A new poll by ComRes in Tuesday’s Indy tells a completely different story to ICM and MORI’s recent figures. The topline figures, with changes from ComRes’s last poll, are CON 37%(-6), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 17%(+5). The poll was conduced between Friday and Sunday.

In recent weeks we’ve become used to polls showing differing results – methodological differences have resulted in some pollsters showing much larger Tory leads than other ones. However, until now polls have been consistent in showing the same trends – until last week the pollsters, despite differences in extent, were all showing the Conservative poll shrinking. The two polls published since the press reaction to the PBR, conducted by ICM and Ipsos MORI, both showed that trend reversing, with the Conservatives again gaining support. This poll is not just out of line with the figures other companies have been presenting, but also it’s the exact opposite of the trend ICM and MORI are showing.

Normally when polls disagree I look at the methodologies and try to explain the difference. There is no obvious explanation here. I’ve looked through the ComRes tables and there is nothing obviously freaky or wrong – the Lib Dems appear to have been weighted to a much higher figure than their previous poll – 12% of the sample said they voted Lib Dem in 2005, as opposed to 8% of the sample in ComRes’ previous poll – which goes a long way towards explaining the jump in the level of Lib Dem support, but not that of the two main parties: the overall shares of recalled past vote are pretty similar to those ICM use to weight their polls.

This is the first poll conducted since Damian Green was arrested, so theoretically it could be possible that the public reaction to it has been the polar opposite to the media’s, but that would be unusual. It could also be that the the increased Conservative lead we saw from ICM and MORI was just a reflection of the bad press coverage the PBR was receiving at the time those two polls were carried out, and the public reaction to the PBR now it has sunk in properly is actually more positive. The alternative possiblity is, of course, that either MORI & ICM, or ComRes are “rogue polls”.

I am cautious about the term “rogue poll”. It tends to get thrown around willy-nilly against any poll people don’t like and sometimes at companies with methodology people see as faulty. What is actually refers to is that the 3% margin of error commonly quoted for polls is at the 95% level of confidence. In layman’s terms it means that 19 out of 20 times the “real” figure will be within 3 points of the figure quoted in the poll. A rogue poll is that 1 in 20 where the figure is more than 3 points out. It is inevitable that these things happen, and happen to all companies – but realistically it is impossible to ever be certain whether a poll that looks out of line is a rogue poll, or the start of a new trend. We won’t know for sure until we see some other polls that confirm or contradict this one, but until then I will urge my normal caution against polls that show large changes in support, or sudden reverses in the trend.


195 Responses to “ComRes show Tory lead down to a single point”

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  1. budget deficit was around 8% at the time of the last recession in the early nineties but was actually lower as proortn of gdp than it is now. unless the treasury’s optimisti forecast for 2009 and 2010 come to fruition we will be in unknown debt territory at that stage.

    budget deficit was around the 3% level in 1997.

  2. budget deficit was around 8% at the time of the last recession in the early nineties but was actually lower as proortn of gdp than it is now

    how the fucking fuck can 8% of GDP be lower as a proportion of GDP than it is now?

  3. A good article about debt on the BBC, record debt claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7733794.stm

  4. I like Paul will actually vote for the party that will tax me 45% because they are the party with views closest to mine on the way I think the country should be run. However many people do vote for the party who they think will be better personally for them.

    When the borowing does have to be paid back do you think any of the parties will say that they are going to tax you because it will be good for the country to bring the borrowing down.I doubt it. Look at how Redwoods ” Living standards need to be brought down”.You are hardly going to enthuse the electorate by telling them you will make them worse off.

    At the next election there will be backdoor taxes, political jiggery pokery and all kinds of sleight of hand used by all the parties to claw back the beniefit.

    You don’y get many millionaires voting for the Labour party, a small minority may vote against them for political reasons.The vast majority do it to protect thier money, to say any differenct would be a bit of a porky.

    Anyone know who’s poll is due next?

  5. That was to claw back the borrowing above.

  6. “You don’y get many millionaires voting for the Labour party, a small minority may vote against them for political reasons.The vast majority do it to protect thier money, to say any differenct would be a bit of a porky”

    Tony and Paul, I won’t be paying the 45% rate (as I am not paid anywhere near that level unfortunately!) and i’ll be voting Tory. So, on this site at least, our ‘poll’ shows two ‘toffs’ for Labour and one ‘hard working family’ man for the Tories!

    You shouldn’t read a book by it’s cover eh!

  7. Approx average of all polls

    August = Con lead +20
    Sept = Con lead +16
    Oct = Con lead +13.5
    Nov = +8.4

    Still smells like a February election to me if the polls continue this trend…..

