Monday, February 27, 2006

YouGov - Liberal Democrat Leadership Survey - February 2nd-6th

There have been two "private" polls of Lib Dem members conducted by YouGov purely on the subject of the Lib Dem leadership election. YouGov are a commercial polling organisation and any person or organisation can sponsor them to conduct a poll.

One poll, which we we call "YG#1" of 433 members was conducted between February 2-6. The second which we will call "YG#2", of a smaller number - 401 members - was conducted between February 7-9.

The sponsor of YG#1 is unknown to us. YG#2 was sponsored by John Stevens, a backer of Chris Huhne. John Stevens said on Radio 4 that he published the results of YG#2 to help Chris Huhne's campaign. You can view the poll here;

What about YG#1? You will not find it on YouGov's website but it has been partially "published" on How did this happen?

The person that conducted the poll for YouGov became aware that key information from the poll -about 2nd preferences - was being misrepresented on the internet and decided with YouGov's permission to post the partial results on the forum. These results were confirmed to be accurate to Mike Smithson by YouGov's Peter Kellner.

Here are the results in their original context;

However these partial results have never been presented in a clear way, so here they are;


Fieldwork: February 2-6; sample 433

Are you intending to vote in the Liberal Democrat leadership election?
Yes 93%
No 2%
Not sure 5%

How are you intending to cast your first preference vote?

(To Huhne supporters at 1st preference qn)
How are you intending to cast your second preference vote?
Menzies Campbell 58%
Simon Hughes 25%
Undecided 9%
Not intending to cast a second preference 8%

(To Hughes supporters at 1st preference qn)
How are you intending to cast your second preference vote?
Menzies Campbell 49%
Chris Huhne 27%
Undecided 12%
Not intending to cast a second preference 13%

(To Campbell supporters at 1st preference qn)
How are you intending to cast your second preference vote?
Chris Huhne 44%
Simon Hughes 29%
Undecided 15%
Not intending to cast a second preference 12%

2. How important are each the following qualities for a leader of theLiberal Democrats?
10 options

3. How strongly do you associate each of these qualities with Menzies Campbell?
4. Repeat for Simon Hughes
5. Repeat for Chris Huhne

11. Which of these would apply to you if Menzies Campbell becomes party leader? 5 options
12. Repeat for Simon Hughes
13. Repeat for Chris Huhne

14. If Menzies Campbell were to become leader how many seats do you believe the Liberal Democrats would win or lose to the CONSERVATIVE party at thenext General Election?
15. Repeat for Simon Hughes
16. Repeat for Chris Huhne

17. If Menzies Campbell were to become leader how many seats do you believe the Liberal Democrats would win/lose to the LABOUR party at the next GeneralElection?
18. Repeat for Simon Hughes
19. Repeat for Chris Huhne


What does all this mean? Why did YouGov not authorise the release of the 1st preference results as well?

What we believe happened was that YG#1 was conducted by a private person linked to the Menzies Campbell campaign team. Rough first preference figures from the poll somehow leaked out. These were reported to be; Campbell 40%, Huhne 34%, Hughes 24%.

Peter Kellner has denied that these figures were correct. We suspect they were close to the real figures - Kellner was being truthful as they were not exactly correct.

We believe that the sponsor of this poll - likely a Ming backer - did not release the 1st preference figures as they were similar to those above. These results were perceived to be unhelpful to Ming's campaign (showing Huhne having momentum - Huhne liked them so much he posted the leaked figures on his website) .

The sponsor of the poll DID however release the 2nd preferences - why?

Mike Smithson of Politicalbetting had said at the time that "My information is that while the Hughes second preferences would split in Huhne’s favour they do not split enough for him to win".

This was clearly not accurate, and perceived to be damaging to Ming's campaign, so the sponsor allowed the release of the actual second preferences you see above - which were confirmed to be accurate by Kellner - but not the 1st prefs - a decision surely now viewed by team Ming as an error. This poll indicated Ming would likely win!

