Archive for April, 2008


ComRes reports 14% Tory lead

Monday, April 28th, 2008


The only detail at the moment is from Andrew Grice’s blog at the paper. He writes: “If Gordon Brown was hoping that the row over his decision to abolish the 10p lower rate of income tax would not damage Labour, he’ll be very disappointed by the latest monthly ComRes survey for The Independent. The Tories have doubled their lead since last month from seven to 14 points, the biggest since ComRes began polling for the paper in September 2006.”

That’s the only information that’s available.

The last ComRes poll at the end of March had the Tories on 38%, Labour on 31% with the Lib Dems on 17%.

Mike Smithson


ICM poll story – withdrawn pending confirmation

Monday, April 28th, 2008


Will polling be the same after Thursday?

Monday, April 28th, 2008

    Is YouGov vs Ipsos-MORI the other big battle in the London election?

In the picture above are the men who are probably the best known pollsters in the country who, in their individual ways have made major contributions to the way political opinion is tested in the UK. And both of them are on collision course over the projected outcome of the London Mayoral election.

On the left is Peter Kellner who was a political journalist specialising in polling who then went on to become one of the founders of the YouGov company – for which he is still its public face. On the right is Bob Worcester – the founder of MORI and the man who has probably had most impact of anybody in the industry in a career that in 2009 will will go into its fifth decade.

They are both, incidentally, great company and are absolutely fascinating to listen to.

    But for Thursday’s election they are calling it differently. The latest from Kellner’s YouGov has an 11% Boris lead on first preferences – while on Friday Worcester’s MORI had Ken 3% in the lead. Unless there are dramatic changes in their final polls one of them is going to have egg on his cheek.

So which is best? On which company can you most rely on? It’s important to understand that they approach the whole process of testing public opinion from almost totally different standpoints and both of their teams believe passionately that their way is the best way.

The Mori approach is based on telephone or face to face interviews and their samples are weighted to make sure they represent the demographic profile of the country, or in the latest surveys, just London. There is no attempt, as all the other pollsters do, to try to ensure that samples are politically balanced by asking interviewees how they voted last time and weighting accordingly. In recent years the firm has introduced a fierce turnout filter basing its headline numbers only on those saying they are certain to vote.

YouGov operate with its “polling panel” – tens of thousands of individuals on whom it has a mass of data so that it can weight by party identifier and what newspaper, if any, that they read. Everything is done online and those who fill in the questionnaires are paid to do it. A big question is just how representative of voters as a whole their panels are. What we do know from the data that’s made available is that their members appear to be much more likely to vote than the population as a whole.

YouGov has the reputation of being the “magnifier” of trends. In 2004 it was the first to pick up the rise of UKIP ahead of the Euro elections but then went on to over-state them.

In the Mayoral race YouGov has the benefit of doing quite well in 2004. It slightly over-stated Ken’s lead on first preferences but was within one per cent on its final split. No other pollster has carried out London Mayoral polls with the same level of accuracy.

For betting click on the panel below.


Mike Smithson


The Evening Standard poll is just out

Monday, April 28th, 2008


    Well done Don

The first preference shares BORIS 46% (up 2%) and KEN 35% (down 2). After second preference YouGov are saying it is 55% to 45%.

This puts the internet pollster totally out of line with MORI and MRUK which are both reporting that Ken is in the lead.

I cannot recall a time when the polls have been so out of line in a critical election.

The YouGov figures are so emphatic that it is hard to see a Ken victory.

Latest betting is here.

Mike Smithson


What do we make of comment number 26?

Monday, April 28th, 2008


    Is this market manipulation or good information?

As site regulars will know the one act that will lead directly to a permanent ban from our discussion threads is to put forward deliberately false information that could move betting markets.

Last night there was a big move back to Boris in the Mayoral betting after somebody calling themself “Don” posted this :-“I’m going to take my courage in my hands and pass on a tip from a pretty reliable source (nb – ‘pretty’ is somewhere between ‘very’ and ‘fairly’)..Tomorrow morning’s YouGov poll will show that Boris’s lead has increased to 11%. I believe what I’ve been told but it doesn’t really resolve anything because one either has faith in YouGov, in which case it’s in the bag for Boris, or one doesn’t, in which it’s going to be a photo-finish. The info is useful because it may move the market when it starts leaking out. I’m telling you guys because I love this site…..”

One of the great strengths of PB is that we do often get good advance information and I do not want the Dons of this world, if genuine, to feel inhibited. My main problem in this case is that “Don” provided what is clearly a phoney email address which means that I cannot correspond with him. If he could post here with an email that I can verify that would be very helpful. No need for any other information.

From the records he made his first appearance on the site at 6.48pm on April 2nd 2008 with this comment about the ICM mayoral poll which proved to be genuine. There was nothing special about his source – he got it from BBC London’s local news programme.

