Now the dust has settled where are we with the polls? There were three polls last night, two of conducted in the day since David Cameron gave his conference address, one with fieldwork straddling the poll. All three showed a significant jump in Conservative support, up 4 points in Yougov’s poll, 5 points in both ICM’s and Populus’s. Labour fell to various degrees in all the polls, but remained in a strong position in the high 30s. The Labour lead, which given most seats are a Con vs Lab battle is relevant in projecting figures onto an election result, varied between a 4 point Labour lead from YouGov and a dead heat in ICM.

These polls were all done very quickly. YouGov’s poll had around 1700 responses rather than the normal 2000, ICM had 1008…eventually. Populus had only 800 people, and 40% of those would have been interviewed before Cameron’s speech. These are smaller samples than usual, making them less precise, and there are some drawbacks for very swift polls – normally if people aren’t in when phone pollsters ring them up they can keep on ringing them back to avoid non-contact bias. With a turnaround this fast there is limited opportunity for this. Sample size and fieldwork period are by-the-by a bit though – the real question mark is because the polls were so swiftly after the Conservative conference when they were dominating the media coverage.

The Conservatives will have got a conference boost, and this is largely what is reflected in this poll. The question is whether it lasts. It is likely some or all of the boost is just due to publicity, that it will fade away once Cameron is no longer dominating the news agenda. That is far from inevitable though, anything can happen – if a corner has been turned then the direction of travel could continue in the Conservatives’ favour, if the boost is policy based it may last. The media narrative this morning seems to be one of Gordon Brown on the back foot, hesitating over an election in the face of a Tory resurgence… a tide that may continue to help the Conservatives.

Looking at the underlying figures in the three polls, there is a significant increase in David Cameron’s ratings, and the first signs of a significant fall in Gordon Brown’s. 38% of people told Populus David Cameron had what it took to be a good PM (up from 30% last week), YouGov found Cameron’s net rating for being in touch or out of touch rose from -41 last week to -21 this week, while Brown’s fell from +10 to -2. Cameron’s net rating on whether he is doing a good or bad job rose from -27 last week to -3 this week. Asked about Gordon Brown’s troop announcement in Iraq 42% of people said they thought it was a cynical pre-election stunt, 33% thought his trip to Iraq was motivated by more legitimate reasons.

These are snap polls and we can’t really judge the big picture yet. It’s important to note that, while Cameron’s ratings have improved, he is still viewed far less positively than Brown. Opinions do seem to be shifting though. There should be at least 3 more polls over the weekend, plus the full results of the Populus poll whose fieldwork is still continuing, which will give us a better idea of what’s going on and let us see what voting intentions are when people are asked without Cameron’s speech still ringing in their ears.

62 Responses to “What the snap polls tell us”

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  1. “Labour’s increase in support since June could be based superfluously in seats they already hold”

    I meant to say Labour heartlands (ie. seats that Labour held into in 1983) – although their prospects are probably best in their own marginals in the urban north of England.

  2. Nick Robinson has stated on his blog that “Rumour has it that the poll of marginal constituencies which has been carried out for tomorrow’s News of the World by ICM shows a significant Tory lead. Surely they will have to confirm soon that there will be no snap election…”.

    I had also heard this from another source who also said Labour may still have a small lead in the headline numbers. It is the marginals that really count though. It is no good for Brown if he is increasing his support in constituencies he is going to win anyway.

    I guess thay will have a meeting tommorow to come up with a good excuse for the fiasco of the last month.

  3. Conservativehome are saying Brown is about to pre-record an interview with Adrew Marr stating why there will not be an election.

  4. Now Sky are reporting the election is off.

  5. Now BBC are doing the same.

  6. When I saw Derek Wyatt (Lab MP for Sittingbourne) on Newsnight a couple of days ago, he looked and sounded pretty brassed-off at the idea of an election, and since that moment I thought Brown would call it off.

  7. Speculating by making predictions from guesswork is one thing, claiming to have insider information is not good, its not clever and anyone leaking it from an organisation would surely be fired if caught.

