Team Huhne: Chris is catching up

by Stephen Tall on December 5, 2007

At the weekend, Nick Clegg’s campaign team released their canvassing figures of c.6,000 members showing Nick polling around 60% of the vote. The party estimates that about half the ballot papers issued have been returned; in 2006, c.70% of members voted. Taken at face value, this would suggest that Chris Huhne needs to persuade a large number of those who’ve sat on their hands til now to cast their vote for him.

Chris Huhne’s campaign team have just now issued details of polling figures “obtained by an independent third party organisation” (not named), showing undecided Lib Dem voters breaking overwhelmingly for their guy. These are the figures they’ve supplied:

Chris Huhne definite – 44.7%*
Nick Clegg definite – 15.2%
Chris Huhne leaning – 5.3%
Nick Clegg leaning – 1.5%
Undecided – 17.5%
Won’t say – 14.4%

Their press release notes state: “A survey of 1,000 randomly selected Party members was carried out by an independent organisation. The polling was carried out in three batches – the figures above reflect the data acquired over the period 27 Nov – 4 Dec. Amalgamating the definite and leaning support and giving Nick Clegg all the “won’t say” responses, indicates that members’ support at the moment is splitting in the region of 50% Chris Huhne, 30% Nick Clegg with just under 20% undecided.”

Chris Huhne’s Campaign manager, Anna Werrin, is quoted saying:

“These figures are fantastic and confirm what our own canvassing is showing – that the late votes really are coming Chris’s way. Of course many people will have voted early and Nick may have won the early votes. But no-one should assume there are any foregone conclusions; this is a leadership election which is going to go right down to the wire.”

* Definite support for Huhne in the first two batches of polling stood at 26.6% and 28.7%.

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Perhaps predictably, I’m keen to know who this mysterious third party is!

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 5:19 pm. Reply #

Your aren’t alone Rob.

Commissioning 3 such polls would represent a massive chunk of the £50k spending limit…

by Anonymous on December 5, 2007 at 5:22 pm. Reply #

I don’t think there’s any danger of someone with Chris’s financial sense going over the spending limit!

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 5:31 pm. Reply #

I dont think the cost is the issue here. The veracity of the figures and the claims that Anna Werrin makes for them is what needs to be verified – done simply enough if the 3rd party organisation is identified.

by Ed on December 5, 2007 at 5:37 pm. Reply #

It’s at times like this when a reputation for spinning in press communications really starts to bite.

by Charlotte Gore on December 5, 2007 at 6:21 pm. Reply #

If anyone believes these figures then I’m happy to bet on them….

by Rob Blackie on December 5, 2007 at 6:34 pm. Reply #

Huhne defs & probs 50% – Clegg D&Ps 16.7%

Is Huhne winning the late votes by 3-1? Seems very unlikely to me.

Let’s play along though and assume that these figures are accurate. There are a couple of questions worth asking. First ofc ourse, who is the mystery pollster, and why haven’t they been revealed?

Secondly, we’ve had the earlier Huhne figures released but not Clegg’s. What were Nick’s the previous figures for the 2 earlier batches if Huhne was on 27-29% – were his figures so high that they didn’t make a good story for team Huhne? Lastly, what proportion of people had voted in the earlier batches – even if the third batch was heavily Huhne was he too far behind from the earlier voting? Ceratinly Anna Weirin’s quote seems to concede that they are desperately playing catch up.

by Charles Anglin on December 5, 2007 at 6:40 pm. Reply #

I hope no-one is going to be daft enough to take seriously the results of a poll commissioned and paid for by Mr Rupert Murdoch. Of course it is dodgy, and of course it is intended to influence how members vote.

Udoubtedely, Nick Clegg was assisted in the early part of the campaign by the hyping he received in the media, and the bandwagon effect this created. Also, many members will have been swayed by the fact that much of the party establishment supports Clegg.

Given that Huhne is objectively the better candidate, it stands to reason that his level of support will rise in proportion to the increased exposure he has received during the course of the campaign. Whether or not he has done enough we will soon find out.

The question I have for those MPs supporting Clegg is as follows: knowing, as you do, that Huhne is by far the better of the two candidates, why are you so determined to stop him becoming leader?

