Having asked around most of the pollsters, I’m not expecting any more European election polls before the big day. So, with all the polling done, let’s bring together the final polls of the campaign and see what they tell us about the likely result.

ComRes/Green (31/05/09) CON 24, LAB 22, LDEM 14, UKIP 17, GRN 15, BNP 2
YouGov/Telegraph (29/05/09) CON 27, LAB 17, LDEM 15, UKIP 16, GRN 9, BNP 7
ICM/Sunday Telegraph (28/05/09) CON 29, LAB 17, LDEM 20, UKIP 10, GRN 11, BNP 5
Populus/Times (28/05/09) CON 30, LAB 16, LDEM 12, UKIP 19, GRN 10, BNP 5

The Conservative and Labour levels of support seem comparatively clear. ICM, YouGov and Populus all show them in similar positions, the Conservatives in the high twenties (or on 30% in Populus’s case), Labour at around 16% or 17%. The exception to this is ComRes, who have Labour much higher and the Conservatives significantly lower – I suspect this is at least partially a result of their poll not being weighting by past vote (why I don’t know, since as far as I can tell it was conducted as part of the same survey as their Indy poll, which was weighted by past vote).

Less clear is how much support the Lib Dems and the minor parties will get. Support for the Liberal Democrats varies wildly – ICM have them all the way up in second place on 20%, which would be a good advance on their 2004 performance. In contrast Populus have them down at only 12%. YouGov have them somewhere inbetween on 15%. The contrast confused me at first – Populus and ICM normally use methods that are very similar indeed, so why the big contrast? Having looked in more detail, it probably boils down to an issue I’ve mentioned several times when talking about European polls – whether minor parties are included in the prompt.

Populus asked people whether they would vote for “Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP [Scotland only], Plaid Cymru [Wales only], UKIP, BNP, Green or another party?” – and then gave people who said another party a further list of the other micro-parties on the ballot paper.

In contrast, ICM said to people “Some people we have spoken to have said they will vote for one of the main national parties. By which I mean Conservative Labour, Liberal Democrat, while others have told us they will vote for another party. Will you vote for a main national party or for another party?” People who said they’d vote for a main party were then given a list of the 3 (4 in Scotland and Wales) main parties, people who said they’d vote for another party were given a prompt that listed the Greens, BNP, UKIP, Jury Team and Christian Party.

The effect of this seems to be to push people who aren’t voting Labour or Conservative towards the Lib Dems in the ICM poll, while including it in the main prompt appears to have boosted UKIP in the Populus poll.

Which one is right? Well, as I’ve said earlier, YouGov have runs tests in parallel, and learnt from past mistakes, and it seems that for online questionaires you get more accurate results by not prompting by minor parties. However, it doesn’t follow that the same applies to polls done by phone where the interview affect is also thrown into the mix. It’s likely that having an interviewer depresses the vote for “others” slightly, since people might feel slightly embarrassed about saying they support what other people might see as a strange fringe party.

That brings us onto the subject of the smaller parties. Firstly we should deal with UKIP, who in European elections at least are up there with the other main parties in terms of support. Populus indeed shows them in second place. Again, the difference is down to the prompting, but my guess is that they’ll be closer to the levels of support YouGov and Populus show than that from ICM.

Prompted or not, the Greens have a similar level of support in ICM, YouGov and Populus’s polls – all have them within 1 point of 10%. The poll they themselves commissioned has that strange 15% support for the Greens, but without seeing what question was asked it’s impossible to know it is the result of unusual prompting.

That leaves us with the BNP. Here the big issue is interviewer bias, people are almost certainly more unwilling to admit to supporting a party widely seen as extremist and racist when they are talking to a human interviewer. My expectation therefore is that YouGov are likely to get closer to the true level of BNP support. Whether that is enough for them to win a seat is a different matter. On a uniform swing YouGov’s final figures would give them two seats, but it really depends how well they do regionally. They could get seats even on a lower overall percentage if their advance is concentrated in the North West.

