This week’s YouGov results for the Sunday Times are online here. Topline voting intention is CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8% (so towards the higher end of the normal variation around a ten point lead). Approval ratings for the party leaders are minus 16 for David Cameron, minus 18 for Ed Miliband and minus 55 for Nick Clegg.

On the regular economic trackers the increase in the “feel good factor” (the proportion of people who think they will be better off in the next 12 months minus those who think they will be worse off) that we saw after the good GDP figures three weeks ago has now unwound and we are back to the levels of pessimism we saw pre-October. 10% expect their position to get better in the next 12 months, 50% expect it to get worse – we will obviously require more sustained good economic news in order to see a real turnaround in economic optimism.

On law and order, the Conservatives retain a small lead as the most trusted party, with 24% to Labour’s 19%. 41% of people think policing has got worse in the last couple of years, asked about crime levels 20% think they have gone up in their local area, 12% gone down and 53% stayed the same.

Looking specifically at the Police and Crime Commissioner questions, 28% of people in areas with elections say they are 10/10 certain to vote in this week’s election. Turnout is notoriously difficult to predict in opinion polls – people invariably overestimate their own likelihood to vote – but at general elections the proportion of people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote has not been a bad guide to actual turnout. 28% however still sounds quite high considering some of the predictions we’ve seen, just lower than the sort of level more energetically contested local elections usually get.

20% of people support the introduction of elected commissioners, 34% do not, 46% say they don’t know, underlining the lack of interest in or awareness of the policy. People think it will make the police more accountable by 24% to 8%, but very few seem to think it will make any difference to standards of policing or levels of crime.

36% of people see Rowan Williams has having done a good job as Archbishop of Canterbury, 25% a bad job (39% don’t know, perhaps a sign of the role’s diminishing prominence). Opinions from people who identified themselves as belonging to the Church of England were a little more positive, 49% though Rowan Williams had done a good job, 25% a bad job. It’s important to note that the Anglican figures are for people who self-identified as being Church of England – many of them will be Christian in a purely notional, cultural sense. For example, 43% of people who said they were Church of England actually attend a church only once a year or less and only 49% say they believe in God. Practicing Anglicans who regularly attend church may have different views, but there are not enough of them in a national sample to get representative figures.


99 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 44, LD 8, UKIP 8”

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  1. First!! :)

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  2. “36% of people see Rowan Williams has having done a good job as Archbishop of Canterbury”
    …..

    Yeah in Glasgow they want to give him the freedom of the city.

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  3. As an atheist I thought he did a good job.

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  4. Great, a new thread! :-)

    I can continue to be a QE bore on the previous thread without inconveniencing all readers, if anybody wants to continue the topic.

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  5. Anthony the below intrigues me with your wording

    ” we will obviously require more sustained good economic news in order to see a real turnaround in economic optimism.”

    My view is that we need to experience better Economic conditions for a sustained impact, good news is rarely evenly spread and imo, like this time, has an ephemeral impact on VI if at all.

    The exception sometimes being during a GE campaign when narrative can be important and there is limited time for any unwind.

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  6. jim jam

    The thing is, if Keynes and Balls are right, there ain’t gonna be any sustained good news until we get a change of policy.

    It’s not going to work, just waiting for a rebound.

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  7. Good Evening All.

    Anthony, thanks very much, again for your analyses.

    Labour vi seems to be holding up. I suspect the LD figures here are not reliable, so the Con vote is actually higher.

    On practising of faith: I think many people attend once a month or so; and therefore the contact rate is higher than people often think.
    In the rc church there is always a boom when children have to be registered for the local primary school and secondary school!

    I think that Rowan had an impossible job, since, for example on women bishops, the ‘left’ would not support ‘safe havens’ where the traditionalists had a male bishop.

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  8. @ Howard (from the previous thread)

    “I don’t know if you picked up my congrats. I was impressed that the ‘nice’ Ruiz beat the ‘nasty’ Bono Mack because i thought he was ‘too nice’ but perhaps voters just thought she was…. well you know the rest.!”