    As for taxing the whole flight versus taxing passengers, it is the only legitimate “green” tax. Taxing passengers alone like current flight duty does is just a money-making sham, it has no bearing at all on pollution.

    If an EasyJet fight which is completely full flies with 400 passengers paying £10 duty each that’s a nice £4k straight to HM Treasury. If a BA flight which is half empty flies the same route it may get just say £2k tax to the Treasury. Are we seriously to believe that a half-full plane emits half the pollution? The present duty system does nothing to reduce or even target emissions, its just revenue raising. A seat flown on the most fuel efficient plane pays the same duty as one on the most inefficient. Again its nothing to do with pollution, just revenue.

    Changing the system to be linked to real emissions, via taxing the whole plane not just passengers, and linking it to emissions and efficiency, would put a real economic incentive in place to reduce emissions. To encourage less flights which are more full and to encourage developments into more efficient models.

    Most planes are not flown full. Especially the ones other than the cheaper budget airlines.

  8. Dave Hawk

    Yes of course the cost of taxing the plane will be passed on to customers.That is the point of the excercise! We have to wind down our use of fossil fuels pronto.They’re a declining resource & probably contributing to global warming.

    The Stern report-commissioned by GB-stated that this will not happen until carbon is priced . That’s what consumers respond to. We’ll all have to get used to it. THe best approach to date IMHO is Carbon Cap & Trade-operating in EU as ETS-and now being adopted in USA at state level-notably in California.
    It imposes a cap on upstream( producer) emissions & makes them pay for breaches. THis will drive the low/no carbon technical innovation you quite rightly urge , because consumers of high carbon content/high price products & services will demand cheaper alternatives & so high carbon using suppliers will see their costs rise & business lost to technically innovative competitors.
    However ETS is slow in being introduced & it’s not yet rolled out to aviation.THe Conservatives want to speed this up and stop issuing carbon permits free-they want an auction. THis fixes the carbon price in producer costs and provides “green” revenue for governments to redistribute.
    Until this gets sorted ,green taxes which identify & increase carbon price to the consumer are a good move-provided they are ring fenced for re-distribution as the Conservatives pledge-and not used as a general revenue raiser as Gordon did with APT.
    Stern’s plea for a pricing of Carbon gels with the Conservative philosophy of customer choice. I don’t believe that central edicts from Whitehall about technical innovation, and tax breaks with your money & mine are the answer.

  9. Dave Hawk-I Googled for an update on ETS-EU have agree to include aviation by 2010-but carbon permits to be only partially auctioned…and get this :-
    “The EC proposal sought to exempt government flights from the scheme, but the parliament’s environment committee members deleted the exemption because “governments ought to be setting an example.””

    The sooner someone insists that these unelected jobsworths in Brussels get on and do something useful, rather than dreaming of a bigger desk in The United States of Europe the better.
    And Dave could be the man to do it.

  10. Colin,

    I don’t like EU jobsworths any more than you do but my concern is that Cameron would only have the UK tooting on the fringe. I don’t agree with his pledge to remove Conservative MEPs from the EPP. That will accomplish little.

    Brown’s the man for Britain on the international stage. I look forward to the day when Prime Minister Brown and President Hillary Clinton (most likely to be the Democratic nominee) providing effective global leadership on a range of global issues.

  11. … but there are no guarantees on that alas.

  12. Dave Hawk, you bias to party lines is commendable.Labour till you die, no doubt. But as you like to say “your sums don’t add up”.

    “The state of the country when the tories left”. It was the Tories who took this nationalised, militant unionised, “sick man of Europe” into the modern era under Maggie. Yes they made economic mistakes, exchange rate mechanism et al, and yes they had problems with sleaze when they were rightly booted out. But Brown Inherited an economy that had grown since 1993, he has then presided over it with some aplomb, but he has sold all our Gold, decimated the pension funds and allowed personal debt to esculate to dangerous levels. We have all enjoyed the prosperity of living on credit, but very soon the bubble will burst.

    If you want to talk about leaving the country in a real state cast your mind back to 1979.

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