The student vote

YouGov have released a poll of university students. In terms of voting intention, they are, unsurprisingly, now strongly Labour – topline figures are CON 26%, LAB 42%, LDEM 15%. Full tables are here.

In YouGov’s tables there are also figures for the student vote back in May (presumably based upon what these panellists told YouGov back in May, or when they joined the panel), and this illustrates the swing against the Liberal Democrats amongst students – in May 2010 the Lib Dems had enjoyed a decisive lead amongst this cohort, with figures of CON 21%, LAB 24%, LDEM 45%.

The rest of the survey repeated a series of questions about tuition fees and the protests against them that YouGov previously asked to a nat rep survey for the Sunday Times. Most of the answers are exactly what you’d expect – 78% of students oppose the coalition’s plans on tuition fees, 80% think the Lib Dems are wrong to go back on their pre-election pledge.

85% of students are sympathetic to the protests against the tuition fees, including 27% who sympathised with the direct action against the Conservative party headquarters (this compares to 13% of the general public). 54% of students did still think that violent protests damaged the protesters cause.

Meanwhile, YouGov’s daily polling figures today are CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%.

Two polls tonight –

YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun continues to show the two main parties neck and neck, with CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%.

Meanwhile a ComRes telephone poll for the Independent has topline figures of CON 36%(+1), LAB 40%(+3), LDEM 12%(-4). Changes are from ComRes’s previous telephone poll a month ago, rather than their online poll a week or so ago (these figures suggest there isn’t a vast difference between the two – last week their online poll was 37/38/13 – but I’ll wait for 6 months parallel data at the very least before treating them as a single series). I believe this is the lowest Lib Dem score since the election from a telephone survey.


YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%.

On the regular approval trackers everyone is down – government approval is minus 14, with 50% disapproving of this government for the first time. David Cameron’s net rating drops to plus 2, still positive but the lowest he has recorded as Prime Minister (he recorded much lower scores as Leader of the Opposition back in 2007). Nick Clegg’s approval rating plummets to minus 22, down from minus 13 a week ago and by far his lowest ever score as leader. Ed Miliband’s approval rating has also dropped into negative territory for the first time, down to minus 9 (28% think he is doing well, 37% doing badly).

On the topical questions of the week, YouGov first asked a series of questions about the Euro and Ireland. As with the YouGov/Sun questions earlier in the week, just under half (48%) of respondents opposed Britain bailing out Ireland, with 36% supporting it. There was overwhelming (74%) rejection of Britain bailing out other European countries such as Portugal. Only 22% agreed with the statement that Britain’s economy was reliant upon our exports to other countries and therefore it was in our interests to help the Eurozone avoid a crisis, 60% think Britain has its own problems and cannot afford to help.

On the Euro, 76% think – in hindsight – ther Britain would have been worse off had we joined the Euro, and 54% think the Euro has been mainly bad for the other countries in the European Union (only 16% see it as a good thing for the Eurozone). However, there is some recognition that this doesn’t necessarily mean its collapse would be a good thing – only 26% think it would be good if the Euro collapsed, 34% a bad thing.

On the broader question of Britain’s relationship with the EU, 10% would like a more integrated Europe, 14% the status quo, 38% a less integrated Europe and 26% Britain’s total withdrawal from the European Union.

There were also a couple of questions on Howard Flight. 42% thought Flight was wrong about the effect of the government’s cuts in child benefit, and 46% thought that his peerage should be halted.

Finally, there were a series on questions on the Royal Wedding, which generally showed approval for the choice of date and the bank holiday. Only 19% objected to the idea of the wedding being held just before the AV referendum. On titles, 20% now think Camilla should become Queen when Charles becomes King (39% backing Princess Consort, the title it was announced she we would use when Charles and Camilla married, 26% some other title). YouGov also asked whether Kate Middleson should become Princess of Wales, should William be created Prince of Wales in due course. 74% think she should, 13% she shouldn’t.

Earlier this week people were complaining about the lack of polling for the Scottish Parliamentary elections for next year compared to the monthly Welsh polls by YouGov for ITV Wales. Well, we do now have some – Ipsos MORI have released a poll of Scottish Parliamentary voting intentions here. Topline figures are:

Westminster: CON 14%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, SNP 29%
Constituency vote: CON 13%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, SNP 31%
Regional vote: CON 12%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, SNP 32%

Voodoo poll update

Sometimes voodoo polls are so blatantly idiotic it feels almost superfluous to point out they are worthless. Surely no one, no one at all, could mistake them as legitimate measures of public opinion. On one level that’s probably right, but on the other hand, staying silent just encourages them.

Once upon a time lots of newspapers did silly voodoo polls, but over the years they have faded in prominence – probably because for a while they were truly ubiquitous, with every TV channel and newspaper website having silly “press the red button” or “ring this number” surveys which eventually bored everyone into submission. More positively, when the media does use them these days they do at least normally refer to them in a responsible manner – putting in appropriate caveats about them not being representative or referring to them showing x number of their readers think, rather than projecting actual results from it. I’d still rather they didn’t exist at all – since many people don’t realise the difference between properly conducted polls and voodoo polls they damage the whole reputation of the market research industry – but publishing them with caveats is better than without.

Nevertheless, when they turn up in massive font on the front page of a national newspaper claiming to be meaningful they demand appropriate mockery. Today the Express reports that “An exclusive poll conducted on the first day of our crusade showed an astonishing 99 per cent of people agree we should quit the European Union.”

It would be astonishing were it a proper measure of public opinion but, of course, it wasn’t. It is a result of inviting Express readers to phone one of two premium rate phone numbers to say whether or not they think Britain should leave Europe, advertised in the middle of a two page spread about how awful Europe is.

Obviously the context of the question is extremely skewed, the sample will be exclusively made up of people who read stories about Europe in the Daily Express (or people to whom the phone number was subsequently sent on to) and who care enough about the issue to waste their money phoning up to vote, there is unlikely to be any attempt to properly sample or weight the data, nor protections against multiple voting, nor preventing pressure groups organising people to ring up en masse. Yes, in this case it’s blindingly obvious that the poll is bunkum – but do remember the same caveats apply to all other polls that don’t take appropriate sampling or weighting measures to obtain a representative sample.

Properly conducted opinion polls on the subject of Europe show varying levels of support for leaving the EU – if you give people a straight option of saying whether or not they think Britain should withdraw though, support and opposition tend to be pretty even.

I suspect the Express didn’t find the results that astonishing anyway, since almost all of their own phone “polls” find 99% of so of respondents agree with the more reactionary option. There’s a fantastic archive of Daily Express “polls” on their website here, including such astonishing findings of 98% of respondents agreeing that “This Labour government wrecked the NHS”, 99% thinking “Labour’s treatment of the elderly a disgrace”, 98% thinking it is time to “ban immigrants” and 99% saying they are fed up with ditching British traditions. Funny that.