    I think I did. And I appreciate it though honestly, it’s not deserved. I didn’t really do anything to help in that race (aside from donating) unlike with the Obama campaign. Merely had to field questions about it from an extremely diverse array of people in random situations who would ask about him and the status of the race (from a South American diplomat to British bloggers to East LA power elite). I actually had really good luck (or judgment) this year. Every single political candidate or campaign I donated to this year won (except for the DCCC but even then, the Dems picked up a good number of seats in the House and did win the most votes so).

    It’s a nice change of pace from spending money I really don’t have to give to candidates who wind up falling short. :)

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  9. Jim Jam – I think we think the same!

    Sustained good economic news is only likely to come when economic conditions are improving. I wasn’t trying to make any point about perceptions v news v experience v reality.

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  10. Can you tell me how you arrive at the UKPR Polling average on the right hand side please, Anthony? You’ve dropped Labour’s lead from 10-9% in the last couple of days, but I haven’t seen any evidence of a narrowing of the lead and the individual polls as published underneath the headline figure show Labour above 42 on recent average.

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  11. Twelve per cent is a good Labour lead, but if you look at historical precedent it may not be enough to sustain the party to victory at the 2015 general election.

    As we are now half way through the current parliament, I’ve updated my analysis of mid-term opinion polls to assess what history tells us about Labour’s chances. I hope Anthony doesn’t mind but this time I’ve posted it on a marginal constituency thread (in order that I can find it again!).

    Here’s the link… http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/ribblesouth/comment-page-6/#comment-305275

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  12. robin

    Fascinating stuff, but you must also bear in mind that all those Tory Governments started with majorities.

    I have not seen any evidence that the Tories can get more of the vote in 2015 than they did in 2010, swingback or no.

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  13. Consumer confidence fallback was pretty much expected. A slight bump when GDP figures come out and people think things will improve right away, a drop back when standard of living does not improve.

    With standard of living not expected to recover to pre-2010 levels, let alone pre-2007, before the next election something needs to happen to rescue the government.

    We have also had a objective demonstration a short while ago that saying “The Polls are Wrong, we’ll have momentum into the Election!” isn’t a good idea. The polls demonstrate not just normal mid-term anti-incumbent sentiment, but a complete change in the political landscape. It is rather foolish to continue doing what the GOP did, and go on saying “The nation is with us” with disregard to all evidence otherwise.

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  14. A former BBC producer has been arrested in connection with the inquiry into abuse claims made against Jimmy Savile.

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  15. Robin Hood,

    We can’t compare now with then because polls simply weren’t that good in the 80s and 90s.

    It was only in the 90s that they realised they needed to improve their methodologies, and I daresay if they were still using the old dodgy methodologies then Labour would be posting regular 20 point leads.

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  16. robin hood

    there IS no historical precedent for the current situation.

    Since the LD party has become identified with the right, rather than as previously the left’ much of its vote has seeped back to Labour. That is hardly likely to then cross all the way back to the Cons.

    LD’s can’t be squeezed much more and – if you want precedent – then I don’t think it looks that positive for the Cons to increase their vote share [the favourable circs for them in 2010 have been gone into at length].

    Given existing boundaries continuing then I feel the most likely outcome of the next GE will be an overall Labour majority

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  17. @JimJam

    “My view is that we need to experience better Economic conditions for a sustained impact, good news is rarely evenly spread and imo, like this time, has an ephemeral impact on VI if at all.”

    I thought Rawnsley coined a rather good expression in his column in today’s Observer when he talked about a “voteless recovery”. What he meant by this is what you are referring to; a plethora of more positive economic indicators means nothing politically unless and until they translate into improved living standards for the many. That magic and elusive feelgood factor, the holy grail of all incumbent governments seeking re-election, comes when the bulk of the electorate experience increased disposable incomes. That doesn’t necessarily happen when wages are suppressed and employment is insecure and short term, even though the economy may officially be growing.

    My intuition is that the coalition are going to find it devilishly difficult, by May 2015, to generate the sort of economic conditions that will generate a widespread sense of national well-being. Accordingly, they may well have to concentrate on a “it’s improving and don’t let the other lot in to ruin it again” type message. However for that to work there has to be a lingering antipathy toward the opposition and a disinclination to believe that they are a credible alternative government. These mid-term polls are suggesting that it might well be a very hard message to sell.

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  18. In discussions about the economy, one thing often overlooked is the wage-productivity gap.

