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I know it is too much to ask, but I do find it a bit exasperating reading blog after blog by people who a couple of days ago were trashing YouGov, now claiming that today’s poll of supporters (i.e. NOT members) proves, without shadow of a doubt, that Simon Hughes is the front runner. Or, if you want to stretch it even further, that Ming Campbell is now the front runner.

I’ve never put too much credence into that YouGov poll – at the time I acknowledged that if you read between the lines it still looks very much like Ming Campbell is in front. But at least it was of members and was conducted at around the time that large numbers of people were filling in their ballot papers.

A poll of supporters doesn’t tell you anything at all at this stage, except of course which candidate is the best known. What’s worse, these aren’t the people we need to worry about particularly: a good leader needs to be finding us new support if we are to move forward.

As David Howarth writes:

This poll published in the Sunday Times is like asking people in Chippenham to predict the outcome of the election in Dumfermline.

I know, I know, it sounds like sour grapes. It’s just the posts today have been so overblown, so seemingly incapable of mentioning that one little uncomfortable fact that this isn’t a members’ poll, it just irks me a little bit.

5 thoughts on “YouGovBalls

  1. I’m suprised you linked to me in that context given that I said:

    the sample may not be indicative of the wider membership, the sample size is too small, the margin of error is huge” etc – and all of that is true of this latest poll


    But no-one will forget that for now this is ‘just another poll…’

    Hardly ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt!’

  2. The polls have been all over the place. No crowing from here.

    As you know, I had major concerns with the previous YouGov poll, but it is noticeable that the previous Huhniac proponents of “YouGov is the most accurate polling organisation in the universe” (even when they have a dramatically reduced base size, poor sample control and a methodologically unsound questionnaire) have gone very quiet. Personally I’ve not been a fan of YouGov since they, uniquely, put us on 13% of the vote shortly before the Dunfermline by-election.

    Given that both Simon and Chris are featuring YouGov so strongly on the front of their website, I guess they agree with YouGov’s conclusion amongst voters overall (a sample size of 1,600) that Ming is the most popular candidate with the voters. Just in case everyone has forgotten, the headline of the Times article reads: “Campbell is people’s choice for Lib Dems“.

    Interestingly, this agrees with the earlier poll commissioned by the Hughes campaign.

    I think you’re also unfair to attack Peter Pigeon. His reference doesn’t make any reference to Ming being front runner but refers to voters (you know, the ones that get decide whether to vote us into Parliament or not).


  3. I think everyone is using selective statistics to boost there cause and i don’t think this latest sunday times poll is any different. If one candidate is so much ahead of others amongst lib dem voters then surely it legitimate to mention it. and anyway is simon hughes really better known than ming campbell?

  4. I think that as you say there is a distinctive difference between a poll of members and a poll of voters. I think both are important for different reasons, but I don’t put much credence in either (and so haven’t been posting about them on my Huhne-supporting blog as I don’t think we should select a leader based on polls or focus groups, even when to do so would support my candidate).

    The YouGov poll shows us that Huhne is capable of winning and that’s the inference I’d choose to take from it. You’re not wasting your vote by giving it to him.

    The Sunday Times poll is important but for a different reason: it shows that Huhne’s profile will need to be built up quickly. Now we did this for Charlie Kennedy and we can do it for Chris too and I think that whoever wins the other two candidates will be in important positions within the party and so will remain visible. I also think that merely by winning Huhne will be in the public eye a lot more. I only knew of Cameron’s name through the 2005 manifesto before he decided to become a leadership candidate – by the time of Tory Conference and his speech I knew about his positions, by the time of his election I knew his history.

    So the polls are important but I don’t think that we should think too much about their implications for deciding the winner. I might perhaps query Simon’s assertion that he’s still in it on the basis of The Times poll though – what it shows is that he can make a case for saying that he’d unite the Lib Dem voters most but he’s been doing that for a month now in any case (“candidate most likely to restore Lib Dem fortunes”, etc).

  5. We’ve got some useful new evidence on the accuracy and (possible) bias in the John Stevens YouGov poll from yesterday’s World at One – where John Stevens (the commissioner of the poll) stated:

    I commissioned the poll in order to improve Chris Huhne’s chances.

    Another reason why we should take it less seriously than the ‘hyper-accurate’ Conservative leadership poll which was commissioned by a neutral third party.

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