New Populus Poll

Full report to follow tomorrow, but there is a Populus poll in Friday’s Times with topline figures of CON 36%(-5), LAB 24%(+3), LDEM 19%(+4).

UPDATE: Lots of comment already on this one. Clearly it appears to show a sharp drop in Conservative support, an increase in Labour support and an increase in Lib Dem support. This is rather surprising – in recent years we’ve normally seen a boost for the victors following the local elections, a “winner’s aura effect”, and certainly disunity of the sort Labour have suffered in the last week has normally damaged a party.

However, the point of polls is to tell us something we don’t know, and the public don’t always react to events the way you’d expect. This is the first poll since the Euro-elections, other companies might paint different pictures, but in the wider context this isn’t that odd anyway: while this poll shows a sharp narrowing of the Tory lead, it’s much in line with other polling from the days before the election, which had also shown the Conservatives heading down into the 30s with Labour in the low 20s.

Looking forward does this indcicate a Labour recovery? Well, what happens in voting intention polls in the coming months largely depends on what happens when support for “others” declines – in this poll it remains at 21%. Currently it is high because of two factors – one of which will fade away, the other of which will probably lessen. Firstly there is the effect of the European elections, which judging by the past precedent of 2004 will fade over the next few months as people put their minds to voting in FPTP elections that choose a government, and the publicity UKIP and the BNP get around European elections fades. Secondly there is the “plague on all your houses” effect of the expenses scandal – it’s less of a given that this will decline, in theory it could stay high, but now the Telegraph has seemingly used all its best stories it will get considerably less media attention and will likely fall down the agenda. Where some of that “other” vote goes – does the UKIP vote drift back to the Conservatives? Do some protest votes go back to Labour? Do they become don’t knows or won’t votes? – will have a big effect upon our topline voting intention figures.

On other questions in the poll, the Times concentrates upon an increase in economic optimism figures. It’s important to remember that while the political media has been focused on sleaze and corruption over recent weeks, the economy remains the issue that the public rate as the most important. In today’s Populus poll 32% of people now think the economy will do well over the next year, with 63% thinking it will do badly. The balance is clearly still pessimistic, but the trend is improving. I wouldn’t go so far as to connect this with the increase in Labour’s support – there are a whole load of different factors in play (and besides, Labour have increased within the margin of error in a single poll!) but I’ll try to have a closer look at economic optimism figures in the next few days.

UPDATE2: Over on Political Betting, Mike Smithson writes that “It’s always a good indication of how a newspaper regards the findings of a poll that it has commissioned by the reporting. What could be seen as sensational voting numbers here are tucked away near the end of the story.” Probably a good thing, considering the criticism Danny Finkelstein threw at the Independent earlier this week for splashing polls on the frontpage when they show surprising figures, rather than treating them with due caution.

112 Responses to “New Populus Poll”

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  1. Well, the PLP already seems to be squabbling again, with Prescott laying into Milliband now. It’s a disgrace what this bunch of charlatans has done to a fine old party. None of them are fit to lick the boots of the likes of Keir Hardie.

  2. Anyone know when the next ICM or ipsos Mori westminister poll is due?

  3. Due to the devastating effect of the MPs’ expenses, I sense that the polls will continue to reflect the voters’ sense of moral outrage for some considerable time to come.
    This issue was seen as a such a fundamental betrayal of the electorate’s trust by the MPS that it wont be simply an issue that will simply fade away in the light of subsequent political shenanigans.
    The expenses issue will be a back-drop against whatever future political issues will arise.
    As a result, the ‘Other’ parties will continue to enjoy an elevated level of support, until the electorate either replace indignation with apathy and consider not voting at all or see support for the Other parties as achieving very little on the grand political landscape.
    Because, at the end of the day, the electorate want a PM that they can see as an effective leader and head of a party that has credible, well-supported policies. Labour has neither and the Tories are still waiting to show what they can offer.
    As soon as a party is seen to have seized the initiative on genuinley reformatting what an MP’s expenses should sensibly be, together with a means of implementing it, then that party will have gone a long way to understanding why the electorate continue to be so angry and insodoing win back some of the electorate’s trust.
    However, the self-serving cowards of the Labour party by simply putting the Brown issue on the back burner, are ensuring that they can stay on the MP gravy train for as long as possible before 2010. This, coupled with the failure of Cameron to address the embarassment that Osborne regularly inflicts on the Tory party means that, in the eyes of the electorate, Cameron and Darling are both tarred with the same expenses brush. Only a Shadow cabinet reshuffle – by a leader that has both credibility and influence within his own party – will ensure that at least one of the major parties will have taken the first few steps in attempting to re-engage with the electorate and the all-important trust that the electorate possess.

