Ten weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls.

YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Opinium/Observer (20/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8%
Survation/Mirror(23/2) – CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 19%, GRN 4%
ComRes/Mail (23/2) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (23/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (24/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (25/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%

The voting intention polls are continuing to show the same stasis we’ve had for the whole of the year so far, Con and Lab almost neck and neck, Labour just a smidgin ahead. Of this week’s polls five showed Labour leads, three Tory leads, three with a draw. The UKPR polling average is wholly unchanged from last week, remaining on CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). Perhaps the most notable change among some very unnotable polls was a change in who commissioned them – ComRes had been the pollsters for the Independent since 2006, but this week switched their monthly telephone poll over to the Daily Mail (they will continue to carry out online polls for the Independent’s Sunday stablemate).

Scottish, London and Constituency polls

TNS put out a new Scottish poll this morning with topline figures for Westminster voting intention of CON 14%(-2), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 3%(-1), SNP 46%(+5), UKIP 3%(+1) (tabs). The previous TNS poll had shown an SNP lead of only ten points, this TNS poll is far more similar to the Scottish figures being shown by other companies.

YouGov put out a new London poll earlier in the week for the Times with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 6%. This gives Labour an eight point lead in the London, but given they won the vote in London at the 2010 electon is actually a slightly smaller Con>Lab swing that in the country as a whole. I wrote more about the poll here.

Finally there was a new Survation poll of Thanet South for UKIP donor Alan Bown, showing Nigel Farage with an eleven point lead. This compares with the Lord Ashcroft poll of Thanet South last November that had, once corrected, shown Farage one point behind the Conservatives. It may be that UKIP have managed to open up a lead in Thanet South since November, but there were also substantial methodological differences between the two polls – the new Survation poll prompted using the candidates names, which may well have helped Nigel Farage as the most well known of the candidates. There were also differences in weighting – Lord Ashcroft weights by recalled vote and by social class, whereas Survation don’t; Survation weight by council wards within the constituency whereas Ashcroft doesn’t. Finally there were don’t knows – Survation exclude them, Ashcroft assumes some vote for the party they did last time. And of course, this is a poll commissioned by a party – that should make no difference to how the poll is done (apart from adding candidate names this is Survation’s regular methodology), but it brings with it publication bias: if parties commission polls and don’t like the results, they don’t publish them.

Week 8

  • Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were caught in a newspaper sting on MPs taking second jobs. Rifkind stepped down, Ed Miliband promised a ban on second jobs. YouGov polling found only 26% thought that MPs having second jobs helped keep them in touch and was better than full time politicians, 60% thought they should concentrate on their main job and second jobs risked corruption. 54% would support a ban on MPs having second jobs.
  • Immigration figures came out showing net immigration way above David Cameron’s stated ambition to reduce it to “tens of thousands”. I suspect the Conservatives failure to meet the target has long been accepted by the public and priced into their opinion though – early last year the proportion of people thinking it was likely the government would hit their target had already fallen to just 9%. Still, coverage of immigration will likely keep UKIP’s strongest issue high on the agenda.
  • Labour announced their policy on tuition fees. On the principle of who should pay for higher education the public are actually quite evenly split – 43% think it should be paid from general taxation, 42% that students should pay it through tuition fees or a graduate tax. For a reduction in the level of tuition fees though I expect Labour will get the thumbs up – in December YouGov found people were in favour of a reduction in tuition fees by 54% to 21%, even if it meant less funding for universities
  • And the debate debate struggled onwards. At the weekend the papers quietly suggested that the debates may now be dead, on Monday the broadcasters announced the order of the debates (the two big ones first, followed by the Cameron-v-Miliband head to head). For the moment though, it seems to have gone quiet.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection. As usual, everyone is projecting an extremely hung Parliament, with the two main parties close together in seat numbers.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 279(-2), LAB 283(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 285(+3), LAB 276(-4), LD 27(+2), SNP 39(-1), UKIP 1(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 270(+4), LAB 271(-4), LD 26(nc), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275, LAB 271, LD 27, SNP 51, UKIP 4


YouGov London poll

I’m a little late with this, but just to flag up that yesterday’s Times had a new YouGov poll of London. Topline voting intentions there are CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 6% (tabs here).

I sometimes hear a sort of London as the weathervane of the country argument, as London goes so the country goes. It doesn’t, despite a Tory mayor it’s Labour leaning compared to the country as whole, and it doesn’t necessarily swing in the same way as the rest of the country either. In 2010 while the Conservatives were seven points ahead in the country as a whole, Labour won in London by 2 points, and the Conservatives managed a smaller swing in London than elsewhere.