    That’s growth in economic output isn’t always reflected in rising real wages. If by 2015 the economy is growing at 2% a year per capita but real wages are only growing at half that amount, it isn’t going to feel like a strong recovery.

    The wage-productivity gap is nothing new. It has plagued the US economy since the 80s and really got going here in the 2000s. It may have been one of the factors that contributed to a disullionment with Labour.

    Anyone who says a bad economy will doom the Tories and a good economy will doom Labour in 2015 is a complete dolt who doesn’t know what the sodding hell they’re talking about.

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  19. Looking specifically at the Police and Crime Commissioner questions, 28% of people in areas with elections say they are 10/10 certain to vote in this week’s election. Turnout is notoriously difficult to predict in opinion polls – people invariably overestimate their own likelihood to vote – but at general elections the proportion of people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote has not been a bad guide to actual turnout. 28% however still sounds quite high considering some of the predictions we’ve seen, just lower than the sort of level more energetically contested local elections usually get.

    Anthony I think you’ve forgotten the first rule of opinion poll bias. Polling samples are always unrepresentative of the population in one way because they are very highly skewed towards the sort of people who answer opinion polls. Unfortunately such people will have other such characteristics such as being more likely to vote – they’re simply the sort of people who get more involved in things.

    To take one example if you look at the equivalent poll just before the AV referendum:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/today_uk_import/st20110501.pdf

    the figure for 10/10 certain to vote was 62% (a poll even nearer to the vote was 63% so it seems consistent). However the actual turnout was 42%, which pro-rata[1] suggests an expected turnout of around 19% on Thursday.

    It may actually be even worse than that. When YouGov asked on the day of the referendum if people had voted, 79% said that they had. This isn’t too unreasonable – if you add the 7/10-10/10 together in the poll above you get 80%.

    But if you look at likelihood to vote in today’s ST poll, the 7,8,9s only give you an extra 14 points (19% of the uncertain) rather than the 18 points in May 2011 (47% of the uncertain). So it’s not like there are lots of people who are almost certain to vote either. In fact the likelihood profile is very revealing and unusual – 23% not voting as opposed to 7% and a peak at 5/10 – a way of saying “I won’t vote but won’t say so”?

    So that 28% may well imply a mid-teens turnout that some people have been suggesting.http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/today_uk_import/st20110501.pdf

    [1] Not sure it’s the best way to calculate, but there’s no large data-set for these sorts of polls to work up rules from.

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  20. @Robin Hood, Anthony Wells

    I read robin’s analysis and it’s interesting. I’ve also read Colin’s explanation of QE, Amber’s counter-explanation, and other stuff that your Constant Readers[1] have contributed over the years. Robin put his in South Ribble so he wouldn’t lose it. This sets me to wonder…

    Could you open up a fictional constutuency (“Narnia North?”) so if there’s any posts we consider informative we can slap them in there for filing or later consideration?

    I know this may be an Operation Clark County thing (“WHY LABOUR WILL INEVITABLY WIN: VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 1: It was a dark and stormy night…”) so this may not be a good idea, but hey, it’s a thought…

    Regards, Martyn

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  21. Looking specifically at the Police and Crime Commissioner questions, 28% of people in areas with elections say they are 10/10 certain to vote in this week’s election. Turnout is notoriously difficult to predict in opinion polls – people invariably overestimate their own likelihood to vote – but at general elections the proportion of people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote has not been a bad guide to actual turnout. 28% however still sounds quite high considering some of the predictions we’ve seen, just lower than the sort of level more energetically contested local elections usually get.

    Anthony I think you’ve forgotten the first rule of opinion poll bias. Polling samples are always unrepresentative of the population in one way because they are very highly skewed towards the sort of people who answer opinion polls. Unfortunately such people will have other such characteristics such as being more likely to vote – they’re simply the sort of people who get more involved in things.

    To take one example if you look at the equivalent poll just before the AV referendum:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/today_uk_import/st20110501.pdf

    the figure for 10/10 certain to vote was 62% (a poll even nearer to the vote was 63% so it seems consistent). However the actual turnout was 42%, which pro-rata[1] suggests an expected turnout of around 19% on Thursday.

