Yesterday’s Sunday People had a new YouGov poll that, as far as I can tell, everybody missed. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, were CON 40%(-2), LAB 25%(nc), LDEM 20%(+2), Others 16%. It was conducted between the 21st and 23rd July, so was finished prior to the Norwich North result and any halo effect the Conservatives enjoy on the back of it.

Labour and the Conservatives are at the same sort of level as we’ve seen in recent YouGov polling, but it’s worth noting that 20% figure for the Liberal Democrats. It’s the highest YouGov have had them since September last year (though before you get too excited, the monthly YouGov poll for the Telegraph should be along this week, so let’s see if that confirms it).

33 Responses to “A poll everyone missed?”

  1. Ooh, fresh meat.

    It looks like whoever pointed out the gentle LibDem rise was onto something. We’ll have to see if it goes any further up. Seems odd though considering their awful result in Norwich North. Maybe that will pull them back down over the next while.

    Hope you’re feeling better Anthony. Just wanted to point out that the poll of polls and the poll graphs seem to have gone haywire. The poll of polls seem to be including data from upto a year back and the graphs are not showing properly.

    Best Wishes,

  2. Gah – means I must have accidentally got the date wrong on a recent poll.

  3. Also, here’s my usual question: any info on how many of those others are spittle-flecked BNP supporters and how many are organic-yoghurt-eating Greens?

  4. Or indeed yoghurt-flecked, spittle-eating English Democrats?

  5. James – since you asked so nicely, 5% UKIP, 4% BNP and 3% Green.

  6. I know people like to focus on the Tories being above or below 40%, but I thought I’d have a look back at issues that ought to vex Labour supporters. Firstly, Labour haven’t polled 35% at all in 2009.

    More of interest to me is Labour haven’t polled 30% in nearly 100 days (19th April was the last, 99 days ago). For comparison, the longest John Major’s Tories went between polling at least 30% was 119 days (11th Feb – 10th Jun 95). On the 22nd June 95 Major resigned as leader, although he would regain the leadership following a contest against John Redwood.

    Although I accept that the figures are not exactly comparible due to different methods the basic principles are roughly the same. There comes a time when a chronic lack of popularity forces a party to take action.

  7. Until all candidates are allowed fair access to TV, radio press and hustings events to put forward their case the results of any election cannot be seen as legitimate. Yes I was a Norwich North candidate and yes it still hurts!

  8. Anthony,

    Welcome back,

    Did you see the article on Political Betting about using the figures for switching voters rather than voter share to predict the election result.

    I’d be interested in your opinion.


  9. Labour have a serious problem over the GDP figures.

    If you have 3m unemployemnt it is much easier to argue when you are officially out of recession,the 2nd quarter figures suggest we may get a minor contraction in the 3rd & then growth in the fourth quarter.

    The problem is politically that is bad news for labour,alhough the 4th quarter is Oct-Dec 2009,we don’t actaully get the data until around end Feb 2010.

    The prospect of the Tories being able to bash Brown & Darling with 3m unemployemnt for a prolonged period whilst still ‘officially’ in recession are becoming more likely.

    GDP could start growing in Oct,we would not be able to confirm it until end feb 2010,no media outlet will call the end of the recession like they did recently saying it ended in March-April for fear of being wrong again,although in about 12 months time when all the data in collected they may have been right,no consolation for Brown though,the GE would have been & gone.

    Bad bad news for Brown & Labour whoever the leader.

  10. Peter,

    It’s effect is probably a more proportional swing – what electoralcalculus used to do – which is mathematically more elegant, but which sadly doesn’t actually happen in reality. That aside, I’m reserving judgement till I get some data from past BES surveys to properly backtest it.

  11. The obsession with “above or below 40%” is interesting. If you go back to the summer/autumn of 2005 YouGov were showing “others” at 7, 8 or 9%, say a median of 8%. Today they show 16%. At a general election those extra votes would be dead as, for example, UKIP will not win a seat, and so the real base is not 100% but 92%. If you then compare 2005 with now you have a corrected figure of 43ish% not 40%. I’m aware this is not quite right because of NI Wales and particularly Scotland, but I think it shows the folly of the 40% watching.

  12. And add on the Tory underestimate and they could be as high as 47-48% in the actual GE.

  13. RICH
    The 4th Quarter GDP data is published in late January.


    lets be honest hear the genaral election is still 9 or 10 month away and i do not see muh changing in the polls now untill the conferance season gets underway, yes the drip drip from the others will continue over the summer but will slow down and stop when we get nearer to the others real level of surport which at best is only 10-12% so another 4-6% to go over the next few months. at an election i can still see the result being

    CON 46-48%
    LAB 20-22%
    LD 22-24%
    OTH 12-06%


  15. GRAHAM

    I stand corrected,it is due the last week in jan 2010.

    the point however is the same,Pre-budget is is Nov 2009.