This poll suggests a 3 point swing from Con to Lab in London, the equivalent of a 1 point Conservative lead in national polling, so actually a little less than national polls are currently showing. It could be the Tories are doing a little better in London, or it could just be ordinary sample error – as ever, it’s just one poll and shouldn’t be overinterpreted. A three point swing in London would net Labour three or four gains from the Tories – Hendon, Brentford and Isleworth, Enfield North and, right on a knife edge, Croydon Central.


-->

Two new polls today – the daily YouGov poll for the Sun and the monthly Survation poll for the Daily Mirror.

Survation in the Mirror have topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 34%(+4), LDEM 10%(+3), UKIP 19%(-4), GRN 4%(+1). Lots of sharp changes there since their previous poll, but usual caveats apply – the Tory lead in Survation’s previous poll was rather unusual in itself, today’s large Labour lead also unusual, hence the large changes from one to the other. Note also the drop in UKIP support – Survation consistently show the highest UKIP support, so while 19 is large compared to other pollsters’ figures, its a notable drop from Survation.

Meanwhile the daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%. A two point Conservative lead from YouGov, the first time they’ve shown that for just over a month.

The bigger picture remains the same. The Conservatives probably haven’t moved ahead, or we’d be seeing that across most of the polls, when actually they are averaging out at a tiny Labour lead. Neither is there is big swing to Labour, or we’d be seeing that across most of the polls, when actually they all just seem to be showing normal variation around the margin of error. In terms of the Labour vs Conservative race, 2015 so far has been largely static. The only trend that may be meaningful is the drop in UKIP support.

ukipdrop

Now that Survation have published their monthly poll we can compare UKIP’s January and February scores across all the pollsters (I’ve taken an average for those companies who publish more than once a month). There does seem to be a pretty consistent fall in UKIP support, perhaps slightly obscured by the fact that the most frequent pollster, YouGov, shows one of the more modest drops and the second most frequent pollster, Populus, changed their methodology at the start of February in a way that increased UKIP support.


Monday tends to be the busiest day of the week for polling (not least because phone polls are mostly conducted across the weekend). We have four polls due today: Populus, Ashcroft, YouGov and ComRes. ComRes’s poll tonight will be in the Daily Mail, who seem to have taken over ComRes’s phone polls from the Independent, their host since 2006.

The twice-weekly poll from Populus has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6% (tabs here). This is their first poll of 2015 not to show a Labour lead.

The weekly poll from Lord Ashcroft meanwhile has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8% (tabs here). This is his largest Labour lead of 2015 so far, and UKIP are sharply down – 11 points is the lowest UKIP have recorded in an Ashcroft poll. The online/phone poll contrast in terms of UKIP support seems to be alive and well, with the last three phone polls from MORI, ICM and Ashcroft giving UKIP scores of 9, 9 and 11 respectively, but online polls continuing to show them in the teens.

UPDATE: Here are tonight’s other two polls. ComRes in the Daily Mail have figures of CON 34%(+3), LAB 32%(+2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 13%(-4), GRN 8%(+1). The two point Conservative lead is the largest ComRes have shown since 2010, and their UKIP score is the lowest since last Spring. Meanwhile YouGov in the Sun have topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%.

Putting today’s four polls together we have one Labour lead, one Tory lead, and two polls showing the parties neck-and-neck – all perfectly in line with normal sample variation around the parties being pretty much neck-and-neck, probably with Labour just ahead. Note the UKIP picture though – all the regular phone polls have them at their lowest score for some time, and 13 points is equal to YouGov’s lowest score for them this year. The trend is difficult to discern given the wide variations between different pollsters, but looking at the average of the February polls so far UKIP do seem to be down slightly.


There are only two voting intention polls in the Sunday papers – the regular weekly Opinium and YouGov polls for the Observer and Sunday Times respectively.

The Opinium/Observer poll has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%. This is the first time that Opinium have shown a Conservative lead since back in 2012, just before the Omnishambles budget. As ever though, it’s just one poll – taking a broad average of the polls suggests that the actual position of public opinion is a very small Labour lead, so it’s inevitable that normal sample variation will spit out some Tory leads from time to time. Doesn’t mean much unless they start getting more frequent. Tables are here

The YouGov/Sunday Times poll has toplines of CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%. The one point Labour lead is very much in line with YouGov’s average. The 13 percent figure for UKIP is equal to the party’s lowest from YouGov this year, but a lowest we’ve already seen a couple of times, so again, not necessarily anything new. Tables will be on the YouGov website tomorrow.