Lord Ashcroft has released a second tranche of polls in Con-v-Lab ultramarginals, full details are here. It’s a repeat of his first polling of Con-Lab seats in April and now as then, Ashcroft polled the 12 most marginal Conservative held seats with Labour in second place, plus two other seats (South Thanet and Great Yarmouth) that he thought might have interesting UKIP results. Note that this wasn’t what we’ve often called a “marginal poll” in the past (a single poll of a group of marginal seats), it was 14 separate polls, one in each seat, individually sampled and weighted.
In April, the average swing in the 12 Con-Lab ultra marginals was 5.5% from Con to Lab, the same as in the national polls at the time. In other words, Con-Lab ultra-marginals were behaving right in line with national polling.
The average picture in the national polls is unchanged since April – the national swing from Con to Lab in GB polls conducted during the time Ashcroft did his latest fieldwork was 5.4% from Con to Lab. Lord Ashcroft’s findings in the marginal polls however have shown a slight weakening in the Labour position relative to the Conservatives, looking at just the 12 ultra-marginal seats the Conservatives are down by about 1.5% on average, Labour down by about 2.7%, UKIP up by about 4.5%. This looks like a European boost – the previous poll was done before the European election campaign, this one started in mid-June. The average swing in the ultra-marginals is now 4.9 from Con to Lab, meaning an increase in UKIP support has slightly hurt Labour. While the difference is too small to really make a fuss about, it also means that Ashcroft’s polls now show a slightly smaller swing in Con held marginals than nationally – in line with what we’d expect given the normal incumbency effect.
In two of the seats polled, Thanet South and Thurrock, UKIP were ahead in voting intentions, which will be enormous help for them in convincing voters they are a viable general election vote in the local area.
This morning’s Populus poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. The five point Labour lead is up from Friday’s poll which had the two parties equal on 35%… but both polls are inline with the average lead of 3 points or so which Populus have been showing lately.
I’ve seen it suggested lately that there’s a pattern of Populus producing better figures for Labour in their Monday polls, better figures for the Conservatives in Friday polls. Such a pattern is possible in theory – one can imagine that you might get slightly different respondents from weekend fieldwork than weekday fieldwork – and on the face of it looks like there could have been a bit of a pattern last month. Crunching the data properly though any difference appears to be minimal – the average figures this year for Populus’s Friday polls are CON 33.4%, LAB 36.5%; for Monday polls they are CON 33.1%, LAB 36.9%. Populus’s Monday polls give a Labour lead that’s 0.7% bigger than Friday polls, less than a percentage point.
Meanwhile Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows another big change in Tory support from last week. Toplines are CON 27%(-5), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 17%(+3), GRN 7%(+1). I wrote about the volatility in Lord Ashcroft’s polling a couple of weeks ago here: essentially, there’s no methodological reason for it, nor are the figures actually particularly volatile given the standard levels of variation you’d expect to find. As ever, it’s the underlying trend that counts rather than the individual bits of data that make it up.
YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times is up here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%.
There are some questions on perceptions of Cameron and Miliband, but they don’t show us anything particularly new. Looking beyond the two party leaders themselves the Conservatives also lead on having the stronger team of leaders – 38% think the Tories have the better team, 25% the Labour party. Cameron’s reshuffle itself isn’t seen has having made much difference to this. 13% think his team is now stronger, 16% weaker, 71% no difference or don’t know. 54% of people think that the promotion of more female ministers to the cabinet was mostly because David Cameron wanted more women in the cabinet, rather than because he thought they were the best people for the job.
Michael Gove’s demotion is widely approved of. 55% think it was the right thing to do, 19% think he should have stayed at education. As for his policies – 54% think Nicky Morgan should continue to toughen up exam grading schemes, but 51% think she should cancel Free Schools and by 40% to 32% people think she should end the drive towards more academies.
Support for the bedroom tax has now dropped to 39%, with 48% opposed. This compares to 41% support in January, and 49% support back in March 2013 before it was first implemented. While a substantial minority still support the policy, support for it has been on a gradual decline since it was announced. Nick Clegg’s about turn on the tax is seen positively by 38% who think it’s right to change your mind when a policy doesn’t work, and negatively by 44% who think it’s hypocritical to oppose a policy you introduced.
The monthly online ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 31%(-1), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 17%(-1), GRN 4%. Changes are from ComRes’s last poll a month ago, and don’t show any significant movement.
I sometimes see people asking if asking “if there was an election tomorrow” produces different results from “the next election in May 2015″. ComRes did a split sample this month asking and asked the two halves with the two different wordings: there was no significant difference. Asking about next May produced a Tory score one point higher, UKIP two points lower… but these differences could easily be normal sample error (especially given they were only to half sized samples).
If you really wanted to test if the different wordings had any effect you’d need to test on a much bigger scale to differentiate any effect from normal sample error, especially since any difference is likely to be small. Personally I doubt it does make any difference, but would always ask “tomorrow” on principle, just to emphasize that a poll really is a snapshot of opinion NOW, not a prediction of opinion next year.
Opinium’s fortnightly poll in the Observer is also out tonight, and they have toplines of CON 30%(+1), LAB 34%(-1), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 17%(-1).
A quick round of today’s polls. There were two voting intention polls out today, both of which I expect were slight outliers from the norm… but in opposite directions.
Both Populus and YouGov have been showing average Labour leads of around 3-4 points this month. YouGov’s poll this morning had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13% – a seven point Labour lead (tabs here). Populus’s poll had topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14% – both parties equal (tabs here.) In both cases, I suspect we’re just seeing normal sample variation.
The other “new” poll out today was the latest TNS Scottish referendum poll. As usual the face-to-face methodology means the poll is actually pretty old – it was conducted between the 25th June and 9th July, so the start of the fieldwork was three weeks ago. Topline referendum voting intention is YES 32%(nc), NO 41%(-5). Without don’t knows, that translates to YES 44%, NO 56%… TNS has typically been showing yes support at 40-42% once you exclude don’t knows, so this is a good YES poll by TNS standards.