Monday, December 14, 2009

YouGov subsample : Tories in rare second place

In an abrupt break with the seemingly endless sequence of dismal poll findings for the Scottish Tories, the latest YouGov subsample places them at the giddy heights of 26%, marginally edging the SNP out for second place. Given the consistency of the recent low figures for the party, this looks very much like a statistical quirk thrown up by the inherently huge margin of error in subsamples (although of course you never know). There was a similar quirk earlier in the year, when a YouGov subsample had the Tories holding the joint lead in Scotland. Here are the full figures -

Labour 37% (+3)
Conservatives 26% (+7)
SNP 24% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-11)
Others 5% (-)

It's worth noting that, in spite of the SNP slipping into third place, the gap between themselves and Labour is - once again - lower than that shown by the last full-scale Scottish YouGov poll.


  1. Interesting figures, but I suspect of very little value due to the small numbers involved in a Scottish sub sample. What is the margin for error on that size......=/- 10%?

  2. Hi, Tris. The sample size for this particular subsample was 190, which according to the ComRes calculator translates to a margin of error of about 7%. However, that doesn't take into account the fact that the figures may not be properly weighted.

    You're right, there's absolutely no conclusion that can be drawn from a single subsample - it's highly unlikely the Tories are currently in second place, for instance - but I do think a small amount can be gleaned from the figures if you look at the pattern of several subsamples over a period of time. One thing that irritates me slightly is when people say in Snow-esque fashion "these are just a bit of fun", as if the numbers are totally random and meaningless - if that was really the case we'd regularly be seeing the Liberal Democrats or even the Greens in the lead!

  3. Al;righty James,

    Thanks for that information.... +/- 7% renders them pretty meaningless, I guess. In theory the Tories could be as low as 19% and the SNP as high as 31%... although I appreciate that that's unlikely.

    LOL... the word verification for this post was clober.... how appropriate!

    But I take your point about the Libs and the Greens. Looking up there... they are down an amazing 11%. If I were Tavish, even given the margin for error here I would be worried.....