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18 February 2010

Prepare for even more polls

YouGov launches daily tracker as poll puts Labour 9 points behind the Tories.

By George Eaton

Get ready for the political weather to become even more determined by polls. YouGov has launched its daily tracker in the Sun, with polls initially published from Tuesday to Friday. This will rise to seven days a week for the final four weeks before polling day.

You may remember that YouGov experimented with a tracker during conference season last year. What was remarkable then was how much the polls fluctuated from day to day. For instance, following George Osborne’s austere speech, the Tories’ lead fell from 14 points to 9 points.

In an effort to remedy what’s known as “early responder” bias, the polling firm has changed its methodology to ensure that it gets a more representative sample. PoliticalBetting’s Mike Smithson reports that the polls will now consist of reponses received that day, regardless of when the invitations to take part went out.

There’s no evidence in today’s poll of a boost for Labour following Gordon Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan on Sunday. Labour is down 1 point to 30 per cent, with the Tories up 1 to 39 per cent and the Lib Dems down 1 to 18 per cent.

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Labour optimists are likely to point out that, on a uniform swing, this would leave the Tories nine seats short of a majority. But almost no psephologist thinks a uniform swing will take place on polling day. A variety of factors, including the unwind of anti-Tory tactical voting from the last election and the Conservatives’ financial advantage, will allow Cameron to clean up in the marginals.

Realistically, Labour needs to be no more than 5 or 6 points behind the Tories for there to be any chance of a hung parliament.

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