In the last few days we have seen a taste of things to come. Believing they have done enough to get Clegg the leadership, the media pundits have already started to knock him down. Including, crucially, Cheney’s shadow cabinet enforcer, Michael Gove MP.

by Angus J Huck on December 5, 2007 at 7:16 pm. Reply #

Its the same people that did Clegg’s internal polling

by Anonymous on December 5, 2007 at 7:38 pm. Reply #

Not suprisingly Team Clegg have some rather different numbers…

by Anonymous on December 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm. Reply #

I hate to disappoint the Huhne Camp but Nick Clegg’s website has just posted a more updated canvass showing that out of 11,000 members canvassed the 60-40 ratio in Nick’s favour appears to be holding up. More tellingly it suggests that of the over 200 members who were canvassed as undecided at the beginning of the campaign, 85 now back Nick compared to 46 who now back Chris with 70 still undecided and 22 won’t saying. Still everything to play for I would suggest.

by Richard Whelan on December 5, 2007 at 8:14 pm. Reply #

For those who take opinion polls TOO seriously, perhaps I should remind you of the 1984 Portsmouth South byelection, where every single poll showed the SDP/Liberal Alliance coming third. Every single poll, that is, bar the one which appeared in the “Birmingham Post” on the eve-of-poll and placed Mike Hancock second behind the Tories. The tactical voting machine cranked into action and the rest is history.

by Angus J Huck on December 5, 2007 at 8:20 pm. Reply #

The point I was making is that only one of the many polls during that contest (Portsmouth South) got anywhere close to the actual result (and none predicted the winner).

So, which of the present crop of polls are we to believe? The one conducted by the “Guardian” outside the Cambridge hustings, or the one carried out by Rupert Murdoch’s minions?

by Angus J Huck on December 5, 2007 at 8:24 pm. Reply #

Angus long time no speak bullsh*t and then comes this beauty:

“The question I have for those MPs supporting Clegg is as follows: knowing, as you do, that Huhne is by far the better of the two candidates, why are you so determined to stop him becoming leader”

Laugh I nearly wet myself, I have heard many things about you from other members and every word seems to be true. Please keep backing Huhne, who the helll would want you on Cleggs team…your up there challenging Lembit for the old “kiss of death”.
Long may we disagree!!

by big Mak on December 5, 2007 at 8:55 pm. Reply #

This story strikes me as anecdotally plausible, although as I sit here with my voting slip ready to make my decision I can understand arguments for both candidates and both sides of reasoning for the early vote/late vote split.

They’re both good people, good candidates and I expect the result will be pretty close, so on this occasion I guess my vote will make a difference.

Damn it, I’ve put myself off, so I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow before I post my ballot.

by JamesS on December 5, 2007 at 9:08 pm. Reply #

Actually, I don’t think it will be close at all. 60-40 is as close as it’s likely to get. Lets’s not forget the party membership figures – a large proportion of the electors are likely to be concentrated in the seats we hold. As much as a third, and a large proportion will vote with their MP’s. It’s thanks to this that Clegg will poll much better than our blog-blinkered viewpoint will allow us to see.

by Martin Land on December 5, 2007 at 9:19 pm. Reply #

If I’m reading that latest Clegg story right (ie ignoring the misleading figures at the top), the sample size is 200, vs a sample of 1000 for the Huhne data?

And the story also seems to suggest Nick’s camp has only managed to phone canvass around 200 people “over the last week” – which can’t be right?

Even taking the figures at face value, the undecideds and the don’t knows have it.

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 9:24 pm. Reply #

For “don’t knows” read “won’t says”

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 9:26 pm. Reply #

Big Mak:

8.55pm and you’re sloshed already?

Next time I visit your town I’ll have to watch I don’t fall over you at closing time!

by Angus J Huck on December 5, 2007 at 9:29 pm. Reply #


11,000 have been canvassed so far actually!!!

by Richard Whelan on December 5, 2007 at 9:45 pm. Reply #

8) The question I have for those MPs supporting Clegg is as follows: knowing, as you do, that Huhne is by far the better of the two candidates, why are you so determined to stop him becoming leader?

What a load of old tosh, surely those MPs are backing Nick because they think he is the better of the 2 candidates?

And they are right.

by Cheltenham Robin on December 5, 2007 at 9:45 pm. Reply #

20: I think you are, as the story on Nick’s website does, confusing total canvassing from the start of the campaign with canvassing done in the last week?

Given the apparent number of undecideds, and how crucial the figures from the last week are, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to mislead anyone 🙂

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 9:51 pm. Reply #

Pah. Either will make a good leader, and it’s not exactly life and death for the party as we continued through deeper, darker days than this!!

by JamesS on December 5, 2007 at 9:53 pm. Reply #

What a load of old tosh, surely those MPs are backing Nick because they think he is the better of the 2 candidates?

C’mon, let’s be honest here, they’re backing Nick because they were told at the outset of the campaign that he’d walk it, so he’d be in a position to hand out jobs at the end. I think they’ve been surprised.

