Ipsos MORI have put the aggregated results of all their 2009 polling up on their website here (in fact it’s been up for a week, but I haven’t had chance to look at it properly!). The data is, of course, not particularly up to date (some of it would have been collected over a year ago), but the huge aggregate sample size provides us with some interesting cross breaks.

The overall shares of the vote for the whole of 2009 were CON 42%, LAB 26%, LDEM 19% – the equivalent of a 9.5% swing. If we look at different breakdowns by social class (comparing to MORI’s aggregate figures from the 2005 election campaign) we find that ABC1s have a smaller than average swing to the Conservatives: ABs have swung by 6.5%, C1s by 7%. The larger Conservative swings are in C2s (10% swing) and DEs (13% swing). There’s a similar pattern if you look at tenure – amongst those who own their homes the swing is 6.5%, amongst those with mortgages it is 10.5% and amongst those in local authority or housing association properties the swing is 13%.

This pattern of swing, with voters in groups that traditionally support Labour swinging the most strongly toward the Conservatives, produces a truly startling pattern when we get to MORI’s breaks by type of seat. MORI have the Conservative lead in Lab-v-Con seats with a Labour majority of under 8.7% of 21 points. Depending on exactly what notional figures MORI used and how they treated three way marginals, that represents a swing of around about 12.5%. Looking at Lab-v-Con seats with majorities up to 13.9% the Conservative lead is still 21 points – suggesting an even bigger swing in those seats (somewhere around 14%).

If the Conservative swing is biggest in Lab-v-Con marginals it must be lower elsewhere. It isn’t in safe Labour seats, MORI suggest a swing of 13% there. Part of it is Lib Dem seats, where the swing from Labour to the Conservatives is less than 1% (the swing from LD to Con is 7.4%, but I suspect that under-represents how well the Lib Dems would actually do). Where the big swings in Labour seats are really balanced out seems to be in the Tory heartlands – in seats the Conservatives already hold MORI’s figures only suggest a swing from Labour of 5%.

Of course the Conservative lead has shrunk considerably since last year, but if a pattern of swing like this happened in reality it could hardly be more perfect for the Tories – tons of extra votes in the seats they need to win, but very few extra votes in the seats they already hold where they don’t need them. To be honest though, while I’ve no reason not to trust the figures, it just doesn’t seem believable. Previous elections have never shown differential swings of this degree, we simply don’t get swings of 5% in one type of seat and 14% in another. Perhaps this is something different, perhaps this could be a real realignment election, but while other polls of marginal seats have shown bigger swings in marginals, none have shown swings this much bigger. Still, it’s intriguing…


159 Responses to “Analysing MORI’s 2009 data”

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  1. As a Conservative I can but hope it is true after the poor results of the last week.

    It would seem to be the only thing that could deliver a decent Conservative majority if the tightening of the polls continues (or gets worse) until election day.

    As you say though Anthony, it does seem to be too good to be true. It could perhaps be also true that as the Conservative lead has fallen that the swing will have fallen the most in these areas where it has been highest, dampening the effect.

    Who knows though. Who knows.

  2. But surely you should expect a smaller percentage of the electorate to swing to the Conservatives in their heartlands as the number of people who can change is a smaller proportion of the total. Indeed the proportion of previously non-Conservatives who change their allegiance may be just as great. I have never understood why seats are not analysed this way rather than by a uniform percentage of the electorate.

  3. Unfortunately as Scotland is bunched up with the rest of the North (although thankfully that is less than everything beyond watford) we don’t know how the SNP might do.

    Peter.

  4. I don’t see how you can collate a years worth of results, and use that as a basis for reading current positions. While they may be of some interest, there are of no use to us when trying to asses where we are at present. IMO.

  5. I think the important question is this… How much hold do the Conservatives have on swing voters from the ‘natural Labour vote’. Swing voters by their very nature are ‘soft figures’ and liable to swing back, or to a different alternative.

    If the swing vote appearing in the ‘natural Labour voters’ was being pushed by ‘punish Labour’, then that would explain a slow decline of Conservative figures and firming of Labour as they loose the ‘natural Labour vote’ who’re returning to past voting patterns as the election draws closer. Can the conservatives really hold on to these voters.

