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Britain is not heading for a hung parliament

Stephan Shakespeare
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LAST year was tough for the banking industry, but it’s interesting to see which brands fared better than others. The two graphs show the proportion of positive responses each brand received out of the total responses for the set.

Graph 1 tracks the three that did relatively well: Barclays, HSBC and National Savings and Investments. Interestingly, NSI went up when they dropped Alan Sugar from their advertising campaign (though it may have been because they also raised rates). The second graph shows the three which fared poorly, being in the forefront of attention as the publicly bailed-out banks, and receiving that second dose of negative attention around the bonuses row: RBS, NatWest and Lloyds TSB. In 2008, NatWest and RBS moved in tandem, but as 2009 began people started to differentiate between them.

I haven’t said much about politics recently, even as people have started to speculate about a hung parliament. That prospect of course matters to the City, especially to gilts traders. My own view is that, in spite of some narrowing in the polls, Cameron will still have a reasonably comfortable majority.

The old saw that the polls always move back in the direction of the governing party is simply wrong: there is no evidence for it. For example, it didn’t happen in 1997. There are grounds for believing that opinion poll leads tend to be higher in marginals, where voters are strongly targeted and where they are more likely to vote tactically.

Polls don’t get at tactical voting, because people tell pollsters which party they truly support, as opposed to which party they will, in practice, vote for. In safer seats, the two are hardly different; in marginals, there tends to be a greater discrepancy.

Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.