In this morning’s Metro there is a new voting intention poll for Harris. Harris were once one of the most regular UK political pollsters but left the scene sometime after 1997, becoming a leading online polling company in the USA as Harris Interactive. They made a surprise return just before the 2005 election and did very well, but since then we have only had one voting intention poll from them, though they have done other polling for Metro of a panel of working age Londoners (called something like UrbanLife). (That isn’t them anyway – BMRB conduct it!)

Today’s poll has topline voting intention figures of CON 39%(+4), LAB 30%(+10), LDEM 22%(+6) – changes are from Harris’s last poll in June 2009, which had “others” on a rather incongruous 29%, hence all the partie being up. We can’t tell a vast amount from the poll, since without a recent track record we don’t know how it compares to other pollsters figures, but we can at least hope that it’s a sign of regular Harris polls to come in the run up to the election.

I haven’t been able to have a dig around in their tables yet, but for those interested in methodology, here’s what I wrote in June 2009: “Harris are on online company with their own panel, like YouGov and Angus Reid. Their polls are weighted by age, gender, educational achievement, region and internet usage, but not it would seem by past vote or party ID. Instead Harris use something they call “propensity score weighting”, a proprietory weighting they say corrects for behavioural and attitudinal biases from different peoples likelihood to be online. Exactly how it does so, we don’t know.” Of course, I can’t guarantee they haven’t changed any of that since!

The poll was conducted between the 16th and 22nd and included 900 people (so quite a long time for a small number of interviews).


153 Responses to “Harris poll shows 9 point lead”

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  1. If Harris are back “full time” up to the election it will be very interesting to see how they and AR perform against the ones we are used to. Might be new ideas vs refinement on refinement on refinement. We shall see.

  2. Can someone explain to Newspaper Editors how polls work. There slant on the article is something like “bullying row hits Labour hard”.

    Stating “Only on Monday the lead stood at 6 points. Now it has jumped to 9 points”.

    I realise political papers like The Metro will always try to put their own slant on things, but it’s just plain misleading.

    As in, polls in general show no change. And the only thing you can get from this one, seeing as it’s their first in 10 months, is the fact that Labour are significantly more popular.

    On a side note, do you think The Metro used Harris simply to get this headline? So they could show a bigger lead?

    As in, they really make no mention at all, that the poll actually shows that Labour have closed the gap by 6% in this poll. And there is no widening at all

  3. Good to have another credible pollster in the mix.

    Hope they do regular polls through to the GE.

  4. In fact, the bulk of the polling came before the Bully story, so it’s not going to show any reaction in the first place. A very poorly reported poll.

    Not sure if this will be included in my model. *If* they return to regular polling, yes. If it’s just a one off, then I’m not sure it’d be worth including them.

  5. “Not sure if this will be included in my model.”

    Sky falls in!
    Panic abounds!
    Labour cry ” Jay Blanc slams Harris Poll lead”
    Tories cry ” Jay Blanc shows signs of partiality”

    Harris Polls withdraw from UK GE.

  6. A figure of 29% for the Others doesnt seem unreasonable for june 2009, they got 42% in The Euros. The question would have been about the GE but in some ways its a silly one. Has any polster ever tried asking a more realistic question, such as – “if there was a GE in the next few years, how would you vote” ?

  7. lol @ Colin!

    Spot on.

    Back to the poll – interesting. We’re getting a weird overview from all these polls – a mixed bag of results which at the same time gives a fairly consistent picture of the Tories at or just below 40 and Labour at or just above 30.

    Of course they might all be completely wrong and yesterday’s stunning “Chris Poll” is bang on target …

  8. “Quite a long time for so few interviews”

    The Harris % ‘s seems to be the rough mean of all the polls on this site between 16th and 22nd including AR. Has no relevance as a complete mix of methologies

  9. This poll looks more reasonable to me than many of the recent YouGov’s we’ve seen, because of the Lib-Dem share at 22%. At the general election its highly likely, IMO, that the Lib-Dems will be will be on 20% and for all the polls that have them sub 20% you really do have to factor this in.

    Also Harris have Others sub 10%, which again looks much more reasonable than some of the shares we’ve seen for Others recently, particularly from Angus Reid and even the last ICM had Others at an extraordinarly high, for them, 13%.

  10. Jay Blanc. Why consider including Harris and not AR? Will you be continuing your model after the GE? May need some serious revision, after the performance of the polling companies has been analysed.

  11. Chris wrote:
    Can someone explain to Newspaper Editors how polls work. There slant on the article is something like “bullying row hits Labour hard”.

    I am reminded about the line in the play ‘Winslow Boy’. The father says to the lawyer ‘The press are outside -what shall I say to them?’ The lawyer replies ‘say anything you like – it will make no difference to what they choose to print’.

  12. Since the beginning of Feb, on average, including this latest Harris poll, and to the nearest percentage, it’s C39, L30, LD19.

    Apart from a higher LDEM share, Harries are spot on.

