Thursday, 12 September 2013

Polls Apart

This is just a relatively short post on the opinion polls national 'voting intention' recent results...

During much of July and all of August the figures were, as happens at the same time every year, significantly distorted by the absence of many voters on holiday. Even if they weren't away, many (though not all) might well have had their notifications from polling companies turned off for the suration, and their 'phones left on voice-mail mode.

This didn't stop those who ought to know better seeming to give undue weight to the polls during that period, without much if any caution regarding the seasonal unreliability of said polls. Thus we had widely conflicting results, often from the same pollster within just days.

Now that we are in mid-September, things seem to have settled back to normal, and the tentative conclusions I have been able to draw from the three periods (a) in the run-up to the holiday season (b) a best-guess from during that season and (c) since the end of August is that Labour's lead has been dropping throughout.

Their lead had been around ten percent earlier in the year, and was more like eight percent by early July.During the holiday season the best that can be deduced is that it looks like this might well have dropped a further point or two during those six to eight weeks.

This month, though, we are fairly firmly in the six-points-and-below area; and with Ed[ward] Miliband's poor performance at the TUC Conference and big troubles with the Unions and within his party, and economic recovery starting to firm-up a little despite Labour's perpetual claims regarding Coalition policies, it will probably narrow still further.

Indeed, it is more than possible that, after the imminent autumn party conference season, the polling could have crossed over and Labour end up behind the Conservatives in terms of voting intention. Local Labour spinners are trying to contrive ways to make it look otherwise, interestingly using specific techniques they have never employed before – i.e. only when it suits them – but I am too old a hand at this business of polling to be taken in, and nor should you.

The Liberal Democrats, by contrast, are currently around nine percent, so aren't really in contention and are not likely to be by May 2015. They'd do best to concentrate on local elections where those are being held on the same day, such as here in Medway. Here, their parliamentary candidates cannot get anywhere and it'd be a waste of scarce resources to put too much effort into their campaigns.

That is about as far as I can read from the story to date; but no doubt I shall have another look at this topic in (say December, or earlier if something dramatic and/or unexpected occurs in the meantime.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this yesterday, there has been a poll with a three-point Labour lead, and an other showing a four percent lead. It appears that, as I indicated above, the trend away from Labour is indeed continuing.

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