Tomorrow’s ComRes poll for tomorrow has also surfaced – the topline figures are CON 38%(-4), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 19%(nc). There’s a sharp drop in Conservative support since ComRes’s last poll, but it actually reflects a straight reverse of the changes in ComRes’s previous poll. In their poll a week ago “others” dropped 4 and the Conservatives gained 4. This week its gone straight back in the other direction again!

UPDATE: ComRes also asked some questions on family policy. The public were pretty evenly divided on the Conservative proposal to give tax breaks to married couples but not cohabiting couples, 47% thought it was a good idea to 50% saying it was a bad idea.

182 Responses to “ComRes show polls narrowing again”

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  1. This seems weird. I wonder if there’s an artefact in their sampling method that has caused this weird swing. My guess is that the Tories are and have been at approximately 40% all along and the other two parties are about right.

  2. Can we all note, for the record, my prediction on the other thread, and it’s total inaccuracy. I fully intend to remind people of this when my GE prediction is similarly inaccurate.

  3. I wonder if this reflects the ridiculing of the airbrushed (and incomprehensible) tory poster

  4. I’m doubtful about these movements in ComRes poll leads. Since Nov 29th they have had the lead shifting from 10 – 17% in 11 days, 17 – 9% in the next 10 days, 9 – 13% in 25 days and now 13 – 9% in 7 days. This is just too volatile to be able to be considered as a true reflection of public opinion surely? I know some people have expressed doubts about Angus Reid’s results, but at least they are consistent. While I am expecting a possible drop in the lead, I don’t feel any confidence in this poll.

  5. @Paul Smith – “I wonder if this reflects the ridiculing of the airbrushed (and incomprehensible) tory poster”. See my last post for my thoughts on this poll. Having said that, I do agree that I think the airbrushed poster has been a major gaffe. I don’t know if it will swing any voters, but there is no question it has become a big story and many people are now laughing at Cameron. I can’t get the ‘Airbrushed for Change’ tag line from a spoof Cameron website out of my head every time I see the man now, and last night’s ‘Mock the Week’ spent the first seven minutes devoted entirely to the poster. It comes right at the time when he is trying to be serious and show some substance and it could well be dangerous for him. He is the Tory campaign – damage Brand Cameron is what Labour must be thinking.

  6. Yup, this seems consistent with the overall picture of a slightly narrowed Tory lead at about 10%, but something odd is happening within the Comres polling samples.

    Its almost as if there’s a cabal of mischievous students on their polling panel playing a Facebook game called “tell ComRes you’ll vote Tory every other time they ask you”

  7. @Alec:

    True, but I’m sceptical about just how bad this has been. MTW isn’t Newsnight, and ultimately I’m not convinced 4% of the country has changed their minds based on it. 1% at most, and probably temporary.

  8. Although the others share is on a downward curve, I’m convinced the others will still have their best result ever in the general election. Here in Staffordshire UKIP are equal second place on the county council for example. UKIP and BNP will I think record their best shares of the vote ever and the Greens also do well with Caroline Lucas probably being elected.

  9. @Quincel – I wasn’t saying the fall was anything to do with this (see my earlier post – like NEIL A I think ComRes are all over the place). But the poster is damaging them. Incidentally, Newsnight was pretty savage to the poster as well, as has pretty much everyone else. I said at the time I thought the poster was poor, and that was before I heard about the airbrushing. Its the very last kind of impression Cameron needs to project and I suspect will last all the way to polling day.

  10. As usual you wait for what seems like a month for a poll and then you need another two to come along quickly before you can draw any conclusions. I name the phenomenon “Wells’ Law”.

    The media narrative is that Brown is back in fighting form and Cameron is wobbling. Well I could infer the latter, but I can’t quite see who is landing the punches.

    Maybe UKIP’s ban the burka campaign has gained traction among some tory faithful? Surely not.

  11. As it stands now, a mere 1% swing – to Labour from the Conservatives – and the UK is in Hung Parliament territory.

    Fascinating stuff for pollsters.

