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. Anthony,

    A fab summary,

    Many Thanks

  2. No more Euro polls before the Euros’s but weren,t we promised a YouGov GE poll tonight ? Ive read it somewhere yesterday.

  3. How did the polls account for postal votes? They presumably had a mixture of respondents who had voted – and whom one would imagine would in general say what they had voted – and those who might or might not be voting on June 4th.

    Presumably people have, but will not publish, some idea of what is already in the bag in terms of postal votes. Is this why we have the unprecedented scenes of Labour MPs announceing their retirements etc. before the election ? Actually, it’s already after the postal election.

    Yet again, postal votes on demand are terrible (and proxy ones still worse) not only because they cannot be secret but because they prevent a proper camaign taking place in which people can discuss the issues.

    I don’t understand the complicated questions. Surely the first question should be simple and not mention any part’y, e.g. “Which party will you be voting for in the European elections/” Then probe further by mentioning parties, or asking again about the County Elections. And ask if the respondent is going to vote in person or by post (did they? – it may have important effects). Mentioning parties in the initial question raises alll sorts of methodological no nos. For instance, it may matter in which order the parties are mentioned.

    It is hardly necessary to comment on the major finding. For a Government to be pollling less than 20% is unprecedented and shocking.

  4. Wayne – there could be. I didn’t ask Peter, since client confidentiality means even if I do know there is a YouGov poll on the way I often can’t say so. So, there could yet be another YouGov – I’ve deliberately not asked!

  5. I can’t add anything on the poling analysis and results predictions to Anthony’s excellent and well-judged comments.
    However, I do wonder how high people think the turnout will be. Lasty time it was 38%, I seem to recall, with a number of assisting factors such as all postal vote experiments and coincidence with more local elections. Will it drop substantially, or is the exceptional public interest in politics at the moment going to galvanise them into participation?
    And who would a high or low turnout benefit? I’m tempted to say that both would cause even greater problems for the incumbent government! – high because the results would have more legitimacy, and because it would suggest a strong wave of protest, low because it is hard to see even diehard Labour supporters motivated at present.
    Either way, dreadful results for Labour, and Brown, may be expected. An interesting period will immediately follow.

  6. Frederic – good question. In some elections pollsters have given “Already voted by post” as an option in the “how likely are you to vote question”. I don’t know how much difference it makes, anyone who has already voted is going to give their chance of voting as 10/10 anyway.

    I don’t think people do have much of an idea of the postal votes so far. I’ve been to my local verification – everything is being done face down, local ballot papers are thick and green and impossible to see through. Euro ones can be validated without unfolding the massive great things, so again, nothing can be seen. Other local authorities might be doing it slightly differently of course, but still.

    Party order isn’t an issue – they are randomly rotated. Not prompting at all isn’t an option for normal general election polls, experience tells us it underestimates Lib Dem support. Of course, it probably hasn’t be tried for European elections, so who knows.

  7. On Robert’s comment, I was going to do a post on turnout but have run out of time. My guess is that it’ll be up a bit (or at least, if not as high as 2004 not as low as some have expected). People will want to go out and have a protest.

  8. If only 35% of the electorate vote, we are seeing, in real terms, a vote of about

    12% of the total electorate for the Conservatives.
    5% of the total electorate for Labour.

    These are shockingly bad figures.

  9. How come Jury Team is being asked about but No2EU isn’t?

  10. Possibly because No2EU is the second most bonkers party after the Monster Raving Loony Party.

  11. No idea, btoh have little support, both are fielding a full set of candidates.

    So do we get exit polls for these elections or are they forbidden for the same reason as counting the votes is?

  12. Interesting that you-gov online poll puts the BNP on 7% when compared to the com res 2%. Where have these shy BNP voters gone ? Looks like they were all claiming to be voting green.

  13. I’d say Libertas would have more of a claim than No2EU, but either way, both they and Jury Team have organised terribly late and justifiably have received little publicity, meaning they have little chance and it isn’t worth polling for them. I don’t know why Jury Team either.

  14. Given the abosolutely terrible headlines in ALL the press this morning and calls in the Left leaning papers to vote against them to oust Brown, Labour it seems, may lose a further 5% or so from these figures.

    Chief beneficiaries if I’m correct will be the Greens and Libs. This might leave Labour in FIFTH place!

    I’m salivating ;-)

    My prediction would be;

    Con 32
    Lib 18
    UKIP 15
    Green 13
    Lab 11
    BNP 7

  15. I think the BNP will get 5 seats.

    North West
    West Mids
    East Mids

  16. Thanks for the interesting reply, Anthony.

    The main problem with the secrecy of postal ballots is in their casting, not their counting.

    Qunctel, I thought the problem with published exit polls is that the UK votes on Thursday, whereas most of the rest of Europe votes on Sunday.

