Two polls tonight – the regular Opinium/Observer and YouGov/Sunday Times weekend polls:

YouGov have topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Opinium have topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%

A three point Labour lead from YouGov, a four point Conservative lead from Opinium. They are each a nice corrective for anyone liable to get too excited about the other one, we are probably just seeing normal variation about that same old underlying position of Labour and Conservative being pretty much neck and neck.


Three weeks to go

Here are this week’s GB polls:

Opinium/Observer (9/4) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (10/4) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
YouGov/S Times (11/4) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (12/4) – CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (12/4) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
ICM/Guardian (12/4) – CON 39%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 7%, GRN 7%
Populus (12/4) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (13/4) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
TNS (13/4) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (14/4) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (15/4) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (15/4) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 8%
Panelbase (16/4) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 16%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (16/4) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Populus (16/4) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%
Survation/Mirror (17/4) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%

Voting intention continues to be pretty much static, with levels of Conservative and Labour support extremely close. There were sixteen polls published in the last week, nine had the two parties within a point of each other. The UKPR polling average is back to showing a tie – CON 34%(+1), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 14%(-1), GRN 5%(nc). It is hardly been an exciting election campaign anyway, but certainly nothing seems to have made any significant impact upon voting intention and we are running out of time for anything to do so. The first postal ballots will have gone out this week.

Other polls

This week we’ve also had ComRes polling of Lib Dem seats in the South West and Ashcroft polling of some seats in Scotland. I’ve written about both of them at length already – Ashcroft here and ComRes here.

Week fifteen

This week was manifesto week – the five main GB parties all published their manifestos, though the SNP are saving theirs for later in the campaign. YouGov have done two bits of polling on the manifesto for the Times and the Sun.

The most widely supported policy in the Labour manifesto was to reduce the deficit every year (76% support – largely because it got the backing of Tory voters too), followed by the promise to raise the minimum wage to £8 (71% support), freezing utility bills (65%) and the mansion tax (61%) – none of their main policy announcements got a thumbs down.

Looking at the Conservative manifesto the most popular policy was linking the personal tax allowance to the minimum wage (supported by 80%, again because it got wide cross party support), followed by stopping above inflation rail fare rises (67%) and lowering the benefit cap to £23k (65%). Unlike Labour some of the main Conservative policies got a thumbs down – opening 500 new Free Schools only got 26% support, the flagship announcement of extending right to buy to housing associations only got 28% support.

I shall make my usual caveats about overestimating the importance of individual policies. Despite Labour’s individual policies polling better, in the same poll the Conservatives had a narrow lead on having the best policies and ideas for the country (29% Conservative, 26% Labour). Neither do people pay much attention to these announcements – a separate YouGov poll for the Sun found that the right to buy policy was the only one of the manifesto policy announcements tested that a majority of people could correctly link to the right party – in most cases less than a third of people were able to say which party had proposed it.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc, the Guardian and YouGov are below, as well as the less regular prediction from the Polling Observatory team who released some new numbers today. As ever, all show a hung Parliament, but most are now showing Labour with more seats in a hung Parliament – with the notable exception of Steve Fisher’s model, which has the Tories with about 30 more seats than Labour. On the subject of the differences between the models, Chris Hanretty of the Election Forecast team wrote a blog post earlier this week.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 292(+3), LAB 260(-6), LD 22(nc), SNP 51(+2), UKIP 4(-1)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 280(-2), LAB 277(+2), LD 27(-1), SNP 42(+1), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 268(+3), LAB 276(-3), LD 26(nc), SNP 54(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 269(-2), LAB 271(nc), LD 29(nc), SNP 55(+2), UKIP 4(nc)
YouGov Nowcast – Hung Parliament, CON 266(+2), LAB 279(+2), LD 27(-1), SNP 50(-5), UKIP 5(+1)
Polling Observatory – Hung Parliament, CON 268, LAB 278, LD 28, SNP 49, UKIP 3


-->

Lord Ashcroft has released a new batch of Scottish constituency polling. Full details are here. As regular readers will know, national polls in Scotland suggest an SNP landslide with no sign of the SNP lead narrowing as the election approaches. In fact the most recent Scottish polls from YouGov and TNS showed the SNP lead growing. Lord Ashcroft has previously carried out two waves of Scottish polling, both showing the SNP winning in seats that were previously thought very safe.

Across the two previous waves Ashcroft polled nineteen Labour seats, finding the SNP ahead in all except East Renfrewshire and Glasgow North East. He has also polled four Lib Dem held seats (finding solid SNP leads in three and a narrow SNP lead in Ross, Skye and Lochaber) and the one Tory seat in Scotland where he found a tie.

In this latest wave Ashcroft has returned to the five of the tighter races he polled earlier, and polled three more Lib Dem held Scottish seats for the first time. Most of the close races are no longer close – in Glasgow South West (where Labour have a 46% majority) Ashcroft found the SNP 21% ahead. In Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Douglas Alexander’s seat, he found an SNP lead of 11%. In East Renfewshire he found a 9% SNP lead – this is the seat of Labour’s Scottish leader Jim Murphy and one of the two seats where he previously found a Labour lead.