So, a day before polling begins we can expect the Conservatives to top the European election poll with around 28, 29%, twelve or so points ahead of Labour. The Lib Dems and UKIP are more difficult to predict – it depends which of the pollsters’ questions are best at getting to the truth, but personally I expect both of them to be close to Labour, meaning we could see any of those parties come anywhere from 2nd to 4th. The Greens should increase their vote to around 10%, unless ComRes have picked up something others have missed. Finally I’d expect YouGov, who don’t have to worry about interviewer effect, to be the best predictor of BNP support, meaning they’ll get around 7%, probably enough for a seat.

Or, of course, everyone could be wrong. It’s also worth remembering that all these polls were conducted at least 4 days before polling day. A lot of postal votes will already have been cast by then, but still, that period of time is enough for a further shift in support.


80 Responses to “European elections – final predictions”

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  1. As a humble undecided voter, thanks for this very clear summary. It’s helped me make my mind up who I’ll vote for.

  2. Likewise with Bobby, I think Sandy is right. In the majority of regions the Greens will beat BNP, and I will say this here first: BNP will not win a seat. I think it is unlikely, they will come close, but the anti-fascist response has been huge along with overhwhelmingly negative press coverage.

    BNP will not win a seat and they will poll well under 10%.

  3. Sky News. Ipsos Mori interview – Con40 Lab18 LD 18.Presumably just announced.

  4. Anthony. Clocks haywire? This was on Sky 10 minutes ago.

  5. My prediction is based on what I think will happen rather than what I want to happen. It’s difficult not to get them mixed up – a lot of my predictions from previous years used to really be influenced by how I wanted things to turn out but I’ve tried to stop myself doing that.

    I think the polls probably are underestimating the BNP vote a bit, not only because people don’t like to admit to voting for them but also because some people don’t like to admit to themselves they’re thinking about voting for them. I would be very surprised if they don’t – as a minimum – win one seat (probably in the North West) and at least 8% of the vote. A high turnout would probably help to keep their successes to a minimum. Initially people were saying that the expenses scandal might damage turnout but in the last few days commentators have started to say the opposite might happen.

  6. Yougov, due to the style of their polling, will naturally always be closer to the BNP’s actual vote share and they’ve given them 7% twice. Given that even Yougov slightly underestimated the BNP in 2004 I don’t think 8% is beyond the realms of possibility.

    Certainly given their gains and the current climate it’s difficult to believe the BNP will poll below their previous 5% from 2004.

    And I would be rather surprised if the Greens managed to out-poll the BNP in every region. In fact I think the BNP will probably do better in NE, YH, WM, EM and E.

  7. The amount of seats the BNP get is going to be determined by the number of MEP places up for grabs in any given region.

    Remember as soon as a PP gets a MEP it goes into the next round of voting with its vote share divided by the amount of MEP’s it has gained plus 1.

    With two MEPs the vote is divided by three and if a PP gets three MEP’s then it goes into the next round with its vote divided by four.

    Apply that formula to the predicted vote share and you get a reasonable idea of who is definetley getting a MEP and who it is touch and go for.

  8. Iam pretty sure the BNP will at least see 10-12 % of the vote i think they will get 2-3 seats

  9. New Euros poll in the Telegraph from YouGov

  10. Iain Dale is predicting a big turnout, maybe above 50%. He believes that far from depressing turnout the recent scandals will make them more interested in visiting the polling stations tomorrow.

  11. Thank you Anthony for your very careful and balanced analysis of all the polls. I am a little astonished at some of the other predictions – however, any of them might indeed be right as something wierd is going on judging from conversations at work today – people are swinging around during the course of the day about what they are going to do!! Given than the SE region in which I vote has 10 MEPs to be elected could it be that the BNP will sneak a seat here if they poll more than half (say 7.6%) of a high Green vote of say 15%, which by its nature would not be enough for 2 but take enough to deprive bigger others of enough votes and thus let the BNP in?

  12. My prediction (final unless we get -another- poll after this one) is as follows:
    Con: 28%
    UKIP: 17% (and edging out Labour)
    Lab: 17%
    Lib: 16%
    Green: 10%
    BNP: 7%
    SNP/PC: 4%

    I do expect the BNP to snag a seat somewhere; whether they pick it off in the NE on a horrid split among the major parties or pick it off in one of the larger regions (SE comes to mind) on less votes but a lower threshold is for better minds than myself. Two seats wouldn’t shock me; more than that, however, would be a big surprise for me.