I’ll happily support whichever man wins, but can y’all cut down on the desperate spin? It’s like Millbank New Labour in here!

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 9:54 pm. Reply #

Angus, at least that gives me an excuse. Whats yours for writting such utter bolloc*s!?

As for being in my toen I think we got rid of mad cow(or bull in your case) a while ago, but always get my cattle prod out again… your name Angus seems to fit the bill in so many ways.

As for you Rob, come on I thought you were a little bit more on the ball…I’ve heard of selective hearing but selective reading?!

by big Mak on December 5, 2007 at 9:56 pm. Reply #

Tell me how I’m selectively reading!

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm. Reply #

Jesus Rob did you just say that the Clegg supporters should “cut down on the desperate spin”….its worse than I thought doctor, he’s totally lost it!

by big Mak on December 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm. Reply #

Calm down Rab, it’s an internal contest, remember?

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 10:00 pm. Reply #

I do Rob, I think you will see my postings are mostly in jest toward you…a little bit more harsh on our mad bovine friend Angus…but hey if you can’t “roll with the punches” then your in the wrong game, internal contest or not.

by big Mak on December 5, 2007 at 10:05 pm. Reply #

Big Mak:

You are in danger of putting yourself Beyond the Lunatic Fringe (with apologies to Alan Bennet).

by Angus J Huck on December 5, 2007 at 10:09 pm. Reply #

Glad you’ve calmed down, Rab – save it for the other parties 🙂

by Rob F on December 5, 2007 at 10:13 pm. Reply #

Rob F – I’d look a bit closer at how much polling Team Clegg has done. Only 200 odd undecideds canvassed but of other canvassing, it runs at several thousand over the last week.

Team Clegg seems to have by far the biggest sample in this election and they have Clegg at 60-40. This strikes me as probably being about right. It would be unwise to bet on Huhne I feel.

by LibDemBritain on December 5, 2007 at 10:50 pm. Reply #

32. LibDemBritain

With a population of 70,000 and a 3% confidence interval with a 95% confidence level you need a sample of 1051.

Both campaigns have exceeded this.

Calling more people is of course useful for drumming up support – but such push polls if the Clegg team are doing them to get support would make the results a statistical nonsense.

by Anonymous on December 5, 2007 at 11:09 pm. Reply #


Don’t have a cow man!(with apologies to Bart Simpson)

by big Mak on December 5, 2007 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

I know this isn’t politicalbetting, but any Huhnites out there willing to put their money where their mouths are?

Dodgy polls are one thing (Huhne’s email certainly made me chuckle), but it’s not long now till we get the result, so surely some of you will put down a tenner or so on your man, won’t you …?

by Dominic on December 5, 2007 at 11:54 pm. Reply #

I spend a lot of time looking at the Clegg campaign canvass figures every day. I can cut these in many different ways by time, geography etc. and they all come in at the same range – 40 to 45% for Huhne, 55 to 60% for Clegg. This is consistent with the Sky poll just last weekend. I’d (really) hate to be wrong on this but have to say that the figures published above are so far out of kilter as to be literally incredible. Without further information on who did the calling, who was called and the questions asked these numbers have no real value other than to spin a tale.

by RichardA on December 6, 2007 at 12:01 am. Reply #


It’s pretty clear in the SE at least that Chris has always been doing well.

The high profile of the last 2 weeks will improve that and get his vote ‘in’ so to speak.

The members I’ve been talking to are now much firmer for Chris than they were.

The question is in the rest of the country. Surely mass media coverage will be more important than MPs’ endorsements?

by Daniel Bowen on December 6, 2007 at 12:02 am. Reply #

Richard uses the phrase “canvass figures”.
Is it not true that both campaigns would be calling on behalf of a particular candidate, so the results, however you cut them, are highly dubious. For both.
What are the opening lines of each sets of calls?

by Anonymous on December 6, 2007 at 12:27 am. Reply #

Dominic (35). I put my small wager on Chris Huhne to win with Parry Power weeks ago. My return will be relatively modest, but those of you who stick a few quid on now will get much better odds…..unless the bookies have seen the latest poll evidence.

by Steve Comer on December 6, 2007 at 1:28 am. Reply #

OK Steve you’re on! My tenner says Nick to win – ping me an email at if you’ll match it!

by Dominic on December 6, 2007 at 5:54 am. Reply #

if Nick Clegg doesnt win without at least 55% of the vote i will be truly amazed

by Anonymous on December 6, 2007 at 1:45 pm. Reply #

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