ComRes has released a new poll on the AV referendum commissioned by the NO2AV campaign. Topline figures, weighted by likelihood to vote in the referendum and excluding don’t knows have the NO campaign ahead by 60% to 40%, the biggest lead the NO campaign have recorded so far.

I always urge some caution in polls commissioned by the campaigns themselves – but in this particular case the tables appear wholly and entirely above board. It is a standard survey asking how likely people are to vote, and then asking them the bare, unadorned referendum question. Note that the regular ComRes polls on AV for the Independent on Sunday are carried out online, so this is the first recent ComRes telephone survey on AV.

There is also a new poll by a company called ICD Research in the New Statesman, which shows NO ahead by 14 points: NO 53%, YES 39%, undecided 9% (repercentaged to exclude don’t knows it would be a 16 point lead for NO).

I’m not aware of any previously published political polling by ICD, but it appears to have been an online poll, weighted by age, gender and region but not politically. Both the ICD and ComRes polls were conducted over last weekend, so both slightly predate the YouGov/Sun poll conducted early this week.

413 Responses to “Two new polls show NO campaign well ahead”

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  1. In retrospect, should we really be surprised by the scale of the No lead? Labour voters seem to be splitting roughly 50-50, LDs are predominantly in favour, and Cons are overwhelmingly against. Pretty much reflecting the balance of opinion within those parties. Cons have presented a united front against, and IMHO it is this more than anything else that has swung things – Con voters taking a lead from the Con leadership. Perhaps there are some high profile Tories in favour, but they haven’t been (allowed to be?) visible during the campaign.

    Another thing to add to the list of things threatening to fracture the coalition…

  2. People seem to be equating the Conservatives’ agreement last May with the Lib Dems to hold a referendum on AV with their helping them win it – that wasn’t part of the agreement!

    So the failure of the ‘YES’ camp to win AV would be a very strange occurrence to precipitate the coalition falling apart. Although things have been a bit acrimonmious over it the last week, both sides will be grown up enough to accept the result whatever the outcome and get on with government rather than behave as if it was a referendum on one of their parties.

    It’s not actually a poll on whether you like the Libs. AV was never a foregone conclusion and LDs never had anything to lose by trying, although Clegg needs to show leadership to stop the members’ morale being sapped by squashed hopes if AV does lose as expected.

  3. BT SAYS…

    The first thing that will sap the members morale will be the number of them who are no longer Councillors. It’s a cruel blow – one day everyone refers to you as “Councillor”, the next they won’t even acknowledge your prescence…

    After having been dumped by the electorate the AV result will just be the equivalent of the electorate asking for their CDs back…

  4. I understand the polling will be weighted in terms of regional differences… however will it consider the following:

    In AV polls I’ve seen, very few people say they are not voting. However, we can be pretty certain that people in Scotland and NI are going to turn out in much larger numbers than in England for obvious reasons. That said, in AV polling data there appears to be little difference… which I find puzzling.

    Would it therefore be fair to say that, if the polls are greatly overestimating turnout in England that this is creating a ‘no’ bias? Assuming that Scotland/NI remain in favour of AV, of course…

    One interesting thought about the fallout from a ‘no’ vote: the Lib Dems may get an elected PR House of Lords as a sweetener. This will give our second chamber a great deal more democratic legitimacy than our first… which may, in the longer run, become a better catalyst for moving to PR in the House of Commons than AV would be.

  5. BT

    “So the failure of the ‘YES’ camp to win AV would be a very strange occurrence to precipitate the coalition falling apart. ”

    I agree to the extent that it will be the voters who decided that YES failed. That can hardly be a reason to ditch NC-and as Rob Sheffield observes, the whole YES campaign has failed.

    However I think it might not be quite so strange , looked at in the round , from the point of view of disaffected LibDem MPs & activists.

    The referendum on AV was a dealbreaker for LibDems . It produced that final -some thought surprising-concession from DC which clinched the marriage.

    Now LDs who set such store by it , see that it gained them no more political leverage in the voting system & PR isn’t even on the horizon now.

    In addition they are contemplating huge losses after the May 5 LA elections.

    And all of this on top of a collapsed Westminster VI support & the ( apparently ) increasing feeling of disillusionment with -even dislike of their Tory partners.

