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Should Gord be consulting the Golden Polling Rule?

December 17th, 2008

With five polls showing the same thing should he risk it?

The “Golden Rule” has operated in every single general election, EU election, London Mayoral election and in by elections where there has been polling right back to the 1980s – so clearly the wise course for Labour is to look at the worst case scenario. Tory polling figures seem more robust than Labour ones.

One of the great things about Decembers is that all the polling activity is normally concentrated into a very short period and we are able to do what’s usually only possible at elections times – compare surveys from across all the firms which have taken place very close to each other.

So this morning’s ICM poll in the Guardian completes the picture and, quite unusually, there is almost an unanimous picture – not one of them is pointing to a Conservative majority.

Just look at the outcome when we put the numbers from the five firms into the UK Polling Report seat calculator:-

YouGov – CON 304: LAB 294: LD 24 seats CON 21 short

Ipsos-MORI – CON 304: LAB 306: LD 13 seats LAB 19 short

ICM - CON 279: LAB 295: LD 47 seats LAB 30 short

Populus – CON 283: LAB 303: LD 36 seats LAB 22 short

ComRes – CON 265: LAB 325: LD 32 seats LAB 1 short

So one – ComRes – is almost there. Three – Populus, ICM and Ipsos-MORI – have Labour the biggest party in a hung parliament while just YouGov points to a Tory victory on seats although some way short of a majority.

    The conclusion is clear – if Gord did decide to risk it then unless the polls are wildly out there is a much smaller risk of a majority Cameron government being returned than we’ve seen for most of the year. Does Gord settle for that or should he plough on in the hope it will get better? He missed his chance in October 2007 – could he be missing it again?

What a different view of things the gambling markets are taking. These were the spread-betting positions from late last night after news of ICM had sunk in.

If the polls continue to show the Tories some way short of a majority it’s hard to see these levels being sustained. I got a bit more money on selling Tory seats with both SPIN and IG Index last night in the hope that the markets will move towards what the polling is showing during the holiday period. I think I’m onto a winner and I’m looking to cash my bets in early in the New Year at a profit. The great thing about spread-betting is that you don’t have to wait for the event to pocket any profits.

Election date betting.

Month of the election betting.

General election – most seats betting.

  • This morning: I’m due to appear on the Daily Politics Show on BBC 2 to discuss polling and the general election timing. It starts at 11.30am and I’m due on after PMQs from 12.30pm
  • Mike Smithson






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