Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The YouGov Poll, why we should be worried

Today’s Daily Tracker YouGov poll, that appears in the Sun and other News International publications, is a worry. Not only does it show that the Conservative lead in the polls remains at just 6 % but there are two aspects to it that are really important
  1. YouGov polling is incredibly accurate
  2. This is a daily tracker poll that takes into account “bullygate”
Firstly YouGov polling is generally streets ahead of other polls in terms of accuracy, their panels are enormous, about 300,000 people compared to significantly smaller panels for other polling organisations and from that they automatically select a representative sample weighting responses accordingly. During the London Mayoral campaign Ken Livingstone claimed, and indeed made formal complaints, against YouGov stating that their methodology failed to include the large number of ethnic minorities in London, however their final poll was out by just 0.1% of the true result.

It’s easy to dismiss polls as inaccurate and not representative, but YouGov have real form in this area and should therefore be taken seriously. A lead of just six percent is almost certainly in hung parliament territory. Also with the country in the state it’s in we really should be doing much better.

Secondly this poll is a daily tracker, YouGov are running daily polls that create a snapshot of the country’s views over the 24 hours prior to the paper being published. I had a brief chat with Peter Kellner, YouGov’s chief pollster yesterday and he pointed out just how radical this is, basically they run the poll for 24 hours (people are saying morning to morning but I am sure he said afternoon to afternoon) and in the afternoon insert below the line questions relating to issues of the day. This time it was on Gordon brown and whether people considered him to be a bully or not.

So these figures include the public’s response to the bullying allegations levelled at Brown at the weekend yet they are basically identical to the ICM February poll results, showing that this weekend’s allegations have done nothing to hurt Labour or to really hurt him.

I suspect looking at the results of the below the line questions that if anything they have strengthened Brown’s position. They show that whilst 24% of the public think that Brown is a bully and 40% think he is bad tempered, 27% think he is tough and 28% passionate. So allegations about him screaming and manhandling staff coupled with a bit of spin have meant that the public think he cares about his job.

For this I blame The Apprentice, Labour have already wheeled out Sir Alan Sugar on GMTV this morning to say that Gordon Brown, just “has a little fire in his belly” implying to millions of people that his behavior is fine, and that this kind of management style is what is needed. Real managers and business owners roll their eyes every time Alan Sugar is rolled out as a fantastic entrepreneur and manager but yet the public lap him up.

Asked at the PB Age conference yesterday whether he saw himself more as a moderator and facilitator than a leader David Cameron pointed out that leadership and setting the agenda is vitally important but that in a modern Post Bureaucratic Age we may need something different to the type of leaders we have now. Sadly I’m beginning to doubt that the public think the same.

Update: Craig Elder has just pointed out that an unreported aspect of ICM's poll is that 12% of Labour voters would prefer David Cameron as PM over Gordon Brown but still vote Labour. Does this show that it's policies and ideology (or tribalism) that matters not the personality or characteristics of the leader?

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  1. I was wondering when Alan Sugar would get wheeled out. As I wrote on my CentreRight post today the British public now see bullying, aggressive behaviour as strength and leadership, partly due to Sugar and The Apprentice. The damage he has done to the image of business, and to businesses in which he is emulated, is immense.

  2. Yes, any real manager or business owner operator will tell you Sugar is a terrible role model. He's a glorified salesman who's company has really failed to adapt to compete in the modern world, probably because he can't get really excellent people to work for him. What was the last Amstrad innovation? The em@iler? Now Sky own them purely becuase they can make cheap sky boxes and the latest HD boxes aren't even from there.