Peter Hoskin

Are the Tories actually doing ok in the North?

Are the Tories actually doing ok in the North?
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Over at the indispensable UK Polling Report, Anthony Wells runs the rule over the latest Telegraph/YouGov poll:

"The Telegraph today has looked at their Yougov poll and decided it shows the Conservatives doing badly in the North. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t even do that - it shows the Conservatives 2 points behind in the North, an aggregate of government regions in which they trailed the Labour party by 19 points in 2005 - so it actually shows a swing to the Conservatives of 8.5 points in the North, marginally better than this poll suggests they are doing in the country as a whole.

That, however, is beside the point, since even if the Telegraph had correctly interpreted what the figure meant, it would still be meaningless. The regional breaks in polls have sample sizes of only a few hundred, meaning they suffer from a much larger margin of error and are far more volatile. On top of that, they are not internally weighted...

...If you average out the [regional] splits over a long period of time it might give you a better idea (since you ask, this year’s YouGov figures suggest the biggest swing to the Conservatives in London, followed by the North and the Midlands. The rest of the South is actually comparatively poor, with - predictably - Scotland the worst) but even then, it’s data that’s not weighted to be properly representative of those regions."

Wells's words are worth bearing in mind whenever you come across this kind of regional polling.  And while they shouldn't give the Cameroons cause for complacency