So, there was a bit of a stir yesterday, over a YouGov “poll”. The Southend Echo reported it under the headline:
“Forecast puts Ukip on top in Thurrock and only just behind in Rochford and Southend East“
Which is a fairly ground-breaking claim, liable to induce panic in the Tory and Labour ranks locally (The Lib Dems have, as I’ve said previously, already clearly given up -Ed).
Only one problem really: that headline is not actually true.
Okay, so I like polls. I’m not a gambling man, so I’m never actually going to stake any money on it, but I find the methodology interesting, and I enjoy watching how polls change. The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that this is not a poll.
YouGov are calling it a “nowcast“, and are pretty clear in their description of it:
“This is not a ‘constituency poll’ or a ‘forecast’. It is a nowcast, modelled on detailed demographics and voting intention from over 150,000 interviews nationwide.“
A poll traditionally canvasses a sample of people within the referred to area, on a specific issue — in this case, it would be voting intention. That is not what is behind this. Rather, it seems to be some sort of mathematical formulation based on national poll results, tweaked with according to local demographics.
I have to say, the view on the ground looks substantially different.
For one thing, UKIP locally are in complete meltdown, as regular readers would know. There was a period, when Southend UKIP were united and had gained the most seats of any group at the local council elections last year, when I think these projections could have been accurate. Since then, though, they’ve selected the wrong candidate (Floyd Waterworth) for the elections, and they’ve spent more time tearing chunks out of each other than doing any actual campaigning.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Waterworth hasn’t even confirmed he will be turning up at hustings (I’ll have a tub of lard at the ready -Ed).
The Rochford & Southend East results in 2010 were:
|Anthony Brian Chytry||IND||611||1.50%|
UKIP barely held their deposit. The base lines have changed, obviously, but to go from fourth to first would be a massive jump. And not, I must say, one I’ve noticed on the doorsteps. Many, many people in Southend are disappointed with a local UKIP party which has given itself over to internal wars.
You can see why the local media — and Southend UKIP — are interested in bigging up this story, because it whips up excitement for what has been a remarkably lacklustre election campaign from Floyd Waterworth and the purple team. But will Southend be sending a UKIP MP to Westminster on May 8th? I wouldn’t bet on it.
UPDATE: The Echo have amended their article somewhat to reflect my point:
“Content has been corrected. The Echo’s initial report suggested the YouGov’s analysis was based on a poll. It was not.“