    If you have your mortgage on an outright Conservative majority, it could be a nail-biting ride!

  12. No Ipsos-Mori poll yet then? I thought they might have had one done last week and were waiting to put it in the Observer again…
    With ComRes seeming a bit jumpy another poll would have been useful. Guess we’re gonna have to wait then!

  13. WMA 40:29:19. There is no statistically significant trend on a 1 or 2 month basis, and even over the last 105 days the R2 for the decline in CLead is only 0.5. The fluctuations are all well within the Margin of Error.

  14. Gosh; a Tory policy how unique, and on marriage . And one that splits the nation–only 3% in the unmoved ( I don’t know what they actually called it)— Far better to go back to not having policies and let Labour lose the election like Major did.

    And today’s tory policy of ‘perhaps’ hulks for convicts like the early 1800s – rather than looking at why we want to jail more people than anyone else in Europe as a percentage of our population – will also be unpopular with many. £65,000 a year to jail someone just so the tories appeal to the tabloid press reader. Madness. We should look at and learn why mainland Europe jails fewer people as a percentage of the population and ignore the mad USA way of jailing everyone who breathes out of time.

    Look at what cause crime and deal with it as policy (drugs / illiteracy / lack of skills…) and have jail issues as part of it. Looking at just jail is old tory slash and burn policies. ‘You will behave or we’ll jail you all for breathing USA republican thinking’…

    And Cameraon making ‘broken Britain’ cries out of the horrible news today; ghastly. Why? Let’s consider logic. One event does not make anything statistically new. More imprtantly let’s consider comparative crime; Austria with a child underground raped and bearing children. Belgium etc. ALL countries have their problems; UK us no different (unfortunately) for Cameron to imply that it is just the UK is totally distasteful.

  15. I,m not sure about this.

    It’s the first sub 40 for Cons since ComRes , nine polls ago.

    So it’s a) against the trend & b) a further piece of volatility from this Pollster as Alec says.

    I don’t think the media fun over the poster is significant.
    All politicians are expected to airbrush their image.
    Cameron is saying what he believes-& sticking to it. I think he will get credit for that.

    Maybe Cons have come out of the traps too quickly. All focus is on them at present-at least the “no policies” nonsense has been squashed.

    Some time or other Brown has to tell us what the Labour future he wants us to vote for will be like.

    Then he will have questions to answer too And it won’t be the game format.

  16. I seem to remember that polls on the eve of the last few general elections overestimated the Labour vote by about 4%. Has this inaccuracy been corrected or is it likely that Labour’s share will be about 25%. If that’s the case, what would a likely outcome look like?

  17. @Colin – “All politicians are expected to airbrush their image” – Yes, up to a point, but this is Cameron’s achilles heel – all spin and no substance. This issue helps set the context for the examination of the Tories and it’s not great news for tthem. It was very interesting to see the results from focus groups of swing voters done in the autumn. When asked for their single most memorable image of Cameron over 3/4 said riding his bike with the lexus behind him. The whole image thing is hurting them.

  18. Fragmeister –

    The election the polls got wrong was 1992. In 1997 they still mostly overestimated Labour, with the honourable exception of ICM. Since them the other pollsters have either adjusted their methods or stopped polling and been replaced by new companies.

    In 2005, NOP got the election exactly right, while most of the other companies had an average error of only 1% – albeit, the errors were all in one direction suggesting a small residual bias towards Labour in the polls. Looking specifically at the Labour score, NOP got it right with 36%, YouGov had 37% and the other companies had 38%.

    Since then most of the companies have further finessed their methods, so there may not be any remaining Labour bias in the polls at the next election. We shall see.

  19. mr Smith
    The Cameron poster said that they (the Conservatives ) would not cut the NHS.

    So it has a meaning.

    I do not know if it was airbrushed but I do remember the photos of Brown going round with a big blob of orange make-up on his forehead so labour claims on this and the pre graduate fluff are all a bit daft.

