Nigel Farage calls Lib Dem lead 'fake polling'

PUBLISHED: 12:29 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 31 May 2019

Farage has called the YouGov poll that put the Lib Dems ahead of the Brexit Party 'fake polling'. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Farage has called the YouGov poll that put the Lib Dems ahead of the Brexit Party 'fake polling'. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images

2019 Getty Images

YouGov has hit back at accusations from Nigel Farage that the Lib Dems' lead in the polls "looks like an establishment attempt to suppress the truth".

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Reacting to the news that the Lib Dems had polled 2% ahead of the Brexit Party in Westminster voting intentions, Farage complained that his party had not been in the first list of choices and had been "hidden" in 'others'.

"Looks like an establishment attempt to suppress the truth," he said, adding the hashtag #FakePolling.

READ: Shock poll puts Lib Dems in first place for first time in nine years

But the pollsters have hit back, adding that some of their predictions for the Brexit Party have actually been overstated.

In the EU elections, YouGov say they "overstated support for the Brexit Party, putting them at 37% compared to the 31.6% they actually achieved," according to Anthony Wells, YouGov's director of political and social research.

He explained why the Brexit Party was put into 'other' in the recent poll on general election voting intentions.

The approach that YouGov and most other polling companies have always taken, he said, is to 'prompt' - or list as a choice - only the traditional main parties, with newer parties prompted only after clicking 'other'.

"This may seem unfair to some people," he wrote, "but is based on what actually gets elections right".

Pollsters have found that if there is automatically a prompt for a smaller party, as Farage wants, it can cause people to overstate their support for a party that they often don't end up voting for in the election - causing the pollsters to predict wrongly.

Recognising the Brexit Party surge, YouGov are now testing the impact of prompting the Brexit Party in the main list, said Wells.

But they're also looking at why they overpredicted the Brexit Party's results in the EU elections by 5.4%.

He said they will update the list once they're confident it produces more accurate results.

Pollsters, he said, care about accuracy, "not what would help one party or another".

Farage responded: "If polling companies do not consider winning a national election enough reason to prompt for The Brexit Party in Westminster voting intentions, then until that happens we consider their results to be #FakePolling."

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