ComRes’s monthly poll for the Independent has topline voting intentions with changes from last month of CON 38%(-3), LAB 31%(+1), LDEM 17%(nc). Unlike ICM and YouGov’s polls since the budget, there is no obvious Conservative leap here, in fact, their lead over Labour has narrowed and they are back under 40%. The poll was conducted between the 28th and 30th of March.

This is not, necessarily, a change in public opinion though. Long time readers will remember that we used to coment on ComRes’s lack of political weighting. Well, they do now weight by past vote and have done for several months, but the way they do it seems very strange since their target weights change significantly from month to month. ComRes aren’t unusually pro-Labour, which was one result of not weighting politically, but they haven’t seemed to have made their samples much less volatile, which is normally seen as the benefit of political weighting.

In last months’ poll that showed an 11 point Tory lead, 19% of the total sample (including non-voters) said they had voted Conservative back in 2005. This month, only 17% of the sample said they voted Conservative back in 2005 – so, the Tories are down, but it’s a less Tory sample.

38 Responses to “Tories down in March ComRes poll”

  1. I suspect they have the Tories a little too low and will put them back to around 40% in April.

    Nevertheless it seems apparent ComRes have not picked up on the Budget Boost for the Tories that YouGov and ICM picked up on. Two possible explanations;

    1. The rise in Conservative support post budget was an immediate reaction, and things have now reverted back to the 8-9% lead that the Tories have had consistently since October.

    2. They simply, for whatever reason, didn’t pick up on it.

    Clearly more polls are needed.

  2. I think this poll is pretty much the same as the last WMA. It looks and feels right to me, (unlike my earlier mistake.)

    At the risk of sounding like I’m talking up the Lib Dems, 17% isn’t too bad for them. If they went into an election campaign on 17%, I think most people would agree they’d have a fair chance of reaching 20% by polling day.

  3. We (us lot here) watch anxiously for “good” or “bad” news, react, often over-react, to slight variations – and are always impatient for the next poll! If it doesn’t look good (from our particular point of view) we search for reasons why it may be inaccurate, and if it looks good we sigh with relief.
    Well, I’ll take this one at face value :) I see it as a sign that the Tory lead is not fixed, and that opinion is still very volatile. Remember that there have been five poll results since the New Year with a Tory lead of 4 or below (one even giving a Labour lead of 1).

    Perhaps the increased Tory lead in the last month was not much to do with the budget, but more a reaction to the torrent of bleak media comment about possible economic difficulties ahead. This may have been blunted by the less hyped news of lower unemployment, consumer spending holding up, house prices stable or falling slightly but no sign of a crash – and the Bank of England saying that things might not get as bad as any of the worst-case predictions.

    So yes, we’ll get plenty more polls over the next few months. I predict they will remain volatile, and will not give us any fairly certain predictions about the next general election until summer 2009.

  4. the number of people polled in this months comres poll was very low only around 650 people, most polling samples are between 900-1800 people in this range you get a better level of surport for each party, the simple fact is that this poll is most likely a one off and the low responce dose not help, in my veiw every poll should have a minimum of 250 from each area and must not over poll any region, i.e 250 from the midlands, 250 from scotland, 250 from wales hopefuly on its own and not joined to the south west region or midlands the same is true of the north being combined with scotland, polling companey’s should know better than to under poll regions.

  5. COMRES has released a poll for the Independent

    Now we know that the Scottish numbers are a small sample but the numbers are truly striking. It appears to be a rogue poll but if it were true, the arguments about a tectonic shift would have more support.

    Not holding my breathe, but here they are

    In Scotland, for the Westminster vote

    SNP 38%

    LibDems 20%
    Conservatives 19%

    Labour 18%
    Other 5%

    That’s right. Labour has fallen to LAST among the major parties.

    If only it were true.. Please God, make it true… LOL

  6. I will not use the word “rogue” for this POLL , it may well be as Anthony has pointed out just the way ComRes sort the figures – but whatever the reason for the slight drop for the Tories – 31% for Labour must be very depressing , especially if the POLL is weighted favourably in their direction.

    The best POLL due now is the biggest one on 1st May – steady as she goes.

