Ipsos MORI released their monthly political monitor yesterday, topline voting intention numbers are CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 9%. These are on the basis of some minor interim changes to methodology (in this case adding how habitually people vote to the turnout model) while the inquiry continues longer term solutions are worked upon. Tabs are here. MORI also asked a question about whether people thought the four Labour leadership candidates had what it took to be a good Prime Minister. Andy Burnham had the best score (or the least worst) – 27% of people thought he did, 27% disagreed. In comparison 22% thought Yvette Cooper did, 16% Liz Kendall and 17% Jeremy Corbyn.

YouGov also published the rest of their poll of Labour party members, conducted for the Times. Tables for part one of the research are here, part two here. The second wave included a question on why party members are voting as they are, showing the contrast between what is driving Burnham, Cooper, Kendall and Corbyn voters. Burnham supporters say they are backing him because he has the best chance of winning, will unite the party and will be the best opposition to the Conservatives. The answers from Cooper supporters are similar, though there is less emphasis on party unity. For Kendall supporters the key reason to back her is seen as having the best change of winning, followed by the being the strongest opposition – 31% of her supporters say they are backing her as a break from Ed Miliband’s party, and only 10% see her as a unifier. The drivers for supporters of Jeremy Corbyn contrast sharply with the other three – only 5% of his supporters say they are backing him as the candidate who has the best chance of winning in 2020, only 5% are backing him as a unifier, the reasons are overwhelmingly because they think he has the best policies and because they think he is a break from New Labour.


A week or so ago Stephen Bush at the New Statesman wrote a piece about how “private polling” from a couple of the Labour leadership campaigns was showing Jeremy Corbyn ahead. At the time I was all set to write a “private polling is nothing special, and there’s no reason to believe it above the published stuff” post, except there wasn’t actually any published stuff. Now there is, and it’s in line with the private polling Stephen was apparently shown.

AYouGov poll of Labour party members (including £3 supporters and trade unionists who have registered to vote) in tomorrow’s Times has first round preferences are CORBYN 43%, BURNHAM 26%, COOPER 20%, KENDALL 11%. As might be expected, Corbyn’s large lead on the first round is chipped away by reallocations of the second preferences of Kendall and Cooper voters in the second and third rounds, but it’s not enough – Corbyn still narrowly beats Burnham by 53% to 47% in the final round.

In the deputy race Tom Watson has a clear lead with 42% to Stella Creasy on 21%, Caroline Flint on 17%, Ben Bradshaw on 11% and Angela Eagle on 10%. Watson comfortably wins once second preferences are reallocated.

So Jeremy Corbyn, who only got onto the ballot by Labour MPs “lending” him votes to broaden the debate, looks like he has serious chance of winning. The Labour leadership race still has weeks to go so there is time for things to change. What I am pondering is how many Labour members were voting Corbyn in order to send a message about Labour staying true to its roots and principles rather than actually wanting him as leader, might they recoil at the thought of him actually winning? Or alternatively, might him being ahead add strength to his campaign now it looks like he could actually do it? We shall see…


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Jon Mellon and Chris Prosser from the British Election Study team have written a new post and paper on the emerging evidence from the BES data on what went wrong with the polls. Last month they wrote a piece, which I covered here, on some of the potential causes of error they could use the BES data to look at. Now the BES post-election data is out they’ve done so, and come back with some findings.

Firstly, late swing – the BES data finds virtually no net change at all between how people said they would vote pre-election and how they reported having voted after the election. The BES team conclude from this that late swing is unlikely. We’ve now got published re-contact data from the British Election Study, ICM, Opinium, Populus and Survation, only Survation found any obvious evidence of late swing in their re-contact survey.

