Populus Poll

I’m moving house tomorrow so may not be around to write about the monthly Populus poll that should be out on Tuesday or Wednesday. Feel free to use this thread to discuss it when it appears!

46 Responses to “Populus Poll”

  1. “Ryans” at politicalbetting has linked to Peter Riddell at the Times

    Labour 32 (-5)
    Conservatives 40 (+4)
    Lib Dems 16 (nc)

    Poll conducted over the weekend just gone.

  2. No recent disasters for Labour, Populus tend to favour them so my gut feeling is C 40, L 36, LD 17

  3. The poll is up on the Times website: C 40, L 32, LD 16

    No sign of any real recovery for Labour – if Populus generally favour them then their numbers are unimpressive at best.

    The Tories seem to be consolidating around 40%. An excellent platform, but still a need to do better!

  4. Labour 32% (-5%), Con 40% (+4%), and Lib Dem 16% (NC)

    More figures: http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3031071.ece

  5. Populus Poll is Lab 32, Con 40, Lib 16, Others 11 Con lead of 8.

    Poll has Lab on 35% best to handle economy, Con on 34%.

    47% of people would prefer a Labour Government to a Conservative Government on the forced choice option.

    Interesting poll, that I would say seems fairly accurate.

    Populus favour for Labour isn’t that great, barely noticeable in fact.

  6. Shan,

    Where did you get the results I can’t seem to see them on the Populus web page.


  7. The Times online has the limited, results on their website that will go out in tomorrow’s paper.


  8. conhome has the results here:


    According to them it’s +4 for the Tories and -5 for Labour since the last Populus poll. Nice-size swing. No change for the LDs.

  9. Weighted Moving Average 41:32:16 CLead 9, so the situation is static apparently. However the last 2 Populus polls for The Times grossly under-stated the C Lead support compared to the historical retrospectives (by 4.4 and 5.6 points) and I wouldn’t be suprised to find that this one is 2-4 points out as well.

    When is the next you.gov poll (retrospective shows that the last one was again almost spot-on)?

  10. Anthony,

    Hope all your furniture fits in “Dun Pollin”…


  11. Populus Poll is Lab 32, Con 40, Lib 16,

    Given the last month’s press I’m amazed Labour are above 30% and the Tories are still at 40%. With the media storm ebbing away it’ll be interesting to see January’s figures.I bet Labour HQ are delighted about the return of a certain missing canoeist.

  12. One wonders how this poll can be spun as an “ok result” for Labour. A month ago the same agency showed Labour in a slight lead, whilst everyone else gave the Tories a clear margin.

    With Populus now stating that the Tories have a clear margin one awaits the next stream of polls. One would be surprised in Labour do not fall below 30%.

    Unless, of course, Populus have made adjustments to their polling methods. Does anyone know if they have…?

  13. Fluffy – have I missed something? I haven’t noticed recent claims that Labour is polling OK.

    Populus haven’t changed their methods at all I’m sure.

    This poll is quite a dramatic turnaround from their last one, confirming that Labour support among the floaters has spiralled down.

    I wonder whether Darling’s first budget is being re-thought now, and on the other side, whether the Conservatives are emboldened to put more clear (turquoise?) water between them and Labour, or whether they’ll keep quiet and hope the lead solidifies further.

  14. Weighted moving averages can’t be assumed to be the “correct” figures, in the sense of reflecting voting intentions accurately. It is quite possible that a poll giving results far from the moving averages is correct – there is no way of knowing except for the last polls before an election.

  15. John tt, you must have missed these comments….

    Brian Swift

    “Populus Poll is Lab 32, Con 40, Lib 16,

    Given the last month’s press I’m amazed Labour are above 30% and the Tories are still at 40%.”

    Paul D and Shan seem to display a Labour bias:

    “Populus tend to favour them [Labour] so my gut feeling is C 40, L 36, LD 17 (?!)”, and

    “Interesting poll, that I would say seems fairly accurate.

    Populus favour for Labour isn’t that great, barely noticeable in fact. [Ha, ha, hah!]”

    So that seems to justify my theory that any attempts to spin this as “ok for Labour” is strange. Look how Populus have over-estimated Labour’s support in the two previous polls.