  4. Tony – straw clutching Labour supporters like me have long held the view that Osborne is our best asset and Cammos failure to deal with him demonstrates poor judgement.
    Appointing Mackay does this in a minor way as well.
    You are right about Labour, though, tired and lacking in purpose.

  5. Just a simple short comment.

    Given the complete dissaray of Gordon Browns government all the Conservatives can muster is 36% of the vote…..

    If I can remember during the nadir of the last Conservative government Tony Blairs New Labour was achieving between 55 – 59% in the polls was he not…. ?

    I think you will find that the Conservatives only won control of nearly every County Council due to the anomoly of the First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system……

    Across the whole of the UK the Conservatives only managed to garner a pitiful 38% of the vote……

    The fact is that the Labour vote just collapsed…. If Labour can re-connect with its core voters and those it has alienated currently….. then victory for the Conservatives at the next General Election is far from a forgone conclusion…..

    If David Camerons Conservatives that much liked by the UK electorate his Party would be miles ahead of Labour….

    It is without a doubt that Labour has much work to be done….. but if this is all the Conservative Party can achieve it is in serious seious trouble….

    I rest my case…!!!!!

  6. I totally agree with you Warren @ June 13 th 10:47

  7. If I were supporters of the Conservatives I would not be so esure of a Conservative victory at the next General Election…..

    The fact remains that the only people and Party to achieve the highest swing in a General Election since the 1940’s was Clement Atlee’s Labour Party who achieved a 9.9% swing in 1945 and Tony Blairs Labour in 1997 who achieved a swing of 10.5% in 1997…….

    Even in 1979 the birth of Thatcherism and one of the ‘Political Watersheds’ of Britain saw Margaret Thatchers Conservatives only manage a swing of 5.8% against James Callaghans Labour Party……

    Set against the swings achieved by the Conservatives against Labour since the 1940’s… the Conservatives still have an absolute mountain to climb to win the next General Election…..

    Labour may not achieve the change need to turn around its fortunes…..

    However I believe that Tony Blair gave it the instinct that will achieve it….

    To overestimate New Labour would be foolish in the extreme….

    I say to dyed-the-wool Conservatives…. think on….

  8. Sorry….

    “However I believe that Tony Blair gave it the instinct that will achieve it….

    To overestimate New Labour would be foolish in the extreme….”

    ….my arrogance got the better of me… ha ha…..

  9. Repoted on PB a new YouGov/Sunday Times poll with headline figures of; 40/24/18

  10. Gin – interesting poll. I would suggest that this is more in line with what most people on here were expecting. Presumably Others are 18% which is still high.

    I wonder how many were excluded because they weren’t likely to vote? I think that that is a factor which is sometimes overlooked. It’s not just a question of one party gaining votes from another, but also how successful they are at engaging more apathetic voters.

    It would be useful if the headline figures were accompanied by an estimated turnout (based on the particular polling company’s assumptions – i.e. some only include those who say they are ‘certain to vote’). This would give us a better basis for comparison.

    For instance, if the guesstimated turnout for this poll was 60%, and the next poll gives a distribution of 37/27/18 on a guesstimated turnout of 70%, we could be fairly sure that the change was caused by Labour galvanising their apathetic core voters rather than any drop in Tory support.

    What do others think of this idea?

  11. Although I’m not going to argue the 1997 election, I would note that the 1945 election was also a Tory blowout swinging to a Labour blowout after a 10-year gap in elections (and a major war). Thus I think 1945 needs to be set aside due to those extraordinary conditions (I would say the same thing about 1918, too, if it were relevant).

    As to the ’79 situation, that was also following a “majority that wasn’t” in many regards. Callaghan’s majority was remarkably slim at the outset, such that by 1979 he was in a largely unsustainable minority situation against a candidate who had trailed him for most of the previous four years. Thatcher only generated a landslide in 1983 due to Labour blowing apart, and don’t forget how much of a comeback that was.

  12. James,

    I for one would be happy to have over-estimated new Labour’s will to succeed.

    The most prominent evidence of the instinct you mention is the role Mandelson has played in supporting Brown. This shows that the architects of New Labour have made one of two calculations:

    a – Brown is the best leader Labour has to offer, and they have nothing to gain be changing leader; or

    b – the next election is well and truly lost, and the best hope for New Labour is to control rebuilding of the Labour party in the aftermath. Mandy’s unelected position means that he can manage this process without the tedium of having to fight to retain his own seat.

    Take your choice, but if I were a supporter of traditional Labour, I would be very worried indeed.

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