    It may actually be even worse than that. When YouGov asked on the day of the referendum if people had voted, 79% said that they had. This isn’t too unreasonable – if you add the 7/10-10/10 together in the poll above you get 80%.

    But if you look at likelihood to vote in today’s ST poll, the 7,8,9s only give you an extra 14 points (19% of the uncertain) rather than the 18 points in May 2011 (47% of the uncertain). So it’s not like there are lots of people who are almost certain to vote either. In fact the likelihood profile is very revealing and unusual – 23% not voting as opposed to 7% and a peak at 5/10 – a way of saying “I won’t vote but won’t say so”?

    So that 28% may well imply a mid-teens turnout that some people have been suggesting.

    [1] Not sure it’s the best way to calculate, but there’s no large data-set for these sorts of polls to work up rules from.

    [Reposted due to rogue link appearing - Anthony please delete if poss]

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  22. @Norbold

    The UKPR average is calculated as a weighted moving average — it sometimes gives counterintuitive results. Click on more… underneath the number, and you will find Anthony’s explanation of how it is calculated.

    :-)

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  23. Balbuzard

    The predictable bad result for the Tories in Corby next Thursday (12%+ swing to Labour) WILL hurt Cameron – although he will deny it – and will serve as a good tangible indicator of current voting intentions.

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  24. I also agree, ROBINHOOD, that the 12& lead for Labour is good, but not convincing.

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  25. Where is this groundhog day stuff coming from. Roger M is entertaining (for instance) but once is enough.

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  26. Where is this groundhog day

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  27. ComRes Poll from September gave Rowan Williams a broadly similar score, with slightly different questions:

    h
    ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19714049

    Williams spoke with an extraordinary intelligence to those “notional cultural” sensibilities… it is difficult to see in what other way an out-and-out academic mind from the humanities side could fill such a premier role (in terms of precedence or sequential hierarchy of nominal importance – in England and Wales second only to the Sovereign and Royal Family) without the institution of the CofE. It will be interesting to see if an evangelical from an oil business background can speak so intelligently to those sensibilities.

    @SoCalLiberal… a reply to you on the previous thread.

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  28. Will voters in Bristol, who have a mayoral and police commissioner election on the same day tweet that
    ‘ I voted twice’ (with apologies to R Brooks).

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  29. Father Rowan is also an extraordinarily profound theologian. A liberal Anglo-Catholic, trying to tie CofE together. He was never going to be a brilliant day to day manager.

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  30. @andyo

    Don’t forget he is also poet and druid (the Gorsedd of Bards of the Island of Britain) ;) :

    h
    ttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2172918.stm

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  31. @Billy Bob

    Gosh, I never knew that. I always thought that when people said he was a Druid, it was a joke, about the way he looked!!

    :-)

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  32. If an atheist lives an exemplary moral life [like,for example, wot I do] do they go to heaven?

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  33. @Paulcroft

    Now, that depends on what type of Christian you ask.

    I am a liberal Catholic within the Anglican Communion, so if you ask me — of course you will!!

    :-)

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  34. On other matters, perhaps more poll related,
    trouble brewing on Fuel Duty it seems…..

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  35. @ Croftee

    If an atheist lives an exemplary moral life [like,for example, wot I do] do they go to heaven?
    ———————
    No, they are returned to earth until they become believers but – if they’ve been good like wot u hav been – there will be music, chocolates, flowers & a glass or two of the good stuff waiting for them in their new life. ;-)

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  36. @Amber

    That sounds good to me!!

    :-)

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  37. Paul

    You can’t go to heaven if you don’t believe in heaven fortunately the same applies to hell.

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  38. Anthony can you start polling the public regarding I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I’m sure all the anoraks on here will put partisanship aside and vote for Nadine, either because you like her, or hate her and want to keep her there.

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  39. Someone on UKPR recently provided an elegant description of why both internet and phone based polls were biased in the sense of not being equivalent to a random sample of either the population in general or those likely to vote in particular. Roger Mexico has now provided more detail on the nature of this bias. Can anyone (perhaps Roger Mexico) tell me a) whether there is a systematic difference between telephone and internet polls in their estimates of those likely to vote labour or conservative and b) how, if there is this unknown bias, it is possible for anyone to have used the polls to make such accurate predictions about the results of the US elections?