    With Scottish policemen getting more pay then their English colleagues, failed education policies identified globally, Northern Rock unresolved, criminal funding of Labour (after taking ~£180,000 in grants to identify such illegalities), the economic slow-down, inflation, faux-immigration policies, rising credit-costs, flat nominal house-prices (at best), underfunded armed forces, etc. one suspects we are looking at the end of the “New Labour” charade. And we are yet to see the end-game over Europe, arrest-without-trial and identity-cards. Christmas bank-accounts – at least those with children – could be very interesting…!

    I await the elections of 2008 with interest. Could there be one more in the foreseeable future…?

  16. Thanks, I knew I hadn’t missed any “spin” from Labour supporters.

    I had suspected the comments you quoted were fairly middle-of-the-road, until I read your next paragraph, and then I was sure!

    I don’t agree with your reporting of the news, but I’m not about to join in the sort of argument you seem to be seeking.

  17. NBeale – please continue with your WMA updates; what Ernie says might be true, but your input adds value for me.

  18. Fluff –
    Paul D’s was a prediction, that Populus would give a favourable slant to Labour.

    Shan’s seemed to be a response – that the actual figures were not as “slanted” as expected. That if anything was “anti-Labour” spin.

  19. Broadly speaking, Populus do tend to come up with slightly more favourable figures for Labour than other pollsters, because they give a slightly higher figure for Labour among past voters.

    The forced choice question is amongst all voters surveyed, and isn’t weighted by either past vote, or likelihood to vote. That doesn’t really give comfort for Labour, as unweighted polls almost invariably pick up more Labour than Conservative supporters.

  20. Fluffy,

    Those aren’t partisan, just mostly wrong.

    Populus does tend to favour Labour and when you take that into account this poll matches the trend.

  21. Thanks Sean

    I expect the less Labour-favouring polls to come will show consistency with their previous comaparables, rather than the rapidly expanding gap of the Populus one – It seems that every pollster has now registered a dramatic swing in support.

    I’d be surprised if Labour went as low as 27, or the Tories as high as 45, given that Labour’s “core” seems to be around that figure (c.f. ComRes re. “are you generally speaking….?”)

  22. Labour biased? Me? I’ve never been so insulted in all my life!

  23. Is this not the first time since 1997 that Populus have put the Tories at over 40%? Much as some may want to dismiss it as statisically meaningless this must count for something. Indeed there is now clear agreement amongst all the polls that the Tories have established a significant lead over Labour with the Lib Dems limping along a very poor third. That’s not to say that’s how it will be next year or the year after but it IS where we are now.
    What is also becoming clear is that we are entering the wrong end of the economic cycle for a government seking reelection in two years time. Slowdown, slump or recession I know not which it will be but whatever it is it ain’t going to be pleasant for a lot of people out there and as ever they will blame the government of the day.
    A final unrelated thought-where ARE those missing discs? I am beginning to worry that they have fallen into the wrong hands for surely the police have searched everywhere by now.Why have the media lost interest?

  24. Ralph (and others),

    I think maybe some people are reading a bit too much into this “Populous over states Labour support” thing. As far as I can make out they’ve had 1 outlier putting Labour much higher than the other pollsters but the rest of their results have been pretty much consistant with everybody else.

    Comparing this latest result with the other Pollsters I’d say it shows the situation is staying pretty much static Tories around 41 and Labour 31-2 (Lib Dems support seems a little more variable)

  25. I do like reading the comments on here.The majority of them within a few words give away who they support as you all seem to spin each poll in whatever direction that favours you party.

    As shown in the last few months,the vast majority of you ,like myself,favour Mr Cameron and will jump from previous published poll to the pollsters previous poll as a bench mark,whichever shows the biggest lead for the Conservatives.

    Keep up the entertainment.Ally Campbell and Mandy would be proud of you chaps(and the odd chappette).

  26. “One wonders how this poll can be spun as an “ok result” for Labour. A month ago the same agency showed Labour in a slight lead,”

    quite easily.The free fall has been halted to some extent and the dust has settled at somewhere around an 8 point Tory lead. It’s not as if Cameron is breaking new ground at the moment, he’s had this sort of lead before.Had you offered any Labour supporter this sort of poll position during the donations frenzy they’d have snapped your hand off.Not spin, absolute fact.

