd a good time :) :) :) :)

  38. I wonder if any polling will be out on how people view the changes to Disability Living Allowance, which haven’t had much play in traditional media, but has been a hot topic online.

    Personally, I’m hoping that the LibDems at least lobby to amend any tougher rules on claiming DLA out of the budget. DLA is not a benefit for those who don’t work, despite the strange comments from GO saying eliminating swathes of DLA claimants would push them into the workplace. DLA can and is claimed by working disabled, and covers the extra needs they have to get into and survive in the workplace.

    I also wonder if this is going to end up spending more money than was ‘saved’ on ATOS and DWP appeals processes, as has resulted in the ESA roll-out.

  39. @Alec
    Don’t disagree with you about the dangers of it all going wrong – but find it difficult to imagine any scenario which sees Labour back in Government. Once the Tories are in they tend to stay there. The only case in postwar history when they didn’t was 1974 – but that was a bit of a freak, they polled more votes than Labour but got fewer seats. If the coalition lasts long enough to change the electoral boundaries I suspect that with their strength in the press and in the financial markets they are favourites to remain in for some time.

  40. Anthony

    Has any checking been done with regard to if panel members are actually registered to vote? The Electoral Commission report on registration in March claimed that 56% of 17-24 year-olds were unregistered and also 49% of private sector tenants. (If these figures sound familiar Harman raised them at PMQs a couple of weeks ago on a different topic).

    The reason why I ask is because these groups could be also strongly Lib Dem at the last election and may be well represented in the panel – but if they can’t vote, it might skew the figures.

    It’s interesting that YouGov are now deciding to adjust for education level. Are you finding voting preference is affected by this even after factors such as age are taken out? I assume you are able to adjust for the increase in graduates in the last decade (this is one of the problems of being at the end of a census cycle).

    We may be moving to a situation such as in the USA where education level can sometimes seem a better indicator than class.

    On that subject it could be breaking the class divide down further will not be helpful. Psephologists have been dissatisfied with the usefulness of the current class analysis for decades (I remember Curtice et al trying to do a new system after the 1983 election) and current figures show surprisingly little effect of class on voting intentions. The ABC1C2DE divide has been going since God was a lad (though presumably still A with archangels as Bs etc) and it may be what it gains in historic comparability it loses in relevance.

    I do still wonder if you have sufficient representation of traditional working-class elderly voters; they are least likely to be internet-savvy and most likely to be strongly Labour – and disproportionately UKIP/BNP. I suspect they’re also most likely to be uncooperative with any surveys (must be all that “Careless Talk Costs Lives” in their childhood). I know you do some adjustment using class to compensate, but they’re such a distinctive group – and so likely to vote – that it may not be enough.

  41. @Colin – you posted this on an earlier thread –

    “Perhaps the “fairness” inbuilt to it has caused the glum silence on the left?”

    That was very much my reading of the actual event in the HoC, but as always the immediate reaction to any budget is nearly always wrong. ‘Fairness’ is not a word most reasonable and independent commentators would use to describe this budget now that the detail can be reviewed.

    Osborne’s main claim to fairness rests on a series of charts that only project budget impacts two years out – before the welfare cust start to bite. That’s a convenient cut off point for his analysis, is akin to the worst of Brown and shows his claim to not be burying bad news in the small print to be pious nonsense. He didn’t even bother to include the small print. The poorest 10% will be amongst the biggest losers. There is also no attempt to rebalance the burden onto asset rich older sections and away from younger working families, as even Willets is arguing for.

    The impacts are even more acute once you analyse where the various impacts come from. The vast majority of the changes that could be described as ‘fair’ (eg pensions rising with earnings from 2012 etc) were all Labour decisions. Osborne has simply reiterated these and claimed them as his own. The actual changes he has made are highly regressive.

    There is a bit more reaction to this this morning and I suspect there will be more in the weeks and months ahead. The fact that the well off think they’ve got away lightly and the Lib Dems have got virtually nothing of their manifesto commitments into the budget is going to be a slow burn that gradually hots up as the cuts bite.

  42. Roger – on voting registration, it wasn’t asked specificially in the election day polling, but I think it’s something that was looked at in the British Election Study polling we did so should show up there if there are problems. I suspect the sort of people who don’t bother to register may correlate with the sort of people who don’t join internet panels or take part in polls!

    Populus did ask about registration to vote in their pre-election poll and found only a very, very small proportion of people who said they weren’t registered (I’m not sure if they asked if after voting intention, in which case we’ll be able to see if there were people claiming they would vote who actually couldn’t! I think the proportion of people they found who weren’t registered was only about 1% anyway. Annoyingly Populus’s website is down at the moment though)

    In testing education we were crossing it with age (since you obviously get a vast proportion of over 60s who left school with few or no qualifications, and a relatively low proportion of under 25s) – actual figures we used were the latest British Social Attitudes survey, rather than the census. In terms of party support it partially covers the same territory as the broadsheet/tabloid newspaper readership split, so it doesn’t make a *vast* difference on top of that.

    I still think that there’s value in using social class and a good relationship between it and voting – it’s just so much weaker than it used to be at the height of class voting decades ago. If we didn’t have the strong class correlations of the 1950s and 60s to compare it to and were looking at the relationship between class and voting with fresh eyes, I think we’d see it as something of value (certainly it should help in getting the traditional dyed-in-the-wool Labour voters, which you correctly identify as the most challenging group for internet pollsters to reach – a lot of our sampling and weighting design, things like the loyal Labour ID and the newspaper readership, is aimed at correctly representing them).

