Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Poll Watch: A Tale of Two Polls

Two new opinion polls suggest the general election will conclude with a hung parliament, although the polls are interpreted as conflicting stories.

A YouGov tracker for The Sun shows the Coservative lead boosted back to seven points, wit changes from the YouGov poll in The Sunday Times.

Conservatives 39% (+2) | Labour 32% (-3) | Liberal Democrats 17% (n/c)

Meanwhile a ComRes for The Independent, with changes from their last poll in mid February, give the Conservative lead at five points.

Conservatives 37% (-1) Labour 32% (+2) Liberal Democrats 19% (-1)

This suggests that Labour would remain the largest party.

This weekend, I was in Brighton, for the Conservative spring conference, at the Hilton Brigton Metropole. I had a really good time - and the general mood seemed to be much better than at Manchester, where a gloom reigned, as we recognised the scale of the task ahead, last autumn - but doubtlessly not because of the front page of The Sunday Times, which was outside my bedroom door as I emerged for breakfast; it read: "Gordon Brown on course to win election".

The Sunday Times had a poll which narrowed the Conservative lead to just two percentage points, with changes from the previous weeks poll.

Conservatives on 37% (-2) | Labour on 35% (+2) | Liberal Democrats 17% (n/c).
Because of the way our electoral system works and the way constituency boundaries have been drawn this would bizzarly give labour the largest number of seats if repeated at a General Election - ado those who say that changing the voting system is the answer to making it fairer, under the proposed Alternative Vote method Labour wound notfind themselves as a minority administration, they would likely as not have a majority.

In the end Anthony Wells at UK Polling Report concludes:
"It appears from this that the weekend poll was most likely an outlier, and that the Conservatives had a lead of about 6 points or so all along. Polls on the fringes of the margin of error are unavoidable, the benefit of daily polling is at least that we only have to wait 24 hours to identify them.
"Of course, in theory it is possible that Labour did narrow the gap before the weekend, but that David Cameron pulled it back over the weekend (or perhaps more likely, that it was a mixture of the two with a genuine narrowing of the lead, exaggerated by random sample error) – the reality is that we’ll never know."
He is probably right, together with the fact that Politics Home's Eletoral Index suggests that the swing at the next General Election is not going to be uniform. Time will reveal all.

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