The snap ICM poll following the second Salmond-v-Darling debate shows a convincing win for Alex Salmond. 26% think Darling won the debate, 65% think Salmond did, 9% didn’t know. Tabs are here.

In the ICM poll following the first debate last month the large majority of existing YES voters thought Salmond won, the large majority of existing NO voters thought Darling won, don’t knows were pretty evenly split – hence a Darling victory. In second debate poll existing YES voters almost all thought Salmond won, only a bare majority of NO voters thought Darling did, the small number of don’t knows favoured Salmond – hence the Salmond victory.

Will it have any impact on voting intentions? Well, that’s a different question. Amongst the respondents in the survey there was no difference in the NO lead before the debate and the NO lead afterwards, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Remember that the instant verdict poll gave the first debate to Alistair Darling, yet of the four polls since the first debate only one showed significant movement toward NO, two showed modest movement toward YES, one showed significant movement toward YES. Instant reaction debate polls do their job of crowning a debate victor… but they don’t necessarily do a good job of predicting the impact.


I’ll be back blogging properly after the weekend, but for now here is the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll. Topline voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%.

There is now clearly more support than opposition for the RAF taking part in air strikes against Islamic State/ISIS – 45% support Britsish air strikes, 31% are opposed. There is a pretty even split over supplying arms to Kurdish forces, 37% support the the idea, 39% are opposed.


The monthly ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror is out tonight. Topline figures with changes from their previous online poll are CON 32%(+1), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 18%(+1): no significant change from a month ago.

ComRes also did a batch of favourable or unfavourable questions. As usual no one actually got a positive rating – the least unfavourable was David Cameron (minus 18), followed by Nigel Farage (minus 21), Ed Miliband (minus 34) and Nick Clegg (minus 43). For the political parties the Conservatives and Labour were both on minus 16, UKIP were on minus 19, the Liberal Democrats on minus 40.

Having the Conservative party and Labour party viewed equally unfavourably is unusual. Whatever the ups and downs of day-to-day politics, the Labour party is normally seen more positively than the Conservative people (people see Labour as having it’s heart in the right place in a way the Tory party doesn’t). As ever, it’s just one poll so unless other polls start showing the same I wouldn’t get too excited.


Lord Ashcroft has produced another round of marginal polling – full details here. His last batch of polls revisited the Con-held ultra-marginals with Labour in second place. This time they deal with some Conservative held marginals with slightly larger majorities and revisit some Labour held marginals. The latter aren’t of much interest at the moment (with Labour ahead in the polls there is no realistic chance of the Conservatives gaining seats from Labour, so until and unless the Conservatives start showing a lead over Labour in national polls polling Labour-held Conservative targets is a little bit academic, though I may return to them in a future post), for the immediate future the Con-held marginals are more relevant.

Lord Ashcroft’s earlier polling of Con-marginals took the eleven Con-Lab seats with majorities under 2 percent. This round of polling took the seats with majorities between 2 and 3 percent, eight of them. The average swing across these seats was 6 points from Con to Lab, the equivalent of a 5 point Labour lead in the national polls. A little larger than in national polls at the moment but, as with Lord Ashcroft’s previous waves of polling in Conservative -v- Labour seats, not that different.

As usual with Lord Ashcroft’s polls this wasn’t a poll of a group of marginal seats, it was eight fully fledged polls of individual constituencies and looking at the individual seats spits out a few interesting findings. Lord Ashcroft used the two stage voting intention question for the constituency poll, first asking people a generic voting intention question and then asking people to consider their own constituency and the candidates likely to stand there in an attempt to squeeze out tactical or incumbency effects. Normally this has a huge effect in seats where the Liberal Democrats are in contention, and very little effect in seats where they aren’t. The effect of the two stage question here was illustrative – in four seats the Conservatives did very slightly better in the second question (what we’d expect from the incumbency effect). In Warrington South (a three way marginal) and Bedford (which has a strong local Lib Dem presence) the second question boosted the Lib Dems. In Stroud the second question boosted Labour, perhaps because the ousted Labour MP David Drew is seeking to return at the next election (Patrick Hall is also seeking to return in Bedford, where the second question also showed a slightly bigger swing to Labour). Also worth noting was the healthy performance by the Greens in Stroud, up on 12%.

A final observation: Southampton Itchen, one of the four Labour held seats, showed a swing of 0.5% from Lab to Con, putting the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck on 33%. This seems unlikely, while John Denham is standing down in Southampton Itchen the last time Ashcroft polled the seat in May it had an eight point Labour lead. A more likely explanation for the rather odd result is probably that suggested by Lord Ashcroft himself in his commentary – that Southampton Itchen has a substantial university population (students and staff) who wouldn’t have been around when the poll was conducted.


It’s now exactly one month to go until the Scottish referendum, and this morning’s Times has a fresh YouGov Scottish poll. Topline figures are YES 38%(+3), NO 51%(-4). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 43%(+4), NO 57%(-4). The 43% YES figure excluding don’t knows is the highest YouGov have shown so far.

The previous YouGov poll straddled the Salmond-Darling debate, so this is their first test of support post-debate. Looking at all four of the post-debate polls, we’ve now got Survation showing a significant move to NO, Panelbase and ICM showing modest movement towards YES and YouGov showing a significant shift towards YES.

Clear as mud, but I think it’s fair to conclude that despite Alistair Darling emerging as the initial “winner” of the first debate, the broad trend amongst the post-debate polls is looking like things may have actually moved a little in the YES direction.

Looking back at the post-debate poll, it might be worth remembering that existing NO supporters tended to think Darling won, existing YES supporters tended to think Salmond won – so Darling’s “victory” was largely a result of him having more supporters to begin win. If subsequent polls do confirm that there has been a movement to YES since the debate, perhaps we’ll conclude that attitudes towards who won the debate were different amongst swing voters…