    Of course if, as Anthony says they might, the opinion polls have an option for respondents to say they have already voted by post, they in effect become exit polls. And I presume the Parties have their own intelligence mechanisms to find out what is going on, if only their canvassers’ reports (in some cases, if they have any party workers left!).

  17. Many thanks, Anthony. I agree with your conclusions.

  18. Hi Oliver – BNP will certainly not win in East Mids. They only have a chance in north west realistically, and won’t break through in west mids because of Dave Nellist and others (who is very well known and respected locally).

    Oh and James Ludlow, tell me how a slate – while it could be named better, organised better and is in need of a few tweaks – that is a coalition of trade unionists and left wing groups, standing up for working class people, and fielding candidates such as Lindsey Oil Refinery workers and Visteon workers, is in fact “bonkers”? Is it because it holds the only candidacy which identifies that it is the business bosses (allowed by the politicians) who are responsible for playing one nationality of workers against another – for the purpose of driving down wages and increasing profits… and thus really represent a direct opposition to the lies of the BNP – which have too often been legitimised by foolish main parties. i.e. “British jobs for British Workers” Gordon Brown; and all the anti-immigration nonsense pedalled in recent times….

    Just would like you to clarify – that’s all.

  19. Labour will lose the 4th Euro Welsh Seat (by definition a catastophy), no idea to whom however

    Liberal or
    UKIP maybe

    a week or two ago maybe it may have been conservative,

    The heartlands for Labour in Wales are angry and after wiping them out in the 2008 council elections who knows where us Welsh will put our crosses!

  20. I will add my comments to wayne.

    Very nice little summary.

  21. My prediction:

    C – 28%
    Lab – 17%
    UKIP – 17%
    LD – 15%
    Green – 10%
    BNP – 10%

    I think the BNP are more likely than not to win 3 seats – in the North West, Yorkshire & Humber and West Midlands. They also have a chance in the East Midlands and Greater London. I’m surprised that some people are predicting that they may win a seat in the Eastern region. I don’t think there’s enough of the sort of urban territory they do best in for them to win a seat there although I could be wrong about that.

    The Greens should hold their two seats in London and the SE. They may have a chance in the SW and maybe Scotland as well.

    UKIP should win about 10 seats, only slightly down on 2004. They should win at least one seat in most English regions. Perhaps their London seat is most at risk of being lost.

  22. @ Lee – No2EU is bonkers for many of the reasons you list :) Plus it’s chosen a name in textspeak and it has an “empty seat” policy proposing that people vote for it in order not to be represented in the EU.

  23. @ Lee

    Let me clarify:

    1) You ought to decide whether someone is “bonkers” by discovering what they think, not where they came from.

    2) The left have the protectionist, anti-foreign-worker streak in them; Tories promoted joining the EEC as it was, against Labour (who organised a referendum against membership) and it was Brown who said “British Jobs for British Workers”. I don’t think that, in a competitive world, employers can afford to care about your origin; those that don’t choose employees on their talents rather than their passport tend to lose their companies, money and their jobs.

  24. @Lee,

    I agree that the NP are less likely to make a breakthrough in the East, but West Mids is a different story.

    They’ll probably get NW, Yorks, and West Mids, and come very close in the East, and East Mids; so at least 3 MEPs.

    No2EU do come across as a little bit slapdash, frantic, and incoherent; they are effectively competing for the WWC vote with Arthur Scargill and the NP… and unlike them there’s a lack of clear ideology or plausible candidates… they’re not going to appeal to many of their targets methinks, because voters know that a vote for the NP will get far more attention than one for anyone else, even if you don’t actually support them – when the establishment parties are so reviled, and then tell the voters to not vote for someone, isn’t that like a red rag to a bull?
    I do think the No2EU group do come across as a bit bonker when they are basically saying exactly the same thing as Scargilist Labour and the NP, and yet going into hysterics about how different they supposedly are.

    …whatever happened to the Natural Law Party? Now that’s bonkers you can believe in!

  25. @LEE


    If postal votes are anything to go by, the BNP have every chance to get a seat in the East-Mids. Their chance of success is certainly not confined to the North-West. They have a shot in 7 regions, but I think 5 is more likely.

  26. Not sure how you know what the postal votes for the BNP are?

    In any case, the most they will win is 1 seat in the NW.

    A fiver says so!

  27. @Lee.
    No2EU are not the only ones who have recognised that it is an issue that the EU is a corporatist scam which uses immigrant labour as tools to drive down pay and conditions.
    I am a UKIP candidate in the South East and I have been doing the same. Speak to your lads in Southampton. I was the only local PPC of ANY party who supported the Transit workers. I, and others in UKIP, have been explaining this for a long time.
    No2EU is more worthy of legitimacy than many other parties as it holds many of the positions Labour traditionally held before it was stolen by Kinnocks Lawyerocracy. I don’t agree with all your standpoints but you should be allowed equal time with others.

  28. “David in France

    Not sure how you know what the postal votes for the BNP are?