  8. Oh and I’m an ex-pat and in the 45% band…

    Classic Tory territory?

    Nope. I’ll also be voting Labour.

    So how does the “site poll” look now?

  9. Like Ivan, I will also be voting Tory, even though I don’t earn even 1/5th of the new tax band as I believe in lower government spending and lower taxes (I’m very glad they dropped the ‘matching Labours spending plans’. It was never a true Tory policy and smacked a bit of desperation. You should always stick to your guns.)

    I’m very much a Friedmanite – lower taxes, for any reason, are a good thing and spending your money on yourself is far more efficient than government spending your money on you.

    All I know after the next election is that taxes will be going up because the budget will need to be balanced, and you can’t make all the money needed from the rich so middle england is going to get nailed by them. I believe that unless there is an effort by government to freeze or cut public spending the tax burden will be too high and will delay the receovery.

  10. Ivan, I may be paying the 45% tax rate but I am not a toff!!! A toff in my view is someone born into a wealthy family and privilege – not someone who has worked to get what they have achieved from a “normal” background. Without wanting to go too off piste that is one reason for my dislike of the Tories – especially with their attitude to inheritance tax they strike me as the party of the born rich rather than promoting a meritocracy

  11. Stop!
    No offence was meant. I used ‘toff’ and ‘hard working family’ as tabs for us only because they’ve been used by Labour in their campaign speak, it was only a bit of fun!

    My message was just that sometimes very politisized folks like us start to see divisions in the world that, in reality for most people, just don’t exist.

    Rich aristocratic Tories against working class lads for Labour…it’s just rubbish!

    Lord Sainsbury and Sun reading white van man are testimony to this among millions of other examples.

    What am I alledged to believe about inheritance tax anyway? It might suprise you but one of the reasons I vote Tory is because of a striong belief in meritocracy!

    Uggh…I could write an essay, but this is wildly off topic now, appologies.

  12. Ivan if my father who was a union official,plumber at the docks and my mother who was a council cleaner were both still alive I would ask them why we lived in a council house and I went to the local comp when we were toffs.

    I would also ask them were did they put my application for Bullingdon and most importantly when we were skint why didn’t they sell the silver spoon that was hanging out of my mouth.

  13. Anthony, I’ve noticed that when viewing a post the right hand column is missing.

  14. Could that be political bias?

  15. Tony Jones

    Ask them ‘where’ your application is, not ‘were’.

    You do know he was just joking with his ‘toffs’ line don’t you? There is a severe irony deficiency among the online community sometimes.

  16. Is it that Labour bloke come here to crow & proclaim impending victory?

    No, actually. This poll is very surprising to me since it is out of line with the 2 previous ones – even though not long before that the Tories were apparently in a pretty narrow lead in some polls. (Sorry, POLLS.) I would not get in any way excited about it. If however the findings are borne out by other polls any time soon that would be different again.

    I wonder if the Government’s announcement today about relief for homeowners facing possible repossession, which has been widely applauded, will however help Labour somewhat. To me personally however if it helps to bring an earlier end to the recession – and surely it can do no harm – it will be better news still. Let’s hope so.

  17. Gary – it’s deliberate – it means the page can be wider, and the right sidebar with the table of recent polls is actually quite heavy on the server.

  18. I think the old theory of class voting is historically largely untrue (Akthoiugh there was a period between the seocnd world war and 79 when it was perhaps more true.

    If it were the case that voitng was largely self-inetrested, I find it hard to see how a Tory party of the rich and middle class could ever have won an election under universal suffrage, let alone dominated proceedings in th 20th century.

    Instead, I would propose that Tories have been able to appeal to aspects of people’s phsyche that are not so self-interested liek patriotism, and the celebration of libertarian principles and independence from the State. (That’s why they’ve always polled large amounts of working class supprt (not as much as labour, but still a lot), These values resonate extremely strongly even now with readers of that great working class newspaper, the SUn.

  19. Labour has always polled far better in working class areas than the Tories, and vice versa in wealthy areas. The fact that there isn’t a perfect correspondence between class and party preference doesn’t mean there is no correlation at all.

    I find it hard to believe that economic self interest plays no part in party preference. Perhaps people aren’t quite so cynical as to do it deliberately, but I suspect that self-interest often plays a role in what people judge to be right or wrong. Just take a look at the way people moan about the “injustice” of speed cameras after they have had a speeding ticket – some even feign a passionate interest in the technicalities of arcane legal concepts like self incrimination.

  20. psbr.
    you cant win this one lovies.

    tories left 35% debt to gdp
    labour will leave 67% thirdworld

    where are the imf when we need them?this is much worse than 1979.they bailed out labour then.

