A round up of voting intention polls published during the week. We have had three polls with fieldwork conducted wholly after the announcement from Nigel Farage that the Brexit party would not stand in Conservative seats:

Panelbase (13th-14th) – CON 43%(+3), LAB 30%(nc), LDEM 15%(nc), BREX 5%(-3) – (tabs)
YouGov/Times/Sky (11th-12th) – CON 42%(+3), LAB 28%(+2), LDEM 15%(-2), BREX 4%(-6) – (tabs)
SavantaComRes/Telegraph (11th-12th) – CON 40%(+3), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 16(-1), BREX 7%(-2) – (tabs)

The three companies have taken different methodological approaches to this. The YouGov survey offered respondents a list of the parties likely to stand in their constituency (so if a respondent lived in a Conservative seat, they were not able to pick the Brexit party). The Panelbase survey offered people the full list of parties, but also asked their second preference, and used the second preferences of those people who said they were going to vote for the Brexit party but lived in a seat where they are not actually going to stand. ComRes still allowed people to say Brexit party in seats where the Brexit party are not going to stand, but no longer included them in their main prompt when asking who people were going to vote for). I expect some of these approaches will be purely temporary, as going forward we will have the actual list of candidates in each seat and I expect many companies will move towards giving respondents only the relevant candidates for their own constituency.

Obviously all three show Brexit support falling sharply as fewer people are able to vote for them, and unsurprisingly this has favoured the Conservative party (though given any direct transfer to the Conservative party from the Brexit party standing down will be concentrated in seats the Conservatives already hold, so it won’t necessarily help them win any extra seats).

Since the weekend, but before the Farage announcement, we also had the following polls released.

ICM/Reuters (8th-11th) – CON 39%(+1), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 15%(nc), BREX 8%(-1) (tabs)
Kantar (7th-11th) – CON 37%, LAB 27%, LDEM 17%, BREX 9% (tabs
ComRes/BritainElects (8th-10th) – CON 37%(+1), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 17%(nc), BREX 9%(-2) (tabs)
Survation (6th-8th) – CON 35%(+1), LAB 29%(+3), LDEM 17%(-2), BREX 10%(-2) (tabs)

Note that Kantar made significant changes to their methodology for this poll, adding a squeeze question for don’t knows, and imputing voting intention for those who still said don’t know. This change reduced Conservative support by 4 points, and Labour support by 1 point, so the like-for-like changes from their previous poll in October would have been Conservatives up 2, Labour up 3.

A word about trying to discern trends in support. As regular readers will know, the different methodological approaches taken by pollsters mean there tend to be some consistent differences between their figures, one company may typically have higher figures for the Conservatives, one may have higher figures for Labour. These are known as “house effects”. Currently ICM, ComRes and Survation tend to show lower Conservative leads. Deltapoll, YouGov, Opinium are tending to show higher Conservative leads.

The way the publication schedule has panned out, the companies showing higher leads are tending to publish more at the weekend (because they are polling for the Observer, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday) while the polls for the companies with smaller leads are tending to come out midweek (as they are polling for the Daily Telegraph and Reuters). What this means in practice is that you’re liable to get two or three polls in a row showing smaller leads mid-week, and two or three polls in a row showing bigger leads at the weekend. It doesn’t mean the lead is falling and rising, it’s just the different approaches taken by pollsters. The thing to look at is the trend from the same pollster – is the lead up or down compared to the last poll from the same pollster? Are other pollsters showing the same trend? If so, something is afoot. If not, it’s probably noise.

On that basis, the lead appears to be broadly steady – both Labour and the Conservatives are gaining support that the expense of the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit party.

With four weeks to go, the Conservatives maintain a solid lead. Of course it’s worth remembering that the Conservatives also had a solid lead at this point in the last election too – much of the narrowing in the Tory lead came after the manifestos were published. In theory at least, there is time for things to change – although that said 2017 was an extremely unusual campaign in terms of the amount of change in party support.

120 Responses to “Understanding the latest voting intention polls”

1 2 3
  1. @ MOG

    Working on abelief in the wisdom of crowds – the average of the fifty entries is (rounded ot the nearest whole number):

    Con 324
    Lab 218
    LD 33
    SNP 47

  2. @CambridgeCol

    Lab was 221, otherwise right. I posted full stats info last night.

  3. … amd believe me, there are few things in this world with less wisdom than a crowd. “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” was first published in 1841 !