    And did not Guido point out that the Labour Party’s version of the poster had itself been airbrushed by them?

    The poll? All this seems very iffy. I do not think the polls are really coping with the ‘others’. We can all perhaps (just) understand a 4% jump then a 4% decline. But for none of that to be attracted by or from the other 2 main parties?

    Can anyone believe that? Something wrong here.

    PS in any non airbrushed photos election its clear there is only one looser. Gordon ‘tricky dicky’ Brown.

  20. @Anthony

    Since then most of the companies have further finessed their methods, so there may not be any remaining Labour bias in the polls at the next election. We shall see.


    In your professional opinion, is there any likelihood of quite the opposite? A small Conservative bias?

  21. David in France –

    I’d not be surprised if Angus Reid did. Other than that though the adjustments have been minor, so I’d be surprised if they overshot.

    After 5 elections in a row with the polls over-estimating Labour, I’m even sticking my neck out a bit saying they might not this time! I’m hoping this could be the election where we see polls evenly spaced around the result, rather than all tilted slightly towards Labour – but given how entrenched it is, I really wouldn’t put money on it.

  22. I agree with Anthony on this. The polling narrowed down to much closer last time around.

    There’s also the issue that ‘Shy Tory’ isn’t the reason the polling variance happened in 1997, but ‘False Recall’ that tilted the correction methods that were used. They knew that people were reluctant to say they’d vote for an ‘unpopular’ party, and the shy-tory effect was known about the 1992 election. As correction methods for False Recall have improved, the variance has narrowed.

    The pollsters failed in the London Mayor elections for the simple reason that error range on the polling was within what could change the result of the election. YouGov were simply lucky to be on the right side of the error distribution.

  23. Trevorsden raises a very good point. Having openly mocked Cameron over the airbrushing issue, Gordon has to now make sure that any pictures of him in Labour publications or poster are not airbrushed. That may well mean either heavy, heavy makeup or no pictures of Gordon at all…

  24. @Neil A

    Not at all… The Narrative here is what matters if you’re worried about the image being projected. Gordon isn’t the one playing to a “Fresh Face with Fresh Ideas” narrative. Gordon is the Stern Headmaster who we can Trust, that doesn’t require him to look young and fresh. If he has neat hair, is dressed okay, and doesn’t look sweaty or ill, he’s good.

  25. The problem in 1997 probably wasn’t shy Tories, since all but MORI made some sort of correction, that all had much the same effect. However, it probably wasn’t false recall either.

    In 1997 only two companies weighted by past vote at all. ICM initially did weight to the actual results of the 1992 election, but as solid evidence of false recall emerged from the BHPS they adjusted their targets so were weighting to recalled shares of 1992 vote of CON 44.9%, LAB 37.3%, LDEM 14.9%. In contrast NOP were assuming a much higher level of false recall, and were weighting to a target that had Conservative and Labour recalled vote neck-and-neck. For Gallup, Harris and MORI false recall was certainly not directly to blame, since they were not weighting by past vote.

    The most straightforward explanation for 1997 was continuing problems with sampling – ICM and Gallup (and an unpublished poll by NOP) used quasi-random phone polling and were close to the correct lead, the face-to-face quota sampling companies were not (though even that masks variation – Gallup’s final poll was good, but their earlier polls during the campaign had more in common with the quota pollsters than ICM. ICM themselves suggested the difference was in questionnaire wording and the way Gallup drew their random samples.)

    In London 2008, sample error is not a plausible explanation. Looking at first round polling there were 9 YouGov polls on the Mayoral election in 2008, 8 of which showed a Johnson lead and which reported an average Johnson lead of 7 points. There were 4 MORI surveys, 3 of which showed a Livingstone lead and which reported an average Livingstone lead of 0.5 points. There is a similar pattern in second round polling. There was clearly a systemic difference between the two companies.

    After getting it wrong MORI did a full scale review of their methodology. They put the blame down to over-sampling public sector workers and started weighting by public/private sector employment. They also discovered their face-to-face polling was consistently producing slightly higher figures for Labour, and switched to telephone polling for voting intention.

