Monday, June 30, 2014

YouGov's controversial methodology has now claimed the mantle of the outright most No-friendly pollster

Apparently there is a new YouGov poll out in The Times tomorrow.  The paper's Nat-bashing night editor has predictably gone straight into "ANOTHER blow for Salmond!!!" mode, but in fact the changes are margin of error stuff from a pollster that has now not merely consolidated its status as one of the most No-friendly pollsters, but has in fact overtaken even Ipsos-Mori to become the outright most No-friendly pollster.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 39% (-1)
No 61% (+1)

We'll have to wait and see what the headline figures are (ie. not excluding Don't Knows), and in particular what the figures are for those respondents who say they are certain or very likely to vote - in the last poll those were considerably better for Yes.

It's a very odd pattern we've been looking at of late - we had polls a couple of weeks ago from Panelbase and Survation showing the gap between the two sides at its narrowest point to date, and an ICM poll that also showed a sharp decrease in the No lead, but those have been counterintuitively followed by two YouGov polls showing slight increases in the No lead.  It may be that YouGov are the earliest to pick up a new trend and that others will soon follow, but until at least one other pollster shows the same thing I'll be very sceptical.  All of the caveats about YouGov's extremely odd methodology still apply.  They always sharply upweight Labour-to-SNP switchers from 2011, which means they're heavily reliant on the belief that the voting intentions of a very small number of respondents are representative of a very wide section of the electorate.  They're also probably interviewing those people over and over again for each poll (because they can't find enough 2011 switchers), and that can easily lead to respondents becoming 'self-conscious' and just reflexively giving the same answer every time.  We also know from one previous poll that YouGov's sample had far too many English-born people in it, and too few Scottish-born people in it, so if that's an ongoing problem and not one that was specific to that individual poll, then it could be persistently skewing the poll numbers in a No-friendly direction.

UPDATE : We now have the headline numbers, which again show tiny margin of error changes, and thus make a bit of a nonsense of The Times' breathless claims that the poll is somehow "dramatic" and shows a "slump in Salmond's support" -

Yes 35% (-1)
No 54% (+1)

That suggests it may have been quite a close-run thing as to whether the figures with Don't Knows excluded were rounded up to 40/60 or rounded down to 39/61 - but we'll never know, because YouGov are less transparent than all other BPC pollsters, and always keep their raw numbers a closely-guarded secret.

To put it in perspective, tonight's 19-point No lead is just 1% higher than the 18-point lead reported by YouGov at the start of March - which at the time was the lowest lead reported so far in the campaign by this most No-friendly of pollsters.  The lead is still a whopping 11 points lower than it was at its peak last August.

I can't see any mention on the Times front page of the figures for people who are certain or very likely to vote, so we may have to wait until the datasets are published (hopefully tomorrow).

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Once again, YouGov's small margin of error changes have failed to make much of a dent on the overall trend of a declining No lead in the Poll of Polls - two updates ago we had the lowest No lead of all-time, in the last update we had the second-lowest No lead of all-time, and in this one we have the third-lowest No lead of all-time - just 10.7% when Don't Knows are taken into account.

MEAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 43.6% (-0.2)
No 56.4% (+0.2)

MEAN AVERAGE (not excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 36.5% (-0.2)
No 47.2% (+0.2)

MEDIAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 43.6% (-0.2)
No 56.4% (+0.2)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the pollsters that have been active in the referendum campaign since September 2013, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are six - YouGov, TNS-BMRB, Survation, Panelbase, Ipsos-Mori and ICM. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample. Changes in the Poll of Polls are generally glacial in nature due to the fact that only a small portion of the sample is updated each time.)

Here are the long-term trend figures, with updates prior to Easter recalculated to remove the inactive pollster Angus Reid ...

The No campaign's lead in the Poll of Polls mean average (not excluding Don't Knows) :

Sep 2013 - 21.6%
Sep 2013 - 21.4%
Sep 2013 - 19.4%
Oct 2013 - 18.8%
Oct 2013 - 18.4%
Oct 2013 - 18.2%
Nov 2013 - 18.4%
Nov 2013 - 18.0%
Dec 2013 - 17.0%
Dec 2013 - 16.8%
Dec 2013 - 16.4%
Jan 2014 - 14.4%
Jan 2014 - 14.2%
Jan 2014 - 14.2%
Jan 2014 - 15.2%
Feb 2014 - 15.0%
Feb 2014 - 15.5%
Feb 2014 - 15.5%
Feb 2014 - 13.7%
Feb 2014 - 13.3%
Feb 2014 - 14.2%
Mar 2014 - 14.2%
Mar 2014 - 14.5%
Mar 2014 - 14.5%
Mar 2014 - 14.7%
Mar 2014 - 13.8%
Mar 2014 - 13.0%
Mar 2014 - 12.5%
Apr 2014 - 12.5%
Apr 2014 - 12.7%
Apr 2014 - 12.7%
Apr 2014 - 12.3%
Apr 2014 - 11.4%
May 2014 - 11.2%
May 2014 - 11.2%
May 2014 - 11.5%
May 2014 - 13.3%
Jun 2014 - 12.1%
Jun 2014 - 12.1%
Jun 2014 - 11.3%
Jun 2014 - 9.9%
Jun 2014 - 10.3%
Jun 2014 - 10.7%


  1. It's a measure of just how things are with the referendum polling that it's left to James to point out the extraordinary and controversial methodology inherent in YouGov's referendum polling while Britain's on living psephologist John Curtice continues to ignore such things yet still gets constantly invited on to the BBC to hold forth on polling.

    This even after his amusingly terrible performance at the 2011 scottish elections.

    Those who foolishly base everything on YouGov and Curtice would be as well going to the PB tory twits for analysis of scottish politics and polling. Given that politicalbetting is still being moderated and 'guest edited' by TSE (who lied about his child dying to try and welch out of a bet) and where senile old right-wingers like JackW are actually taken seriously with his polling 'forecasts'. (which he himself has had to admit are based on nothing more than his own farts)

    The new flounce bounce appears to be hitting little Ed quite hard though it's still only Ashcroft showing crossover as yet.

    No doubt the PB tory twits think little Ed is doing so pitifully because he far too left-wing.


  2. TSE also lied about being on the TV show "Countdown".

  3. Did he? I didn't know that, but nothing would surprise me!