Two polls tonight – Opinium in the Observer have topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7% (tabs). All par for the course, and fieldwork was on the 24th and 25th March, so prior to the Paxman interviews on Thursday.

More intriguing is YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times. Fieldwork for this was done on Friday and Saturday, so was wholly after the Paxman interviews. Topline figures there are CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%. A four point Labour lead. I’ll write more tomorrow, but I’ll leave you with the usual caveats, it’s just one poll, it could be boost for Labour from the interviews or it could just be normal random variation, only time (and subsequent polling) will tell…


Six weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (19/3) – CON 36%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Survation/MoS (21/3) – CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%
Populus(22/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (22/3) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Mail (22/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Times (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (24/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Survation/Mirror (25/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (25/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Panelbase (26/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Populus (26/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

It’s been a busy week in terms of voting intention polls – ComRes have now moved to weekly polling for the Daily Mail, Survation did two ones (one for the Mail on Sunday and one for the Mirror) and we got the first UK poll from Panelbase. Five of the polls showed dead heats between Labour and the Conservatives, there were three Tory leads and six Labour leads. The bigger picture remains one of the two main parties being neck-and-neck, but there have been slightly more Labour leads than Tory ones in recent polls, so the UKPR polling average this week has Labour one point ahead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1).

Scottish and London polls

ICM had new Scottish and London polls out this week. In Scotland they found Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(+1), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 6%(nc), SNP 43%(nc), UKIP 7%(nc), GRN 3%(-1), changes are from their previous Scottish poll in December. At 16 points ICM show a slightly smaller SNP lead than some other companies, but there is no significant change from their previous poll, suggesting its something methodological rather than a narrowing of the SNP lead.

This morning ICM had a London poll for the Guardian. Voting intentions for that were CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%, GRN 8%. That represents a four point swing from Conservative to Labour since the general election – the equivalent of a one point Labour lead in national polls – so again suggests that the swing in London is much the same as in the rest of the country.

Week 12

  • David Cameron ruled out standing for a third term as Prime Minister. Unusual not because of the content – if he wins he was widely expected to stand down at some point after the European referendum anyway – but because he said it, out loud, to a journalist. In terms of public opinion 55% of people said Cameron was right to rule out a third term, 18% wrong. A majority of supporters of all parties – including Tory voters – thought it was the right thing to do. 21% of people said it made them think better of Cameron, 9% worse of him, but for the majority of people it made no difference to how they viewed him.
  • The final PMQs of the Parliament was dominated by exchanges on ruling out tax rises. Asked before Cameron ruled out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruled out a National Insurance rise, at the start of the week YouGov found 43% of people expected tax to go up if Labour won, 29% expect it to go up if the Conservatives win. Under a Labour government, 43% expected income tax to rise, 41% expected fuel duty to rise, 39% expected national insurance to rise… but only 22% expected VAT to go up. Under a Tory government 34% expected fuel duty to rise, 31% expected VAT to rise, 29% expected NI to rise and 25% expected income tax to rise.
  • The debate debate finally came to an end with an agreement to have four events: a Paxman interrogation of Miliband and Cameron; a seven-way debate between Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Uncle Tom Cobley and all; a debate between the five opposition parties and a Question Time special with Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, one after the other. The Paxman interrogation took place last night. An ICM poll straight after the debate found people thought Cameron came out better than Miliband by 54% to 46% – we will have to wait until the weekend to see if it has any impact upon either voting intentions or perceptions of the leaders. Over the last five years Cameron has consistently had better ratings than Miliband, so in many ways a performance that’s pretty even has the potential to help Miliband far more than Cameron. As ever, time will tell.
  • The physical mechanics of the general election have started to kick in. Yesterday Parliament was prorogued, on Monday it will be dissolved and the writ issued and we’ll be off. The start of the formal campaign means various bits of regulation kick in, including the broadcasting restrictions requiring coverage of the main parties and spending limits upon the parties.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team are doing fortnightly predictions, so nothing new from them this week). Three of the models continue to show the Conservatives with just a few more seats than Labour, but Steve Fisher’s prediction from Elections Etc now has them 35 ahead of Labour. This is due to a methodology change rather than a move in opinion – Steve’s model for predicting the vote shares in England & Wales remains unchanged, but he’s no longer assuming such a big drop in SNP support in Scotland, and has rejigged how he translates projected votes into seats based on Ashcroft and YouGov polling (it’s explained in more detail here.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 296(+12), LAB 261(-17), LD 21(nc), SNP 47(+6), UKIP 5(+2)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 26(+1), SNP 38(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 273(-4), LAB 271(+3), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 5(+2)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(nc), LAB 269(+1), LD 25(nc), SNP 53(-1), UKIP 4(nc)


