Friday, March 13, 2015

Update about the YouGov poll : a big methodological change has been made

It turns out that the results of last night's YouGov poll are not directly comparable with previous YouGov polls, because Peter Kellner's firm has now fallen into line with Survation and Panelbase by weighting its figures to recalled referendum vote.  As you'll remember, it was the SNP's opponents who were unhappy about the failure to introduce that procedure until now, because it meant (on the face of it) that there were too many Yes voters in the YouGov sample, thus potentially leading to the SNP's vote, and the Yes vote in a hypothetical second independence referendum, being overestimated.  Curiously, though, the change in methodology has not actually led to a downweighting for the SNP in the new poll, because all of a sudden there are (slightly) too few Yes voters in the unweighted sample, and (slightly) too many No voters.

I find it hard to believe that something as unexpected as that could have happened by chance.  It may have done, but I think a more likely possibility is that YouGov have also made a methodological change at the point of data collection, and are now ensuring that they invite fewer Yes voters to take part in their polls, in an attempt to minimise the amount of weighting that is required.  If that is indeed the case, it means that it's literally impossible to tell what the results of the new poll would have been if the old methodology had still been in operation.  The only way we can make a comparison between this poll and the last one is by putting our faith in the new doctrine of weighting by referendum vote, and making a rough calculation of what the results of the last poll would have been if that weighting had been applied.  If we do that, even the trivial 2% drop in the SNP's lead is effectively scrubbed out, because of course the SNP's vote would have been a touch lower in the last poll.

The voting intention figures in the new poll for a hypothetical second independence referendum are Yes 49%, No 51% - which is identical to what they probably would have been in the last poll if the same weighting had been applied.  Under the old methodology, YouGov had been reporting a slight Yes lead, but at least now there are no more technical excuses for our opponents - this poll has recorded a hefty 4% swing in favour of Yes since the referendum, and that's undoubtedly a real swing because respondents are now weighted strictly in line with how they voted in September.  All polling firms that have asked the independence question over the last few months are united in showing a pro-Yes swing of a few percentage points, bringing the race into "statistical tie" territory - ie. where it's not possible to tell whether Yes or No are ahead, due to the standard 3% margin of error.  That, incidentally, makes an utter nonsense of yesterday's bizarre claim from the New Statesman's Jason Cowley that "Scots are not suffering from buyer's remorse" and that "a majority still wish to remain part of the UK".  Evidently we should stop listening to scientifically-conducted opinion polls, and start listening to Mr Cowley's gut feelings about what must be true.

For the first time, there's a crossbreak in the YouGov datasets specifically covering the portion of the sample that voted Labour in 2010, and Yes in the referendum.  (Hopefully that isn't the latest mutation of the Kellner Correction, and is simply there for information purposes.)  There are no great surprises - we always knew that the SNP wouldn't have been able to build up this huge lead unless ex-Labour Yes voters were now mostly in their column, and sure enough 81% of those people have made the journey across.  Just 18% have remained faithful to Labour.  Perhaps most importantly, 99% of them would vote Yes again if given the chance.

An enormous 88% of these "Labour-Yes switchers" think that Ed Miliband should leave open the possibility of a post-election deal with the SNP.  So perhaps he ought to be cautious about listening to the siren voices in the London commentariat who would have him believe that he can somehow regain popularity in Scotland by doing the complete opposite.

I mentioned Jim Murphy's dismal leadership ratings last night, but the true humiliation for him is that slightly more people (29%) think David Cameron is doing well as Prime Minister than think Murphy is doing well as Scottish Labour leader (26%).  Admittedly, Murphy's net disapproval rating isn't quite as bad as Cameron's, because there are more people who think that Cameron is performing poorly.

There's an old saying that "divided parties don't win elections", and that's where this poll has truly devastating news for Labour.  59% of voters think Labour is divided, compared to just 10% who say the same about the SNP.

If the unionist parties are hoping that they can turn things around in the formal campaign period, they'll be dismayed to learn that a formidable 69% of people planning to vote SNP say there is "no chance at all" that they will change their minds.  The equivalent figure for the much smaller group of people currently planning to vote Labour is 59%.

Incredibly, more respondents (27%) say that the SNP is the party best able to keep Britain in the European Union than say the same about any other party.  What a shocking indictment of the state of the pro-European lobby at Westminster (is there one anymore?)


  1. I get this if CoB data is weighted back to the census:

    47% Yes
    46% No
    7% DK

    = 51% Yes / 49% No ex DK.

    There's not enough Scots / too many rUK in the Yougov sample.

  2. It is also interesting to note the failure of the other Labour policy initiative, the defense of the NHS as a reason to vote Labour. The poll shows Scots by a margin of over 2 to 1 indicating their confidence in the SNP defending the NHS rather than Labour.

  3. Just had a Scottish Office Propaganda video pop up as a You tube advert. Anyone starting to feel like they are having something forced upon them? I'm curious to know who is behind this and how much taxpayers money they have spent.

    1. Yep, the ad's are on the radio too and they make it sound like it's all been done and dusted. Nothing could be further from the truth, The ad' uses very misleading phrases. There is little chance of the 'Smith Commission recommendations agreed' of ever making it through the Commons AND the Lords. Lang, Forsythe, Rifkind etc, ALL waiting to ambush it, veto it and boot it into the long grass.

