Tonight’s YouGov poll has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. More interesting is the Alternative Vote tracker – on the bare referendum question, weighted by likelihood to vote, YouGov are now showing a lead for the NO campaign. Yes are on 37%, No are on 44%. This is the first time that YouGov’s bare referendum question has shown the No campaign ahead.

I will add my normal caveat about sharp changes in polling – until it is supported by other polls it could always turn out to be an outlier – but the trend appears towards the NO campaign, and this poll follows the Populus poll earlier this month that also showed No ahead in a poll without explanation of the systems (albeit, in a poll using the wrong referendum wording!), and the most recent ComRes AV poll last month which also showed NO moving ahead. Of recent polls, only Angus Reid continues to show a YES lead, though all companies show YES and NO relatively close.

YouGov also reasked the prompted version of the question they’ve asked since last Summer (to different samples, obviously) and found Yes on 33%, No on 45%. As with the Populus version of the questions, the large gap between prompted and unprompted qestions seems to be fading – presumably because respondents to the question are now more likely to have their own understanding of what FPTP and AV consist of.

205 Responses to “YouGov show NO campaign seven points ahead”

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  1. Thought that the Yes to AV campaign broadcast was awful. Just basically had a go at MP’s, without saying why AV was a better electoral system.

  2. Ditto- although I support any move away from FPTP and will be voting ‘yes’ I think the whole shebang has been bungled and it could actually be a very significant victory for ‘NO’.

    On the bright side (for me) a big defeat would be disastrous for Clegg and therefore the coalition (ergo Cameron).

  3. Given the timing, perhaps this is a reaction to yesterday’s broadcast by the No campaign?

  4. Phil – part of me thought that when I saw it… but then, how many people actually watch Election Broadcasts?

  5. I am absolutely gutted that the NO campaign will succeed. I’ll probably never live to see STV :(

  6. @ Rob Sheffield

    Whilst I have no wish to see the coalition mortally wounded, it is certainly a price worth paying to ensure we don’t end up with an even worse electoral system than the one we’ve already got. I dont agree with you that ANY move away from FPTP is good – it has to be the right move, such as to Proportional Representation when finally all votes would count.

    It escapes me how we even ended up with a referendum on AV. Who wanted AV, exactly?

  7. @TGB

    Steady on, old boy. I’m sure you have at least a few Irish elections left in you :)

    Is the strengthening of No enhancing the Tory narrowing of the Lab VI lead in all polls save Angus Reid?

  8. I thought there was a very interesting article on the AV Referendum by the respected political historian Vernon Bogdanor in today’s Guardian. He was essentially arguing that the referendum offered the public very little apart from providing them with a stick with which they could beat the coalition. AV, he felt, offered little real change, didn’t enthuse the public and was essentially “politics for the politicians but not for the people”. He thought that it was a classic lose-lose for Cameron and Clegg in that a No vote would increase Lib Dem grass-roots disenchantment, resulting in increased pressure to leave the coalition, and a Yes vote would infuriate many Tories who would believe that they had needlessly presented the Lib Dems with extra seats and made it even more difficult for the Tories to win an outright majority.

    I loved his last paragraph particularly, although any Wildean allusion always embellishes any piece of writing: –

    “When AV was debated in the Commons in 1931, one MP said the system reminded him of Oscar Wilde’s comment on Whistler, that he had no enemies but was thoroughly disliked by all his friends. A referendum ought to be a weapon by which the people can make decisions for themselves. The poll on AV, by contrast, is a weapon by which the coalition partners can offload on the public the onus of deciding on a system that neither of them wants.”

    Elegantly put indeed.