    DOONHAMER – Interesting figures for Scotland – does’nt surprise me at all – i have said all along that there will be only 2 winners in Scotland and that will be the SNP & Conservative.

  7. It’s all in the weighting as Anthony says . Comres found more LibDems in their sample than ICM and weighted the figure down . ICM had fewer LibDems in their sample but weighted the figure up .
    The Scottish subsample is only 56 voters so totally meaningless .

  8. WMA 40:31:17 CLead 10 (because it’s 40.4, 31.5) ComRes have the highest Standard Deviation of any pollster (3.2) so we shouldn’t attach too much weight to their results. It does allow us a Retrospective on the ICM/Guardian poll which shows an error of -0.8 ie pretty accurate.

  9. stuart gregory – I don’t understand why you’d want 250 from each region, including Wales on its own. Wales as an example in 2005 had just under 1.4 million people vote, to weight that evenly to every other region would greatly overweight it.

  10. Tories could be a bit low, but if polling was 28-30 March then it would be after Sarkozy’s visit and that may have helped GB and labour seem more statesman like and was something of a feel good story.

  11. Stuart – the sample size was around 1000, which is normal for ComRes

  12. John H I genrally agree with your comment but I do detect a sense ( Including previous comments )that the media are bias against the Government and almost scare mongering.
    Since 1997 the Government (Apart from the Iraq war ) have had a pretty easy ride, but now we are at the stage where we and the Media can proprerly judge the Goverment`s record over the past 10 years I am really interested who the popular press are going to side with at the GE, because what I have seen they are still keeping their options open which must be good news for GB and Labour. ( nice to see you have some better news in the polls keep whistling)

  13. I think the ComRes question :

    Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as…?

    is indicative of how “Tory” or “Labour” or “LibDem” a sample is, perhaps more so than the “How did you vote in 2005” question (though I think ComRes are the only ones to ask it)

    The samples have become steadily more Labour and LibDem over the last three ComRes polls, but (on my interpretation of that data) not significantly less Tory.

    30-23-12 this time,
    28-24-11 in the last one, and
    26-23-10 in the previous one.

    The samples seem to have become more LibDem by increments of 1, and more Labour by increments of 2.

  14. “I am really interested who the popular press are going to side with at the GE”

    With the exception of The Sun who backs who it thinks it will win and the 1997 election,where even some of the right-wing press couldn’t endorse the Conservative party,do any of the papers actually go against the party which it has historically supported and reports biasedly towards day in day out?

  15. I’ll get my crystal ball out Glenn.

    Mirror,Sunday Mirror,People,Guardian – Labour
    Independent – Lib Dem
    Times,Express,Mail,Sunday Express,Mail on Sunday,Telegraph,The Standard,News Of the World,The Star – Conservative

    Financial Times and Sun – whoever Murdoch thinks will win the election.

    Sorry for spoiling the excitement for you.

  16. with the local/mayoral elections next month will there be any extra polls commissioned this month or will it be the standard ones?

  17. The preferences are not as simple as T Jones suggests – he’s right about the Mirror & Guardian (Labour) and the Daily Mail & Daily Telegraph (Tory). But the Murdoch papers? Murdoch backed Blair despite the Europe issue and the Times has been a real New Labour cheerleader. Whether this will survive Gordon is open to question. The Times certainly isn’t a Tory supporting paper at the moment. As for the FT – don’t see what Murdoch’s got to do with it since the paper’s owned by Pearson. Since 1992 the FT (and the Economist) have backed Labour largely becuase of the Europe issue. If the Tories remin where they currently are on Europe I can’t see this changing.

    Suspect the Express will back the party that agrees Princess Di was assassinated by the british establishment. And the Star isn’t really a newspaper any more.

    The big one is the Sun which will back Cameron if he looks liek he might win (but will back the SNP in Scotland).

  18. I find the Times to be fairly strongly and consistently new labour. It’s certainly not a Tory Paper. Also, since when has the Star been a Tory paper?

    The only paper of real siginificance come pollign pay is the Sun. This is true because of its huge readership, and also, once it backs a party, the partisn support which it exerts.