  43. Roger – on voter registration
    Hammersmith and Fulham council have, since 2006, used the HMO register to shift the onus to private sector landlords to provide the basic electoral registration details rather than individual tenants. They claim a 97% response rate which seems very high however high registration rates are supposed to favour Labour and could explain Lab winning Hammersmith North more easily than expected.

  44. Anthony,

    I found your latest analysis on methodology particularly interesting.

    As you say it appears that the difference in the Lib Dem vote to the polls, was more to do with a late change of heart than any inbuilt weakness in the methodology.

    It is interesting as I encountered the same thing locally in Southgate in the first 1974 GE, where the LIberals did pretty well. I was agent for the Liberals and local polling indicated a massive swing to us, in addition to the national swing.

    While the result was better than we have achieved since, we were disappointed. At the count there were perhaps three dozen votes where the voter had initially selected our candidate and then changed their mind and voted conservative. I am aware of this as they had been extracted by counters as possible spoiled votes.

    It seems to me that if so many had gone as far as marking the voting slip before changing their minds a lot more may have changed their minds at the very last day , or even the last minute.

  45. The media response to this budget will initially frame reaction.

    The poorest 10% of society are hit hardest by this budget and I imagine that this is a figure that will bite GO on the bum every day of the next 5 years – why did he do that? Just by allowing that % to suffer he has squandered any claim to be progressive. Add VAT to that and he has serious questions to answer.

    The actual cuts won’t hit for a year or two, but the cuts in public services will and they’re what will really hurt.

    I just don’t get it. Why compare us to Greece when their GDP is 0.3 trillion and ours is 2.1 trillion? Why try to eradicate the deficit altogether in one parliament when it risks a double dip?

    Most of all, I just can’t see how a LibDem contingent can vote for this budget. How can Cable and Hughes back such swingeing cuts, a rise in VAT an outright declaration of war on Public Services and a freeze on benefits for the most vulnerable??

    I actually don’t think the polls will lurch anywhere in a hurry, but IMO this parliament is more important than that. It took 13 years for the public to (tentatively) agree to trust the Conservatives again, the reason was the economy. If they blow this they will reiterate all the doubts people ever had.

  46. “There is also no attempt to rebalance the burden onto asset rich older sections and away from younger working families, as even Willets is arguing for.”

    Actually, according to the BBC’s budget analysis, people earning £38,000 will suffer the most (proportionally too). People who work who are on lower incomes will be the least affected (because of the changes to the tax free personal allowance). People on welfare who do not work (but have children) will not be (proportionally) as badly affected as those over £38,000, but will be worse off (probably, it seems) than those lower paid workers who are on lower pay. That’s why those “at the bottom” will be the second worst affected.

    I think raising VAT as opposed to an increase in income tax was a wise move. Basic necessities, such as food, children’s clothing, will not be affected. For other non-essential purchases, the 2.5% rise whilst painful for everyone, will only mean an item costing £100 at the moment will cost an extra £2.50 next year. A £50 purchase would cost just £1.25 more.

  47. The elderly were the one largely unaffected group. Apart from a rise in VAT, which everyone will have to suffer, they did the best out of what was a painful budget for everyone. I commend the coalition for that – elderly people make up arguably the poorest, most vulnerable and neglected group in our society IMO.

  48. I thought it was a pretty fair budget in difficult circumstances. Everyone will have to contribute something. The middle classes are going to take a big hit, especially those with children, as are those earning over £38,000.

    Of course, I was bound to approve of the budget being a blue . Likewise, reds were always going to hate it regardless.

    I strongly expect a backlash in the next set of polls BTW. Tax rises generally go down very badly with the electorate. It’s like I said a few months ago – people are, in principle, in favour of tax rises, but when a recent Guardian poll asked if ‘people like them should pay more taxes’, only 22% replied in the affirmative. In other words, the vast majority of people want higher taxes, but only if it doesn’t affect them.

  49. “The elderly were the one largely unaffected group. Apart from a rise in VAT, which everyone will have to suffer, they did the best out of what was a painful budget for everyone. I commend the coalition for that – elderly people make up arguably the poorest, most vulnerable and neglected group in our society IMO.”

    Further to my last point, of course I accept that elderly people will still be badly hit by the budget as well. A rise in VAT will see to that. However, they did (thankfully) get more protection than many of the other groups.

  50. I really think that people should read the budget documents (including the annexes), whatever boring it is. And then make up their minds about the real content of it rather than relying on selective reporting (even FT’s 26-page supplement does not cover the whole thing).

    Clearly the budget depends on three things: 1) are they correct about the adaptive expectations hypothesis on which most of the outcome measures rests; 2) what happens to growth (this is the single most important and when it will happen); 3) How does the services cut break down and no, not by department, but on the field (for the time being our only comparison is the way in which local governments allocate the cuts).

    Then as a result of divergence from the plans – how does the coalition react and how it is perceived by the general public.

    There are more ifs here than in the budget, though it’s one of the most common word in it.

    Of course one has some opinion, but then just writing down the possible trajectories would fill in books. This is why yesterday’s HoC debate was just ridiculous – it’s about time to get rid of this ceremony about the budget.

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