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:
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.