We’ve almost arrived at the Christmas break. Today we have new polls from Opinium (their last of the year) and YouGov (their penultimate of the year – there is one more to come on Monday night). I’m not sure when Populus put out their final poll of the year, and Survation have a Scottish poll being published next week, but that should be it for the year.

Topline figures for today’s two polls are:

Opinium/Observer – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 6%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3), GRN 5% (tabs)
YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8% (tabs)

The Observer write up of the poll, incidentally, is particularly poor, or at least, contains one particularly poor sentence. Toby Helm writes “It is the second poll in a week showing that the Tories have lost ground since chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement earlier this month”. Now, I have long whined about newspapers treating only their own poll as being meaningful and pretending others don’t exist, so well done for putting a poll in context… but it’s a rather extreme case of cherry-picking context to create a narrative that doesn’t exist.

The Opinium poll is the second one this week to show Labour’s lead growing, in fact it’s the third as there was also TNS. But there were also rather a lot of other polls that didn’t… there were another ten polls who the Observer has chosen not to mention. There was an Ipsos MORI poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes phone poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes online poll last weekend (shrinking Labour lead), two Populus polls (who have shown smaller Labour leads in their four post-Autumn Statement polls than their four before the statement) and five YouGov polls (whose post-Autumn statement polls have shown essentially the same Labour lead as those before). Lord Ashcroft hasn’t polled this week, he’s already finished for the year, but his post Autumn Statement poll had Labour’s lead down one point. As you can see, there as as many polls showing Labour’s lead falling post Autumn Statement as rising, and overall I expect what we’re seeing is a simple case of normal random sample variation. Taking a crude average of the Labour leads in November would give you an average lead of 1.6 points, take a crude average of the polls in December so far gives you an average Labour lead of 1.6 points.

There’s always a temptation to see narratives in polls, to ignore those showing no movement, latch onto those showing exciting looking changes and build an explanation and a story around them. It’s normally wrong to do so.


Today we’ve the final Ipsos MORI monthly poll of 2014 and the last 2014 batch of Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling (the keenly awaited Scottish marginals polling is taking place next year).

MORI’s monthly poll has topline figures of CON 32%(nc), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 13%(-1), GRN 9%(+2). The Conservatives are three points ahead, but as ever it’s the trend that counts and there is no difference from last month for the main parties here. Note the Greens though – nine points is another new record high for them. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile Lord Ashcroft’s final batch of 2014 constituencies polls covers three groups of seats. One is another swathe of Con-held Labour targets, another is a group of those Labour seats who the Fabians have identified as the most vulnerable to UKIP, the final one is the unusual seat of Brighton Pavilion. Full details of all the polls are here.

This batch of Con/Lab seats covers those with Conservative majorities between 7.1% and 8.1% – in other words these are seats that would need a swing of between 3.5% and 4% to fall to Labour, the equivalent of national polls showing a Labour lead between zero and one point. This is in the region of current national polls, and as the swing in individual seats varies from one to the next, Ashcroft found Labour ahead in some of these seats, the Conservatives ahead in others. Across all eight seats polled Ashcroft found an average swing of 3 points in these seats, the equivalent of national polls showing a one point Conservative lead – so in this batch of seats, Labour are actually doing slightly worse than they are in the country as a whole. These might just so-happen to be eight seats where the Tories are doing a bit better of course, so don’t run off with the idea that the Conservatives are out-performing in the marginals just yet. The broader finding in Ashcroft’s Con-v-Lab battleground polls so far is that the marginal swing is pretty similar to the national swing.

The Lab-UKIP part of the polling covered four Labour-held seats (Great Grimsby, Dudley North, Plymouth Moor View and Rother Valley) that the Fabian Society’s paper Revolt on the Left identified as being at critical or high risk from UKIP. The polling found Labour ahead in all four seats, but with UKIP in a close second place in all four of them. Labour have a 1 point lead in Grimsby, 3 points in Dudley North, 5 points in Plymouth Moor View and 6 points in Rother Valley. This appears to confirm the research by Rob Ford and Ian Warren that these would be seats where, based on demographics, UKIP would pose a strong challenge – and suggests that Labour cannot afford to take them for granted. It’s also worth pointing out that using standard “how would you vote tomorrow” UKIP were ahead in three of the seats, Labour only moved ahead on the question asking people to think about their own constituency and candidates.

Finally in Brighton Pavilion, very much a unique seat given its Green incumbency, Ashcroft found latest voting intention figures of CON 21%, LAB 28%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 8%, GRN 38%.


The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian came out today, with topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 14%(+3), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1). Tabs are here. There’s a movement from Con to Lab since ICM’s previous poll, but nothing that couldn’t be normal margin of error – the broader picture still suggests a very small Labour lead, with no strong trend (in November the average Labour lead was 1.6%, so far this month it’s 1.3%).