  21. Can someone explain why our national debt at (soon to be) 67% is viewed as third world when, as gordon brown like to repeat so often, france and italy etc all have higher debt/gdp?

    I agree in so much as I believe it’s far too high, and if we’d paid it all back during 16 years of growth we would now have over £30bn extra to work with, but how is it ‘third world’ for us and mundane for them?

    Do they count PFI and public sector pensions in their figures?

  22. A word of warning to any Labour supporters who are tempted to revert to making class warfare statements and shouting toff at anyone who they think has been born rich

    Chester and Nantwich

  23. yes Nick that warning had already been heeded, indeed I have been saying the same in Labour circles.

  24. Crewe and Nantwich?
    1979 Mrs T. entered 10 Downing Street.
    The results in most recent polls suggest that this is acutely out of line with public opinion. We need to view the polls over the next 10 weeks before being able to draw a reasoned conclusion.

  25. @philip johnston

    The economic problems of the 1970’s started under Heath. Labour steadied the ship before Thatcher plunged us into a recession that saw four milllion unemployed (twice as many as in 1979) and interest rates of twenty percent. That’s not to mention the other two recessions the Tories created during their 18 years of government.

    In comparison to that, one recession in 12 years is looking pretty impressive.

  26. Enough partisan argument please.

  27. Anthony – Your yellow card idea is growing on me.
    How about if posters who’ve had yellows have to say how many they have received at the start of their next three posts.

    Yellows to be awarded for partisan comments, and retaliation.

    General idiocy to be disregarded.

    Immunity for the Oracle (waste of time!)

  28. john t t, I’ll second that.

  29. Surely a yellow card is a partisan Lib Dem sort of a card.

    In the interests of non-partisanship, we should have speckled or stripy cards.

  30. labour will leave 67% thirdworld..where are the imf when we need them?this is much worse than 1979.they bailed out labour then.

    Should be 57%, which is less than France, Germany, or the United States of America.

    And the IMF certainly didn’t bail out Labour in 1979!

  31. Anthony,

    introduce pay to post.

    It won’t stop partisan posts but at least you’ll make moeny out of them. Of course being Scot’s you’d get a lot less imput from me, which might be another plus.

    Peter.

  32. Or a sin bin – people pay to be re-admitted.

    (Others could pay to keep them in the bin – you make money at both ends)

  33. “General idiocy to be disregarded.”

    Don’t we all do this already?!

    Otherwise, I concur with john tt.

  34. Colin – I take that to mean you agree with everything I say , general idiocy apart?

    I’d like to say same to you, only I actually agree with some of your rubbish!

  35. Alex

    “And the IMF certainly didn’t bail out Labour in 1979!”

    You’re right – it was 1976 when Dennis Healey (Labour Chancellor) had to ask the IMF for funding.

  36. “Colin – I take that to mean you agree with everything I say , general idiocy apart? ”

    Yes-please do john-provided I can continue to define the “general idiocy” in your otherwise cerebral posts.

  37. “Immunity for the Oracle”….totally agree there isn’t enough cards to cover his out of space comments.

    If he did get a card could we have a picture of John McCain on it?

    Surely someone knows when the next poll is due, we are scraping the debating barrel if we are discussing class politics.

  38. Actually, it’s quite easy to scroll rapidy past any postings that one doesn’t like – and, apart from an occasional case of raised blood pressure, it doesn’t do too much harm.

    In fact it is sometimes quite educational to see how closed-minded some otherwise quite intelligent people can be.

  39. I just came across this site. Reading thru some of the ‘posts’,I was’nt sure at first if it was a chat room for frustrated tories.
    To put the cat amongst the pigeons, I support Gordon Brown and will be voting Labour at the next election, as I told the nice lady from yougov when she phoned.
    Just had a small wager that Dave won’t get an overall majority next time. Haha

  40. Alex: That analysis is ingenious but I’m afraid lacks statistical validity. There are really only 6 data points in the trend (it was flat until the end of Oct) and all it really boils down to is that if the average is going down then the outliers will go down as well.

    We’ll have to wait and see to be sure but so far it looks as if this ComRes poll is about 6.5% out, just like the ComRes poll on 19/9.

  41. Valerie – er, no you didn’t, as Yougov are an online only agency.

    Do not feed the troll.

  42. When do you expect the next lot of polls, Anthony?

    I expect one with a zero Tory lead within the next weeks two.

  43. Alex – Populus’s regular monthly poll for the Times should emerge on Tuesday. While there’s nothing due, hopefully there will be something before then in the Sunday papers.