    And, for that matter, I doubt there were many dissidents at the Nürnberg rallies.

  4. As JimJam has often said, the gap between Labour and the Tories is the key. Let’s make two reasonable assumptions. The Tories are ahead comfortably and will win the biggest vote share and number of seats on December 12th and Labour almost certainly can’t win from here. I’m now taking these as givens, but I haven’t yet taken a Johnson majority government as a a given. Funny enough, neither have the polls.

    So, back to that gap again. If Labour can somehow get the deficit below 6%, it may yet still thwart Johnson and open up a variety of possibilities in the next Parliament. Much bigger than 6% and Johnson will get over the line. The one glimmer of hope is that Labour seem to be creeping ever so slowly above 30% VI in a lot, if not all, of these polls.. The old crate is starting to gather a bit of pace; wheels are creaking, dust flying off the dashboard, but some snail like momentum. Maybe second gear with clutch slipping. Plenty of people out there trying to get the crate rolling though. Nobody’s given up, but we know Corbyn’s not a great driver or mechanic.

    The straw to clutch is that ComRes 33% for Labour. I can see the Tories maybe getting a 40% vote share on Dec 12th, but no more, so if Labour can somehow creep up to 35%, I think they may have stopped Johnson. 35% is a big ask from here, but doable I think.

    So the only game in town is to inch the old carthorse up to 35%. That’s not a great GE performance by Labour’s historical standards, but it might just be enough to ensure no more than a 4-5% Tory win. That will probably be Hung Parliament country.

    Jezza on Tuesday night is playing for high stakes. If the old boy puts in a good performance, and Johnson doesn’t, then I can see a way for Labour to inch to 35% over the last three weeks of the campaign. If they can, this could still turn out to be an interesting election.

    But things probably have to start to move by this time next week. If they don’t, I think it’s done.

  5. MOG
    Very many thanks for your work on all the numbers.

    CROSSBAT 11 Like you, I can remember 1964 (age 9), 1974 (age 18 for the first one in Feb) and then 1997, age 42 when things got better. Corbyn Labour keep quoting 2010 figures for public services with approval.

  6. @ChrisLane

    Like you, I also remember 1964, though age 10. But unlike you (probably) I was actually a participant. My father was the Liberal candidate in the no-hope seat of Edmonton, and after school every day for a month I was ferried about in his car putting election leaflets through letterboxes.

    Needless to say, he lost his deposit.

  7. @laszlo
    “If the wave-length is high, frequency is low (less responsive) and vica versa, so it needs support (masts) to enter certain places. The wave-length opened to 5G is pretty high.”

    Eh? 5G is short wavelength and high frequency. Has to be as frequency is the limiting factor on bandwidth.

    The short wavelength comes with the associated limitations of short range and poor ability to get through solid objects. There’s broadly two versions of 5g. The first sits in roughly the same range as home wifi and is consequently about as rubbish when ti comes to brick walls. The second (sometimes referred to as millimetric/mmWave) won’t get through a car.

    The above is the reason why the idea that wireless is going to replace cables is a complete and utter fantasy. The mmwave stuff in particular is unlikely to see much use outside of dense urban areas (operators have said this) as you’ll need base stations 10s of meters (tops) apart, and what’s feeding those base stations? Wires.

    3 & 4g have the range to connect up rural communities but they simply don’t have the bandwidth to do the heavy lifting of home and business internet usage when it comes to multimedia. If everyone in range starts trying to stream some 4k tv it’ll fall flat on its face.

  8. MOG

    “WTF IS Google Sheets”

    Not hard to find out. Just type “Google Sheets” into Google.

    They’re free, easy to use and great for sharing.

    Microsoft is not the only game in town.

    But thanks for all the hard work though.

  9. MOG

    “after school every day for a month I was ferried about in his car putting election leaflets through letterboxes”

    Did the same to my son in 2017, when standing as a LD candidate.

    Pretty much same outcome.

    Dont think my son will ever leaflet again.


  10. New thread

  11. While there is understandable focus on the variation in the polls, there also appears to be a trend of robust gains in Con VI, to the extent that we are now seeing figures in the mid 40s in several polls.

    For all the noise, and the heart this gives to Labour supporters, the truth appears to be that the more voters hear of Labours radicalism, the less they like it. Unpalatable for some, but this is what the polls are suggesting.