    I also think the Mail is the second most important paper. While obviously Tory, the degree to which is supports them is often not particularly intense. In the last two elections, the Michael Barrymore (2001) and Prince Charles (2005) wer eon the front page on polling day- indicating its reluctance to come out in favour of the Tories. A more partisan Daily Mail will have a big effect imo.

  19. Lukw
    Don’t blow the Sun’s trumpet – it does enough of that for itself! And maybe it looks more influential than it really is by backing whoever it thinks is going to win, then claiming the credit.

    ComRes: too small a Scottish sample to draw any worthwhile conclusions – otherwise as good a sample as any other, and not obviously a “rogue”, apart from wishful thinking (either way!) Anthony may not agree, but he would say that, wouldn’t he :)

    Glen Benson
    I agree that for a long time the media gave Labour a fairly good press (but of course that *could* be because they were doing a good job…?) But they DO love bad news far more than good news, even if they have to invent some of it. And for the last few months it hasn’t been difficult to find plenty of things that could (or just possibly might) go badly wrong. We are constantly bombarded with “worst case scenarios”. Not just the economy, but in almost every area – e.g. “crime” (actually quite a bit lower, with more police around than ever), “health service melt-down” (actually in better fettle than for many years, with MUCH lower waiting lists, more nurses & doctors, improving in most respects – although it will always fail to live up to the rising standards we would all like) – “failing schools” (ditto) – etc. etc. These unbalanced, and relentlessly negative stories may not be directly aimed at Labour, but at the government of the day. So if you get your heart’s desire (God, or the good Dawkins forbid!) be ready for the same unfair attacks on Cameron – around 2013, once the bloom has worn off.

  20. JohnH, is that a concession that Cameron will be the next PM? Seriously though, do people actually believe Government figures on crime, health, education, economy or do they react (vote) according to their own experiences on those areas.

  21. Not sure I agree with you guys about The Times.

    It certainly has been a cheerleader for New Labour.
    Even as recently as the non-election, it was coming out with stories which were in direct contrast with The Inde. The Times trotted out the ‘offical Labour Party line’ – and the Inde turned out to be right. It was embarrassing for the paper.
    But it has a number of contributors who have gone distinctly cold on Gordon and some pro Cameron’s have got louder.

    I would say that they no longer think Cameron is a joke. Moreover, they are starting to poke fun at Brown.

    Ann Treneman did a devastating piece on Gordon dithering a few days ago.
    Anatole Kaletsky, a previously ardent fan wrote a death inducingly cutting piece over NRock which was widely commented on partly because of from whence it came where.
    Peter Riddell [another GB stalwart] seems to have swapped some of his hope/optimism for exasperation/disaapointment.

    The Times is supposedly run by an independent board and Murdoch senior has gone on record as saying he sometimes disagrees with its [and Sky News’] line.
    The Sun, however does as its told.

    Of course its James, not Rupert who is now officially in charge.
    Although RM is more Tory, generally, he liked Brown’s background ‘story’ [certainly more than Cameron’s]. Of course James cannot dismiss people for coming from a priviledged background, without dismissing himself. He is more of a Cameron man.

    In any event, they all want access to the Government,

  22. Some of us recall the tangle the last Tory government got into over statistics for unemployment. Sadly the current government has been guilty of the same sin – changing the method constantly so we don’t know what we’re counting or whether things are really up of down.

    On crime the two main sources – police recorded crime and the National Crime Survey provide very different pictures. There is no doubt that some crimes are significantly lower – household burglary and car crime, for example. These reflect less the efforts of police and courts than the actions of ordinary people (driven in the main by insurance stipulations about security) in the case of burglary and car manufacturers in the case of car crime (cars are much more difficult to steal and far easier to find when they are stolen hence the massive rise in ‘hanoi burglaries’). On violent crime (most of which isn’t covered by the national crime survey whih excludes homicide, rape, other sexual crime and crime by andagainst minors) the rise has been massive since 1995 – nearly doubling.

    In the health service and education the figures are so untrustworthy as to be almost entirely useless except for inclusion in Labour leaflets. Every authority fiddles and manipulates and the government can only collate and publish the rubbish data it’s given by the different parts of the system. Some would say this is also the case with police figures although I am unconvinced other than they obviously exclude unreported crimes.