  9. Proposing a referendum on an issue on which the two government partners are in total disagreement is one of the most politically irrational things I have witnessed (and unfortunately I have witnessed many). Whichever side wins, it will be a defeat for the government, but even more so if the NO wins, since Nick Clegg is the weak link in the government’s chain. The latter would be well advised to seek convergence with Labour on an issue both parties agree upon, but instead he chose confrontation along the theme “it’s all Labour’s fault” re the cuts, thus sending angry Labour (and ex LD having switched to Labour) voters to the NO camp. I tend to think that his aversion to all things Labour clouds his political judgment and will be his undoing. This said, the AV system has recently show its advantages by a sort of “argumentum ex contrario”. In fact, if the recent Peruvian presidential election was held under AV, moderate voters, dispersed among three candidates (PKK, Toledo and Castaneda) would most certainly have given their 2nd etc. preferences to each other, whereas now all three are excluded from the 2nd round, which will oppose two populist candidates, Humalla (left-wing populism, admirer of Chavez, even if recently he adopted a more moderate stance) and Keiko Fujimori (right-wing populism, daughter and political heir of former president convicted for a series of felonies). So Peruvian moderate voters are now forced to chose “entre la peste et le cholera”, as we say in French, but then again maybe they deserved this, for having foolishly dispersed their votes among three candidates with similar profiles, dooming all three of them and underestimating the populist’s appeal to the more disinherited population segments.

  10. @ R Huckle

    Thought that the Yes to AV campaign broadcast was awful. Just basically had a go at MP’s, without saying why AV was a better electoral system.
    It is. My son & I both thought it was very negative.

  11. So pleased to see the NotoAV poll rating begin to really kick off…just hope the gap gets wider or stays the same!

    What does everyone else think, do you think No will win?

  12. Rob — the more people get to understand what AV is, the more likely NO will win.

  13. I gave you several reasons to vote “Yes” in previous posts. I’ve even drawn pretty graphs. Lord, but you folks are fussy… :-)

    @TGB, @Rob Sheffield

    Fight ain’t over yet


    Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.


    The only time Vernon Bogdanor knows what the people think is when his dealer’s car breaks down and he has to go to him instead… :-)

  14. …Regards, Martyn

    (whoops, forgot, my bad)

  15. The AV referendum explanation leaflets have also started hitting the publics doorsteps, so it may well be that the “more the public knows the less they like it” argument is gaining yet more credibility as the polling with and without an explanation suggested.

  16. Is there not a danger lying within the belief that a “No” vote will cause damage to the coalition?

    If it does so by boosting the Tories and further buffeting the LibDems, could it propel the country towards an early General Election that Cameron could conceivably win?

    I am not necessarily saying I believe this would happen, but wondering out loud at the possibility. If a firm “No” were to fracture the coalition, it would do so on an issue that mostly unites the Tories, which bores the electorate to death, and would allow Cameron to go to the country as “the wronged spouse” after the divorce.

    Of course he’d probably want to wait for the parliamentary reforms to come into force. When is that? 2013?

  17. I doubt a NO vote would fracture the coalition, Clegg seems to be in for the long haul and even if his one saving grace was ruined, he’d claim its still the “national interest”. Even if it did and election was called, I can see Clegg being overthrown and a Lab/Lib instead of Tory govt.

  18. Raf,

    Great to see you on! :)


    You should repost your fantastic post on the previous thread onto this one… I am sure Anthony wouldn’t mind..

  19. @TGB/Eoin
    “I’ll probably never live to see STV”
    Clearly that photo on your website was taken a long long time ago.

    Labour’s “fresh ideas” policy consultation leaflet – the one mocked by Cameron in the Commons – made it pretty clear that electoral reform was one of the key issues that Miliband wanted the party to debate. Just as it’s premature to call the outcome of the referendum, it’s also premature IMO to dismiss the possibility of a commitment to a more genuine electoral reform emerging from a Miliband-led policy review.

  20. I started to watch the Yes broadcast, but it was so bad, that when I got distracted forgot to go back to watching it.

    If that was the response from someone like me who dislikes FPTP and is a politics geek ……….

  21. @Neil A.
    Early general election? Yes please.

  22. @TGB

    OK, but as this is the third successive thread this is on, don’t be surprised if AW deletes this,,, :-)

    As promised, I’ve gotten some of the graphs up for the paper (“Keeping things in proportion: how can voting systems be fairer?”, Significance, Volume 7 Issue 3 September 2010). So I’m reposting yesterday’s post, with links to the graphs.

    The paper compared the UK HoC (FPTP), the Aussie HoR (AV), the Dutch HoR (Open-list PR) and the Irish DE (STV) since 1945. It also considered the NZ Parliament and the US HoR, but since the New Zealanders switched to AMS in 1996 and the US is a defacto two-party state (so it doesn’t matter which system the US uses – sorry, SoCalLiberal), they were not dealt with.