  26. Angus Reid polls are the ones to look at
    I can’t remember which betting firm said it but the worst polls for Labour are always the ones to go with
    And they will still overestimate Labour’s strength
    And the marginals will be worse for Labour

  27. The airbrushed photo is what the company does touching up all people on their posters. They do it with actors too. It isn’t like Cameron sat down and said to airbrush the poster.


    It was Mike Smithson on Political Betting. But the rule stems from the time when all the polls overestimated Labour, as Anthony has told us.

  29. I have always questioned the accuracy and methodology of ComRes and tend not to pay any attention to any of their polls. This one is a verbatim their poll from 20 December.

    It would seem that ComRes has had the most rogue polls out of any other. I’d take this one with a pinch of salt; I eagerly await the next YouGov poll.

    I don’t think the airbrushed photo has really inflicted any damage on Cameron . I think Brown even having a go makes him look worse off than Cameron. The narrowing of the lead cold be down to Brown surviving the latest coup, as well as the Conservatives keeping their manifesto/proposals very close to their chests.

  30. TrevorsDen

    “not cutting the NHS” is one of the biggest bits of spin out there.

    They will keep spending as it is, true. The problem being inflation.

    If you keep NHS spending at 2009 levels, for 3 years, that constitutes a massive revenue cut for the NHS

    “Not cutting” means next to nothing. To maintain spending at 2009 levels, you have to increase publis spending every year.

    Unless the party says it will be increasing spending, it will more than likely be one of these stealth cuts

  31. I’m not convinced about this election at all.

    The News of the Worlds poll this morning had a question on whether Brown is doing a good job.

    It was 80% for “Brown is doing the best he can in difficult times”.

    Quite an amazing personal polling.

    I just think tory attacks are not clever enough. They always end up making themselves look opportunistic and a bit shallow.

    Coulson is a tabloid guy, and their line of attack comes across like that.

    As I said, I’m not convinced about this election at all.

    Cameron’s personal polling isn’t that much better than Brown’s at the minute, and they are now neck and neck on a lot of issues.

    Some of Dave’s policies as well. Fox hunting, marriage tax, inheritance tax.

    To his credit, they are quite radical for an election manifesto – as in, I thought parties tended to use policy they think people will like at times like this…………..

    You know – the debates. Cameron has a lot to defend all of a sudden.

    Dave’s biggest problem with these debates is the fact that he has an awful habit of blushing when he is lying.

    Watch PMQs when he gets in trouble. Red as a beetroot.

    The problem being, Brown has picked up on it. As have a few newspapers

    Brown even made a quip about his blushing as a retort in PMQs a few weeks ago.

    Cameron aint this slick operator people seem to think.

    Carefully scripted speech, and promo, yeah he’s great.

    When he has to think on his feet – anything can happen

  32. ComRes (E&W only)

    Con 39.4%
    Lab 28.1%
    LD 20%
    Other 12.4%

  33. @Quincel – I wasn’t saying the fall was anything to do with this (see my earlier post – like NEIL A I think ComRes are all over the place). But the poster is damaging them. Incidentally, Newsnight was pretty savage to the poster as well, as has pretty much everyone else. I said at the time I thought the poster was poor, and that was before I heard about the airbrushing.

    Sorry but this is just thinly disguised party political clap trap.

    Labour can’t afford their own poster so Auntie rides to the rescue rubbishing Camerons for being air brushed……………………………..what isn’t these days?

  34. How do they do telephone polling? Do they ring mobile phones as well as landlines? Landlines must have a bias towards older people & mobile phones the reverse.

  35. Paul mentioned the betting firms. The following are the election odds from William Hills. They have slightly reduced in labours favour over the past 2 weeks but still very much predict a Conservative victory.