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  40. Those polling figures on crime show an interesting story, with 73% of respondents saying crime has gone up or stayed the same in their area.

    Of, course, this could be true, but with another national crime survey fall of 6%, and a similar fall in recorded crime, it seems unlikely.

    There is a problem here for politicians, partly fostered by them it must be said, and crime provides a classic example of an important issue where the truth is obscured by false public beliefs.

    For a host of social, economic, technological and policy reasons, crime has now been falling for years, yet the public insists that the reverse is the case. This leads to the daft notion about getting more ‘bobbies on the beat’ – probably one of the most wasteful uses of the crime budget possible. Yet still the public clings to it’s mantra of fear, backed by the media and one half of the political system (whichever half isn’t in power).

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  41. “and crime provides a classic example of an important issue where the truth is obscured by false public beliefs.”
    ———————————
    Not so sure about that. Crime figures are not the same thing as Incident Numbers. The latter is what they give you (best insist on one) when you report a crime / problem / wrongdoing. Whether the Incident ever gets ‘promoted’ accepted and logged as a crime is a very different matter. So it is just as valid to suspect the figures as it is to question beliefs.

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  42. @Charles

    In the case of Nate Silver, he has a list of polls going back to the 1990′s and the results of the elections that were polled. So he proceeded as follows:

    1) he took the existing polls
    2) discarded the ones from companies he thought were rubbish and weighted the rest. This produced a “nowcast”: a weighted average of the polls.
    3) used his list of polls and the election results to judge what would happen on election day (a “thencast”?) given the nowcast and the number of days to election day.

    Under this system it is unnecessary to know the unknown bias, since step 3 removes it. It works even if election day is today.

    I did a rather nice writeup of Nate’s methodology and posted it on this site: I wish i’d kept it since I’d like to look at it again and it was aimed at a layman audience.
    Instead, you’ll have to read the techy bit: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/methodology/

    Regards, Martyn

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  43. Thanks for your comments. Here are my replies…

    @ DRUNKEN SCOUSER
    Actually, it’s not entirely true that the polls were significantly over-estimating Labour in the 1980s and 1990s. They were pretty accurate throughout the 1980s but made a big error in the early 1990s (which was partly rectified after 1992). I’m afraid my analysis does not include any data from the early 90s, as the mid-term point of the 1987-92 parliament was autumn 1989 and for the 1992-97 parliament it was autumn 1994 – hence your reasoning does not really apply.

    @ PAUL CROFT
    You are correct that the current circumstances are unprecedented, but then each parliament has its own unique events none of which has so far upset the pattern of a swing-back to the Conservatives. Yes, I agree that Lib Dems are not necessarly going to cross over to the Tories but please remember that much of the loss of Tory support has been to UKIP – and there is every possibility that they will win much of that back (especially when you consider that UKIP and the other minor parties will, as usual, be starved of publicity during the election campaign). True, the Lib Dems are now seen as more right wing than they were in 2010 – which opens up an opportunity for Labour – but remember that that factor is already in the equation and yet Labour are unable to build the sort of poll leads normally required to see them through to a general election victory. My own view is that the Lib Dems will win back some of the support they’ve lost to Labour since 2010, but it will mostly be tactical left-leaning voters resident in those seats which the Lib Dems currently hold and which they are defending against a Conservative challenge.

    @ JAYBLANC
    The Tories do not necessarily need to get the economy back on track by 2015. John Major succeeded in winning a fourth Conservative term of office in 1992 despite the country being in the pit of a recession: as the Tories had been in power for thirteen years, he was unable to blame the problem on the previous Labour Government (unlike now, where you have Osborne doing just that). This did not stop John Major from registering the largest popular vote mandate in British political history.

    True, there are aspects of the current parliament which are unique but that could be said of each of the last four Tory terms: they still conformed, with remarkable consistency, to a pro-government swing-back in the 8-10% band. We in the Labour Party would be deluding ourselves if we ignored historical precedent, though there is everything to fight for to stop it happening again.

    Sorry, but I cannot really post any more as I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I would simply ask that before trying to clutch at straws we all take a step back and try and see the underlying trend for what it is. (I know that’s difficult at mid-term). We will win Corby on Thursday. True, that will be a headache for the government but unless it’s combined with other new sustained problems there is probably not going to be quite the ‘domino effect’ necessary to produce an irreversible tipping point against the Conservatives – however, only time will tell.