    It is naive to believe that our main public services have got significantly better over the last ten years – there have been some good innovations and successful initiatives – but the Government has so manipulated the truth that we really don’t know whether or not the services as a whole are better.

  23. Adrian

    A concession – Heaven forbid, just a nightmare :)

    No, people tend not to believe any authoritative figures (partly healthy scepticism, partly unwarranted cynicism). And this sometimes leads to dire results (as in the scare over vaccines). The “national picture” presented by the media tends to over-rate important but mostly untypical bad new stories (see above); but most people’s own experience of these services is usually rated quite highly.

  24. I must say I am surprised – I had ComRes down as the most generous towards the Conservatives – with YouGov showing a 14% lead I was almost expecting something slightly higher from ComRes, maybe a 16% lead.
    I doubt that “others” are on 14% – in fact the most accurate figure is probably that of the LibDems.

  25. It seems that in the last few months, whenever there is some bad news, the Conservative lead goes up, whenever there is a few days of nothing much happening, it goes down.
    Surely something will go wrong again soon enough.

  26. Andy D – when ComRes first started weighting by past vote they produced the figures that were easily the most generous to the Conservatives.

    But – because they use a figure based on a rolling average of only 4 polls, rather than 10 polls like Populus or 20 polls like ICM – their target weights are very variable. Recently their weighting has not been very favourable to the Conservatives at all.

  27. Yes ComRes seems to over-estimate C Lead on average by 1% but with a Standard Deviation of 3.2 the present deviation from WMA is well within the norms of statistical variation.

  28. I have my doubt about the Scotland figure, but behind the headline what is interesting are the figures for voting likelihood.

    In percentage terms the 10/10 figures for the parties are; Tory 71% Labour 49%, LibDem 55%, SNP 79%.

    The fact that Labour turnout is running at only two thirds of the SNP’s then that might explain why this poll looks so good for the SNP. It looks very much like currently we are up for it while Labour seem quite demoralised.


  29. Having said on a couple of occasions that the polls since January are quite volatile, I thought I’d plot all of the polls (just the Conservative leads) this year, by date. I’ve uploaded it to:

    The resulting chart would be a nightmare for any self-respecting scientist if it represented the outcome of a series of experimental observations!

  30. P.S. Although the general picture (see previous posting 10:35 pm above) is obviously a fairly hefty Tory lead, it perhaps emphasises the very limited credibility of any “trend”, especially if taking any one result and comparing it with a previous one.

  31. T Jones I prefer to be interested rather than excited about the popular press ,but its the degree in which they support one party or another as we get nearer the GE which can give a sign as to which way they think the GE is likely to go

    I basically agree with comments from LUKW and above all the comment from Simon regarding the Sun, tell me now by looking into your crystal ball who they are going to support and you may have the answer to the next GE

  32. JohnH I can assure you Cameron as PM is certainly not my “hearts desire” but more GB or a Lib Lab Coalition would be painful to take ( might start thinking of early retirement to sunnier climes)

  33. Could those interested in Electoral systems take a couple of minutes to complete my little survey. It attempts to list properties of systems objectively.

    When it’s completed I’ll give you the results, and the name of the system which comes closest to the ideal…

  34. Glenn

    I diagnose a touch of SAD, and prescribe a course of Gin & tonic (or whatever is your tipple) :)

  35. I don’t think The Economist will be backing either party at the next election. As in 1997 it will probably decide that the Opposition does not deserve to win, but the Government does deserve to lose.

    As for the paper being averse to the Tories European programme, I can only assume few people actually read the publication. Not only did The Economist lead the opposition to the EU Constitutional Reform Treaty, but it also raised the inevitability of the UK leaving the EU.

    Things may change between now and the election. In the end it will be a collective endorsement (if any) made by the staff, and not interpreted by me…! ;)

  36. Glenn Benson…let me see.

    Oh dear…The Sun backs Labour.

  37. T Jones A brave prediction and I presume the same backing from the FT, GB and Labour will be pleased if thats the case
    But I am not so sure at the moment, I have a feeling both will be backing the Tories which may just help them to a slender victory

  38. Maybe I have been looking at my balls for too long…..err,I mean crystal obviously.