    Might they not ask what the point of coalition membership-for the LibDem Party-now is?

    If that question is asked loudly enough in the parliamentary party, it is bound to expose the schism which we all know exists . And any challenger is almost certain to propose leaving-what would be the point of replacing NC & retaining the status quo?

    So I think that -put together with other factors-a failure of the YES campaign could indeed trigger a LD departure from the coalition under a new leader.

    Whether that new leader leads them to support a minority Con government issue by issue-or takes them into alliance with Labour, prompting a GE would be a huge decision for the person concerned.

  6. The Spectator highlights some interesting opinions from the YouGov tracker of 13/14 April ( 36/42/10 ) :-

    “Here are some statements that different people make about different political parties. In each case, which party do you think it applies to most -the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal

    The kind of society it wants is broadly the kind of
    society I want

    It is led by people of real ability

    Its leaders are prepared to take tough and
    unpopular decisions

    It seems to chop and change all the time: you can
    never be quite sure what it stands for

    Labour certainly appears to have some weaknesses there-though there are an awful lot of DKs.

    I still don’t think DC would call a GE any time soon because he believed he could win it.

  7. Colin,

    The Coalition Agreement included a safeguard that even if the LDs withdrew from the Coalition, the Tories could still govern as a minority administration unless 55% of the HoC voted otherwise.

    As there is little likelihood of that 55% being reached, I can’t see another GE until the currently scheduled May 2015.

  8. Colin
    “So I think that -put together with other factors-a failure of the YES campaign could indeed trigger a LD departure from the coalition under a new leader.

    Whether that new leader leads them to support a minority Con government issue by issue-or takes them into alliance with Labour, prompting a GE would be a huge decision for the person concerned.”

    This my be my ignorance, but if the LDs left the coalition wouldn’t that trigger a General Election because the current government is a Coalition, which would no longer exist. As the Tories weren’t elected to be the government, how could they just inherit government from the coalition?

  9. PETEB


    It may be my ignorance too Pete-you may be correct.

    My assumption would be-Queen invited DC to try & form a Government -he did.

    Whilst he can continue to get legislation through HoC it matters not where votes come from-so long as he keeps getting majorities.

    When he can no longer command majorities for key legislation he would have go to the country.

  10. Steve


    I will pass on that & let someone who knows the answer respond :-)

  11. “As the Tories weren’t elected to be the government, how could they just inherit government from the coalition?”

    No one is elected to be the government; the queen invites someone to form a government. Cameron will continue in power until either he is granted a dissolution or he loses a vote of no confidence. He wouldn’t be given the former if, for instance, Milliband could himself cobble together a working majority (unlikely, I know).

  12. all this talk of the coalition breaking up is hilarious. The Coalition will stay in tack all 5 years. Cameron has kept our interest rates low, and the cuts, are keeping our credit rating triple A, we are well on the part of Economic stability, we just need to get these cuts out of the way, then in 2014 it will be plain sailing, to a May General Election in 2015, this is where the coalition will come to a harmonious end, when the conservatives will attain their long sought after majority,

  13. I must say I don’t understand all this talk of the Libs imploding and perhaps needing to leave the coalition.

    I think they have just upset the many people who voted Liberal as a way of keeping the Tories out, but are really Labour supporters.

    Surely a true Liberal would be pleased that his party has a share of power after 70 years in the wilderness, and getting a few of their policies implemented – e.g. the referendum and higher tax allowances.

    How can it be to their advantage to lose the little bit of power they have? Sure, their support may well drop, or even plummet, at te next GE, but at least they will have actually achieved something instead of being in perpetual opposition (and minor opposition at that).

    Are there any genuine Lib supporters on here to give their views on this?

  14. PETE B

    That might make sense, I’ll wait for a LibDem supporter to give some inside insight…

    But if Labour was in that position I suspect there would be a counter view. After all we all know that really this is part of the long term trend whe the electorate come to understand and appreciate the truth of Labour’s vision. Soon we will replace the LibDems as the natural place for progressive voters. Or at least we would have if it hadn’t been for the crazy decision of David Milliband to go into a coalition government… Throwing away the work of years for a quick fix of power.