  27. “I’d be surprised if Labour went as low as 27, or the Tories as high as 45, given that Labour’s “core” seems to be around that figure (c.f. ComRes re. “are you generally speaking….?”)”

    you miss the point somewhat.When the skids are under a party even their core support moves away, at least in terms of opinion polling.The Tories fell way below their ‘core vote’ figure of 30% in many polls between 92 and the election of 97.Labour isn’t in that sort of territory..yet.

  28. Brian – I don’t think the skids are under the Govt, which is why I’d be surprised to see the “core” even threaten to weaken.

    Two consecutive quarters of negative growth are not likely -that is, no recession, which to my mind insulates Labour from melt-down.

    Will the Conservatives be emboldened by these scores, or will Cameron keep his party disciplined and rely on “jokes” (notwithstanding the lost Canoeist without a paddle” opportunities now it’s sub-judice)

  29. to sustain his supporters.

  30. john tt

    “Two consecutive quarters of negative growth are not likely -that is, no recession, which to my mind insulates Labour from melt-down”

    Don’t be so sure about the first point with the prospect of stagflation becoming a real possibility in the UK. We are now in unchartered waters and following yesterday’s UK producer inflation figures there is now a significant possibility that the recent interest rate cut may have to be reversed before long with recessionary implications

    Turning to your second point there is no statistical formula which indicates whether Labour goes into melt-down. What now happens regarding Northern Rock, fresh publicity regarding the missing HMC disks and lots of currently unforseen events may influence a Labour recovery or Labour melt-down and basically none of us can realistically forecast how these will turn out.

  31. If the economy does go through a recession, it’s not necessarily bad for Labour because if they can make people believe that they could handle it better than the opposition (like John Major in the early 1990’s), then Labour would benefit and conservative support would decline.

  32. Point taken SLAM – I’m perhaps over-reliant on the fact that no economists are predicting worse than 1% growth. Unemployment still low, but the crisis will affect City revenues, and therefore impact on the tax take.
    My second point is comes from the “it’s the economy, stoopid” book of predictions, notwithstanding the sheer boredom factor that will beset any long-standing Govt.

  33. john tt

    Like it or not John an awful lot of people including some Labour supporters do think that the skids are under this government but few of them-other perhaps than the worthy Mike Richardson are saying it will be a meltdown by which I presume you mean a GE result on 1983 lines.That won’t happen.
    I hope you are right and that we do avoid a recession but if I am able to define where the average economist is now placing his money then I’d say they are now predicting a slump rather than a slowdown. If as seems likely Treasury receipts are set to fall at a time when government finances are burdened with debt,inflation is rising, credit is tight, investors and lenders have lost confidence and consumers are nervous because they are also burdened with near crippling levels of debt and suffering from falling house prices then it is quite obvious that we are in for a painful period of readjustment and whether or not we technically escape a recession won’t cut any ice with the punters. This government is in deep deep trouble and anyone who attempts to deny that evident truth is living in a Walter Mitty world.

  34. SLAM-spot on with stagflation.

    The “flation” bit is the problem initially because it’s being generated outside UK-eg food & energy prices-and it’s significant.

    As this feeds into the “stag” bit and tax revenues fall, Darling’s shaky public finances may begin to look seriously strained-his choices are raised taxes ( a no-no I think)-increased borrowing & ditch Gordon’s rules ( a possibility-but inflationery)-or reduced spending ( a cert.-but deflationary )
    And underlying all of this the as yet hidden part of the UK banks’ exposure to securitised sub-prime mortgage ( bad) debts.
    All of this presents BoE with a difficult tightrope walking trick to pull off on interest rate policy. This is beautifully illustrated right now by the difference between Bank Rate at 5.75%-and LIBOR at 6.75%!-The real cost of money is going up-and banks won’t lend readily in the wholesale market until the sub-prime exposure is out in the open.
    This is what finished London Rock-and how long will the institutions supporting the two leading bids who are standing by to put up £10bn to £15bn in upfront LR loan repayment, hang around in this market waiting while the Treasury decides what option they favour? The LR story is not finished yet.

    Difficult times ahead-recession or no recession.

  35. JohnTT – thanks.
    Ernie: of course any poll can be wrong. But the point is that individual polls swing about more than the WMA. Polls are traditionally said to have a “margin of error” of 3% which is broadly compatible with the fact that the standard deviation of the “errors” between individual polls (C Lead) and the WMA is 2.5%.