    And worse still for the Conservatives, could they loose them to the Lib Dems. Something that may well happen with a three-way televised debate.

  6. Sorry I take that back, although they normally only give the North there is a Scotland figure further on ( swing since 2005);

    Lab 33% (-7), Con 19% (+3), LibDem 14% (-7), SNP 28% (+11) Others 5%( 0).

    The Tory lead over Labour is -14%

    Labour have recovered since the Low of the mid thirties in Scotland and the SNP has slid back in the last few polls and as I have long said if the election looks like it’s about keeping the Tories out and people think labour can do it then their traditional supporters in Scotland will rally to Labour.

    If it looks like the Tories are on their way to government then Labour will fall back again largely through their voters staying at home. Thats what I am still predicting and in effect a final turnout not that different from the shares Mori give.

    Unfortunately when you put that into Scotland votes the SNP coming just 5% behind labour and the LibDems losing a third of their vote gives a seat Count of;

    Lab 38 (-2) Con 2 (+1) LibDem 11 (0) SNP 8 (+2).

    That FPTP for you with less than 40% of the vote Labour get 64% of the seats where as with 14% the Libdems get 18% of the seats. We get 14% of the seats on twice that share of the vote.

    Still there’s some consolation as on 17% of the vote the Tories 3% of the seats, which would be harsh if anyone actually liked them.

    Peter.

    Peter.

  7. Peter

    But as Anthony tells us – it’s the clients who determine that polling is done over GB. The pollsters are but the innocent victims of commercial pressure! :-)

  8. It shows what a bad year it has been for labour. Also shows the swing back to labour was significant. Votes are on the move, there is no reason to suppose that the movement has stopped. How many swing voters are there? The Tories keep dropping clangers and shifting their position. Cameron starting a five month election campaign has led to a more critical analysis by the media. There are bad stories about the Tories better ones for labour. The marginals are puzzling. Are voters in marginals on mass different from the rest? One would not think so but it is late, 0140hr.

  9. Percy Holmes

    “Are voters in marginals on mass different from the rest?”

    Surely the question should be “Are the floating voters in known marginals on mass different from the rest?”

    To which the answer is probably “Yes”.

  10. “Previous elections have never shown differential swings of this degree, we simply don’t get swings of 5% in one type of seat and 14% in another”

    You people are unbelievable.

    Then again seeing as how the media refuses to tell the truth on this i suppose i shouldn’t be surprised.

    Mass immigration inflicts vast amounts of harm on people in the poorest areas – vast amounts.

  11. @Percy Holmes

    Wouldn’t YOU be different if you were a voter in a marginal? I would be :)

  12. Fascinating, and it fits with the feel in the papers and on the doorsteps last May/June, that while the ‘posher’ media were pumping out most of the details and analyses on the MPs’ expenses scandal, the bankers’ well-rewarded incompetence, and the general economic collapse, most of the passionate anger being expressed was in a self-enhancing spiral among so-called ‘C 2DE’ people and the tabloid (and equivalent broadcast) media.

    This seemed to me at the time to have a lot to do with the actual or anticipated melting away of already small retirement incomes from exposed savings among people over 55/60 years old, plus redundancies and no jobs to go to among the middle-aged, plus fears for what would become of school-leavers and young workers within or close to their families. All this was accompanied by the sense that the better-off were ‘getting away with it’ (as we largely were and still are, with our higher and largely better protected pensions, with keeping a higher % of our jobs, finding better education bolt-holes, &/or comfortable spare rooms at home, for our young, and with many of us saving hand over fist, month after month, on our mortgage repayments).

    On that basis, if Labour’s relative improvement from the 2009 annual average of 26 to about 30/31 on 1/2/2010, may reflect a 4-5% national average easing of people’s actual problems and fears for the future, there is still likely to be a greater than average swing against Labour in regions and sub-regions, and among socio-economic classes, where people’s current problems and fears for the future are getting worse. Where these come together, eg in the hardest hit, more industrial, communities, one would therefore expect Labour to be doing worst, with currently Labour-held Lab/Con marginals, and Labour non-marginals that the Tories need to gain in these places, being at greatest risk to Labour of really big swings against them. And the MORI 2009 stats seem to point strongly this way.