    Part 1: Deviation from proportionality
    Subtracting the seat share from the vote share for each party and adding up the differences (ignoring the -ve signs) gives you the deviation from proportionality (DV) score (0=exactly proportional, 200=exactly unproportional – a party with no votes gets all the seats). The average scores for the 4 systems since 1945 are:

    * FPTP: 29.4
    * AV: 27.3
    * STV: 12
    * PRO: 5.22

    So on average, AV is slightly more proportional than FPTP.
    The graph is here: h ttp://

    The paper also gave the DV scores since 1945. The graph is here: h ttp://

    Sorting them into order of ascending magnitude yielded this:

    * AV is more proportional than FPTP approx 2/3rds of the time
    * FPTP is more proportional than AV approx 1/3rd of the time

    The graph is here: h ttp://

    Looking at the min and max yielded this:

    * AV’s maximum DV is less than FPTP’s maximum DV
    * AV’s minimum DV is greater than FPTP’s minimum DV

    The graph is here: h ttp://

    Part 2: Churn
    The churn score is the percentage of seats that change hands. The average scores for the 4 systems since 1945 are:

    * FPTP: 17.3
    * STV: 17.4
    * AV: 19
    * PRO: 21

    This is one of the big surprises of the article: AV is the second best system for “throwing the b******s out”
    The graph is here: h ttp://

    Looking at the min and max yielded this:

    * AV’s maximum DV is about the same as FPTP’s maximum DV
    * AV’s minimum DV is about the same as FPTP’s minimum DV

    The graph is here: h ttp://

    Part 3: Propensity to form coalitions
    The propensity to form coalitions can be measured by looking at the proportion of seats gotten by the top two parties (0%=coalitions always formed, 100%=coalitions never formed). The scores for the UK2010 election, AZ2007 election, NE2006 election and IR2007 election were:

    * AZ2007 (AV): 93%
    * UK2010 (FPTP): 87%
    * IR2007 (STV): 77%
    * NE2006 (PRO): 48%

    Again, another surprise: AV is not more likely to lead to a coalition than FPTP. The paper may have come to a different conclusion if it’d considered all the scores instead of just the most recent, but even so this chimes with the Curtice models and the Australia experience: AV just isn’t a coalitionfacient.

    I haven’t got the graph for this one up yet.

    Part 4: Conclusion
    * AV is more proportional than FPTP on average, more proportional about 2/3rds of the time, and its proportionality is less volatile.
    * AV is has a higher churn rate (propensity to “throw the b******s out”) than FPTP on average, and the two systems have about the same churn rate volatility.
    * It is not more likely to lead to a coalition than FPTP is.

    Hope that helps, regards, Martyn

    Source: h ttp://

  23. Would be interested to know how many of you decrying the YES vid – which I thought was not bad as far as political broadcasts go (given that most are hopeless) – also saw the NO vid, which I thought was absolutely shockingly bad as far as politcal broadcasts go (even given that most are hopeless…)

    The response to the NO vid on Youtube was so bad they disabled rating.

  24. Wes

    I thought the No one was dreadful as well – but more professionally produced. What struck me was the message that the populace was too thick to understand it.

  25. If, and it seems will, the NO campaign wins, it is an interesting lesson. Consider the following:

    Everybody knows that “our soap is better than their soap” marketing does not really work (and also highly problematic), yet, the YES campaign was keep on going on about this. They were keep on harping on why the existing system is bad – really amateurish mistake: it should have had the positive message, why AV is good – oh, hang on, it’s not good. So back to square one – therefore, cannot be sold.

    It is really simple and reasonable. Investors wouldn’t put money in a company that says they are somewhat better than their competitors – why should the voters invest in an election system that claims that they are not particularly great, but maybe better than the other one…

    (it’s a different question that the NO was not much better, but they didn’t have to prove anything as the YES couldn’t do the opposite).

  26. @Martyn
    Do we have to rehearse all the arguments from previous threads again? You know I take issue with assumptions underlying this sort of analysis.

  27. @ Martyn

    Your article is an argument against AV, so your conclusions are not sustainable.

    What you are saying that if you earn 1,000 and somebody offers you 1,100, you should change job.

