Sunday, February 27, 2011

A silver lining from YouGov

After the excitement of the recent Ipsos-Mori poll, YouGov have provided a reality-check for the SNP, but certainly not an extinguishing of all hope that the calamity of an Iain "the Snarl" Gray premiership might yet be averted.  Here are the full figures -

Constituency vote :

Labour 41% (+1)
SNP 32% (-2)
Conservatives 15% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Others 4% (-1)

List vote :

Labour 40% (+4)
SNP 26% (-5)
Conservatives 15% (-)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)
Greens 6% (-)
Others 5% (-)

The SNP have already raised an important technical objection to the poll, namely that the raw figures have been reweighted in accordance with party identification for Westminster elections, which certainly seems counter-intuitive given the traditional disparity between Westminster and Holyrood polls.  I've no idea how much credence to give to that complaint, but if it is true that the unadjusted figures showed a double-digit lead for the Nationalists, it's at least worth keeping an open mind on the point.  But there are a number of other crumbs of comfort for the SNP as well -

1) For a poll showing a significant Labour lead, the SNP are proving remarkably resilient on the constituency vote - just 1% down on their winning position from 2007.

2) The greater Labour lead on the list vote doesn't pass the 'smell test' somehow.  In all of the three Holyrood elections to date, the SNP have managed to retain more of their constituency votes on the list than Labour have, and it's hard to think of any particular reason why that pattern should be completely reversed now.

3) The dire showing for the Lib Dems continues to jeapordise Labour's chances of cobbling together a stable parliamentary majority, whether in coalition or a looser arrangement with Tavish Scott's party.  On the seat projections from this poll, the two parties would just about have a majority between them, but there's very little room for slippage from Labour's heady current standing.

4) Although Patrick Harvie seems to be touting the Greens as potential alternative partners for Labour, his party's level of support remains very much on the borderline between a breakthrough in terms of seats, or a 2007-style result.  In any case, if they couldn't find sufficient common ground with the SNP four years ago, it seems somewhat doubtful that they'd be able to suffer the 'born to rule' arrogance of Gray's mob for a full term.

It's also worth pointing out that the Ipsos-Mori poll arrived in the wake of Scottish issues (the budget and the Megrahi report) featuring very prominently in the news.  With the recent blanket coverage of the revolutions in the Middle East, the reverse is true this time round.  We'll have to wait until the formal campaign to get a proper sense of how the stark choice between Salmond and Gray plays with the public when placed before them on a nightly basis.

UPDATE :  Stuart Dickson has forwarded me this email he sent to YouGov's Peter Kellner and Anthony Wells, raising a further issue I hadn't previously spotted -

BPC disclosure rules - new YouGov/Scottish Green Party poll published in today's Sunday Herald

Hello Peter and Anthony,

I note that the detailed tables for this YouGov poll...have not appeared yet at the YouGov website. You have been very good lately, so I look forward to perusing the detailed tables as soon as possible (later today?).

It is unsatisfactory that the newspaper article ONLY reports the "certain to vote" VI figures: this is non-standard for YouGov polls, and I can only presume that it is designed to mislead. Please slap the Scottish Green Party / Sunday Herald on the hand.


A new YouGov poll on behalf of the Scottish Green Party is published in today’s Sunday Herald.

Dire for the Lib Dems, but unclear whether it is good for Labour or the SNP. Prior to weighting being applied the SNP were 13 POINTS ahead!! After weighting was applied, the SNP were suddenly 9 POINTS behind !! Go figure.

But I am confused by one thing: why on earth are the SH only publishing the “certain to vote” figures ?!? YouGov polls are not normally reported in this fashion. Anthony, can you provide the normal headline figures, as they will appear when YouGov get round to publishing the full tables? Thanks in advance.

On one point YouGov can probably be absolved of blame - it's not unusual for them to wait until Monday to put the details of a Sunday poll on their website. However, if Stuart is right about their normal practice in relation to certainty to vote (they've changed their methodology so many times over the years I've lost track) the partial reporting of this poll in the Herald does seem a bit suspicious. Given that the Scottish Greens commissioned the poll, it's hard not to wonder whether the figures restricted to those certain to vote just happened to be more favourable for Patrick Harvie's party.


  1. Latest Holyrood betting prices:

    Best prices currently available - Most Seats:

    Lab 1/4 (Bet365; Paddy Power)
    SNP 3/1 (William Hill)
    Con 125/1 (Bet365)
    LD 150/1 (Bet365)

    Next First Minister (Paddy Power):

    Gray 1/4
    Salmond 5/2
    Goldie 50/1
    Scott 66/1

  2. Jeez, That's worth a flutter!
    (Pluncking some cash in my pocket at Labour's expense will double the pleasure come Election time).

  3. guys - yougov are using likelihood to vote in Welsh polls - and that helps Plaid Cymru not Welsh Labour - so grasping at straws here I'm afraid. its Mori's methodology you shoudl be more worried about

  4. I wouldn't call it 'grasping at straws', Anon - it's raising legitimate questions in a confusing situation and trying to ferret out where the truth lies. For my part, I put plenty of health warnings on the Ipsos-Mori poll as well, and pointed out that they had overstated the SNP last year.

    As for the certainty to vote issue, whoever that is benefitting the effect is likely to be very marginal. The weighting by Westminster party ID is far more likely to explain the massive disparity between the two pollsters (assuming one of the two polls isn't an outright rogue, and that there wasn't a mini-SNP surge a week or two back that has since dissipated).

  5. The Greens surely have a chance of becoming Scotland's fourth party at this election. Hope so.

  6. The UKPR thread has gone.