YouGov ‘push-polling’ mystery deepens

Earlier today Lib Dem Voice published a post asking the question, Are YouGov and Murdoch ‘push-polling’ for the Tories? This followed internet reports that the online pollster had been posing deliberately leading questions designed not simply to test public opinion, but to lead it.

Liberal Conspiracy picked up the story and put the question direct to Peter Kellner of YouGov, whose elliptical reply stated:

As with all agencies, we ask all kinds of questions for all kinds of clients; some public, some private. For purposes of testing theories, messages or policies we will often test statements phrased one way for some respondents and phrased differently for others.

This is entirely separate from our public daily polls or other research conducted for media consumption so will have no bearing on our voting intention polls published by the media.

Which leaves none of us any the wiser whether YouGov has actually been putting questions or statements to the public which contain misleading or even defamatory comments about the Lib Dems. And, if they have, who commissioned the survey.

This is how the Guardian is reporting the story:

The poll was commissioned privately and YouGov has refused to confirm the identity of its client. But it did confirm that it polls for the Labour party, the Conservatives and the Scottish National party.

One of the questions being asked by telephone as recently as Sunday, and subsequently leaked on the internet, asked 17 questions about the Liberal Democrats and asked people to rate a series of statements according to how likely they were to affect their voting intentions.

One statement read: “Nick Clegg says the other parties are to blame for the MP scandals, he has taken money from a criminal on the run, many of his MPs have been found guilty of breaking the rules and his own party issued guidance on how to fiddle the expenses system.”

An aide to Clegg objected to the language in the statement. “If this report is true it is just another example of the desperation of whoever is organising these things. They clearly don’t want to see any change and will use any tactics to attack us.

“These people should work out some positive policies and learn to communicate them.”

YouGov rejected accusations being made on some blogs that it was asking leading questions. It said Sunday’s survey on the Liberal Democrats was entirely separate to its regular polls for the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times and the News of the World.

Update: YouGov’s CEO Stephan Shakespeare resopnds on ConservativeHome in a post titled, Message Testing v Push Polling.

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This entry was posted in General Election and Polls.


  • This is straight out of the George Bush playbook. Gotta keep fighting this shit.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Apr '10 - 8:24pm

    Just to make sure I’m not missing something.

    That Guardian article is based entirely on information we already knew, isn’t it?

    And all these accusations against YouGov are based entirely on a couple of anonymous comments on the Political Betting blog. Is that right?

    And the Guardian has taken a bit of the anonymous posting, edited it so that it isn’t quite such gobbledegook, and described it without qualification as a statement made by YouGov, “leaked on the Internet”.

    Are you absolutely sure you’ve identified the “good guys” and the “bad guys” correctly in this case?

  • It’s perhaps worth noting that the SNP option above is not entirely incredible. The Nats use YouGov a lot (and in the good times have frequently published heavily spun figures they have got back from polls they commissioned – albeit with underlying, sometimes more mixed, data then published in full by YouGov.)

    I have taken part in one or two of these YouGov surveys (fairly blatantly for the SNP), and I have to say that – while I do not dispute the polling is transparent if you know where to look – I was initially very surprised by the fact that they are happy to do a voting intention poll tagged on the end of a series of issues questions which are framed in a very leading way.

    My impression is that the ‘anythingYouwantGov’ nickname is more deserved than has been stressed in recent times. The Scottish LD bounce may have lagged a little behind south of the border, but the Nats have a lot to lose if it takes off. They prefer the ‘laughing at us’ phase of the process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they…along with the others…are starting to think attack may be necessary.

    The poor Scottish Conservatories were having a stab at that today at their manifesto launch (they launched their manifesto with a vintage 2005 rant about the Liberal Democrats!? Not sure if they had an policies…But an invitation to join the Government of Scotland it definitely was not.). Poor Auntie Annabel. You could tell her heart wasn’t really in it. It looked to me like she was being used to test the water for a more direct policy attack (all the old 2005 stuff) to see whether or not it back-fires. If it back-fired in Scotland, there isn’t that much left to lose after all… And I fear Dave’s young turks could probably live without his Scottish Auntie.

  • Richard Menear 30th Apr '10 - 8:17pm

    I am thinking very much to vote for you and your party…

    Your party wont replace TRIDENT????????


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