YouGov marginals polls: a smattering of details and a warning

YouGov’s now annual mammoth marginals poll is out. It’s heavily talked about elsewhere, so here are a few extracts that are likely to be of particular interest:

As was the case last year, there is still no sign of Liberal Democrat supporters tactically voting Conservative to oust Labour though neither is there any sign of them voting tactically against the Tories…

Sitting Liberal Democrat MPs continue to benefit from both anti-Conservative tactical voting and a personal vote…

[In Conservative vs Lib Dem seats] respondents are far more likely to recall having received literature or seen adverts from the Liberal Democrats than the Conservatives. [However, on recalling being canvassed last year’s Lib Dem lead is now a Tory lead.]

Asked about which issues were the most important, the biggest changes from last year were unemployment (up from 4% to 26%), law and order (down from 45% to 28% – surprisingly perhaps given that crime usually goes up as the economy suffers) and inflation (down from 16% to 4%). The top six issues this year are (in order) economy, health, law and order, unemployment, education and immigration/race-relations.

37% (up 3% from last year) agree, “I would vote Liberal Democrat if I thought they could win here”. Bearing in mind that is an average figure across the whole sample, the majority of which are Labour/Conservative seats, it shows just how great the potential is in the seats the Lib Dems are fighting seriously if that message can be got across in those seats.

Finally, a word of caution about individual seat predictions – because they’re based not on individual seats but instead on batches of seats. As YouGov’s Anthony Well’s explains:

Note that the seat predictions in the poll are all based on uniform swings within each group of similar seats – last time lots of people got the wrong end of the stick and through they were based on the 150 or so people in each individual seat, they aren’t, since the sample would be too low.

Given what we know about how variable results can be between different similar seats (compare the result last time in Hornsey and Wood Green or Manchester Withington with other seats that had a similar Labour lead for example), that means that even if the overall poll turns out to be 100% accurate in every other regard, the individual seat results will vary from the predictions listed.

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