During the following three weeks he has made about 25 comments from two separate computers all fairly sane and rational. One of them was when he tipped us off about the Ken five children by three partners revelation. There is nothing to suggest, however, from his comment record that he has access to confidential information like that in Comment #26.

So there we are. We should know later in the day whether this is true or not. If Don is right and YouGov is reporting an 11% Boris lead then I will be among many who will be piling into the markets once again.

Latest mayoral price are here.

Mike Smithson


Could Ken soon be favourite again?

Sunday, April 27th, 2008


    Is this a delayed reaction to the MORI and MRUK polls?

Yesterday morning I expressed surprise that the MORI poll had had so little impact on the mayoral betting markets. Overnight Saturday we had the MRUK survey, also showing Ken with a narrow lead, and at first the markets seemed to take it in their stride.

But this evening there has been a sharp move from Boris to Ken and it appears possible that the incumbent could find himself the betting favourite again.

Quite why this should have happened is not clear. There has been speculation that news of the next YouGov poll is about and that is affecting the betting. Maybe – maybe not. For even though the prices have moved the volume of activity has been fairly limited. Normally when there’s a leak that could affect an outcome like this and we would see a pile of money going on.

The chart above shows the Betfair prices expressed as an implied probability over the long period of this campaign.

I had been waiting for prices to move before going onto Boris again. I think I might take the cautious approach and wait to see what the next YouGov survey has in store. If Boris still has a clear margin then I’ll put more on. If not then I’ll consider my position across a range of betting.

Mike Smithson


Double Carpet on Sunday

Sunday, April 27th, 2008


    So will it be Ken or Boris? – the PBC London Mayor Competition

Just four days until London goes to the polls – who do you think will be the new Mayor and how will the various candidates fare?

You will be asked to predict the first preference shares for Ken, Boris, and Brian, plus the BNP, Greens, Left List, and UKIP, and then the final vote share for your predicted overall winner. (Final vote share is winner’s total votes / total votes for top two candidates x 100 – Ken’s final vote share in 2004 was 55.4%)

Please click here to open the competition which is in Excel format:

London Mayor Competition

Please do not make any predictions in this thread as they will not count.

The scoring system is available on the second sheet of the attachment, and the prize will be a copy of Mike’s book The Political Punter.

Save the attachment (if you open it straight away it may be in read-only mode) and send your predictions to close 7pm Wednesday.

International round-up

A poll out today by Red C in the Sunday Business Post suggests that support for a “Yes” vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is dropping, with the Yes/No/Undecided split now 35-31-34. Paddy Power offer evens on a “No” vote, which may be value – what do pb’s resident Irish experts, Neil, Yokel, and Caveman think?

The markets: St John may be glad to know that I’ll be keeping an eye an international betting markets in DC on Sunday, although they are fairly quiet at present away from the US. One however that I do think is value is to back the Nationals in New Zealand – they have had comfortable poll leads for a while now and although trading is very thin on Betfair, there is £173 available at 1.31. I hope to feature NZ in more depth as we approach the election in the autumn.

Finally, a useful article from Bloomberg ahead of the German election in 2009, speculating on whether SPD leader Kurt Beck or Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the popular Foreign Minister, will be going head-to-head with Merkel as the party’s Kanzlerkandidat in the Bundestag election. Merkel looks currently nailed on for a second term, with the CDU/CSU having had big leads for months – the key question is what the makeup of the next government will be.

Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”


MRUK data: Boris leading among those certain to vote

Sunday, April 27th, 2008


    The information over-load continues

With Thursday’s London Mayoral election seemingly on a knife-edge every little scrap of information could be helpful to those who are having a punt.

The Sunday Times’s pollster, MRUK, is being particularly helpful and their Ivor Knox has just emailed me some information that I thought I ought to pass on.

  • Before applying the turnout filter the first preference split had Ken leading by 45% to 42%
  • After applying the filter which just to include those rating their voting certainty at 80% or more and we got the figures that were published – Ken leading by 44% to 43%.
  • Restricting this to those saying they were 100% certain and Boris takes the narrowest of leads – 44% to 43%
  • The main point is that the more you narrow the voting base the figures move towards the Tory. Just like the MORI poll MRUK found an increase in those saying they were 10/10 certain. This was 64% of the weighted sample.

    Knox adds this point: “However, I should reiterate that the questions and structure of this survey were not designed to measure turnout – they show the claimed turnout among people who are sufficiently engaged in the process to voluntarily take part in a survey, which is very likely to be higher than the actual turnout next week.”

    I think that that is very fair but make of all of this what you will. With a bit of luck there should be a YouGov poll tomorrow.

    The betting prices at 10.20 am were Boris 0.75/1 and Ken 1.32/1.

    Mike Smithson