That YouGov poll in full

by Stephen Tall on December 3, 2007

The full results of that YouGov / Sky News leadership poll are now available online here: these give the full breakdown of figures, together with the answers to questions which weren’t reported by the media at the weekend.

A few observations from my reading of the data (which I am taking at face value while recognising it might be wildly inaccurate):

Leadership election turnout

According to the poll, a full 93% of members seem likely to vote – just 7% responded saying they didn’t know if they’d vote at all, and 1% declaring they would not vote at all. This points either to a remarkably high turnout – in the 2006 contest, just over 70% of members voted – or suggests the YouGov sample includes a high level of motivated Lib Dems (not that that necessarily matters. After all, the poll is meant to try and predict what those who actually vote will do).

Nick v. Chris

If the poll is right – and Chris Huhne’s campaign website is currently citing some of the figures on his website – it suggests Chris has a huge uphill task ahead: those who have voted have split 58:42 in Nick Clegg’s favour; while those who have yet to vote are also breaking in Nick’s favour by 31:26. It is true, of course, that 44% of those who intend to vote still don’t know who for… Chris will need them to flock to him in droves.

It is clear that one quality Chris’s supporters appreciate about their candidate more than any other is competency: 50% believe he is more competent than Nick Clegg. Rather astonishingly, not one single Chris supporter thinks Nick is the more competent of the two; though, to be fair, only 2% of Nick’s supporters say that Chris is more competent. Overall, 61% say there’s not much difference in competency between the two candidates.

Clearly the make or break question for many is voter appeal, and it is here that Nick bests Chris: only 9% of those polled say Chris has significantly more, while 53% say Nick does. Among Nick’s supporters, fully 86% identify this quality with their guy; only one-quarter of Chris’s supporters think he has the most voter appeal.

However, Chris’s supporters – 64% of them – are much more likely to say that their candidate has the best policy programme, compared with 39% of Nick’s supporters who think Nick comes up trumps. Overall, by 28:19, Lib Dems favour Chris’s policies, though almost half say there’s “not much difference” between the two.

Focusing on the negative, the poll finds that:
– 33% of Chris’s supporters believe Nick will “make a poor leader because he has changed his mind too often on important policy issues”; and
– 66% of Nick’s supporters believe Chris will “make a poor leader because he failed to prevent his campaign team publishing a leaflet entitled, ‘Calamity Clegg’”.

If not Nick or Chris, who?

Unsurprisingly, if neither Nick nor Chris were standing, party members would like to see Charles Kennedy back leading the Lib Dems: 34% gave him the nod ahead of 23% for Vince Cable, 13% for Simon Hughes, and 6% for Julia Goldsworthy. An overwhelming 84% would also like to see Charles return to the Lib Dem shadow cabinet after the leadership election.

Gordon v. David

There is an interesting nuance between the supporters of Nick and Chris regarding who they think would make the better Prime Minister when faced with the Hobson’s Choice of Gordon Brown or David Cameron. Though almost half of both candidates’ supporters plump for Gordon, 25% of Nick’s voters opt for Dave, compared to just 13% of Chris’s.

The obligatory Hung Parliament question

A further distinction between the supporters of the two candidates appears to be their willingness to do a deal after the next election: 48% of Team Clegg voters would be willing to reach an accommodation with the Tories, compared to only 30% of Team Huhne’s voters. But Nick’s supporters are pretty even-handed: 61% would also be willing to do a deal with Labour, compared to 53% of Chris’s supporters.


On policy, it is striking how much similarity there is between the views of the two candidates’ supporters when asked which two policies they would most like to see implemented in the next Parliament. Overwhelmingly the most popular policy among Lib Dems is the introduction of electoral reform, albeit Chris’s supporters – 77% named it – are even more enthusiastic than Nick’s 71%. The second most popular policy for both camps is the replacement of the Council Tax with a local income tax: 39% of Nick’s supporters placed it in their top two, compared to 34% of Chris’s. 85% of those Lib Dems polled want to retain the party’s commitment to local income tax.