Secondly, Shy Tories. This is essentially the most difficult potential cause to evidence – if people lie before the election, and lie after the election and we can’t check their actual ballot papers, how do you detect it? You need to look for circumstantial evidence. The BES team have compared levels of Tory support in their polling in different types of area, on the assumption that if people feeling embarrassed to admit voting Tory really was a problem it would be less of an issue in heavily Tory areas than in areas where no one else voted Tory. They did not find this pattern. They also have some experimental data about question order and priming, one suggested solution to the polling error. The first three waves of the BES, conducted back in 2014, randomised where it asked the voting intention question – at the start, or later in the survey. Asking it later in the survey only made a minimal, non-significant change to the Tory vote (while it doesn’t say so in the article, the full paper also makes clear it doesn’t change the Labour vote either!)

Thirdly the BES team looked a bit at sampling, specifically around age, looking at an issue Opinium have already commented on at the BPC inquiry meeting. All pollsters weight by age using various age bands such as 18-24, 25-40, etc, etc. But are people evenly distributed within those bands? Within the top age group, for example, the BES found that people over the age of 80 were underrepresented and people in their early 60s were overrepresented. Whether that makes any different to the results they can’t yet say, as it may be countered by other things like political weighting.

Finally, and most importantly, they wrote about turnout and suggested that people may have been overestimating their likelihood to vote, and that the people who were actually less likely to vote were increasingly skewed towards Labour. Currently this pretty circumstantial evidence – we don’t know if people lied about voting in the general election, but there’s evidence to suggest they might have. For example, a small proportion of people said they had already voted by post before most of the ballot papers had even been sent out, in areas where there were not any local elections this May there was still a chunk of people who reported having voted in their local elections. At the moment, these people who look as if they might be lying disproportionately break to Labour, so would explain some of the error. In their article Jon and Chris instead try modelling people’s likelihood to vote based on their demographics and characteristics of their seat, and that increases the Tory lead by 1.8%. They conclude that turnout, people saying they’ll vote when they won’t, is a major factor behind the error, thought they conclude that it’s one pollsters can probably address quite easily through a better turnout model.

Two caveats though, before you think things are solved. One – at the moment we’re going on indirect evidence of people overstating their likelihood to vote. In the fullness of time the BES are going to do a validation exercise of their data (that is, checking respondents names against the marked electoral register) so they will be able to conclusively prove whether or not there are a significant proportion of people who told pollsters they voted, but lied about it. Secondly, Jon and Chris estimate that getting turnout wrong probably explains about a quarter of the difference between the final polls and the election result, which would still leave us another three-quarters to explain…

Meanwhile there have been two new Scottish polls in the last week – both show the SNP still on course for another landslide at the Holyrood elections next year.

Survation for the Scottish Daily Mail have Holyrood voting intentions of
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 7%, SNP 56%, Others 4%
Regional: CON 12%, LAB 19%, LDEM 8%, SNP 45%, GRN 11%, UKIP 5%
(Tabs here)

TNS have Holyrood voting intentions of:
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 5%, SNP 60%, Others 2%
Regional: CON 13%, LAB 21%, LDEM 5%, SNP 51%, GRN 7%
(Tabs here)


While the polling inquiry continues and we all work out what went wrong the Guardian aren’t publishing their ICM/Guardian polls, but they are still being done. Martin Boon has tweeted July’s results, which have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%.

As I wrote in my previous poll, YouGov released a second bite of budget polling on Friday, this part conducted after the initial press reaction to the budget. This wave highlights some of the public’s rather complex views on benefits and the living wage.

Public attitudes to welfare are complicated, sometimes contradictory and it is easy to cherry pick polling results to show the public support or oppose big cuts to benefits, depending on one’s views. At the simplest level people like the idea of benefit cuts because they think they go to people who don’t deserve them and who haven’t contributed to them. Exactly who they imagine these people are is more difficult to say, since if you ask about most groups who recieve benefits people oppose cuts.