This is the first time since September that any poll hasn’t shown UKIP ahead of the Liberal Democrats. The previous one was also ICM, and apart from one unusual Populus poll in July you have to go right back to March to find polls from other company doing the same. ICM consistently show the highest level of support for the Liberal Democrats for methodological reasons. This is largely because of how they handle don’t knows – when people say they don’t know how they’d vote, ICM look at how they voted at the previous election and assume that 50% of them will end up voting the same way. This is based on recontact surveys of don’t knows after previous elections and has made polls more accurate in the past… but of course, we can’t know until May whether that will still hold true under the sort of political realignment we seem to be seeing this Parliament. Without the reallocation ICM’s figures today would have been LDEM 11%, UKIP 15% – so it would have been quite a high Lib Dem figure anyway even without the adjustment.

Ipsos MORI’s month political monitor is also due. Today’s Evening Standard reported some figures, but I assume they are saving up the voting intention figures for tomorrow. The data so far is here, and shows people’s optimism about the economy in general (as opposed to their personal finances) dropping to its lowest since last year. I wrote about similar findings from YouGov at the start of the month, so this does appear to be more than a single poll; people’s confidence in the economic recovery does seem to be faltering a bit.


We’re clearly heading towards the Christmas polling break – we’ve still got the usual Populus poll this morning and YouGov poll tonight, but the weekly Lord Ashcroft poll has shut up shop for the year.

All the regular polls tend to stop over Christmas – ostensibly because it’s difficult to get a reliable sample over holiday periods when people have better things to do than answer polls, but I expect there’s a touch of us pollsters needing to have a holiday sometimes too. Last year Populus’s last poll was on the 22nd, so we should have a couple more from them and YouGov normally stop just before Christmas so there are few more from that front too. We also still have the monthly ICM and Ipsos MORI polls to come. ComRes’s monthly telephone poll has been right at the end of each month lately, so we might see that brought forward, or saved until after Christmas. Scratch that last bit – it’s being brought forward to before Christmas, out later tonight.

Anyway, our one poll so far this Monday is Populus’s, with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

UPDATE: The daily YouGov/Sun poll today has toplines of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%. YouGov have had the Greens sneaking ahead of the Lib Dems quite a few times lately, but until today it’s only been by a single point.

Meanwhile the monthly ComRes/Indy telephone poll has topline figures of CON 29%(+1), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 12%(+3), UKIP 16%(-2), GRN 5%(-2). A much better score for the Lib Dems there, the highest that ComRes have shown for over a year.


Two new polls in the Sunday papers. This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times results are here – topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%.

The YouGov poll also had questions on the end of the Parliament: the majority of people (56%) think that MPs have now started to concentrate on the election rather than concentrate on bringing in laws (7%). Not withstanding that there is little support for an early election – most people think the next election should still be in May 2015 as planned. The principle of having fixed term Parliaments has majority support (56% to 29%), though those who support it are split between agreeing with the current five year set up and preferring a fixed term election every four years. Asked about the fate of the coalition, 25% of people want it to end now (17%) or in the next few months (8%). 33% think it should continue up until the start of the formal campaign in April, while 28% want it to continue until polling day itself. The vast majority of Tory and Lib Dem voters want the coalition to continue until at least April.

MPs themselves continue to have a poor reputation. By 55% to 12% people think they are poor value for money and by 45% to 33% people think they are lazy rather than hardworking. 43% think that the reduction in Parliamentary business towards the end of the Parliament is just being used by MPs to do less work, rather than for constituency work.

Meanwhile a new ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday has topline figures of CON 33%(+3), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 18%(-1), GRN 2%(-1). Changes are from their November online poll and tabs are here. A quick aside about that very low score for the Greens – as regular readers will recall, ComRes recently made a change to their methodology. They started including UKIP in the main prompt for voting intention, but also made some changes to their likelihood to vote weighting – this is not quite clear from the tables, but as far as I can tell from reverse engineering the tables in their online polls they now apply a more harsh turnout filter to UKIP and the Greens than for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems. The end effect of the combined changes looks to me as if UKIP support is largely unchanged, but Green support will be decreased.

ComRes also asked people to put the parties on a left-right scale, with a surprising result. The average scores for Labour was 4.13, the Lib Dems 4.87, UKIP on 6.61 and the Conservatives 6.91 – so the Tories seen as more right wing than UKIP. This is in contrast to a similar exercise by YouGov earlier this year which found UKIP and the Conservatives the other way round. There are months between the polls, so opinion could simply have changed (especially since UKIP have been putting in an effort to appeal to Labour voters), but there were two significant methodological differences between the polls – YouGov asked people on a verbal scale, ComRes on a numerical scale and, probably more importantly, YouGov included a don’t know option and ComRes did not. In the YouGov poll over a quarter of people said don’t know to the questions (ordinary people don’t necessarily think of parties, policies and so on as being “right” or “left” wing!), so it could just be that lots of people said 5 when they weren’t offered don’t know as an option. That said both versions found people positioning the Conservatives and UKIP in a fairly similar place in the political spectrum, so probably not worth getting too excited over the difference.