Three holiday polls

No sooner do I go on holiday for a week than we get three polls in a row.

ICM/Guardian (15-17th August): CON 44%(-1) LAB 29%(nc) LDEM 19%(+3)
YouGov/Sunday Times (14-15th August): CON 45%(-1) LAB 25%(-1) LDEM 18%(+1)
Ipsos MORI (15-17th August): CON 48%(+1) LAB 24%(-3) LDEM 17%(+2)

Polls in August are normally treated with slight scepticism because it’s the holiday season – at any point a certain proportion of people are likely to be away from home on holiday and this has the potential to result in skewed samples if the sort of person who goes on holiday in August is more likely to have a certain sort of view. In fact some pollsters do attempt to control for this by weighting according to the number of foreign holidays people take each year. Presumably raw samples in August find fewer people who take one or more foreign holidays each year than they should, and those people are weighted upwards to correct for any skew this causes.

August is also a period without any real political news beyond unexpected events like those in Georgia. There is little in the way of policy announcements or the day-to-day cut and thrust of politics. A lot of the normal polling figures we see may well be a reflection of good or bad news at the time – that day, that week. In August, when there isn’t any news to speak of, it’s easy to imagine that we might get figures that better reflect the underlying position. For that reason I normally expect a slight improvement for an embattled government over August. It doesn’t always happen, and clearly it hasn’t this year. The government’s position away from constant negative news stories seems to be pretty much the same as it was during them.

These three polls essentially show a stable position – the Conservaties are still in the mid to high forties, with a lead of 20+ points with YouGov, MORI and ComRes or 15+ points with ICM and Populus. The difference, incidentally, is at least partially because of ICM and Populus’s reallocation of those who say don’t know to the party they voted for in 2005. In Populus’s last poll this reduced the Tory lead by 2 points, in ICM’s poll for the Sunday Express earlier this month by 3 points.

Notably the couple of recent polls that showed a fall in Lib Dem support have reversed. In the absence of any reason to expect a sudden fall and recovery in Lib Dem support, it looks that that was just a blip.

Looking at other questions in the polls, both ICM and YouGov had some questions about David Miliband – I’ll come to them in a later post. On other topics, YouGov in the Sunday Times asked about the situation in Georgia. 32% thought the West should have done more to help Georgia, 27% disagreed. 37% thought that Russia was trying to recreate the Soviet Empire and 48% that we should fear them.

YouGov also covered the subject of the NHS. A large majority (73%) of people rejected the idea that NHS treatments should be limited according to cost, thinking that any treatments that exist should be available on the NHS. However asked if they would be willing to pay for them, 46% said they would not be willing to pay extra taxes to make more expensive treatment available. Only 32% agreed. This is not necessarily a direct contradiction – I expect people who wanted all treatments available on the NHS, but were not prepared to pay for them expected other people to pay higher taxes to fund it. It is a notable turnaround however, if you go back three or four years then any question asking if people would be prepared to pay higher taxes to spend on the NHS would have resulted in a resounding yes. It was questionable whether those answers were realistic, or simply people giving the ‘socially acceptable’ answer, but either way there has been a significant shift in attitudes. Asked if people should be able to “top up” their NHS treatment by paying for treatments that the NHS does not fund, 65% thought people should with only 23% opposed.


10 Responses to “Three holiday polls”

  1. The average percentage for Labour for the last 10 polls was 25.9 With the announcement that the economy has stagnated I think we will see Labour dropping below 25 before the end of October.

    Labour will come out fighting in September. But based on the last twelve months I expect they will be either hitting thin air or themselves.

    As long as the state of economy remains stagnant it is virtually impossible for Labour to improve their popularity. But they can make things worse for themselves. They have made things worse for themselves and expect they will continue to do so.

  2. in august labours poll rating is like the economy stagnant at 26.2% up 0.2% on last month, however the conservatives poll rating is up 0.9% to 45.8% this would give dave camoron a majority on a UNS system of between 170 and 180, the lib dems in contrast are still stuck around 17% to 17.5% one hope for the lib dems is the north with all polls showing a small increese in the lib dem vote and a small drop in the conservative vote, what will worry labour more is the latest scotish figures giving a 8% lead to the SNP, their is never much data on wales for some reason so i can not say but from what i hear the conervaties and PC are going to do well.

  3. sorry 19pt snp lead in scotland

  4. Stuart the SNP do not have a 19% lead in Scotland for Westminster voting , the lead was 7% in the latest Yougov/SNP poll . With 3 latest polls shoeing LibDems 17/18/19 how can they be stock at 17-17.5 ?

  5. mori a bigger conservative lead??? it transpires labour pay mori £31m to do internal polling.OUR money.

    do they know their gravy train is up,and they are trying to curry favour with the tories.
    they are shockers.

  6. Utter rot. That isn’t Labour party polling, it’s government department polling. MORI do get a lot of government contracts, but they are awarded through proper transparent tendering process, it wouldn’t be possible to just give it to mates. Ipsos MORI have huge experience of tendering for government department contracts and they are invariably one of the strong contenders in a field where there are limited number of big players.

    Even political parties don’t necessarily give their research to companies who give them good ratings – they give them to companies who produce the most accurate figures or who they have a good working relationship with. The Conservatives private pollsters for example are Populus, who normally give the Conservative’s their lowest scores.

  7. Not as many contributors with this latest round of POLLS you have listed Anthony! I’m sure it will pick up once everyone knows you are back off your holidays.

    I see Mr.Brown made a last ditch effort to attend the Olympic Games once the British were winning lots of medals – pity he was’nt there like other world leaders at the opening ceremony !!

    Does anyone know the date of the next by-election in Scotland ? That will give us a more accurate figures on the thoughts of the Scots.

    Only 20 months before the next general election for the big result – the POLLS will really hot up in the next few months as election fever takes over.

  8. Mike, it seems election fever has never left you.

  9. There is an interesting assumption here that Labour is not benefitting from it being August or Team GB. Are we sure? What if they are?

    Just because the polls are stagnant does not necessarily mean that Labour is not enjoying some benefit.

    This is an even more frightening thought for Labour as it suggests that when political normality returns the Tories could cross the 50% mark.

  10. Regarding the NHS and costs.
    When founded, costs were much lower.
    Far less expensive drugs, electronics etc.
    So peoples expectations of tax funding has probably only risen in line with general expenditure.

    The true cost of adequate cost per head is probably indicated by the fees of BUPA etc (given their limitations, and client selective policies).