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ICM post-debate poll

ICM did a rapid “who won” poll after the Paxman interviews with Cameron and Miliband tonight. Cameron won over Miliband by 54% to 46% – we won’t know until the tables appear, but I expect that going to show Labour voters thinking Miliband won, Conservative voters thinking Cameron won, the rest splitting evenly and not many minds changed. Still, we’ll see if there is any longer term effect in the next week’s polls. I wouldn’t have imagined there will be – while the debate was new in 2010, events like tonight’s Paxman interviews or the leaders’ Question Time style event next month aren’t new – there were things just like that in2005 and 2001 and they made bog all difference to anything.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. A Tory lead today after some ties and Labour leads so far this week, suggesting the underlying average in YouGov’s daily polls is still neck-and-neck.

UPDATE: ICM tables are now up here (thanks to that fine man Tom Clark!). As expected, perceptions of who won fell pretty much along the lines of pre-existing party support – 84% of Conservatives thought Cameron won, 74% of Labour supporters thought Miliband won, Lib Dems were split, Ukippers thought Cameron won, Greens thought Miliband won. Note that while the sample was demographically and politically weighted to be nationally representative, it was a very heavily Labour sample in terms of current voting intention: the pre-debate voting intentions of the sample had an 10% Labour lead (thus are the difficulties of doing things like this – people who watch programmes like this are different from your average voter!)


Panelbase are well known for their Scottish polling, but today we have what I think is their first GB voting intention poll. Their first voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%.

Apart from the low Lib Dem score the figures are very much in line with averages across all the pollsters (and it’s too early to tell if Panelbase will always tend to show low Lib Dem scores or this is just an unusual result.) The tables should be out later, but in terms of methodology Panelbase are internet based, they weight by recalled 2010 vote, they are filtering likely voters to include only those who rate their chances of voting at 8/10 or more, and they don’t do any reallocation of people who say don’t know.

UPDATE: The full tables for the Panelbase poll are here. They reveal one very unusual difference – this isn’t a GB poll at all, it’s a UK poll. The vast majority of political opinion polls are only of Great Britain and ignore Northern Ireland, given its different party system. Panelbase include it. It shouldn’t actually make much difference apart from bumping up the “Others” a bit to include the DUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein, UUP and so on and knocking down the mainland parties by a fraction.


There have been several polls this week showing both the Conservatives and Labour up at 35%, and given it’s a zero sum game that suggests the other parties are getting squeezed. There is a general expectation of this sort of squeeze as the election approaches – the nature of First Past the Post is that votes for smaller parties don’t stand much chance of being translated into MPs unless they are geographically concentrated and as the election approaches the media coverage almost inevitably focuses ever more upon the main contenders (though more on that later).

The graph below shows the average poll scores for the Greens and UKIP across the nine regular pollsters (for those pollsters who do several polls a month, I’ve taken their average across the month).

greenandukip

UKIP have been on a slow but steady downwards trend since their support peaked after Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless’s defections. This last month the decline may have flattened out a bit, but that is largely due to MORI having an unusually low score for them last month that jumped back up this month – without that the line would show a smoother downwards trend. The Green party’s advance seems to have halted last month and started to fade a little this month.

Of course, just because they might be getting squeezed shouldn’t distract from the fact that UKIP and the Greens are still doing incredibly well compared to the last election. In 2010 UKIP got 3%, the Greens 1% – both parties could suffer a bit more squeezing and still end up quadrupling the vote they got last time. For UKIP, there is also good news on the horizon, next week the campaign broadcasting restrictions kick in, guaranteeing them coverage as a major party. For most of the last few months UKIP’s media coverage has largely consisted of the latest row or resignation for inappropriate comments. Next week the broadcasters will have to start giving them more neutral coverage alongside the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems.

In other news, we had the monthly Survation poll for the Daily Mirror out today. Their topline figures were CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4% (tabs.