People commenting on the Scottish election seem to fall into two groups – those who expect an almost complete SNP walkover, and those who expect them to merely do extremely well, to take “only” thirty or forty seats. I think the logic of most people in that second group is simply down to the scale of the SNP landslide looking unrealistic – the belief that they can’t be doing that well. I am often the first to advise caution towards polls showing huge shifts, so it’s fair to be sceptical – with a landslide of this scale perhaps the polls could be overestimating the swing… but they are consistent across national and constituency polling, online and telephone, and if they are correct the SNP are headed for an overwhelming victory and Scottish Labour towards something close to wipeout.

The polling in the sole Tory seat in Scotland remains extremely close. In his last poll Ashcroft found a dead heat between the Conservatives and the SNP, this time he found an SNP lead of two points.

Turning to the Lib Dem held seats, last time round Ashcroft found only a five point SNP lead in Charlie Kennedy’s seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, that has now grown to fifteen points. He has now additionally polled North East Fife (Menzies Campbell’s seat) where he found a 13% SNP lead and East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson’s seat) where he found an 11% SNP lead. Finally he polled Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – here he found a 20 point boost for the SNP, which is enough to make it into a three way marginal but not to put the SNP ahead – the poll found the Conservatives ahead on 30%, SNP 29%, LDEM 28%.

Note that the East Dunbartonshire is one of the seat where the Lib Dems have recently released their own private polling (which may or may not be a co-incidence!). Their own polling showed figures of CON 13%, LAB 16%, LDEM 35%, SNP 32%. The SNP are 8 points lower than in Ashcroft’s poll, the Lib Dems 6 points higher. I wrote about the Lib Dem’s own polling at more length here. The primary differences are that the Lib Dems prompt using candidate name, which is fair enough, and ask about how favourably people see their local MP before they ask that voting intention question, a more questionable approach. We shall see which is the better guide. The Lib Dems have not released any of their private polling for the other three Lib Dem seats Lord Ashcroft released polls for today, from which one must draw one’s own conclusions.


Two new GB voting intention polls today, with the regular YouGov/Sun poll still to come. The two polls so far are both wholly in line with the overall average – Lab and Con pretty much neck-and-neck, with Labour just a tad ahead.

Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has topline figures of CON 33%(nc), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 10%(-3), GRN 8%(+2). Full details of the polling are here.

Meanwhile Panelbase have figures of CON 33%(+2), LAB 34%(-3), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 16%(nc), GRN 4%(nc). There’s a shift to the Tories here, but it’s almost certainly just a reversion to the mean – the previous Panelbase poll was that unusual six point Labour lead. Full tabs are here.


ComRes have published a new poll of voting intentions in LD-Con seats in the South West for ITV. Full details are here. The topline figures are CON 44%, LAB 13%, LDEM 26%, UKIP 10%. Given these are all seats that the Liberal Democrats won in 2010 this is a huge turnaround – in 2010 the Lib Dems had an overall lead of 8.5% over the Tories in these seats, now they are 18 points behind, a whopping great swing of 13 points. If there was a uniform swing of this scale across these seats the Lib Dems would lose the lot.

Depressing for the Lib Dems, but wholly at odds with previous polling evidence in these seats. Lord Ashcroft has polled Lib Dem held seats pretty comprehensively, so we actually have constituency polls in 12 of the 14 seats included in this sample, and they paint a very different picture. Compared to the 13 point LD>Con swing in the ComRes poll Lord Ashcroft found an average LD>Con swing of about 4 points.

The difference between these two sets of polling is much larger than can explained by margin of error – they paint a genuinely contradictory picture. If ComRes are right the Lib Dems have collapsed in their heartland and face wipeout, if Ashcroft are right they are holding up against the tide and should retain around half those seats.

Explaining the difference is a little harder. It could, of course, simply be that public opinion has changed – some of Ashcroft’s polling was done late last year… but most of the Lib Dem collapse in support came early this Parliament, so this doesn’t ring true to me. Looking at the rest of the methodology both polls were conducted by telephone, the political weighting was much the same, the turnout weighting not vastly different.

My guess is the difference is actually a quite a subtle one – but obviously with a large impact! Both Ashcroft and ComRes asked a voting intention question that prompted people to think about their own constituency, candidates and MP to try and get at the personal and tactical voting that Lib Dem MPs are so reliant upon. However, looking at the tables it looks as though ComRes asked that as the only voting intention question, while Ashcroft asked it as a two stage question, asking people their national preference then their local voting intention. The results that ComRes got in their constituency question are actually extremely similar to the ones that Ashcroft got in his initial, national question.

This sounds weird, but it’s actually what I’d expect. When I first wrote the two stage voting intention question back in 2008 my thinking was that when people answer opinion polls they want to register their support for the party they really support, not a tactical vote or a vote for their local MP… and even if you ask the question slightly differently, that’s the answer you are going to get. If you really wanted to get people’s local voting intentions, you needed to first give them the opportunity to express their national support and then ask them their local support.

That though, is just the theory. As I’ve written before when writing about constituency polls of Lib Dem seats and marginal polls of Lib Dem battlegrounds, we don’t really have the evidence from past elections to judge what the most accurate methods are. Hopefully we’ll get enough different constituency and marginal polls over the next three weeks to give us the evidence to judge in the future.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%