    Darling is saying now growth would resume by end of 2009,in the Pre-budget he will have to admit we are still officially in recession even if we are not,as the official data will not be available.

    Do not underestimate with soaring unemployment the effect that will do to labour’s poll ratings.

    My guess by end of Jan,we will be looking at a 1st week of April dissolution,by Jan labour would have lost the argument.

    I expect the tories to post 45% in the polls by then,labour 21-23%.

  16. stuart gregory, the tories will probably win but I just don’t see them polling 48% it just seems a little to high, I think signs of economic recovery will dent but not destroy the tory lead.

  17. I should add,i base this on sound reasoning,the Conservative’s left the economy in excellent shape,people however by Jan1997 had stopped listening,the same wil happen to labour.

    At the time of the GDP figure’s release we could be just 9 weeks.before a dissolution voters would have made up their minds by then.

  18. Stuart

    Your prediction would give a Tory majority of between 200 and 280 seats.

    Do you really think it is possible?

    Since I have analysed recent elections and Tory poll results versus actuals I don’t disagree with your assessment but part of me can’t believe that the result will be that good for the Tories. It would require a swing (from the last GE) never seen before.

  19. Stuart

    Although I would love the Liberal Democrats to replace Labour as the second party of state (at least in % share terms) this remains, possible but perhaps not the most likely.

    Because the Liberals seem to be successfully holding onto the vast bulk of their 2005 support shares (nationally, but not neccessarily reflected regionally in some areas)- but are failing to get enough of a swing from Labour. The Liberals will be hit hard in Cornwall and Scotland (two traditional strongholds) so they NEED to get voters away from Labour to them in areas like the North East, Liverpool etc where the Tories don’t really feature.

    At present however they are failing to this (but here is hoping their luck changes! Goodness Harry Potter is apparently a Liberal Democrat)

  20. It is always dangerous to read too much into one by-election result, especially where there is a clearly placed challenger to an unpopular party. The Tories won Norwich North, but they were always going to.

    Look at the result of council by-elections and the story is very different. The Conservative vote is drastically down and I suspect that they will struggle to get much more than 40% in the polls up to the General Election. Given that the recession is definitely bottoming out, Labour may make a small recovery and the Lib Dems will, as always, make some progress as they get equal coverage in the run up to the election (probably at the expense of the Conservatives and Labour equally). If they allow Vince Cable free reign, this will be terrible news for Osborne and Darling, who do not have the credibility or gravis he has on economic matters and this may increse their vote still further.

    I predict the following shares at the next election:

    Conservatives 35-39%
    Labour 27-29%
    Lib Dems 22-25%
    Others 10-13%

    This means that the most likely result is a slim Conservative majority or a hung parliament.

  21. Labour do seem to have improved by something like 0.5 to 1 and the Cons remained the same.

    Now it will be interesting to see after the Norwich North result whether the Cons improve by 1 to 41% and Labour lose their small gain and drop back to 24%.

    The Lib Dems do seem to have made a small gain to about 19.25. The very gradual improvement that began in April is continuing.

  22. Yougov last July and this July showed Labour to be averaging 25%.

    But how things develop from here must be based on a sound evaluation of what has and is likely to happen.

    Sorry, Tony Fisher, but I see no basis for thinking that the Cons will get less than 39%, those days have gone since Cameron became leader.

    Much more probable

    Cons 40-44%
    Lab 22-26%
    Lib Dems 21-25%

  23. Principal Authority results summary for 2009 up to 23 July

    Winner ________________________________________
    | Con Lab LDem SNP Plaid Other Total won
    Con 72 1 1 – – 1 75 (-15)
    Lab 7 25 1 2 – – 35 (+1)
    LD 7 6 28 – – 2 43 (+12)
    SNP – 1 – 2 – – 3 (-1)
    Plaid – – – – 1 – 1 (+0)
    Other 4 1 1 – – 6 12 (+3)
    Total 90 34 31 4 1 9 169

    I think that tells a very different tale, Philip JW. These are based on REAL voting in 169 REAL elections, not polls. It shows the Conservatives are doing rather worse in real life than in the polls. Cameron is not the panacea you like to think and the Conservatives will NOT break 40%. (I say this as an ex-Conservative voter).

