ComRes have a new poll out in the Telegraph. Topline voting intention figures with changes from last month are CON 25%(+2), LAB 28%(+1), LDEM 16%(-1), BREX 19%(-3).

The Telegraph headline their report on hypothetical questions asking how people would vote if Boris Johnson was Tory leader, I’m rather sceptical of the worth of such questions when it’s a hypothetical that actually appears to almost certainly happen in a week or two’s time, but there goes. For what it’s worth, in the hypothetical Boris question the voting intentions are CON 32%(-5), LAB 25%(+3), LDEM 17%(-3), BREX 14%(nc) – a substantial drop in Conservative support from the same hypothetical question a month ago, suggesting perhaps it wasn’t such an effective prediction of Boris’s future impact.

Anyway, my general assumption is that parties normally do get something of a boost from new leaders, if only from the news coverage, enthusiasm of their supporters and whatever the new leader has planned to make an early impact. We shall see for real in the coming weeks.

As ever, other polls are also available – there have been two other voting intention polls this month:

Opinium in the Observer at the weekend had topline figures of CON 23%, LAB 25%, LDEM 15%, BREX 22%, GRN 8% (tabs here)
YouGov in the Times last week had topline figures of CON 24%, LAB 18%, LDEM 20%, BREX 23%, GRN 9% (tabs here)

There remains a significant difference between polling companies, most notably on the level of support recorded for the Labour party. The reason for this is unclear – polling companies these days are not taking radically different approaches towards turnout modelling or reallocating don’t knows, nor in how the questions are asked (though whether the Brexit party or Greens are prompted may be making a difference in some cases). By default that means the differences are more likely to be down to sampling make up – whether by the way respondents are sampled or weighted, companies are interviewing slightly different people. Specially, some companies seem to get Labour voters who are more loyal than others. I suspect some of this may be down to weighting variables (the measures polling companies choose to use, such as whether they control on education or political interest), perhaps some down to when past vote weighting data is collected – whether it is collected in the survey itself, or was collected at the time of the election (or in the case of MORI, whether past vote weighting is avoided entirely).

My advice, as ever, is to avoid the temptation of assuming that the polls that you’d like to be accurate are the ones that are, and that polls with results that you dislike are wrong ones that can be ignored.

However, it is probably worth paying some attention to polling for the European election results in May. At those elections we saw a very similar difference across polling companies, with extremely large spreads in terms of Labour support (final polls varied from 13% to 25%). It did tend to be the same companies showing high and low Labour support, the most obvious explanations did appear to be down to sampling, and when comparing to final results those companies showing low levels of Labour support were substantially more accurate. I am cautious about how much weight to put on these – after all, along with Ipsos MORI who were most accurate, my own company did conspicuously well here, and I wouldn’t want to fall into wishful thinking myself. There are obviously different challenges in polling low and high turnout elections (and other companies have other questions to ask about, for example, Brexit party support), but I would have thought that, in the absence of changes or explanations, it would sensible to be somewhat cautious of polls at the top end of Labour support if those same polls have very recently overstated Labour support in a national election.


Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)