    This argument is the argument of the well-fed, secure observer. The reality is that since neither of them are really good (low wage, bad electorial outcome), the change does not make any REAL difference, thus either stick with what currently feeds us (wage or electoral system) or neither of them (which is not on offer (apart from abstaining) and there is no revolution for electoral systems – I hope so).

  28. Using the Electoral Calculus website, under the FPTP system at a GE, the figures would translate as follows:-

    Lab – 42% (352 seats)
    Con – 37% (264 seats)
    Lib – 9% (9 seats)

    Hence, a Labour majority of 54

    However, under AV, the figures would translate as follows:-

    Lab – 42% (350 seats)
    Con – 37% (252 seats)
    Lib – 9%(24 seats)

    Hence, a Labour majority of 50

    Nevertheless, whereas Electoral Calculus showed AV under last years GE result adversely effecting Labour more than the Conservatives, using a current poll such as tonight’s Yougov poll, it would appear that the Conservatives would be more adversely effected than Labour. Accordingly, the conclusion has to be from this as some have pointed out is that AV effects neither the Conservatives or Labour more than the other per se. Instead, what it does is that it adversely effects the party in second place (to the benefit mainly of the party in third place) more than the party in first place.

    Nevertheless, with the boundary changes and the reduction in the number of MP’s to 600, any losses the Conservatives suffer finishing second under AV are likely to be offset to a certain extent by the boundary changes

  29. Laszlo

    If you earn £1000 and somebody offers you £1100, believe me: you’ll jump at it and snatch it out of their hands.

    Regards, Martyn

  30. An interesting corner of yesterday’s trade figures.

    For the first time since comparable figures began in 1998, Exports to non-EU countries exceeded those to EU countries.

    Straw in the wind-but blowing in the right direction :-)

  31. Martyn – no, they wouldn’t necessarily. People tend to overestimate the value of things they already have, and underestimate the value of things they don’t have (referred to as the “endowment effect” or “divestiture aversion”), and have a bias towards the status quo.

    People do not necessarily behave rationally.

  32. Labour’s lead is somewhat narrower than some have expected, though it must be emphasized that it’s still pretty early in the parliament, not mid-term. I wonder if the party’s lead hasn’t been shaved by a good 1-2% simply by what is clearly a lacklustre performance in Scotland at the moment, and if Labour is currently doing better in Wales and much of England. What do others think?
    Re the Yes & No campaigns, I have been pretty annoyed by some of the No campaign themes; opposing an electoral system on the grounds of cost doesn’t wash with me, for one. There are powerful & genuine arguments for FPTP which should be deployed instead. And I say that as a firm supporter of the No side of the argument.
    I like your habit of ending your contributions with Regards, Martyn. Nice touch.
    Regards, Barnaby from Richmond Park Labour Party

  33. Orkney has now been listed at Paddy Power. Still missing from Victor Chandler’s otherwise comprehensive seat list.

    Last time Orkney was listed, the SNP were priced at 16/1. So, the movement is clear. I wonder who got on at 16/1 ? ;)

    Liam McArthur (LD) 1/20
    Donna Heddle (SNP) 8/1
    Jamie Halcro-Johnson (Con) 16/1
    William Sharkey (Lab) 50/1

  34. UK unemployment fell 17,000 in three months to end of February. Unemployment rate: 7.8% (expected: 8%, previous: 8%)

  35. TGB,

    Wales’ economy ‘has fared worst of UK nations in decade of devolution’

    A study of the relative economic performance of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since devolution found that, despite emerging evidence to support the view that the economy of Scotland had improved in the past decade, there was little evidence of an improvement in Wales.

    Indeed, the report from the Centre for Public Policy for Regions, suggests the Welsh economy had fallen back relative to the UK.

    … Wales also performed poorly in terms of unemployment. In 2010 the Welsh Labour Force Survey unemployment rate was 9%, compared to 8.4% in Scotland and 6.6% in Northern Ireland.

    … “Over the period shown, Scotland has moved from being nearer to the Wales and NI levels of weekly earnings compared to the UK, to being nearer the UK average and distinctly better than the other two.”

    Looking at the overall picture the researchers concluded that while there was relative improvement in the economy of Scotland, and a “significant relative improvement” for Northern Ireland, this was not the case for Wales.