  24. @Dean Thomas – so when will you remove the glamour you have over us and state that you are the actual Dean Thomas from Hogwarts? :-)

  25. @Tony Fisher

    Despite their being “real” votes, as you put it, the Tories have been hammering Labour in real elections for the best part of a decade now, yet they lost the GEs in 2001 and 2005.

    UKIP did almost as well last time in the European elections as they did this time, and yet the 2005 GE was devoid of a single UKIP MP.

    The point is, they may be real elections, but they are far worse indicators of the GE result than polls, and even polls have, historically, underestimated the Tory vote, even into 2005 although the difference was reduced.

    Now times are different; will there be a new type: the “shy Labour” voter? Will, conversely, there be an upshot of “shy new Tories” who’d not want to admit that they’ll be voting Tory for the first time?

  26. The Tory vote only has to be underestimated by 2-3% and the share only has to gain 1-2% from “others” for it to be a resounding Tory majority.

    I can’t see it going the other way at the moment.

  27. Tony –

    I’ve looked at it in depth here – There is sadly no good way of predicting general election support from local by-elections.

  28. I have heard a lot of people mention about Labours record in GE’s compared to EU,Local,by-Elections.

    What is different however is Brown was not PM,Election winning machine Blair was.

    The truth is however,Brown was not popular as PM in the good times,he isn’r going to be popular now.

  29. Experience tells me that when a party is unpopular, as Labour clearly is now, people are reluctant to admit to voting for it in polls. Similarly, people often want to be identified with a winner, which is what the Conservatives look to be at the moment. This may exaggerate the Conservative lead and local election results do support this, no matter what you might say.

    If the recession does bottom out and the economic situation starts to improve and people also twig that just as many Conservative MPs as Labour MPs were implicated in the expenses scandal, then the gap between Labour and Conservative will start to shrink. If the Lib Dems maintain their slow but steady rise and gain any momentum during the campaign, we should be into hung parliament territory.

    But the key will be if Labour can get its vote out; I suspect Labour voters may have less motivation to turn out and a low turnout will benefit the Conservatives. Most new voters I’ve spoken to seem fairly uninterested, though most of those who are committed seem to be students and hence many support the Lib Dem stance on tuition fees. The rest seem fairly evenly split between the other two parties, but there is a worrying trend to voting BNP purely as a protest amongst those who don’t know their policies.

    It’s all still to play for. I’m sure Labour can’t win, but I’m not certain the Conservatives can get an overall majority, though they will certainly be the biggest party.

  30. @Tony,

    I agree with you that almost anything’s possible, but I don’t agree with most of your reasoning. As has been pointed out, the Tories are utterly dominant in local elections at the moment. I don’t know the details of the by-elections this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those Tory losses were in wards where the fact that there was a Tory councillor in the first place would have had my jaw on the floor. Here in Plymouth we had Tories elected in wards which are out-and-out council estate, working class bastions. If some of those were to be lost in future by-elections I wouldn’t take it to mean that the Tories were on the back foot.

    As for the Cable-Osborne-Darling comparisons, I think there is some politicking going on all round with the assessments of these individuals. Cable certainly has a “manner” about him but he also has an odd voice and is a bit Norris McWhirterish. I can see him getting on people’s nerves if he was overexposed. Osborne is a bit young to be a chancellor, and he is a little exposed on the ethical front due to expenses and yachts, but too much is made of his wealth, social class and education. A rich Oxbridge graduate with a public school background can be a perfectly good chancellor, as has been demonstrated many times. And Darling is actually one of the more honest, solid Labour frontbenchers. His problems arise more from Gordon Brown’s interference and constraints on him rather than his own flaws.

  31. Cable certainly has a “manner” about him but he also has an odd voice and is a bit Norris McWhirterish.

    I do hope you’re referring to Mr McWhirter with his Record Breakers hat on rather than his Freedom Association one!

  32. Whilst the past is not necessarily a good guide, for the last 35 years it has been difficult for any winning party to exceed 43% of the popular vote at a General Election. Not sure that even Thatcher achieved this in 1979. So I would say that 43% would be a the very top end of Tory expectations. I think it is unlikely that Tory support will increase during an election campaign which means that that the max they can expect will be around 40%. Lib (and now Lib Dem) support tends to increase during election campaigns but the increase will be dependant on their starting point. So if they enter an election at around 18% I suspect that the max they will get to is around 23%. I can’t see Labour hitting their last Gen election number and others will perform better because of a general disillusionment with politics. But the vote split does not transform into seats