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  44. Alec
    Trying to remove the voters’ fear of crime could only succeed if you stopped asking them if they were afraid of it. It’s like the ‘like’ polling, that Paul Croft rightly criticises.

    Better to ask ‘what do you most fear’ without any further prompt. I know and you know what the answer is, and it isn’t immigrants or crime.

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  45. @PAULCROFT
    You said “…If an atheist lives an exemplary moral life [like,for example, wot I do] do they go to heaven?…”

    Assuming it to be a Christian (specifically Roman Catholic?) heaven, no you do not. To enter into heaven two things are required: a) acknowledgment of Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and b) acknowledgement of sin and sincere penitence. The concept that good works are solely sufficient for entry into heaven is deprecated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianism )

    This is outside my purview so you would want to consult your local priest for advice. For other religions I wouldn’t be able even to speculate: I am reminded by a Jewish woman of my acquaintance that Judaism doesn’t have a Hell in the same way as Christianity, although concepts like Sheol and Gehenna are similar. But this is something I don’t know enough about to say whether it’s accurate or not. As ever, consult an expert first.

    Regards, Martyn

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  46. @ Martyn

    Many thanks. I will need to look at what he says (which i was too lazy to do). Presumably his ‘weighting’ takes account in some way of the degree to which the pollster has proved capable of predicting the actual outcome in the past. Simply taking an average of biased results would presumably reduce sampling error but in itself should, unless one was lucky because biases cancel out, produce a biased average.

    On a different point does he or do you have any opinion on whether internet or telephone polls tend to be more accurate predictors? I am afraid I am going to bed now so will thank you for any reply tomorrow!

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  47. Amber:

    Chokkies sounds good. I could also carry on where I left off with the guitar and people may say “he seems born to play that instrument”

    Seems wrong somehow that not only can’t those of “faith” be proved wrong in this life, they will also remain oblivious after death.

    Mind you the rules all seem a bit muddled anyway to me.

    Have just bought lil Rosi,[my very lovely 10 month old Border Terrier [the English side of the border of course] a new puppy for my birthday. She’s a cross between a mini-Schauzer and a mini-poodle and is utterly adorable.

    They are getting on great..

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  48. Howard:

    “Ask what they most fear”

    Is it not going to heaven?

    Martyn:

    “Ask an expert”

    mmmm…. they all disagree though. Its rather like finance.

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  49. @Charles

    I don’t know. It used to be that telephone polling had a bias against poor people, but that’s changed in the last decade. Internet polling makes polling panels (a list of people weighted to represent the general population and who are registered to give answers to the pollster) a practical option – YouGov is founded on that option – so, IF DONE PROPERLY, internet polling is currently my preferred option since you can do a better job for a given amount.

    @PaulCroft

    Thank you.

    Regards, Martyn

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  50. Sorry about the double post. I was assuming Anthony would either (a) delete one or (b) be out so long that when the second one appeared no one would notice.

    Returning to the PCC elections, the other interesting figure to look at will be the number of spoilt votes. Quite a few people on here have been saying that they would be likely to spoil their votes as a protest against the pointlessness of the new post, but I thought that was just us (well you – I just have a Village Commissioners by-election). But I’ve been noticing similar mutterings in various other places such as Mary Beard’s blog and I was wondering whether there will be similar grumpy protests more generally.

    To complicate things, the electoral system will be one of these half-witted New Labour two-vote things, which will confuse most people except those in London. Who aren’t voting.

    I’ve been looking at the percentages of ‘first vote’ spoilts in the London mayoral elections. It’s varied around 2% on the first vote (2000 2.17%; 2004 2.96%; 2008 1.67%; 2012 1.79%), so that may be the ‘technical’ level of spoilts you would expect as a baseline. This may be be confused by (a) the lack of voter education unlike before the London elections and contrariwise (b) the few who actually do vote could know what they are doing.

    And may I remind all those intending to spoil their vote to do so in as amusing a manner as possible. Now is the time to spread those rumours about the UKIP candidate, the performing seal and the vat of vaseline; speculate on which candidate the Chief Constable is already bonking; or to ask if the goat really did die.

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