I came across this story a couple of hours ago via Craig Murray, who believes the answer to be yes – specifically, that YouGov is conspiring with the Murdoch press against the Lib Dems. He quotes a comment made on a post at PoliticalBetting:
Just done a YouGov, Mostly about Clegg & LD
Here was one of the question
“Nick Cleggs 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?”
I’d say that was fairly direct!
There were some 17 other questions re the LD
Murray goes on to conclude:
The proposition above is, obviously to anyone, not really a question but a set of dubious propaganda statements designed to influence the interviewee.
Plainly this is a deliberate attempt to produce a poll which shows the Lib Dem surge as a blip, and thus discourages potential Lib Dems voters.
He also reports:
Anthony Wells of YouGov (known henceforth as YouGove) admits YouGov asking these "questions, but claims the voting intention question ought to have been asked first. He also points out that the antiLib Dem questions were "Not for publication".
I bet they bloody weren't.
Hmm. The Anthony Wells comment that Murray sort-of quotes seems to be this one:
Firstly, neither those VI or those question were anything to do with polling for newspapers or publication. Secondly I’ve brought the poll up on the system now to double check, and voting intention was the first question as it should have been. The other questions were right at the end of the political section of the poll, as they should have been.
It appears that Murray has utterly butchered part of that comment and ignored the rest.
I think that this is one for John Rentoul’s collection.
(Oh, and ‘push-polling’ is not attempting to skew a poll by asking leading questions; it’s a dirty campaign trick in which you call up swing voters and ask them ‘If you had heard that [opposing candidate] had done [utterly fictional scandal], would you be more or less inclined to support him?’ This creates a deniable rumour, smearing your opponent.)
Update: Anthony Wells has commented further, although rather obliquely, on the survey asking lots of questions on the Lib Dems. Somebody - not News International - is clearly testing some attack lines, but there's nothing scandalous about that.