    OK so that’s just a theory, but in that counter factual I would have been annoyed at the short sightedness of my leader. Especially if I was about to lose my Council seat (and possibly my own dreams of a political career)

  15. Anyone else noticed that in the ICD poll the strongest support for a ‘yes’ vote comes from BNP supporters – 72% to 18% – while UKIP voters favour a ‘no’ vote by 64% to 35%?

  16. RogerH
    Interesting about the BNP, especially as I believe the party policy is in favour of ‘No’.

  17. @ Robert C,

    Is your second name Clegg? You are very supportive.

    I think your two points for keeping Clegg are clutching at straws and are the same basic reasons Lab stuck with Brown and it DID hurt them at the election (polling 29% if I remember). The only reason they didn’t get annihilated was that people did not flock to the Cons – they were more wary of DC and thought NC was a safer bet.

    I think a more hostile LD leader who kept at the Tories but didn’t break the coalition (or opted out when there was a clear populist reason for doing so) would claw back some credibility.

    It is interesting that when the LDs and Tories get at each other (like Huhne and Osborne did, or Cameron and Clegg is a minor way) it drains all the attention away from Labour. Ed M simply disappears from coverage. So it’s in their interests to be much more aggressive for that reason too (“all the interesting arguments happen within the coaltion, Labour is irrelevant”).

  18. “Interesting about the BNP, especially as I believe the party policy is in favour of ‘No’.”

    And UKIP’s campaigning for a ‘yes’. Also interesting that it has almost 20% of Tories voting ‘yes’ and over a quarter of LibDems voting ‘no’.

  19. Pete B

    Most Lib Dems are very happy to see their policies being worked into government. There’s a lot of good stuff going on and generally party members are really pleased with this. Sadly, it is heavily overshadowed by a few dark clouds. The defeat on tuition fees being the biggest and blackest. There’s still plenty to achieve and a lot of drive to get it done but the losses do take the shine off the gains.

    The fear is that the price paid for coalition was too high. Even another 4 years of good solid progress on things the party holds dear may not pay back that price. Another 6 months surely won’t pay it back so there’s more to gain by staying put. Who knows, it might work out in the long run but it certainly won’t if we quit now.

    That’s party members. Not all voters share the view. “Why are you letting the Tories do that?” is a common question. It’s a nice idea that we could get all our own way and the Tories get none of theirs, but it it’s not how it works. Coalition means going along with some of their stuff and them going along with some of yours.

    Your suggestion that our tactical voters were all Labour hoping to keep the Tories out is only half true. The other half were Tories trying to keep Labour out. They’re quite pleased, as you can imagine. It would have been just the same had the numbers worked and a Labour coalition happened. Clegg did say he’d talk coalition with whoever won the most seats. Even before the election, we all knew it was Cameron. There was no surprise.

    No, the coalition will last. Clegg will stay a while longer. Plenty of hard work will be done.

  20. I suppose it just proves the point that ordinary voters do not just slavishly follow all the party policies. Many probably just vote for the party that is the least-worst option for them.

  21. Colin Green
    Thanks for that reply. It helps to solve a puzzle for me. I certainly agree that there would be nothing at all to gain for the LibDems if they broke up the coalition now.

  22. What I can’t reconcile with AV is; each party’s manifesto means absolutely nothing?

    Why would anyone vote Tory as no 1, then Labour as no 2 and say lib dems as no 3.

    It only makes sense if you vote only for the person and their personal manifesto by which they can be judged.

  23. “Why would anyone vote Tory as no 1, then Labour as no 2 and say lib dems as no 3.”

    Suppose the Tory has been eliminated. Would you rather have a vote on whether Labour or LibDem is chosen or not?

  24. @ Colin Green

    “That’s party members. Not all voters share the view. “Why are you letting the Tories do that?” is a common question. It’s a nice idea that we could get all our own way and the Tories get none of theirs, but it it’s not how it works. Coalition means going along with some of their stuff and them going along with some of yours.”

    I think that’s not uncommon. The Obama administration suffers from the same sort of problem. There are lots of important things that happen that are beneficial often go unnoticed and unappreciated. I also think economics plays a big role. People who are unhappy with the fiscal policies of the Tories see that as a much bigger and presisng issue than other smaller issues where the Lib Dems have gotten their way.

    @ Pete B

    “I suppose it just proves the point that ordinary voters do not just slavishly follow all the party policies. Many probably just vote for the party that is the least-worst option for them.”