  4. "Incredibly, more respondents (27%) say that the SNP is the party best able to keep Britain in the European Union than say the same about any other party. What a shocking indictment of the state of the pro-European lobby at Westminster (is there "one anymore?)"

    Why would any rational person want to be pro-EU?

    (1) It is a corrupt institution which has not had its accounts signed off for 19 years running
    (2) Contrary to the argument that it has kept the peace in Europe since WW2, it stood by as ethnic cleansing took place on its doorstep. One of the few good things of Blair's leadership was his action on Kosovo as much of the rest of Europe were spectators to genocide.
    (3) Anybody remember the Lisbon Agenda of 2000 which aimed to make the EU "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion", by 2010. Stop laughing at the back......
    (4) The euro has been a disaster. How could anybody think that a single currency, with one exchange rate for Germany and Greece could ever be viable?
    (5) We are now seeing the rise of nationalism across Europe, whether it is the rise of the FN in France, or the rising anti-German sentiment in Greece. Quite an achievement for a project that was supposed to bind people together....

    1. Most of us would make the exact same argument about Westminster.

    2. Any idea when the Home Office last had its accounts signed off?

    3. 1) That a ridiculous statement with absolutely no backing or evidence. How can you even suggest that an organisation hasn't had its accounts looked at once?

      2) The EU does not have an army, how do you expect it to prevent genocide or take military action? That is not what the EU was created for. Moreover, member states of the EU did take part in the campaign.

      3&4) The sorry state we see the EU in is more to do with the decision taken by Global banking firms and a lack of foresight by politicians on all sides.

      5) You are forgetting the role a right wing press has in stirring up anger at the wrong people. See above note for reference.

    4. # an organisation that size.

    5. (1)

      (2) The whole rationale of the EU is that it is supposed to have kept the peace in Europe since WW2. Yet the countries of the EU stood by as genocide took place on its doorstep. This only stopped when Blair and Clinton intervened.
      (3) Europe is stagnating, imprisoned by the lunatic economics of the euro. Please explain how one interest rate is suitable for 20+ divergent economies.
      (4) There is the growth of 'extreme' politics of both the left and the right across Europe (eg, FN in France and Syriza in Greece). This is rooted in everyday experiences, not the press.

    6. Anon : Nice try at conflating a racist, extremist party like the National Front with an internationalist party like Syriza.

      I disapproved of the bombing of Serbia, although from what I recall the arch-Eurosceptic PM John Major was very keen to stay out of both the Balkans and Rwanda.

    7. I presume that you are aware who Syriza's coalition partners are? The Independent Greeks vocally oppose immigration and multiculturalism, emphasising the importance of “Greek history and culture.

      The Independent Greeks’ founding declaration says members believe in the “values and the timelessness of Orthodoxy”, potentially contributing to a conservative stance on issues such as gay marriage.

      And of course in a symbolic first act as prime minister, Alexis Tsipras paid his respects to 200 Greeks executed by the Nazis in World War Two.

      The rhetoric coming from Syriza - blaming Germany for Greece's problems when much of it was self-inflicted, albeit compounded by the Euro, and raising the issue of war reparations - contributes to anti-German feeling as much as anything coming from Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn.

      Ref Major (and Rifkind) - their position in the face of genocide was disgusting. By contrast, Blair's action was one of the few positive legacies of his time as PM.

    8. Also, there doesn't seem to be a elitist group of paedophiles in Brussels compared to Westminster. Everyone knows this is the case, hence the reluctance to have any investigation, just mistakes, cover ups and oops! The documents have been destroyed. I'd rather be in Europe than out because too many jobs depend being in the EU. The future may just prove that.

    9. "I presume that you are aware who Syriza's coalition partners are?"

      Being in coalition with the Independent Greeks doesn't make Syriza a right-wing extremist party any more than being in coalition with Simon Hughes makes David Cameron a social liberal.

      And on the face of it, I'm struggling to see anything particularly wrong with Tsipras paying his respects to Greeks executed by the Nazis. I'm not a great fan of Nazism, or of judicial murder.

  5. 1) Did he really just use the telegraph to prove his point about the EU? An undeniable eurosceptic right wing news paper. Zero points for credible sources there!

    2) The EU's principle role is as a free trade organisation. I think the real question is why did the UN stand back for so long? It against international agreement to role into any nation without its agreement.

    3) There are plenty of senior politicians (including Tories) who agree that even the UK will join the Euro eventually. Sure the Euro isn't helping things just now. However looking over the long term history, it certainly has helped member nations grow their economy with great success.

    4) There has always been extreme politics, we are just becoming more aware of it as the press now have it in their agenda. Do you not remember the communist parties in the UK? Or how about BNP today? If I remember correctly, they have nothing to do with Europe.

  6. Opinium sub-sample:

    SNP 41, Lab 28, Con 18, Others <6

    The down-weighting they have used for the SNP isn't as bat-shit crazy as it has been in previous weeks, but there is still some. SNP down-weighted from 71 to 50, although Scotland being down-weighted from 139 to 122 accounts for about half of this.

  7. ComRes sub-sample:

    SNP 45, Lab 22, Con 16, Others <8