So, overall 38% of people say cuts to benefits have gone too far, 23% they they are about right, 24% would go even further. Asked about the level of benefits and the number of people who can claim them 45% say benefits are too generous, 40% they they are too low (23%) or about right (17%); 57% say too many people are eligible, 30% that too few (19%) or about the right number of people are eligible (11%). Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.

Asked about individual groups of people who receive benefits though and the public suddenly become much more charitable. Only 4% think retired people on the state pension get too much in benefits, only 9% think disabled people do, only 12% think people in low paid work do. 19% think working people with children get too much in benefits, but 33% think they should get more. Opinion on unemployed people is the most evenly balanced, with 28% saying they get too much in benefits, 24% too little, 31% about right. The only group where people come down heavily on the side of too much money being spent on benefits is better off retired people… the group that politicians never cut benefits from because they vote.

This raises the question of why people think benefits are too high and too widely spread if they don’t think the unemployed, pensioners, parents, disabled people or the working poor get too much. I hardly think when people talk about benefit cuts they are thinking of winter fuel payments, rather I expect the support comes from the continuing belief that lots of benefits go to categories not asked about like “people who aren’t really disabled”, “people who could work but can’t”, “asylum seekers” and so on.

Attitudes were similarly complex on the government’s national living wage. We saw in Thursday’s poll that this received overwhelming support. This poll however found rather more nuanced attitude. 31% of people think that the living wage will end up increasing unemployment… yet only 7% think it is being set too high (the implication being that some proportion of people think it more important that jobs pay a decent wage than unemployment is minimised). The principle of the government’s approach is backed – 39% think it’s better for government to reduce in-work poverty by forcing business to pay higher wages (even if it increases unemployment) compared to 19% of people who think it is better for government to reduce in-work poverty by using the tax and benefit system (even if it costs a lot). However, asked about their overall perceptions of the budget people think, by 39% to 28%, that it will leave people in low paid jobs worse off. The question the poll hasn’t asked is how much that matters to people. Too what extent, if any, would people rather low paid workers got more money in wages and less in benefits even if they are less well off.


YouGov have their immediate post budget poll out tonight here, overall the budget was seen as fair by 43% of people, unfair by 33%. Compared to Osborne’s past budgets this is pretty so-so, the net rating is less positive than his last two budgets, but better than the mid-term budgets in the last Parliament. The rest of the poll asked about some of the individual measures in the budget:

  • The most popular are, predictably, the introduction of the National Living Wage and the increase in the personal tax allowance which both get overwhelming support.
  • After that limiting child tax credits to two children and lowering the benefit cap both get the support of two-thirds of respondents. There are some areas where government cuts to benefits are pushing up against public opposition, but with the benefit cap and limits on the number of children benefits are given for they still seem to have public opinion firmly on their side.
  • Meeting the 2% NATO target on defence spending and raising the inheritance tax threshold both get majority support. So, slightly to my surprise, did stopping housing benefit for under 21s (some previous polling had suggested opposition to this)
  • Moving the cost of television licences for over 75s to the BBC was supported by 49% of people (34% opposed), freezing working age benefits was supported by 46% (opposed by 36%) and cutting corporation tax was supported by 40% (opposed by 33%).
  • Only two of the measures YouGov asked about were opposed. Limiting public sector pay rises to 1% for the next four years was opposed by 51% of people. The abolition of student grants was opposed by 52% to 24%, the least popular of all the measures tested.

A so-so reception overall, though many of the individual measures were supported. A few important caveats – the first is that budgets are often a lot more or less than the sum of their parts. It is the overall impression a budget creates in people’s minds that matters, not an accounting exercise of “8 measures I like vs 2 measures I don’t like”. The second is that first impressions, while important, can sometimes be misleading. This poll was mostly taken on Wednesday evening and overnight, so most respondents will have answered it before seeing the newspapers’ reactions on Thursday morning and much of the response and debate about the budget on Thursday daytime (not least the IFS verdict on Thursday afternoon). YouGov will have some more in depth polling on the budget going out tonight and reporting tomorrow…