    It makes you wonder why on earth the Welsh are still planning on voting Labour, after seeing the effects of LAB governments in Cardiff and London during the years since 1999.

    Personally, I think that Plaid Cymru have played their hand utterly abysmally. They have let Labour off with murder.

  36. @Anthony Wells

    I take your point about reference for the status quo. And I was perfectly aware that people don’t necessarily act rationally – you could say the entire “No” campaign is based on that fact… :-)

    However, that was not the point I was making to Laszlo. If we assume the £1000 salary he quoted was meant as an example of low pay (he didnt specify whether it was pa or pcm), then I was pointing out that the very poor will take great risks for marginal rewards that others would find tiny.

    Expanding that point to include your endowment effect, I point out that it breaks down with the very poor and the very rich (it’s a safe bet to say that, because every effect does break down at the extremes). This would imply that the best approach for the “Yes” campaign would be to incite anger at the status quo, to overcome people’s reluctance to change. I assume this was the motivation behind the “Yes” campaign’s advert involving people baying at MPs with loudhailers.

    Regards, Martyn

  37. Stuart,

    I have been surprised & dismayed at Labour (Wales) treatment of Plaid. Having served with them well in a coalition, it seems as if we have declared war on them. Very uncomfortable to watch Hain tear into them.

  38. The No broadcast (radio) was so bad it was almost good… a spoof racing commentary where “Labour Lad” comes first, but under incomprehensible new rules the third placed “LD Filly” is declared winner.

    The earnest Tony Robinson narrated Yes offering was not a clincher… I have been more impressed by some of the arguments put forward by numerous street stall campaigners spreading the AV gospel.

    No possibly has read the public mood better, though they have to keep the pretence of a straight face by not openly calling it: AV? Nah!

  39. Populus finds that 52% of Britain thinks the UK was wrong to take part in Libya

  40. Has anyone got the url to the latest AngusReid and Populus polls? (Might not be published yet?)

    ARB ALERT: Galloway & West Dumfries:

    Bookies’ best prices:

    Alex Ferguson – Conservative 2/1 (Paddy Power)
    Aileen McLeod – SNP 6/1 (Victor Chandler)
    Willie Scobie – Labour 7/1 (Paddy Power)
    Alistair Cooper – Lib Dems 150/1 (Paddy Power)

    This is an outstanding arbitrage opportunity. Paddy Power seem to have had a bit of a loopy morning. Don’t delay or the sweetie shop will shut early.

  41. Stuart,
    I didnt think this site was about betting? Remember, the odds quoted are based partly on what money has been placed – otherwise England should have won the last 5 World Cups.

    Odds dont tend to inform as much about the result as people might think.

  42. Where on the YouGov site can I find the data tables for yesterday’s poll? The tracker on only occasionally has a link to the tables.

  43. ‘Others’ have been static on 12% on YG since 1st April.

  44. Prediction: Lansley will be dropped by Cameron after the 5th of May elections in a cabinet reshuffle, with either Norman Lamb or Stephen Dorrel replacing him. No secretary of state can continue once they have lost the confidence of the professional bodies within the area of their responsibility.

  45. Funny so many people think ‘No’ to AV might/will be the end of the coalition as we know it.

    Believe me, Cameron would not be campigning THAT strongly for ‘No’ if he really thought that might happen.

    Not that the LD activists should be underestimated – as JJB would tell us they’re a loopy lot. :)

  46. John Ruddy,

    “Odds dont tend to inform as much about the result as people might think.”

    You are totally, utterly and completely wrong. In the vast majority of cases the betting markets get political winners right. Usually long before polling day, and certainly by the final day before.

    In the case of the English soccer team, it is a matter of dunderheids betting with their hearts rather than their minds: a bookmaker’s dream.

  47. By the way, England were NEVER Favourites in the last WC betting. At best I think they were ranked 3rd or 4th, even with the English bookmakers

  48. Stuart,

    you should check out the betting for the 1970 election :)

  49. Stuart,

    you should check out the betting for the 1970 election :)

    John Ruddy,
    “Odds dont tend to inform as much about the result as people might think.”
    You are totally, utterly and completely wrong.

    No arbitrage market on that?

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