    I agree on the first sentence completely. Ballot initiatives tend to prove that. It’s always fascinating to me when districts that lean heavily in favor of one party don’t vote the party line on certain issues. On your second sentence, I’m not sure I have any evidence to disagree or agree. I’ve always felt like I’m voting for the best possible option even when I don’t agree with every position of that option. But I tend to be an optimist.

  25. If your 1st choice candidate didn’t win, who would you rather win, your 2nd choice or your last choice? So sure, vote Conservative if that’s what you believe in. You may win. If not, who would you rather win, The Labour or Lib Dem guy?

    Here in Edgbaston, there were a lot of people who voted for Gisela Stuart personally, even though they didn’t like Labour. AV lets you vote for the national party you like and the local candidate you like.

  26. I’ll reiterate here that I am not surprised by these polls. The yes vote was very low to begin with in initial polling. Even with the early initial leads, I was skeptical that with low support, it could pull a majority of the vote.

    My skepticism may have been misplaced if only because of the appeals possible to Labour voters to vote in favor of the electoral system. Still, these polls aren’t really reflecting a major shift so much as they are reflecting that voters were never that enthusiastic about this change to begin with.

  27. While we await tonight’s poll, and in the light of the unsavoury and rather disturbing exchanges last night on an earlier thread, I’ve spent some time reflecting on why political discussion can often sink into rancour, intolerance and personal antipathy. We all know it shouldn’t but probably understand why it often does. People have strong opinions and protect them fiercely. When these opinions are challenged, we can all, on occasions, be sensitive and often easily offended. However I think I have a diagnosis and, maybe a cure.

    First my diagnosis. Dry, arid and statistical point-scoring exchanges that take place in cyberspace are devoid of the human and personal interaction that usually brings with it mutual understanding and respect. It’s easy to fire off barbs, witticisms and wild assertions when strumming one’s keyboard in the privacy and sanctuary of our own abodes, wherever those may be. The ground rules of civilised debate can, on occasions, be safely, casually and, may I say, cowardly avoided in such circumstances. Faceless and remote exchange can dehumanise us all eventually.

    So, you may ask, what is the cure? Well, it’s a personal one and would not work for all, but it works for me. My politics is more about emotion than anything else, a sense of what I think is right and fair and that’s why issues like social cohesion, poverty, tolerance, fairness and natural justice stir me much more than the science of politics. So, getting out on the street and talking to members of the public, some of whom may even turn out be voters (!), is my catharsis and what recharges my often stale political batteries. The current local elections have provided me with that heaven-sent opportunity once again and I’m loving every minute of it. From the vicar’s daughter who chased me up the garden path of the rectory that I had just leafleted to talk to me about local education policies (she was a rookie teacher who was going to vote Labour for the first time in her life) to the irate man who told me to stick the leaflet some strange place where the son didn’t shine, it was politics in the raw; energising and exciting. Lazy assumptions challenged, cosy prejudices confronted and, yes, sometimes, political beliefs strengthened and reinforced.

    Politics is much, much more than academic debate. It’s about people’s life chances, livelihoods and, ultimately, their personal happiness and fulfilment. It matters hugely and talking to the people who’s lives can be changed utterly by remote political decisions is an experience that I recommend as the perfect antidote to the sort of humourless unpleasantness that broke out on these pages last night.

  28. I’m not sure all the yes to av leaflets are being delivered. Lots of people telling me they haven’t received the yes to av royal mail delivered one. Mmmmmmmm

  29. @Crossbatt11
    You are right, I have just looked, it got a bit heated on here. I’m glad I stuck with the calmer atmosphere of Real madrid v Barcelona ;)

  30. Well said Crossbat.

    I disagree totally with your politics, as I think Labour ALWAYS completely screw the economy; but you are absolutely right that what really matters is the effect of policies on peoples’ lives and not arid point-scoring debates or tribalism.

  31. @Mike Devlin

    ‘What I can’t reconcile with AV is; each party’s manifesto means absolutely nothing?’

    That is one likely problem with systems such as AV. The party manifesto is likely to be deliberately kept ‘non controversial and bland in order to appeal to potential wavers in other parties and to attract 2nd, 3rd etc prefs.