    I’ve just looked at all 158 of these, and they are pretty close to a Normal Distribution. There is a 10% chance that the C lead is under-stated (compared to the WMA) by 3.3 pts or more and a 10% that it is over-stated by 3.3 or more points. So all in all, a single poll has a 20% chance of being wrong by more than 3 points (and a 10% chance of being wrong by more than 4.2 pts). Thus attempting to draw conclusions from a single poll is very problematic.

  36. Mori December political monitor is on the Ipsos Mori website . Certain to vote figure is Con 42 Lab 35 LibDem 14 . Note this is their face to face poll and should not really be compared to their last telephone poll but no doubt it will . Interviews were well spread out over nearly 2 weeks . Lots of colourful but not very clear in some cases graphs to look at .

  37. PS of course technically this understates the errors, because the WMA will be on average out from the ‘true’ figure, it will have a standard deviation of about 1%. This will make the “real” standard deviation roughly 3%. The observed probability of being outside 3% on the data is 22%, and allowing for the shift in the “real” Std we should probably take the observed probabilities of being out by 2.5 points as the real probabilities of being out by 3. This is 30%. So the bottom line is, a single poll has only a 70% chance of getting the C lead accurate to within 3 points. And if you want 90% confidence, your error band is about +/- 5.4 points!

  38. NBeale.

    That means the confidence interval for the poll is only 80%? I’m not saying you’re wrong (I haven’t checked) but that seems like a huge margin of error. One would have thought they’d at least have a large enough sample to be 90% confident.

  39. Mark,

    The changes look strange: Con 42 (+1), Lab 35 (+3), and Lib 14 (-3). While I can accept a fall in Lib Dem support why the Labour rise?

    The format, face to face, might explain it.

  40. Ralph – Peter Riddell was rightly criticised on pb.com for comparing polls from different pollsters , I think comparing the monitor with the previous telephone poll is bad practice , you should really compare with the previous October monitor .

  41. Firstly, my comments do not favour any of the major parties as I am a member of the English Democrats. Of all the comments posted I would tend to side with the analysis of Steven Wheeler (Lab). His prediction would marry with my personal thoughts.

    As for bias I’d have thought that anyone who states that Populus have a pro-Labour bias, then goes on to turn it’s Lab 32, Con 40, Lib 16 into Lab 36, Con 40, Lib 17 (sorry Paul D) is not very good at hiding something. But I may be wrong…!

  42. Steven,

    The theoretical 90% confidence interval may be +/- 3% (it will depend on the sample size, I haven’t checked) but this is a lower bound on the empirical confidence interval, since the theory depends on it being a truly random sample.

    It is one of the most robust findings of behavioural finance that peoples “90% confidence intervals” generally turn out to be 70% (or less) in practice.

  43. Recession or slowdown, which will it be…?

    A recession is two consecutive periods of negative growth. Yet most economists (source: The Economist) are predicting 2.0% growth next year. But these two positions are not exclusive. Look back to 1992 and you will find that George Bush Senior had a similar economic climate.

    So a recession in the first-half of next year is a possibility, with real-growth picking up in the third/fourth quarter. Anyone looking for a direction should check-out Irish last-quarter growth (-5.5% at an annualised rate)!

  44. There will not be a recession next year as defined by 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth ( I personally doubt whether there will be 1 quarter with negative growth ) . None of the doomsters and gloomsters preicting a recession would actually take me up on my offer of a wager on this .

  45. Mark Senior, you are probably correct. However it has to be pointed out that we just managed to miss a recession in 2001.

    Considering that economic conditions are not as benign, especially as credit-costs/inflation are predicted to rise (despite/because-of the BoE’s recent interest-rate cut) it would be wise to be cautious. One remembers Master Cavuto on Fox’s business-programme encouraging people to ignore the doomsters about the forth-coming housing-crash…. The rest is – as they say – history (along with many peoples’ credit-record)!

  46. Mark,

    Whether the UK manages to avoid a technical recession or not in 2008, for many people it will feel like one as their disposable income disappears into higher mortgage payments and (some) prices start to rise sharply – not to mention higher taxes – even if the budget offers more illusory tax “cuts”. Remember also that the people most affected by Brown’s last budget are those earning well below national average.