    Johnson’s low personal ratings in many ways should just add to the gloom on the left, as it’s pretty clear that he is not winning big through any gret popularity.

    This time around, with this background, it’s really very hard to see how Labour can come back from this in any meaningful way. I think we have a situation where many people would like to back Labour but don’t feel they can because of their leader, while the once popular Lib Dems are making a complete hash of their offer, with voters from both sides being driven back towards Cons.

  12. I’m positive that my ‘New Thread’ comment was on the previous thread, but I’m starting to give up on the eccentricities of this site. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge there is no new thread at present beyond this one.

  13. the gap between Labour and the Tories is the key

    I agree at a macro level, obviously. The Tories are not going to win a majority of 60 with a 5% lead over Labour, and they’re not going to miss out on a majority with a 12% lead.

    But down in the weeds of say a 7% lead, say 41-34, with the LibDems squeezed a bit, it’s easy to see a small number of individual seats, or regional variations, making all the difference, never mind the national gap. (Already with the Brexit Party withdrawals, you have to deduct 3% off the Tory lead to arrive at a sensible ready reckoner.)

    With a 7% Tory lead you could imagine the Tories losing say 20 seats to SNP and LibDems and gaining only half a dozen seats from Labour to finish well behind their 2017 total. But you could also see them putting 90% of their effort into defending a dozen vulnerable seats, and attacking no more than twenty key Labour targets – and finishing up losing no more than 10, picking up 20 and squeaking to a small but working majority.

    In the range of a 6% to 9% Tory lead over Labour, there’s so much local noise that it could be be a wild night on 12/13 December.

    FWIW I expect the BXP vote to continue to drift a bit downwards so that the effect of them standing will be patchy – ie in some seats they may actually hurt Labour. And patchy may be fine for the Tories. BXP standing will certainly make it very difficult to win 80 Labour seats, but they don’t need 80. So long as they limit their losses to say 15, they only need to win 25 Labour seats. Anything above 25 is gravy.

  14. Sinn Feine have called for a referendum for Irish unity .

    3 referendums next year…?

    please try to control your enthusiasm (sarcasm warning)

  15. “I was brushed off as if I was one of Kennedy’s girlfriends showing up to his White House switchboard, you know, here to do my, you know, calling. And I felt so disgusted and humiliated that I was told: ‘Bigger things are at stake; never mind you, he’s too busy for you’.”

    Jennifer Acuri has her say. I guess she might say more of this – but only this.

  16. @MOG

    The Glee Club at Lib Dem conference still sings the song ‘losing deposits’ every year. Here are the words (4th song from the top)


    Lib Dems may not have the VI or Tories or Labour, but I’m sure their conferences are more fun (and they will always poke fun at themselves).


    Corbyn’s Labour party is not nearly as left-wing as you imagine; though, obviously it may be well to the left of you.

    If you look on e.g. Political Compass, it shows LAB in the mainstream of west European social democracy, i.e. moderately left. CON however, are on the extreme right.

  18. If you look on e.g. Political Compass, it shows LAB in the mainstream of west European social democracy, i.e. moderately left. CON however, are on the extreme right.

    Perhaps that tells you more about Political Compass than about LAB or CON :)

    But seriously, subtracting economics from a general authoritarian / libertarian spectrum, so that economic authoritarians get to strut about claiming to be “non authoritarian” is a bit of a tell as to where they’re coming from.

  19. I’ve compiled a spreadsheet with all the candidates standing at the general election. I know this information is already available in a lot of places like the BBC News and Sky News websites, but usually you have to click on a particular constituency to view the data. I thought it would be useful to have all the candidates on one page, which is what I’ve done with this spreadsheet. I hope it’s useful for users of UKPR.


  20. It seems to me that the only reason for the narrowing of the gap in Corbyn/Johnson personal ratings in this campaign, and the same occurence between Corbyn/May last time, which makes sense is the obvious one: When the majority of the public, which is usually somewhat apathetic politically, start to dig slightly under the surface of the rightwing paper/media headlines which dominate British political coverage in the build up to a GE, millions realise that Corbyn isn’t nearly as bad as they were led to believe, while Johnson isn’t nearly as good. Its not like Johnson or Corbyn has done anything particularly atypical the past three weeks. If anything all thats changed is the media throw even more mud at Corbyn than usual. So what possible explanation could there be?

1 2 3