    If an overall majority is obtained then out will come the true policies. With AV more likely to lead to coalitions than FPTP in the future, no voter will be ale to know with any degree of confidence what policies will the agreed by the coalition. Much of the angst by LD is the agreement to Con policies which were contrary to LD manifesto pledges. Similarly Con angst is being caused by where the LDs have got their policies through. The solution will soon become obvious as parties get used to the idea of coalition politics, don’t make cast iron commitments in the party manifesto.

    I would prefer voters to know what they are voting for. I also prefer a voter to have to vote positively for a party/candidate with one vote. AV seems to encourage voters to vote for candidates on 2nd etc prefs, when they don’t actually support that candidates policies. AV seems to be about voting for the candidate you dislike least. To my mind that is voting for negative reasons rather than positive. Even if the candidate of your 2nd pref etc gets elected, your candidate will have lost.

    If your 2nd/3rd/4th pref gets elected, then really you can have no real objection if his party then institutes policies you would not normally support. Your vote got that party elected. Far better to be able to oppose the policy with a clear mind and heart, saying well I didn’t vote for that party so it’s not my fault he/she got elected.

  32. @Ashley – I don’t know about the ones sent out by Post,but round here the Lib Dems have not campaigned at all, no Local Council leaflets, very few posters.
    The labour candidates I know who would normally be a good bet to deliver Yes to AV are too busy campaigning as they scent victory in the Local elections.

    We have had two No2AV sent via Royal Mail

  33. crossbat11

    I agree that talking to voters (who aren’t within one’s own social circle) is hugely important.

    Like you, I’ve been told where the leaflet could be recycled, and chatted to a former Labour member who explained why he wasn’t voting that way precisely because of he shared the values that you articulated!

    However, there is another aspect which is introduced through the intemperate language used by senior politicians.

    I’ve commented here previously about the terminology used by Balls and Scott. Today, the FT has

    Ed Miliband, Labour leader, has warned that Britain is heading for “disaster” if Alex Salmond’s nationalists continue their charge towards victory in next week’s elections to the Scottish parliament.

    (In the context of this discussion, I’ll avoid the obvious “cheap shot”!)

    When politicians incite their supporters to believe that Armageddon looms if they don’t get into power, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they respond in a similar way.

  34. In Banstead Surrey I have received NO literature but no YES stuff at all.

  35. After 60 9s, 10s and 11s in a row, finally YouGov gives the Lib Dems a 12!

    CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 12%

  36. FrankG
    I think at the moment many people tend to vote for one of the three (in England) main parties even if they secretly sympathise with Green, UKIP or (dare I say it) BNP. This is because in most places votes for those parties would be wasted.

    AV will give people the freedom to vote for a minor party first, and a major one second. Even if the minor parties win no more seats, it will increase their influence. For instance, suppose the Libs pick up nearly all Green’s 2nd Preference. It might then be in Libs interest to make their policies even greener so as to convert Green voters to Libs.

    Of course there is nothing to stop you just making a single vote (plumping) if you don’t like any of the others.

  37. @Colin G

    Nick, Vince, Simon and Chris should continue to slag off David and George even more after May 5th: you might then get even higher numbers !

  38. Oldnat

    I agree the end of the world card is played too often. I think you play it sometimes over Scottish independence (does it really matter?).

    But what I like about Scottish Nats is they are both leftish and unafraid. AS says what EM should be saying.

    Now is the chance for the workers’ party. In England. To speak out on behalf of workers and just maybe not grovel about Royal Weddings.

  39. @Rob Sheffield

    Now there’s a plan! Despite posting earlier that the YouGov tables show Lib Dem votes firming up recently, I don’t expect the 12s to last.

  40. @OldNat

    You might find it surprising, but I’m a big fan of yours. Totally disagree with your politics but your sardonic and witty contributions quite often make me chuckle out loud, to the extent that my wife sometimes asks me what I’m laughing at when I’m on the laptop. I usually tell her that I’ve dipped into the Birmingham City F.C website!

    @Pete B

    Thanks and while you and I will often disagree, you are one of the many contributors I admire and enjoy reading.


    Real Madrid against Barcelona didn’t offer much an escape from the rancour, did it, but Lionel Messi’s second goal was worth enduring all the nonsense that went before. I’m partial to genius on a sports field.

