The verdict on Huhne and Clegg’s fuzzy polls

Oh dear, it’s all starting to get very silly indeed.

First of all, there is this “independent” poll put out by Team Huhne, which indicates a huge surge for Huhne in the last few days. I emailed them to ask the identity of these pollsters, only to be asked to ring Anna Werrin (Huhne’s campaign manager). If you can’t tell me who they are by email, I can’t blog it. It all sounds a bit whiffy to me.

Then there is Team Clegg, assuring us that they’ve canvassed 11,000 and that the 8,000 who have expressed a preference have come out 60-40 for Clegg. Hmmm… that’s a lot of “antis”, most of whom you can probably put down as Huhne supporters. Put that raw data through anything resembling the Richmond formula (they aren’t telling to what extent this canvass data is breaking down into “hard” and “soft” support, unsurprisingly) and I think you’ll find it ends up much closer. Come on lads, we’ve all done canvassing 101 haven’t we?

Speaking personally, my instincts tell me that Clegg will win, but that it will be close. Anecdotally, Huhne seems to be going down much better with older members and there are a lot of those. The YouGov poll is particularly dubious because although Peter Kellner has been keen to point out that it has been weighted according to age, it doesn’t appear to take into account the likelihood that those who aren’t following this election online (i.e. people who don’t vote in YouGov polls) are likely to be experiencing a very different election compared with those of us – of whatever age – who are.

On the other hand, there is the donkey vote factor, the same factor that saw MEPs getting reselected with 70-90% of the vote last month. Faced with that big long list of the great and good that Clegg has behind him, I find it hard to believe a lot of armchair members won’t unthinkingly vote for him regardless of anything else. The only reason I don’t think that will be as big a factor as it could be is that Team Clegg appear to consider pushing out paper to be beneath them, while Team Huhne have been putting much more out.

So I think Huhne will improve on his 42% last time, but not quite well enough. Either way, the victor had better recognise that they have a lot to prove to pretty much half of the party. It won’t be much of a mandate, so don’t expect an easy ride folks!


  1. As somebody who stuffed a lot of envelopes for the Nick campaign – in fact I think I stuffed one with your name on – I object to the paper-pushing is beneath us remark.

    There is after all a spending limit. Do you send people fewer more detailed mailings, or a greater number of little focuses with less detail? Either strategy is acceptable, but perhaps the first (Nick’s) is better if you have something to say, and the second (Chris’s) is more suited to a campaign of shouting loud.

    Of course it is a little hard to judge when not everybody gets the same, but all I got from Chris was a postcard and a A4 leaflet with an endorsement from somebody else’s MEP. What I sent for Nick was an 8 page manifesto and an A3 leaflet – I think most people should have got at least one of these. I guess another mailing would have been possible if we had drastically cut the printing costs by not putting anything much in the mailings.

  2. “Do you send people fewer more detailed mailings, or a greater number of little focuses with less detail? Either strategy is acceptable, but perhaps the first (Nick’s) is better if you have something to say, and the second (Chris’s) is more suited to a campaign of shouting loud.”

    Er, that’s exactly what I said. You do consider pushing the paper out to be beneath you and describe it in pejorative terms.

    As for the argument that your “Hello-meets-the-Economist” magazine is “detailed” – come off it! The strategy you’ve come up with is neither fish nor foul and falls between both stools.

    It would be nice if Team Clegg actually thought a bit of shouting might be a good idea. Hopefully Nick will be dissuaded of their “quiet man” approach once he actually takes office.

  3. I also have received nothing from Clegg. Presumably because I am a declared Huhne supporter. This is an odd tactic. I have spoken to many people active in both campaigns. I have made it clear I don’t see this as a major clash – like those 1970s posters of Thatcher and Callaghan with guns drawn and Steel sttod inbetween. I speak to many Lib Dems who aren’t in either camp. I may well say to somebody “I thought Clegg’s comment on x in his leaflet was spot on, even though i am voting for Huhne”. But I can’t do that if I don’t see the literature.

  4. Your comments about the canvass stats mirror my own thoughts.

    If I was looking at canvass data for a normal election, excluded the undecideds/antis/don’t knows, and the rest were only splitting 60/40 our way, I would be less than confident!

  5. “If you can’t tell me who they are by email, I can’t blog it. It all sounds a bit whiffy to me.”

    Not whiffy at all – the polling was undertaken by Marcus Evan Ltd’s phone bank, who undertake polling and research work for the Party.

  6. Then I guessed correctly (didn’t blog it as Marcus Evans has deeper pockets than me).

    What was the big pantomime about not mentioning them by name then?

  7. No James, I wouldn’t have done so much paper pushing if I thought it beneath me. The choice of fewer better mailings was not one I was party to, but I would imagine, given the cost of stamps versus manual delivery means that one would lean more towards fewer and better in a leadership election than a public election.

    Duncan, yes I remember a few labels of known Huhne supporters were pulled from the pile, so that the mailing could go to someone who might be receptive to it. The budget limits the number of mailings. There may have been other groups missed out, I wouldn’t know.

    Anyway, if you made a judgement, somewhere along a continuum, wouldn’t it be a big rough of me to suggest that you think another judgement, a little to the left or right is “beneath” you?

    And I don’t see how Chris could send a “lot” more within the spending limit.

  8. Sorry, I’m not suggesting he broke the spending limit. What I was getting at was that he may just have sent you a lot more as part of a cunning opinion-former strategy.

  9. Why would I think another judgement (not sure where left and right come into this) is beneath me? That would mean I would hold the opinion of a whole host of people who’s judgement I greatly respect in contempt just because they are supporting Nick.
    I have I believe supported the wrong person for the leadership of the party in the past. Not much point in being a Lib Dem if you won’t listen to debate, even if you strongly fight one corner.

  10. Because I had better things to do and didn’t want to get embroiled into some conspiracy about having to keep the identity of the pollsters a secret – it was a question of whether I reported the story or not, not some great act of investigative journalism. As such loads of other people didn’t share my concern so it was widely reported anyway, including Mike Smithson who duly reported back all that I would have learnt in case.

    I only blogged the story once it had clearly taken on a life of its own.

  11. Duncan – I confess to being the one who removed the address label that was meant for you.

    I didn’t remove many, only those of well known declared Chris Huhne supporters as and when I came across them, although I am sure there are lots that were missed. For example, I also decided that mailing the Huhne household of Eastleigh was somewhat pointless!

  12. If Nick loses by one vote it will be that armchair member that didn’t hear me say “I saw that Nick agrees with you on fox hunting” in his leaflet and it will all be your fault Anders 🙂

    Come to think of it, what are both their views on fox hunting…

  13. Throughout this campaign, it has certainly been clear that Chris Huhne likes nothing better than to hunt down small, endearing-looking creatures and brutally tear them to pieces. 🙂

  14. Well I’ve received nothing from Huhne and my only contact in the post has been from Clegg. I’ve also received significantly more emails from Clegg than I have from Huhne.

    I may be a declared Clegg supporter, but I’d appreciate it if the Huhne campaign made at least a token effort to get my vote.

  15. Well as an undecided until a few day or so ago when I voted I think I received a few more things from Huhne than Clegg but not much. To be honest I stopped reading both lots and just made my decision based on the hustings I attended, the information on their campaign websites and my own gut feeling.

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