Considering the sound and fury (in the blogosphere at any rate), scrapping nuclear weapons comes low down the list of priorities of Lib Dem members; nor is there any evident divide between the two sets of supporters. Just 11% of Chris’s supporters placed it in their top two policies, compared with 10% of Nick’s supporters. Even when quizzed specifically on Trident, there is little sign of schism: 10% of party members want to replace Trident; 46% want a less powerful, less expensive replacement; and 40% support unilateral disarmament.

There is similar agreement on withdrawal from Iraq: 26% support immediate withdrawal; 52% think it should happen by the end of 2008; and 19% believe troops should remain there for as long as the Iraqi government wishes them to stay.

Interestingly, a slim majority of those polled – 45% to 42% – are against holding a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty, the successor to treaty to the ill-fated EU Constitution: Chris’s supporters are a little more likely to be against holding a referendum than Nick’s.

Past leaders

Unsurprisingly, Paddy Ashdown is regarded as the party’s most successful leader, at least among those aged 40 or over – 54% name him, compared to 37% for Charles Kennedy (who tops the poll among those aged under 40). Ming Campbell is, equally unsurprisingly, named the worst leader by 55% of respondents – though a kinder 30% said ‘Don’t Know’, which was the only way of avoiding answering the question.

Left or right?

27% regard themselves as fairly/very left-wing;
43% as slightly left-of-centre;
18% as being in the centre;
7% as slightly right-of centre; and
1% as fairly right-wing.
Which perhaps shows something, though I’m not sure what, as it depends entirely on your definition of ‘left-wing’.

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No comments

Three things – the projected turn out; the prioritisation of electoral reform; and the overwhelming self identification on the left – suggest that this poll skewed massively towards activists rather than ‘armchair’ members.

Whether that makes a difference or not is a whole other story…

by Ed on December 3, 2007 at 10:26 pm. Reply #

And with turnout, there’s also the issue that this is a poll of active members—there are a bunch of members that aren’t even contactable.

by MatGB on December 3, 2007 at 10:50 pm. Reply #

Interesting to see that 70% of the membership see themselves to being to varying degrees on the left.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 3, 2007 at 10:53 pm. Reply #

I very much doubt the turnout will be that high. About 25% of the members will lose their ballot forms or will simply forget to vote.
I suspect the turnout will be similar to last time.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 3, 2007 at 10:59 pm. Reply #

Just had a quick look and there’s an important technical flaw with the poll…

The poll sample’s age split isn’t even close to the party membership’s actual age split. It (unfortunately) hugely overstates young voters and understates those over 60.

Since Chris is beating Nick amongst those of our biggest age group (over 60s) who have already voted, the election may be closer than the topline figure would suggest.

by Martin Tod on December 3, 2007 at 11:28 pm. Reply #

Regarding the policy priorities question, Ed is wrong to say that the fact that 70% of members support electoral reform means it is massively skewed towards activists.

The question, IIRC, asked people to name their top four policy priorities. As it has always been one of our most identifiable policies, it is hardly surprising that so many support it as one of their top four priorities. Even armchair members need a reason to join, let’s not forget. What the poll doesn’t show is to what extend it is a preference – it could be everyone’s fourth priority for instance which wouldn’t suggest it is much of a priority at all.

by James Graham on December 4, 2007 at 12:42 am. Reply #

Martin may well be right – my anecdotal evidence suggests that most over-40s I know seem to be plumping for Huhne.

by James Graham on December 4, 2007 at 12:43 am. Reply #

Five of James’s friends are voting Huhne so it’s sure to be Chris by a landslide… 😉

Still, that might be just as representative as the You Gov poll. Given that all we ever seem to get in this contest is spin from one camp or the other it would be interesting to get some input from, say, the pollster, to justify their methodology.

Martin – it’s an interesting point you make about the bias towards younger members (which again suggests a bias towards the activists over the armchair members) but how many people are you talking about when you say Chris leads among the over 60s – is it taken from the poll and if so is it a big enough sample to be meaningful?