  41. Crossbat
    You’re a bluenose! Naturally, I’m a Villa fan. We can’t agree on anything :)
    Colin Green said he was from Edgbaston earlier. We ought to start a Brummie cabal, to counteract the Scots bias on here.

    We could go on for hours about whether Sparkbrook’s going to change hands or something. Oh and the odds of it happening, as declared at obscure local bookies.

  42. crossbat11


    I’m always torn between what I’m passionately about, and a simultaneous view that the whole process is faintly ludicrous.

    A bit like sex, really.

  43. Oh, meant to say on my last post – To anyone with no sense of humour, this is an example of my attempt at it.

  44. Pete B

    It worked. :-)

  45. @Pete B

    I was being sarcastic about the Blues website. Like you, I’m a Villa man through and through. Let’s forget about our political differences and get on to a football website and share our passion for the Villa!!

    My Dad, a Villa fan and lifelong Tory, once told me a story that highlighted football’s precedence over politics. He was attending a political rally in Birmingham in the 1940s, shortly after the war. The speaker was droning on earnestly but was obviously losing his audience. As silence and torpor descended, a lone Brummie voice sounded out at the back of the hall. “Never mind the working man, what about the Villa!” . Quite so and well said that man!

  46. @All

    There has been some previous discussion about the surprise at the large turnout forecast in various AV polls. I would not be surprised at a much larger than normal ‘local election’ turnout, indeed I would be surprised if that were not the case. With all the referendum leafletting, media attention, debates etc. it feels more like a GE than a local election.

    If there is a larger than normal local election turnout, I think it is more likely to favour Con and LDs rather than Lab. Normally there would be a certain amount of apathy for the governing party(s). The determination of Con to vote down AV will now also bring them to the polls for the local elections in greater numbers than probably would have been the case. For the LD, they must have been expecting mass abstentions/’stay at homes’ at the very least. So to have an issue that unites them, could also bring out more of their supporters and that can only be welcome news.

    For Lab it is not so easy. They would have been hoping for apathy from Con and LD, plus an ‘anti-coalition’, ‘anti-cuts’ zeal from their own supporters. Instead the AV referendum has rather stolen their show and could both reduce their expected local election gains in number and steal the headlines come 6th May.

    There has also been considerable talk about the reaction of each party to a No2AV success. Con would be delighted and have largely united behind DC. Lab would see it as a partial success, but remember a very large % of Lab want AV and was in not in their GE manifesto. So they will have been defeated on one of their electoral reform planks.

    As for LDs, yes they would be disappointed initially, but then they never wanted AV is the first place. They want PR, it was in their manifesto, so they won’t actually have lost. Come the next GE, if there is a need for a coalition with LDs by either Lab or Con, guess what will be LDs over-riding demand – yep PR.

    If Yes2AV does win then LDs will be stuck with a system they don’t fully support and it will be several GEs before they could expect to get another vote on say PR v AV. For LDs losing the AV referendum may in fact be a blessing in the long term.

    Having just had LDs at a 12 in the most recent poll, maybe this is a sign that they are being reunited behind the single Yes2AV campaign and this may rub off on tthe local election support. Firmiing up of their vote may last until 5th May and then maybe a little longer IMO. Nothing unites like a common foe or joined sorrow.

  47. Teh real problem with all 3 systems – FPTP, AV and STV – is that none of them address the reality: that we are voting for parties, not individuals. All 3 , to some extent, give credence to the myth that voters are choosing an indiividual.

    The evidence is overwhelming that for the vast majority of voters, the candidate is IRRELEVANT.

    In such circumstances it’s hardly surprising that a rational debate is impossible.

    The party list system for the Euro election is the best we have had.

  48. hmmm

    I don’t think the polling will help much here.
    I predict a very very close referendum with low turn out in many places where no other elections are going on.

    Who will win? Okay, I’ll say it.


  49. @Bernard Disken

    Yes I can see where you’re coming from, the public might want more united parties. Personally I would be fairly open minded whether Westminster should have STV or regional list PR.

  50. @OldNat

    !I’m always torn between what I’m passionately about, and a simultaneous view that the whole process is faintly ludicrous.
    A bit like sex, really”

    Brilliant! They say sex provides such a rich vein for comedy because the essence of great humour is the observation of the disparity between human aspiration and achievement. No wider gap exists than in our romantic pursuits, and I speak from a lifetime of embarrassing experience!!

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