No, a YouGov poll doesn’t show UKIP winning Rochford & Southend East


believe in southend

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:

Candidate Party Votes Percentage
James Duddridge CON 19,509 46.90%
Kevin Bonavia LAB 8,459 20.30%
Graham Longley LD 8,084 19.40%
James Moyies UKIP 2,405 5.80%
Geoff Strobridge BNP 1,856 4.50%
Andrew Vaughn GRN 707 1.70%
Anthony Brian Chytry IND 611 1.50%

rse nowcast with 2010 results

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.

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6 comments

  1. Matt, a few points if I may.

    1. YouGov is a highly respected polling organisation as we both know. I have full confidence in their methodology based on, as the Echo has reported, over 150,000 interviews they have carried out. This is no ‘whimsical’ analysis. YouGov also have a reputation to maintain so their findings are inherently very credible. I’m not at all surprised, as you’ve inferred, that the Tories and Labour are VERY concerned.

    2. I am not given to hyperbole. The fact is, in line with the YouGov forecast, my personal experiences on the ground have revealed a very substantial UKIP-voting public out there, quietly keeping their counsel ready for May 7th.

    3. UKIP locally is very single-mindedly focused on the election campaign.

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    1. Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. Nice to hear from a fellow local election candidate, even across the border in Rochford district.

      1. I agree that YouGov are highly respected, but that doesn’t make them infallible. They were, for example, responsible for the rogue Scottish independence poll which put Yes ahead. I can’t speak for the rest of my party, but I am not unduly concerned. This is an approximation, and very crude in comparison to a constituency poll.

      2. Our personal experiences on the ground seem to differ then. One or other will be proved correct on May 7th/8th.

      3. Which UKIP would that be? Floyd Waterworth’s faction, or James Moyies’? From my not entirely uninformed perspective, both seem to be more intent on tearing strips off the other.

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      1. Hi Matt; thanks for your reply. To round off:

        1. YouGov are the biggest polling company in the UK. In fact, since 1st March, they have commissioned over 40% of all the election polls (25 out of 46). Source: Wikipedia, Poll of Polls, UK election 2015. You’re right, Matt, we’re all infallible from time-to-time; even you and me.

        2. Indeed, we will see. Happy to ‘clink glasses’ with you for some post-election analysis on May 9th or thereabouts!

        3. UKIP locally is very single-mindedly focused on the election campaign.

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        1. The nowcast is getting ridiculed on the polling blogs. All the forecasting models are obviously not working because of the unusual nature of the election.

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  2. I am the candidate for Blenheim Park, my background is 10 years Royal Hong Kong and Met, Police, six years sales and marketing in the West End, since 1997 I have been self employed in pubs and bars, I own a free house in West Sussex, I have built my own house I understand the planning system, I’ve worked overseas a lot this gives me a chance to see how backward and insular politics in this country is. So I stand for Ukip as an alternative to the usual candidates from the other parties, my name is Pau Lloyd. I am now a house Dad and use sure start at Blenheim which I support along with other local amenities.

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    1. Interesting. If you think politics is too “backward and insular”, then why are you standing for UKIP?

      It seems hard to imagine being more insular than the “pull up the drawbridge” brigade.

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