    Most Seats At Next UK General Election – 31 Jan 10 ( General Election Specials )Selection Odds
    Conservative Party 1/12
    Labour Party 6/1
    Liberal Democrat Party 80/1


    Will the BNP win a seat at the next General Election – 31 Jan 10 ( General Election Specials )Selection Odds
    No 2/9
    Yes 3/1


    How Many Seats Will The Conservatives Win At The Next General Election? – 31 Jan 10 ( General Election Specials )Selection Odds
    0 – 199 seats 33/1
    200 – 249 seats 14/1
    250 – 299 seats 8/1
    300 – 324 seats 13/2
    325 – 349 seats 4/1
    350 – 374 seats 11/4
    375 – 399 seats 9/2
    400 – 424 seats 7/1
    425 – 449 seats 14/1
    450 seats or more 20/1


    How Many Seats Will Labour Win At The Next General Election? – 31 Jan 10 ( General Election Specials )Selection Odds
    0 – 149 seats 10/1
    150 – 199 seats 6/4
    200 – 224 seats 11/4
    225 – 249 seats 4/1
    250 – 274 seats 8/1
    275 – 299 seats 16/1
    300 – 324 seats 25/1
    325 – 349 seats 33/1
    350 – 399 seats 33/1
    400 seats or more 50/1


    How Many Seats Will The Liberal Democrats Win At The Next General Election? – 31 Jan 10 ( General Election Specials )Selection Odds
    0 – 19 seats 20/1
    20 – 39 seats 7/2
    40 – 49 seats 7/2
    50 – 59 seats 5/2
    60 – 69 seats 4/1
    70 – 79 seats 8/1
    80 – 99 seats 15/2
    100 seats or more 16/1

  36. Do any of the pollsters give the percentage of the electorate who state their intention not to vote at all in the election?

  37. Neal:

    Are you accusing the BBC of open bias, or Alec and I, or both?

  38. Airbrushing facts is much much worse than airbrushing images.

    The British public do not have to rely on posters for information on their political leaders-this isn’t the Soviet Union ( yet).

  39. Jock – they all do, but you normally have to look at the tables. In this case 10% actually said they were certain not to vote. ICM also exclude those who say they are less than 7/10 likely to vote, which in this case was a further 19% or so.

    Derek – phone polls presently do not sample phones at all – it is possible to do (there are pollsters in the US and Ireland who do it) but not yet deemed necessary. Is does indeed result in an under-representation of under 25s in raw samples, younger people tend to need to be quite severely weighted upwards in polls.

  40. I find it hard to credit so many intelligent people discussing the Cameron poster. Its only displayed in marginals I am told and we see in such places the Tories enjoy an 8% lead.
    My wife is always telling me that I should have more faith in people, but I cannot believe the UK public are that bothered about a poster. I have not broken out the MUMM regarding these polls but I very much agree with those comments which imply not a lot has changed.

  41. Election , what Election?
    Do we still get 21 days warning of the date ? Or indeed a minimum of 21 days warning ? Is the money still on late March, or has it moved back until May ?

  42. Anthony Wells – thanks. Follow up question – and in the elections in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005, how well did the pollsters predict what the final turn-out would actually be? Clearly the non-voting on all these occasions was considerably greater than 10 percent.

    I’m simply wondering – the number who would like to vote, but feel that no political party represents them is increasing all the time and now it appears that ‘none of the above’ gets a larger share of the vote than the winning party does – and it is getting larger and larger all the time.

    I don’t think that any alternative will present itself for the 2010 election, but at some stage one of these events from ‘catastrophe theory’ might happen to upset all the predictions.

  43. @CHRIS
    Chris, why do you come on the site to write the same (lengthy) things over and over again. No one takes any notice and even I dont think the Conservatives are so perfect that sensible comment cannot be made against them, ( as Alec does.)

    I mean “Cameron goes red in the face” come on mate buck up.

  44. @Quincel


    Are you accusing the BBC of open bias, or Alec and I, or both?

    Accusing you of nothing whatsoever, the BBC of less than open bias and Alec of sucking up to it.