Why is this important?

Compounding this error by team Ming, Huhne's backer John Steven quickly sponsored the Feb 7-9 poll to counteract the effect of YG#1's possible release. Sponsors are allowed to choose the questions and the format of YouGov polls.

Before asking the key questions, those polled in YG#2 had to plough through 3 pages of statements about the 3 contenders - a move that even YouGov's Anthony Wells said on their website could "skew the result". YG#2 responders had to read through statements like;

‘Sir Menzies Campbell is too old to lead the Liberal Democrats’
‘Simon Hughes is too unreliable to lead the Liberal Democrats’

The worst Huhne got was;

‘Chris Huhne has too little experience of being a Westminster MP to lead theLiberal Democrats’

Lib Dem members know that Huhne has lots of experience as a Euro MEP. They were also reminded in an earlier statement that "He knows about real life outside politics" might be a quality worth considering, mitigating this statement's power as a potential negative.

What's our conclusion?
  • YouGov #2 results were skewed by these pre-questions.
  • YouGov #1 was a larger & without such pre-questions and so is more likely to be accurate.
  • Hughes' second preferences in YG#1 are in heavily in favour of Ming vs Huhne
  • This is validated by the 2000 member canvass we released here;
  • Ming Campbell will win the Lib Dem leadership and is value at current prices - 2.48/2.5

Feedback on this article is welcome from all parties concerned. Were you polled in either survey? Can you help us fill in the missing questions? Are we correct that YG#1 did not have a list of questions before asking the key ones? Email us and let us know.

View the best odds on this market here;

Go directly to the Betfair Betting Exchange. Click here


Anonymous downandout - BF said...

Hello Jessica, etc. I'd just like to thank you for the very good information you've provided over the course of the Lib Dem contest. I've looked at the site during IACGMOOH, CBB and Xmas number 1 markets and whilst it could be an interesting read, it didn't provide me with any real added value to my own research and had no real effect on any of my bets. Over the Lib Dem leadership contest however, I feel you've provided some excellent and often new information and some of my bets have been directly influenced by some of this information. Thanks for the excellent work and hope you all came out of the market well.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Hi Downandout, Thanks for the honest comments. This has been a learning experience.

We made a lot of money during the Lib Dem contest - managing to call almost every turn in the proceedings. This was down to sheer hard work and research andf was exhausting! You will notice we called it for Ming even before Kennedy had resigned.

Did you not find the proprietary polls during CBB useful? We're considering doing the same for American Idol.

Our CBB poll meant we got all the non-final 5 evictions right, and called it for Chantelle at an early stage - was it the presentation you didn't find useful or did you use your own poll sources?

3:34 PM  
Anonymous downandout - BF said...

Hi, it wasn't that the site wasn't useful previously. I guess we all have our own resources and polls, etc that we use and I held more faith in those I've historically been comfortable using (plus with bigger sample sizes, etc). I'm also a little wary of the fact yours is a poll on a betting website! - I prefer the samples other polls take. I suppose the other point would be your poll is somewhat fixed in terms of its timing, and I prefer ongoing polls where the effects of individual programmes, etc can be monitored on polling levels. As I say though, some of your information directly influenced my betting on this market, so I'm grateful to the hard work you put in and I'll continue looking at the site regularly. Thanks again.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Hi Downandout!

Thanks for the feedback. We collected people for the poll via sponsorship of the website "" and advertising on and Yahoo's CBB message boards. We tried not to advertise on the site itself - we didn't want gamblers doing the poll!
Once we had completed a few polls we then had a group of around 400 CBB watchers we could do polls very quickly with. We may do this in the later stages of Maerican Idol - so watch out!
We were able to match the demographics of the voters on the show - by emailing the poll to mainly women for example.

Email us at if you'd like to be notified when the blog updates.!

Thanks for stopping by and for the comments.

5:51 PM  
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