Bias towards activists might suggest that the poll over-estimates Chris’s vote since he has made a deliberate pitch for their vote. Or you could argue it the other way – that neither candidate was well known among the armchair membership and that Chris would benefit from his name recognition from having stood last time.

OTOH, we could just wait a week to find out, I suppose…

by Ed on December 4, 2007 at 9:20 am. Reply #

It is a bit worrying that so many people consider themselves ‘very left-wing’…

by Steve on December 4, 2007 at 9:30 am. Reply #


224 people in the weighted sample are over 60 vs 237 who are under 40 – which I think we can all agree doesn’t reflect reality. The difference in vote share by age is enough to conclude that Chris’s vote is significantly higher amongst older voters than under 40s – although not enough to conclude that Chris has a statistically significant advantage amongst this age group over Nick (51:49 isn’t enough to do it).

You can call it spin if you like. I used to spend several million pounds a year running Vodafone’s UK market research and spent 14 years commissioning and reading market research at P&G – so it’s based on a bit of knowledge.


by Martin Tod on December 4, 2007 at 9:35 am. Reply #

Thanks for the detective work, Martin – new post here.

by Stephen Tall on December 4, 2007 at 9:40 am. Reply #

No need to be defensive, Martin – I know your background 🙂 But you havent answered my question.

I wasnt doubting the bias towards younger members.

I was asking how many over 60s said they would vote Huhne and how many said they would vote Clegg?

If its, say, 110 – 103, how much of Vodafones budget would you have committed on such a small sample?

As Joe Otten has said on the other thread, You Gov might have a clever way of adjusting for these sampling, um, discrepancies, but as far as I am aware they havent told us.

by Ed on December 4, 2007 at 10:03 am. Reply #

Ed – thanks for convincing me that you are not in any way objective on this matter.

When I said that most over-40s I knew were voting for Clegg I made it clear it was only anecdotal evidence. I only mentioned it because it surprises me. Perhaps I should have been clearer: almost all over-40s armchair members I know are plumping for Huhne. This includes close members of my family who I would have thought my own support for Clegg would count for something.

If these people are under-represented on the YouGov survey, and they certainly are, then the reality could be extremely different.

Please do continue to convince yourself that I’m wrong, after all denial of basic facts of life has been Team Clegg’s stock in trade and why should it stop now? But don’t sound too surprised if it turns out to be a lot closer than you currently clearly think it will be.

by James Graham on December 4, 2007 at 10:17 am. Reply #

I’m not sure I really understand James’s post at 13 but to be absolutely clear, I would have raised exactly the same questions had the result of the poll been completely the opposite.

I am trying to get to the bottom of how reliable the data is. Chris’s supporters are doing what they can to promote positives from it but it seems reasonable to challenge the basis of those claims just as I would if it was Nick’s supporters.

Knowing well and having worked closely with both candidates this time I have done my best to keep an emotional distance. Because I know how demoralising and divisive leadership elections can be.

But it depresses me when intelligent people think other intelligent people might be influenced by the sort of hysterical partisan nonesense that has been the feature of some blogs in this campaign.

(I know, I know, I dont have to read them…)

by Ed on December 4, 2007 at 10:38 am. Reply #

Ed – in #8 you completely rubbished my suggestion that this poll might not be accurate and I merely called your bluff. Please don’t insult my and others’ intelligence by retrospectivley pretending that you aren’t playing partisan games.

by James Graham on December 4, 2007 at 10:52 am. Reply #

Sorry for my lack of clarity, James, but I was rubbishing the suggestion that a poll of your friends might be more meaningful.

I dont know if the You Gov poll is accurate – I’ve yet to read a convincing non-partisan argument either way.

Both candidates are excellent and either will bring a range of different but exciting skills to the leadership in a way that fills me with great optimism.

I understand the passion of some supporters of both camps but when the election is over I hope they will remember that we all share the same aim.

by Ed on December 4, 2007 at 12:22 pm. Reply #

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