    I’ve got to confess that calling the order among UKIP, Lib, and Lab would almost be better served using dice. If you give them all 15+1d4% you’re just as likely to hit the right result as by educated guessing at this point.

  13. well BNP in 2004 euro elections got 800,000 + votes = 5% and i can say they have grown massively . I really do predict a big percentage for them . No matter how much press they get or these uaf campaigns the public don’t buy into the bias media ect nowadays ! and on a serious note with all these corrupt politicians ect. things will swing bnp’s way ! like i said before i think they will get about 12 % or 16 %

  14. who knows but obviously conservatives are gonna get the highest

  15. personally, I think that the result is likely to be far too fragmented, variable by region, including effect of differential turnout where there are / are not local elections too to be able to make a precise prediction on national share of the vore, still less deduce allocation of seats therefrom. Just to make matters worse, events over the past 48 hours could well have a massive impact on the Labour vote – with knock-on effect for both the other main parties (which includes UKIP and Green at this election) and the fringe.

    The only consistent picture is that Conservatives will emerge as clear leaders somewhere around 28-30% (may be higher), with LD and UKIP in the high teens, Green and BNP each +/-10%, and a good 5-10% for the rest of the other others. SNP will top the poll in Scotland, and it will be a close fight between Plaid and Con in Wales for top spot.

    I believe Labour is now in freefall, and the only prediction I am confident about is that they will not get more than 25% in a single region, and the only region in which they may (just) come first is the NE.

    There is a realsitic prospect that Labour will lose its seat in the SW, while their seats in SE and East may also come under pressure.

    As to the “battle” between Green and BNP:
    Greens will outpoll BNP in southern England.
    BNP will outpoll Greens in Midlands & North.

    Neither party will win more than 4 MEPS, and probably only two each.

  16. One of my sources at a Westminster party HQ suggests second will be VERY close, the Lib Dems to take a second seat in London, and the BNP to take a seat in the North West.

  17. >As to the “battle” between Green and BNP:
    Greens will outpoll BNP in southern England.
    BNP will outpoll Greens in Midlands & North.

    Thing is, the southern regions are on average bigger than the northern: East 7, SW 7, London 9, SE 10 versus NE 3, Yorks 6 EMid 6, WMid , NW 9.

    Therefore on a similar England-wide vote and a north-south split as mentioned by Paul, the Greens are likely to pick up more seats than the British Nazi Party.

  18. It would help if I got the numbers right: Its East 7, SW 6, London 8, SE 10 versus NE 3, Yorks 6 EMid 5, WMid 6, NW 8.

    Still, the South contains 31 seats in 4 regions while the north Midlands contain fewer seats (28) split into more regions (5). On average the theoretical %age to win a seat in the north and Midlands is more than 15%. In the south its 11%. (The practical values are propbably 7/10 to 8/10 of that, depending on vote distribution between parties.)

  19. Christian,

    Valid point about the average distribution of seats per region in the South vs North/Midlands. Ever asked why that should be – gerrymandering by the government at the time to preserve their blushes in the SE.

    As to polling figures, I think you may find the Griffin party exceeds the Green party by a greater margin in the North / Midlands than vice-versa in the south, such that their total shares are broadly similar nationally, but Griffins may fly higher..

  20. @James Ludlow
    -Probably down to Bob Crow

    @Luke
    – I agree about BNP. I’m putting a fiver on them not getting any seat at all

  21. my prediction is that the overall national percentages will be as follows:
    Con 27%, Lab 17%, UKIP 16%, LD 15%, Green 11%, BNP 7%

    translated into total seats, thinking about likely regional variations, my guess would be this:
    Con 22, Lab 16, UKIP 9, LD 10, Green 6, BNP 1, nationalists 4.