    Sorry for the confusion

  45. @Colin – the Tory problem with the poster is that it chimes with a perceived weakness. ‘PR not PM’ is an attack line Cameron’s opponents have been using, with some success, for a long time, and suddenly Cameron’s advisers have handed them a real gift. It has taken off an a viral hit on the interent, and is right up there in the comedian’s repertoire now. Will it make a difference? In itself probably not, but it’s part of the mood music and will act as a dog whistle to waverers right up the polling day.

    @Roland Haines – Thankyou for considering me ‘sensible’. Much appreciated. In terms of Chris’s point about ‘red faced Cameron’ – while I wouldn’t agree entirely with his post, I think what he may be trying to say is that the TV debates may not be as one sided as most had assumed. Cameron can look a bit boyish in face to face debate, in part due to his blushing. Although I hate to admit it, image does matter, and it’s not a given that Brown won’t be able to use the debates to some advantage.

  46. @Neal Preshner – many thanks. I had no idea I was sucking up to a BBC inspired anti Tory agenda. Thanks for pointing out the error of my ways.

    For what it’s worth, my comments on the Tory poster and reaction to it have been based on features or artciles in the following media outlets;
    BBC (main TV and radio news, News 24, Newsnight, various TV and radio comedy shows)
    ITV – Main ITN news
    Sky News
    Daily Telegraph – editorial, news items and comment
    Daily Mail – news items and comment
    The Times – news item
    The Guardian – pretty much everywhere
    The Observer – news and comment item
    Conservative Home – numerous scathing posts on various threads (including from Tory supporters)
    Daily Mirror – savage, as expected
    Humorous defacing of numerous copies of the poster

    Excluded – The Sun, NOTW, The People – I don’t read these.

    I am so pleased however, that now I know that all of this has been created solely by The Evil Corporation and is, in fact, nothing short of mind bending brainwashing. I will never mention that poster again.

  47. ALEC:_”Will it make a difference? In itself probably not, ”

    I agree.
    It’s just one poster-in selected constituencies.
    There is an awfulo lot of water to go under the brudge yet-by which time this will be history.

  48. I object to posters on this so called neutral site using insulting language towards Gordon Brown eg. Trevorsden calling him ‘tricky dicky.’ Anti-Cameron sentiments seem to be moderated, that is hardly fair. My objections to Cameron is based upon his actions not his personality. For example, did he deliberately decide to speak about broken Britain on the day when the Edlington boys were going to be sentenced , If he did then this is cynical and in bad taste. The polls may be reflecting a new perception of his actions.

  49. @Colin

    “It’s just one poster-in selected constituencies.”

    No… It *was* just one poster that was only on display in a few constituencies.

    But *now* it’s an Internet Meme, the punch line to a Comedian’s Joke, and National News.

  50. Re Alec’s Bias.

    I’ve never quite been able to pin down Alec’s bias/political viewpoint/voting intention. Alec doesn’t much care for Cameron, so I think we can firmly say he lies somewhere between Simon Heffer and Kevin McGuire on the political spectrum. Plenty of scope there.


    My personal opinion of the (now unlmetionable) poster is that it’s original intention was to promote the tories’ biggest electoral asset – Cameron (theres plenty of opinion polling to support that assertion)

    I don’t know how much money they spent, but wow have they got 100x the publicity that they would have done had not the media and the Labour Party sent the campaign viral.

    Overall I think it reinforces the media narrative from last year (when his son died) that Cameron is a supporter of the NHS, even if his party is, on average, less so. I am convinced that under Cameron, NHS will be ringfenced (at the expense of many other vital and equally-deserving public services, sadly).

    I think Cameron goes red when frustrated; when he can’t land a punch on Brown. Brown is a veteran politician – if he was easy to punch he’d never have got to where he is.

    All to play for; there’s still enough uncertainty to make for a fascinating election, which is my main hope. I’m non-aligned but hope for a 1992-style nail-biter, with a few Portillo ego-deflating moments thrown in.

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