YouGov have released two sub-national polls today – one of London, one of young people. The London poll for the Evening Standard has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 5% (tabs. This is a twelve point Labour lead in the capital, rather than the eight point lead in the YouGov/London poll a week ago. When the previous poll came out I speculated on whether the three point swing from Con-to-Lab suggested a smaller swing to Labour in London than elsewhere in Britain, this poll with its five point swing from Con to Lab is bigger than that implied by national polls, cancelling the other one out. We probably need more London polls to have any confidence on whether the swing there is bigger, smaller, or just the same.
Secondly there is a YouGov poll of young people for the British Youth Council. Amongst under 25s it shows voting intentions of CON 22%, LAB 36%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 12%, GRN 19% (tabs). Note that Green score, in third place on 19% but close behind the Tories in second. Earlier on this week I saw some people getting overexcited about an under 25s crossbreak in a YouGov poll showing the Conservatives ahead – such things are really worth ignoring. The crossbreaks for young people in GB polls are normally around 150 at best, and once you take out don’t knows and won’t votes that often shrinks to 100 or so. That gives you a margin of error of at at least plus or minus 10%, so it is inevitable that given time you are going to get weird and wacky crossbreaks that look interesting and amazing, but are just normal sample variation. If you want to know how young people are voting ideally wait for bespoke poll of young people, properly weighted to their demographics. At the very least, aggregate up figures over a long period to get beyond the daily noise.
Finally, today we’ve had another step in the ongoing debates debate, with David Cameron saying he will only take part in one, seven-way debate, in March. Naturally it’s provoked lots of comment about how the public will react. I wrote about polling on debates and what difference it makes back in January, and my opinion is pretty much unchanged from then. It’s not a wholly Westminster bubble story – the polls back in January showed that people were noticing it to some degree, and even asked in a neutral way there was a clear perception that Cameron was trying to avoid them more than other leaders, so it was being picked up. Whether that changes anything is a completely different matter – ignore the forced “does this make Cameron look like a wimp?” sort of questions we’ll inevitably get. The things to judge it by are whether it makes a difference to voting intention, or to David Cameron’s own approval ratings, best PM ratings, ratings on being out of touch and so on. Personally I doubt it will (to answer my own question, I expect the public will react with mild indifference, as they do to most political stories. The overwhelming majority of things make no difference!) but the evidence at the weekend and in weeks to come will tell.