    I suspect a low vote for the major parties coupled with a push by the Greens/BNP could result in both parties gaining a seat in the North West.
    I think this might overstate the Green case, I think 4 or 5 might be more realistic, and the 8 I saw in mentioned in the Telegraph is probably too ambitious. The 5 seats and collapse of UKIP from the same publication is also unlikely I think, given recent political developments.

    prediction by region:
    EM Con 2, Lab 1, UKIP 1, LD 1
    EE Con 2, Lab 1, UKIP 1, LD 1, Green 1
    LDN Con 2, Lab 2, UKIP 1, LD 2, Green 1
    NE Con 1, Lab 2
    NW Con 2, Lab 2, UKIP 1, LD 1, Green 1, BNP 1
    SE Con 4, Lab 1, UKIP 2, LD 2, Green 1
    SW Con 2, Lab 1, UKIP 1, LD 1, Green 1
    WM Con 2, Lab 2, UKIP 1, LD 1
    YH Con 2, Lab 2, UKIP 1, LD 1
    W Con 1, Lab 1, PC 2
    S Con 2, Lab 1, SNP 2, SGreen 1

  22. “Also compare with the likes of De Linke (Germany), Syriza (Greece) and the Anticapitalist Party (France). All three have grown out of alliances between left groups and trade unions – all are achieving SIGNIFICANT electoral success, and – importantly – the growth of these has directly resulted in the electoral demise of the far-right.”

    are you on drugs? where’s the evidence for that!?

  23. If as many expect Conservatives win clearly and then there is a group of Labour, LibDem and UKIP all very close together, the D’Hondt system could produce some very strange results. It does not work very well when there are several parties nearly equal and only a small number of seats.
    I predict
    Con 28
    UKIP 18
    LD 17
    Lab 15
    Green 10

  24. The BNP have seen their support increase across the board both locally and nationally, and in terms of its active base, over the last 5 years. I would expect their vote to increase between 50-80% from 2004, so 1.2 – 1.45 million votes based on 2004 results or 7-9% based on 2004 percentages. If they don’t, then there is something seriously wrong with British politics, as it would go completely against their increasing presence and activity in British politics.

    With regional variations, a 50%+ increase in say the NW would easily give the BNP 9-10%, enough to elect Griffin. As for UKIP, they have performed so badly electorally since 2004, and are so endemically riddled with corrupt internal wranglings and MEP fraud, that to see their vote incease would be a total travesty of their electoral record. One really c annot predict the impact of either anti-BNP media or pro-UKIP “talk-up” media in these elections.

    Other such as No2EU, Soc Lab, Eng Dems and Libertas will struggle to get 1-2% each.

  25. I predict:

    Con 24, Lab 15, Lib Dems 12
    UKIP 11, Greens 2, BNP 2
    SNP 2, Plaid 1
    N Ireland: SF 1, DUP 1, UCUNF 1

    By region:
    Eastern: C 3, UKIP 2, LD 1, Lab 1
    London: C 3, LD 2, Lab 1, UKIP 1, Grn 1
    S East: C 4, UKIP 2, LD 2, Lab 1, Grn 1
    S West: C 2, UKIP 2, LD 1, Lab 1
    Wales: Lab 2, Plaid 1, C 1
    Scotland: SNP 2, Lab 2, C 1, LD 1
    N East: Lab 1, LD 1, C 1
    N West: C 3, Lab 2, LD 1, UKIP 1, BNP 1
    Yorks: C 2, Lab 2, LD 1, UKIP 1
    E Midlands: C 2, UKIP 1, Lab 1, LD 1
    W Midlands: C 2, UKIP 1, Lab 1, LD 1, BNP 1 (plus a third Conservative for when the region regains its 7th seat when Lisbon comes into force)

  26. Not much good is it? How come none of your “polls” predict Plaid Cymru or the SNP taking seats?

  27. My predictions (see above) and actual result
    Prediction Actual
    Con 28 28.6
    UKIP 18 17.4
    LD 17 13.9
    Lab 15 15.3
    Green 10 8.7

    So I overestimated LD a bit but otherwise very close, and I think I was the only one to predict that UKIP would come second.

  28. Well done Michael! I didn’t predict percentages, only seats, but I got 66 out of 69 correct – thats 95.7% – I feel pretty good about that. You and I should be pundits on the telly.

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