  44. Anthoney, this is a great site and I feel like I am asking for jam on it. But would it be possible to have some sort of list of future dates for polls?

  45. It would be good.. but sadly I don’t know.

    The timetable for the regular polls is

    Populus in the Times is normally the Tuesday after the first weekend in the month.
    YouGov in the Telegraph is normally the last Friday of the month.
    ICM in the Guardian is normally on a Tuesday, and recently the third Tuesday of the month.
    ComRes in the Indy seems to be the Monday after the last weekend of the month.
    MORI is monthly…but is a moveable feast depending on whether they secure a publisher for it.

    For the Sundays, ComRes in the Sunday Indy seems to be the third weekend of the month.
    YouGov in the Sunday Times is the second or third weekend of the month.
    ICM in the Sunday Telegraph doesn’t seem to have any regular timetable.

    On top of that, many papers commission other ad hoc polls at other times.

    December will be particularly odd, since newspapers will often shift their timings about to try and get them away from the Christmas period. For example, if YouGov stuck to their normal timetable the fieldwork would be done on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – so I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t either brought forward or delayed.

  46. Anthony, thanks for that.

  47. Mark M :-

    “Do they count PFI and public sector pensions in their figures?”

    No-nor the Public Sector Pension Liability.

    If you include both with Net Government Debt, because PSPL is guaranteed by The State and fundable from future taxation streams , & PFI Liabilities because they are Capital Projects funded by “HP” agreements & so shouldn’t be “off balance sheet”.

    You get :-

    1997
    GDP £790 bn ( ONS & BoE)
    Net Government Debt £350bn-or 44.2% of GDP ( ONS)
    PS Pen. Liabs £ 300bn ( Govt Est-Telegraph)-or 38% of GDP
    PFI -just started in earnest-say £15 bn-or 2% of GDP

    making a total of £665 bn -or 84% of GDP

    2008-
    GDP £1486 bn (ONS)
    Net Government debt £640 bn (end Oct-ONS)-or 43% of GDP
    PS Pen Liab.£915 bn ( CBI)-or 62% of GDP
    PFI-£158 bn ( PAC answer Oct 2007))-or 11% of GDP

    making a total of £1713 bn-or 115% of GDP

    So-the combined Net Debt + PFI liability has increased from around 46% of GDP to 54% of GDP during a ten year boom.

    In addition Public Sector Pension Liabilities have increased from around 38% of GDP to 62%

    These figures exclude NR and all other Monetary intervensions & guarantees

    The PBR anticipates annual deficits of :-
    £118bn-2009
    £105 bn-2010
    £87 bn-2011
    £70 bn 2012

    These figures would increase Net Government Debt (excl PFI / PSPL/Monetary interventions) to just over £1 Trillion.

    That figure is forecast to be 57% of then GDP-but it’s a figure which is reliant on how long & deep the recession is , and what GDP growth rates we return to.

    PFI liability will continueto grow whilst Government uses PFI for capital projects-but figures are never very visible or available.

    Public Sector Pension Liability is said to be increasing by £50 bn pa.
    Net payment of PS Pensions out of current taxation is in the PBR at £4bn for next year-50% up on two years ago.It is totally unfunded .

    No one knows if any of the Credit Crunch Monetary interventions will crystalise as losses & add to Debt.

  48. 150 posts? this thread has gone on too long !. I take it there is someone who is going to tell us the record for the most posting responses ?

  49. I said some months ago that I would be surprised if Labour would average above 32 for any significant period of time. You will not perhaps be surprised that I do not regard this as a significant period.

    We have been having a series of announcements of financial help, and in principle people welcome this. But as the latest promise falls out of focus so the polls will fall. And the government can only make so many announcements of financial support.

    Also the VAT cut was not the most shrewdest of polictical moves. When retailers are reducing their prices by 25% to boost Christmas sales the significance of the VAT cut vanishes.
    Where the VAT cut is noticeable the amounts are so small it feels like spare change tossed into the hands of a needy beggar.

    The fact is that despite all these billions of borrowing it will over the 18 months to come not make much difference to most people. There will still be a recession and hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs.

  50. “Also the VAT cut was not the most shrewdest of polictical moves. When retailers are reducing their prices by 25% to boost Christmas sales the significance of the VAT cut vanishes.”

    I would say it has actually been an extremely shrewd move from an electoral perspective. There are posters in all the supermarkets (maybe other shops too, but I haven’t seen any) making a big deal of the fact that they’re passing the VAT cut on in full to their customers. They might as well be conducting Labour’s election campaign. Every time someone reads one of those posters they will be reminded that the government cut VAT and prices are lower as a result. They’ll also remember that the opposition vehemently opposed the PBR.

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