What is it with YouGov and female voters?

It’s a well-established pattern that during this Parliament internet pollster YouGov consistently gives the Liberal Democrats lower levels of support than other pollsters (as, for example, I previously blogged about on this site).

Looking at the details of polls published so far this year, this pattern remains but there is also an interesting detail when it comes to male versus female voters.

YouGov, MORI and ComRes are the three of the main polling companies who also provide a gender breakdown of party levels of support using the same methodology as for their headline voting question.

Comparing the results they find for each party for men and women, we find the following average gender gaps in each party’s support:

YouGov (21 polls): Conservative support 3.6% higher amongst women than men*
MORI (13 polls): Conservative support 1.7% lower amongst women than men
ComRes (12 polls): Conservative support 1.3% lower amongst women than men

In other words, whilst YouGov consistently finds the Conservative party more popular amongst women than men, the other two consistently find the opposite. There is a similar difference amongst the pollsters when it comes to Labour support, though this time the gender pattern is reversed:

YouGov: Labour support 1.6% lower amongst women
MORI: Labour support 1.9% higher amongst women
ComRes:  Labour support 0.8% higher amongst women

There is also a difference for Liberal Democrat support, though less striking as all three pollsters consistently give the party more support amongst women then men (YouGov by 0.3%, MORI by 1.5% and ComRes by 2.1%).

It would appear that there is something very different between YouGov and other pollsters when it comes to counting Conservative support amongst women. Indeed, YouGov’s average Conservative ratings amongst men are much the same as MORI and ComRes (43.0% compared with 42.2% and 43.4%) but amongst women there is a big difference (46.6% compared with 40.5% and 42.1%).

It’s not obvious to me how the differences in methodology between the polling companies would explain this difference, but as the difference has been sustained over a large number of polls all through the year, there does appear to be something real at work.

* This figure is still 3.1% even if you exclude the last two YouGov polls which had very high gender gap figures of 7% and 9%.

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8 Comments

  • christina speight 7th Sep '08 - 12:14pm

    I’m female but not young. I find the LibDems as an alternative to the totally disastrous Labour unthinkable. Apart from Vince Cable there is no coherence just endless search for bandwagons to jump on. AND the LibDems have sold their souls to (1) the false windfarm / man-made gglobal warming scam and (2) thew EU. NO THANKS.

    So without much enthusiasm it must be the Tories.

  • I think You Gov have it right. They are the pollsters that have been the most accurate and in my experience support for Tories is higher among women than men.

  • The fact is that You Gov is the most accurate of all the opinion pollers. You Gov got the 2001 and 2005 general election results spot on.

    They also got the Mayor of London result with pin point accuracy. Ken made an arse of himself when he reported YouGov to the Opinion Poll association saying there must be something wrong with their methods because he did not like the results.

    Just because you don’t like the result does not make it wrong. Ask Livingstone!!

    Lets face it the Lib Dems are likely to be wiped out at the next general election. In 97 people voted Lib Dem because they wanted to get rid of the Tories. Those same people now want rid of Labour. They will use the same tactics and vote Conservative.

  • How funny that the above Tories felt they needed to come scuttling along mob-handed to loudly defend YouGov – thereby merely succeeding in reinforcing the impression that something murky is going on.

    In my experience, the pollster’s preferred tactic is to minimise any chance whatsoever for panel members to say they support the Lib Dems by consistently failing to mention the party in any shape or form.

    Thus, week after week, they ask: “What have you heard this week about Labour/The Conservatives?” Or “Who do you trust to run the country most – Brown and Cameron?” Or they refer to the “two major parties.”

    And they just never mention the Lib Dems if they can possibly avoid it.

    So don’t tell me that their bloody polling is “unpalatable to centrists” or “tapping into results that other pollsters can’t get” when what’s actually going on is plain old-fashioned bias – right there in the survey design and transparently obvious, I’m afraid.

    What I’ve always wondered is, why on earth did we fall for the idea that a company involving Stephan Shakespeare in a senior role would ever be any different?

    So, what’s the best thing for Lib Dems to do?

    Leave the panel and refuse to give them credibility?

    Or stick with them because it’s better to be on the inside, being a little stone in the aforementioned Mr Shakespeare’s shoe?

  • Paul McKeown 27th Jul '10 - 10:40pm

    “It’s a well-established pattern that during this Parliament internet pollster YouGov consistently gives the Liberal Democrats lower levels of support than other pollsters”

    Interesting that 2 years later the problem should appear to be even worse.

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