    In any case, the most they will win is 1 seat in the NW.

    A fiver says so!”

    Can you send it by Postal Order please!

  29. David In France:

    I’m pretty sure the BNP will win at least two seats, in the North West plus at least one of Yorkshire & Humber and/or the West Midlands.

  30. Agree with you Dave in France.

    Thanks for your replies about no2eu. I can relate to some of it. Though some of the points show how confused people are about what it actually is, it has been hastily organised and I understand that people will not tend to vote for someone they haven’t heard much about (a symptom of the aforementioned, mixed with a skewed media).

    In essence – the strengths of no2eu will be what comes after the elections. For a better view of this see http://cnwp.org.uk/

    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.

    Time for a new workers party in the UK now I think……. no2eu could be the beginning

  31. Personally I will be very surprised if the BNP get 10%… but we will see.

    What would it mean in terms of the seats if the Greens (or BNP I guess) got 10% in each region…?

  32. Today’s media coverge may mean that the election is more of a verdict on Brown than anything else.

    Also Labour’s support has dropped by a third in the GE voting intentions polls. And given that in the last Euro Election Labour gained 22.6% of the votes I’m guessing they will gain between 14 to 16% of the votes this time.

    A lot will depend on the turnout figure which last time was 38.2% The higher the turnout the worse it will be for Labour I imagine.

  33. I don’t think the BNP and Greens will get 10% in each region. The BNP might poll somewhere near 15% in the NW and Y&H, about 12% in the West Midlands, but they’ll poll closer to 5-7% in most other regions. The Greens should do well in London, SE and SW but poll less than 10% in most areas.

  34. this is my prediction


    LIB DEMS 17 %

    BNP 16%

    UKIP 14 %

    LABOUR 13 %

    GREENS 5 %

  35. My prediction is:

    Conservative 30%
    UKIP 19%
    Lib Dem 15%
    Labour 14%
    Green 10%
    BNP 8%
    Others 4%

  36. BNP beating Labour? I doubt it, and certainly hope I’m right.

    I figure:

    Tories 29%
    Labour 21%
    UKIP 17% (just above their 2004 result)
    Lib Dems 13%
    Greens 8%
    BNP 4%

  37. @Greg

    When I say “I certainly hope I’m right” I mean just that, hope, I don’t mean to look like I’m rubbishing your prediction.


    50% of the vote to broadly euroskeptic parties, that would be a powerful message but I can’t see how that will happen, surely a Tory or UKIP success will be partially fuelled by taking votes from the other.

  38. Greg,

    One prediction I will confidently make is that Brown will resign on Monday if the BNP really do out poll Labour!

  39. Personally I am betting that BNP come in well below 10%… in line with the polls… That said at lot of people seem to be really talking them up at the moment though, in what seems to me a mixture of supposed outrage and macabre fascination at the apparently unfathomable minds of the working class…

  40. @ Lee – I must apologise re: my earlier comment about No2EU. I had them confused with Scargill’s very bonkers party which wishes to ditch the EU in favour of some weird alliance of Third World countries. No2EU does have a bonkers name though – whose idea was that?

  41. My prediction:

    Conservative 27%
    UKIP 16%
    Lib Dem 16%
    Labour 16%
    Green 13%
    BNP 6%

    Also: Greens to beat BNP in every English region.

  42. The BNP will not poll 16%, nor will they poll 4%. 10% seems like a reasonable prediction to me.

    It’s interesting to speculate what position Labour would have to come for Brown to resign. Coming third and being beaten by UKIP may not be enough, coming fourth and being beaten by UKIP and the LDs may be. Being beaten by the Greens and/or BNP would probably leave him with no choice but to resign.

  43. Sandy Rentool:

    I think it’s pretty much guaranteed the Greens will be beaten by the BNP in some English regions, especially the North West and Yorkshire & Humberside.

  44. @Andy

    Have I missed something about the BNP? They are polling erratically from 2-8%, why are you so certain they’ll make it to around 10% and not 4%?

  45. Andy Stidwill:

    My prediction is based as much on hope as expectation! Especially in the North West where the Greens are probably the best hope to deprive the BNP of a seat. Perhaps that will give the Green vote a boost.

  46. Con 30% 27 seats
    Lab 20% 15
    LD 14% 9
    UKIP 12% 9
    BNP 8% 4
    Grn 7% 2

  47. My prediction:

    Con – 29
    LD – 20
    UKIP – 17
    Lab – 15
    Greens – 12
    BNP – 5
    others – 2

  48. I more or less agree with Sandy Rentool’s prediction.

  49. Yeah, the name “No2EU” could probably have been better chosen, especially as the coalition is, in fact, pro-EU.

  50. Prediction:
    Conservative – 24%
    Labour – 20%
    Lib Dems – 17%
    UKIP – 16%
    Greens – 10%
    BNP – 8%

    BNP support will be a lot bigger than the polls claim.

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