    However, the Tories have fallen from about 42 to 39 on the same timescale (2009 annual average to 1/2/2010). For them to be confident of picking up enough seats, they don’t need to be dropping back to 38/39, because i) a national average lead over Labour of only 8-9% will include some predominantly ABC1 Lab or LD seats that need more than the 6% average swings that 39/30/19 implies, even before factoring-in Lab/LD tactical voting decisons that tend to be decided much later, and ii) perceived forward momentum is going to count for more and more as polling day approaches.

    So far in 2010, the Tories appear to be sliding back, with problems of their own making plus a slight warming-up of confidence in Labour. Small and hesitant though it appears to be, they cannot rely on the latter to wane or even to slow down. They’ll need to get their own act together quickly, if they are capable of doing so. That is now one of the most interesting puzzles in this long election campaign. Sometime between mid-Feb and mid-March it will be resolved.

  13. @Jay Blanc

    “If the swing vote appearing in the ‘natural Labour voters’ was being pushed by ‘punish Labour’, then that would explain a slow decline of Conservative figures and firming of Labour as they loose the ‘natural Labour vote’ who’re returning to past voting patterns as the election draws closer. Can the conservatives really hold on to these voters.”

    This makes most sense to me. Having said that, is there any evidence over the years of a gradual drift of the natural labour vote – over to a more ‘white van man, Sun reading, occasional UKIP voting’ new type of tory? I just have a feeling that this is happening slowly, and therefore slowly changing the whole picture…

    I get the feeling that this is happening largely by observing an increasing difference in the ‘mood’ between England and Scotland; where I see no evidence of this at all in Scotland, the UK/England level media seem to just reek of it…

  14. Percy/OldNat/Yariv:

    It seems to me that voters in marginals who know they are in a marginal certainly behave differently to other voters — tactical voting effects are much bigger there, for instance, turnout is higher than in safe seats, etc. Given that this is a big sample from across the whole of last year, some of it from well before everything kicked up a gear into almost-official campaigning, the question is surely what fraction of MORI’s sample in such seats were conscious of being in such seats at the time they were polled, and/or if MORI prompted them with the information that they were.

    (Short version: if the sample didn’t know they were in key seats, we can expect there to be changes between now and the election as the parties and media make damn sure they’re aware of it.)

  15. It will be a very close election this year – I foresee conservatives losing a few with labour gaining, giving it a swing of just a couple of percent. Will be interesting.

  16. @ Al

    That could broadly fit with AW’s neat synopsis of the main MORI 2009 figures (many thanks, Anthony), plus recently published 2008 Social Attitudes Survey re: Lab->Con movement of political allegiance over the previous decade. All of this points towards a very likely, but still uncertain, Labour ceiling of 32-33.

    It doesn’t mean that the Tories are currently on course for the 39-42 they’d need for a working majority, of say 16-20. I imagine that voters in various categories simply not turning out for Cameron would become his greatest danger if he didn’t get his act together rather soon.

    Grayling’s crime statistics on R4 today – and the sharp contradictions from police chiefs in key Tory vote areas (eg Milton Keynes) , and a repeated Grayling response along the lines of ‘but Labour’s been doing that with the statistics all along, Miss, and you didn’t tell them off’ – adds to the gradual erosion of confidence in the whole Cameron project.

    Meanwhile the sand trickles relentlessly through the hourglass.

  17. @Wolf MacNeill

    Yeah. If this is a long term trend then it remains dangerous for the Tories anyway I think. If the party’s support skews too far in this direction it could well put off the current core Tory vote…

  18. Its a very interesting analysis, raising many questions, but obviously date limited. Taking all the poll evidence it is clear that the Tories have performed better in the marginals and at present this would see them home comfortably. I would be fascinated however to see any analysis of the solidity or otherwise of marginal swing voters as Jay talks about. With economic confidence rising and possibly voter confidence in Cameron falling, are these swing voters more likely to swing back again? I remember very clearly living through the early 1980’s, and one vivid memory I have is seeing people interviewed in 1980-82 vowing they would never again vote Tory. In 1983 they voted for Thatcher in droves. Different circumstances I appreciate, but I have long felt in my bones that increasing (or decreasing) economic confidence leads voters to reassess their historical view of how a government has performed, and if the alternative is busy tripping themselves up at the same time we may well see more swinging than the clappers on Big Ben.

