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Communicate Research puts Labour 6% behind

October 24th, 2006

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    The Independent’s pollster has the Lib Dems on just 14%

Gloom for Labour and the Lib Dems and a boost for the Tories is the message from this morning’s poll in the Independent from Communicate Research – which has not had a published a national voting intention survey since last year’s General Election. The headline figures – CON 38%: LAB 32%: LD 14% – show a very high proportion of respondents going for other parties.

Just under 1,000 people were interviewed from October 20 – 22 – so the fieldwork finished on Sunday and is almost a week newer than the Mori survey that was reported yesterday.

I was a big critic of CR when it was last polling for the Independent of Sunday in the run-up to the run-up to the 2005 General Election. It does not employ past vote weighting – the process in which pollsters like ICM and Populus seek to ensure they have balanced samples by weighting their results in line with what respondents said they did last time taking into account a level of misremembering.

From the limited information on the firm’s website it does not appear to have used this approach in this latest poll. This is quite remarkable given the findings. For the main impact of past vote weighting is usually to reduce the level of Labour support because telephone surveys, for whatever reason, invariably find many more people who voted Labour last time than actually did.

The firm’s polls in the months leading up to May 5 2005 generally showed bigger Labour leads than ICM or YouGov. Its final survey before the election was completed eight days ahead of the ballot and really cannot be compared with those pollsters who were doing surveys in the final week. It came out with Labour at 39, the Tories on 31% and the Lib Dems with what proved to be an accurate 23%.

    Today’s numbers, if supported by ICM and others, support a pet theory of mine that Tory support is closely linked to the amount of media coverage they and their leader get whether good or bad.

Last week the Tories had their tax plan announcement which featured quite largely, although not always positively, just before the survey started. They got an extra day of coverage thanks to the Brownite pre-emptive onslaught. In the run-up to the Mori poll the news was dominated by Iraq and the Tories and David Cameron were hardly getting a mention anywhere.

Alas, we cannot compare the CR figures with the October ICM poll for the Guardian – the first part of which is featured today. The paper focuses on the Iraq questions and is holding over the voting intention data until, hopefully, tomorrow.

After today’s terrible 14% finding the Lib Dems must be hoping for something better from ICM which generally reports bigger shares for the party, probably because it lists the names of the main parties when it asks the voting intention question.

Mike Smithson






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