  19. In my opinion two factors hold sway here: Simon Heffer and the immigrants. Anyone who reads his column in the Telegraph where he makes plain his frankly psychotic hatred of ‘Dave’, and particularly the comments his views give arise to, must be aware that in the leafy shires where the Telegraph is most read, he must have influenced many. Unfortunately like all the fanatics of history, Heffer is batting for the other side. (Actually it’s not just Heffer but many rightwingers of whom he is the most blatant example). On immigration, Labour has allowed the figure to double during its period in office [snip – you can make the point on immigration without attacking Labour – AW] and this is a disproporionate factor in the working class areas.

  20. Could be that Dave is happy to maintain the status quo, let Labour win the election then watch the train crash from the safety of the opposition front bench, after all, who in their right mind would want to administer the medicine, at the moment the patient is sedated, after the election we run out of painkillers.

  21. Looks to me like a feeble attempt to find some good news amongst the steadily collapsing tory lead.

    [Partisan stuff snipped – AW] I shouldn’t be surprised to see labour winning quite comfortably.

  22. MR JONES:-

    Interesting observation.

    KEN:-

    If he reads NIESR’s thoughts on 2010 & 2011 growth & the tax “richness” of key growth components he might be thinking along the lines you suggest!

  23. I wouldn’t be suprised to see a disproportionate swing in marginals compared to Tory seats.

    Camerons tactics have not exactly energised ‘traditional’ Tories so far. Looks like they have got their election tactics spot on.

    With a few UKIPers, fearing a good show by Labour, coming back to the fold in the weeks leading up to the election and it’s job done for the Conservatives as far as I can see.

  24. Thanks for the analysis Anthony.

    This further strengthens my suspicion that the Tories will steal the seats that matter and are heading for a decent majority.

    Whilst I’m making predictions I’m going to guess that Labour will close the polling gap to 4% this month. The gap will then slowly widen again through March.

    If I was Brown I’d call a March election. If I was Cameron I’d pray for terrible election day weather!

  25. Previous post was a bit ill-mannered. No reason people should know stuff that isn’t reported.

    Apols.

  26. **at same time we may well see more swinging than the clappers on Big Ben.**

    lol

    Let’s see how much more swinging there will be!

    The NIESR economic growth forecast is 1.1% for 2010.

    It’s a big improvement on 0.1% of actual growth released recently.

    Surely this means the next Qu to be realeased, just before the election, will show further growth, giving the Government a further boost.

  27. This analysis probably reflects the 2009 picture but may now be inadequate to reflect current trends. The Tories relied upon the image of Cameron as a vote winner. The sure- footedness seems to have disappeared in recent weeks so it is not surprising that Labour has gained from this change. The next few polls will confirm or refute this trend.

  28. ‘The overall shares of the vote for the whole of 2009 were CON 42%, LAB 26%, LDEM 19% – the equivalent of a 9.5% swing. If we look at different breakdowns by social class (comparing to MORI’s aggregate figures from the 2005 election campaign) we find that ABC1s have a smaller than average swing to the Conservatives: ABs have swung by 6.5%, C1s by 7%. The larger Conservative swings are in C2s (10% swing) and DEs (13% swing). There’s a similar pattern if you look at tenure – amongst those who own their homes the swing is 6.5%, amongst those with mortgages it is 10.5% and amongst those in local authority or housing association properties the swing is 13%.’

    Have I missed something? Is this not saying that there is a smaller than average swing to Tories in better off families (as they are more likely to be Tory anyway). Equally the swing at the bottom of the SES table to be Tories will be increased as it comes from a smaller base (as they are least likely to be Tories).

    Yes, the aggregate size of the sample is impressive but really I can see nothing earth shattering here; all that is being shown is that which is well known (and yes, a swing to tories at all levels) Rich are Tories, broke are Labour.

  29. a 0.1% growth in the fourth quarter is not good. I think growth on April 26th will be negative. Also Civil servants are planning strikes next month and Brown is appearing against Chilcot surely this will swing things back to the Tories.

  30. Is it just me or is the Beeb on a real bash the Tories campaign ? Every time I read a BBC blog, listen to the radio, or watch telly, there seems to be some overpaid BBC civil servant bitching about the Tories. Surely they wouldn’t compromise their high reporting standards to protect their overflowing trough ?

  31. @Al J – the 0.1% figure and the next set of pre election figures are for the current financial year, while the 1.1% is for 2010/11 – next year. They are not really comparable in the way I think you are doing. It’s also worth bearing in mind that 1.1% annually represents 0.275% on a quarterly basis – not a masive leap. Also relevant is what’s termed the ‘trend growth’ – this is the long term increase in economic capacity over time, and is generally reckoned to be about 2.25% pa. In other words, growth below this rate means the economy is growing at less than capacity is increasing. In some ways you can define this scenario as a shrinking economy in relative terms, but in any event unless you grow above trend it tends not to feel like much of a recovery, hence Colin’s referral to the poor tax outlook in these circumstances.

    having said all that, I personally expect GDP growth in 2010 to be above 1.1%, possibly quite considerably. I suspect we could be in for a year or two of stonking export growth which will surprise many, but overall growth will still be modest as the home market still has an awful lot of debt to unwind.

  32. Having used the word, ” bitching” in my previous post I realise that some might find the word offensive. My apologies.

  33. @Ken – “Is it just me or is the Beeb on a real bash the Tories campaign ?”

    Yes – it’s just you. The BBC is scrupulously fair, and has to follow a myriad of regulations (as do all UK based TV outlets) in terms of unpartisan reporting. I watched extensive coverage last night on the BBC of the eyewateringly embarrassing revelations from Clare Short – no favours to Labour there. I then listened this morning to the Crucifiction of Grayling on Today. I am truly glad that we have a broadcast media that can rip all parties to shreds as and when they need it. I feel your comment says more about your partisan views than that of the BBC.

  34. @ALEC……………..Thanks for the insight.

  35. Alec
    `I am truly glad that we have a broadcast media that can rip all parties to shreds as and when they need it.´

    If you have Sky or Freesat, I strongly suggest you watch a single edition of Reporting Scotland and Newsnight Scotland before firming up on that conclusion.

    The BBC has been “pro-establishment” from the days of Reith, so fairly naturally gives a little deference to the government in power, but BBC Scotland is much more staunchly unionist and pro-Labour than can be justified by such deference, especially with the current Scottish Government being of a different persuasion.

  36. @ Ken.

    “Is it just me or is the Beeb on a real bash the Tories campaign ?”

    You are not on your own. I have just given them a piece which, I didn’t expect them to publish:

    “The BBC never fail to amaze me, this blog being no exception. I have never seen such a bias towards the Labour party ever. Don’t forget guys, there is little or no chance of Labour forming the next government, so no fears there. If, as most peple expect, the Tories will form the next government, perhaps they have threatened a cut in funding.

    I can’t believe the BBC doesn’t realise the probable outcome of the forthcoming election so, it’s either the latter of the above two options or, you have leaders who are so labour biased, it’s embarrasing the blatant way you are anti Tory and pro labour its shameful.
    Shame on you BBC”

  37. No, it isn’t just you Ken. Or to be more accurate not so much of a campaign but a long standing and ethereal standpoint.

  38. GRI

    I have been looking at the potential for a party to gain/lose x% of the vote they had last time, not x% of the poll, which makes nonsence in four-party Scotland where the order of the parties and the number of candidates within reach of victory varies so much.

    The LibDems are often in extreme positions and as Anthony’s analysis shows, where they are in cotention, the Labour vote can’t be squeezed much more.

    Wolf MacNeil & Al

    The economic issues or any other policy issues are not the most important for the C2DE swing voters. They vote for a “Strong Leader” Blatcher, but not the “wimp” John Major.

  39. Alec
    Yes you are right. When the BBC scrolled it on the screen I thought it meant from January 2010. My mistake.
    I am hoping the next Qu growth figures will be an improvement on 0.1%. I guess anything would be better than reversing back to recession.

  40. @ ALEC
    ” unless you grow above trend it tends not to feel like much of a recovery, hence Colin’s referral to the poor tax outlook”

    Nope-that isn’t what I meant-or what NIESR said on tv.
    You have missed the point.

    KEN-me too

    Have a look at Hunt on DP this morning-interesting.

  41. @Brownedov – “The BBC has been “pro-establishment” from the days of Reith, so fairly naturally gives a little deference to the government in power”. This is news to me, and something I have never noticed (at least not since about 1973). What I do notice is that sometimes Tory supporters froth at the mouth over left wing/liberal bias in the BBC, other times Labour complains bitterly about entrenched establishment views (recall Campbell’s regular attempts to bully the BBC?) and almost all of the time the Lib Dems claim there are marginalised by the BBC in favour of the big two. Then the Greens, BNP, Independent Socialists, Nationalists, UKIP and Monster Raving Loonies all vent their anger, so on balance the BBC is probably doing OK.

    I think all of you need to pause for a moment and recognise that, for whatever reason, the Tories have taken a bit of a media pasting in the last few weeks. This is certainly not exclusive to the BBC but has been evident across all media outlets. If you are worried about the coverage you are getting, best to complain to Tory Party HQ – it’s probably their fault more than anyone elses. Next week labour will be up in arms at the Beeb – just roll with it.

  42. Even though this is not directly related to polling, it is a treatise on GO’s press conference from yesterday. Worth a good reading in my opinion.

    http://www.cityam.com/news-and-analysis/allister-heath/tory-economic-plan-damp-squib

  43. Anthony

    I am a bit confused

    Please can you tell me does the projection take into account the bigger swing in the marginals?

    If so, does it mean an election held now would result in a hung parliament?

    Sorry if they seem to have obvious answers. I’m trying to understand it all. Thank you.

  44. Old Nat

    “are the floating voters in known marginals on ‘mass’ different from the rest”

    Mass of floating voters form opinions from their particular national/local media outlets. I suspect these follow the national trends as much as possible. In known marginals the more politically aware might vote tactically but can you call these the ‘on mass’ floaters who follow national trends.

  45. Steve A – the projection on the front page is just a straight Uniform National Swing calculation, nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t take account of *anything* else.

  46. Does anyone really still believe that news is unbiased?
    Grow up- read and watch a range of channels / papers and the real truth is mediated somewhere between it all.

    However the pathetic belief that the BBC is REALLY biased as suggested above is laughable; generally that idea is put forward by people whose biases are so extreme the news does not reflect them. It does not mean that the BBC is (very) biased; it means the complainants are far away from the typical BBC viewer.

    The BBC is not politically biased in any normal sense; it is merely bound by lots of legislation – and its viewers – so it reflects the normal middle class middle aged viewer of its news.

    But then, that’s what all news does; news reflects the reader- otherwise the readers go away and the newspaper dies or the channel ratings sink. Example; the only paper which has a majority of its readers being of one particular party is The Telegraph; and the Tory line is always pushed by that paper.)

  47. @Jack

    “The BBC is not politically biased in any normal sense”

    True, at least you admit it is biased.
    It is biased politcally towards labour in an abnormal sense, i.e, against the voting intentions of the majority of the country, in favour of a failing government.

    Try taking off your red tinted spectacles and just watch and listen to BBC TV news, the inferences and suggestive nature of particularly Nick Robinson is becoming so transparent, it’s a joke.

  48. @Barry P

    Do I have to point out that at no point in recent history has any election result given the Conservatives or any other party a majority *vote*. And that the only poll in recent times that even gave the Conservatives a bare majority was what is now considered a rogue poll by Ipsos-MORI during conference time.

    Since you vastly overstate the popularity of the conservatives, I think your view point on any bias is going to be tilted.

  49. @ Jay Blanc

    Perhaps ‘majority’ was the wrong word, let’s say the party with the ‘highest following’ shall we, if we are being pedantic and grasping at straws

    My point above still stands in it’s entirety.

  50. @Barry P

    No, I’m afraid your point does not stand. The fact still is that no one party in the UK has mass popularity. In British politics having the most vote share means simply you had the least amount of people dislike you. That is no basis at all for saying that being critical of the Conservative party is some how “against the voting intentions of the country”. If you pay attention, the BBC is equally critical of all the parties.

    The BBC report that accredited Economic panels disagreed with Cameron and Osborne, and report that conservative polls were slipping and labour ones rising, not due to some bias, but *because these things happened*. Just as they report on the Chilcot inquiry. Would you rather they not report on any item that might put a political party in a bad light?

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