  13. CHRIS

    “Can someone explain to Newspaper Editors how polls work”

    While I share your annoyance about how some polls are reported in the newspapers bear in mind the papers put their own slant on most subjects they report on. There are many reasons for this including sometimes ignorance, sometimes bias and very often they present the information in an inaccurate way just to maximise circulation.

  14. Can hard pressed of Torquay (now ther’s a concept!) justify his contribution in terms of polling matters or influence on poll results?

  15. @ James Ludlow ‘ We’re getting a weird overview from all these polls – a mixed bag of results which at the same time gives a fairly consistent picture of the Tories at or just below 40 and Labour at or just above 30’.

    That seems to have slowly become true of Labour, since start of Feb, since when the Tories have only hit 40% in 3 of the 15 polls, with six on 39 and the other six below, so ‘Tories at or marginally below 39′ is probably closest to what is happening.

    Given those half dozen scores in the 37-38 region, 39 no longer looks like the Tories’ base camp, as many posters were suggesting a month ago.

  16. @Howard
    I have to ask Howard, who is hard pressed of Torquay?

  17. I’m guessing (and it is only an educated guess) that the Tories will recover a point or two in the election over the polls during the campaign, so assuming things don’t change too much I would put them at 39-41% with a 10-11 point lead.

    I would guess this would give them a workable but not spectacular majority.

    I struggle to see a situation where they would do better than that based on recent evidence and the possiblity of a hung parliament still exists (Tories 1-20 seats short) although this should be viewed in the context of evidence from the English marginals which suggests it would be a pessimistic scenario.

  18. Has anyone else noticed that other than with YouGov, no other pollsters are giving Labour shares over 30% (so far this month)? Therefore the Labour share of 33% is almost as far out as the Angus Reid 26%

  19. @Andrew Myers

    Why would the Tories recover during an election campaign? I suggest that the anger & dislike directed at Brown is gradually abating as the economy starts to recover & people are starting to feel more positive about the future. This, I reckon, is what is causing the narrowing of the gap, with the ad hominem attacks on GB not gaining any traction. If this is the case, then only a worsening of the economic situation or the Tories presenting attractive policy alternatives would reverse the trend.

  20. @GALVERTRON
    I would not wish to doubt in any way the validity of You Gov’s daily tracker, but the “adjustments” take the Tory lead from 14 points to 6 points.

  21. From pb:-

    Derived from odds for every constituency :-

    The Ladbrokes Election Forecast
    Conservatives 333
    Labour 219
    Liberal Democrats 62
    Others 36
    Tory Majority of 16.

  22. Am I the only one who has noticed that for the last 4 years the tory % has always dropped (from the summer) over the autumn and winter months and risen again in the spring?

    If there is anything in this ‘climate psychology’ then we should see a tory recovery in the March/April.

    I know this is a little bit ‘voodoo’ but interesting to see.

  23. I welcome the fact Harris has returned. I hope they give us regular polls.

    Derek -just to add to your post -I would agree the Tories will not recover during the election campaign.

    After watching the Daily Politics even Andrew Neil is confused with Osborne’s new attempt to clarify Tory ”austerity” plans. It can’t be a vote winner when policies from any party are so confusing.

  24. @Galvatron

    The difference being that YouGov are within the moe of the others, whereas AR are not and have not been.

  25. ALJ
    “After watching the Daily Politics even Andrew Neil is confused with Osborne’s new attempt to clarify Tory ”austerity” plans”

    I thought he was less confused after Anne Widdecombe had explained it to him.

    He clearly hadn’t read the MAIS Lecture-I recommend it-you will be less confused.

    The bottom line is this :-

    A)
    To quote Mervyn King ( at Select Committee)
    “I think it is very clear we have political consensus on the need for fiscal consolidation,”
    The debate about public spending timing is ‘overblown’, he cautioned that even when the Government reveals more detailed plans to tackle our gargantuan borrowings, there’ll be a lag before the effects follow through.
    “You certainly can’t eliminate the deficit in one year, there has to be a programme announced that will start and continue right through the lifetime of the next parliament,” he said.

    B)
    Neither Party is currently saying what the Departmental Spending effects will be-Mandelson said their Dept. Spending review would be “later in the year”
    Osborne, in the MAIS lecture says theirs will be in Autumn.

    That’s it-the rest is just politics.

  26. More the Merrier.

  27. @Roland

    Yes, I saw that too. It’ll be interesting to see some more recent polling from someone other than YouGov.

    Also on PB.com it showed that while the Tories have a 6% lead nationally, it is 11% in England & Wales. That means a 4.5% swing UK-wide, but does anyone have the 2005 results for E&W only so that the swing can be calculated?

  28. @Gin, yesish…..the polls ask (mostly) how you’d vote tomorrow…..they may well be accurate for that, there won’t have been an election campaign with equal tv coverage by tomorrow. They’re not claiming to be predicting the actual result in xweeks time.

    @Collin, can’t speak for him but I think I remember his main point being that AR isn’t actually a voting intention question, just a support question.

  29. @Wood

    AR did actually trial a different wording of “vote for” rather than “support, and it generated exactly the same results. It seems more likely that the bigger Con Lead is due to weighting.”

  30. @GALVATRON
    Got the spelling right this time. I had not appreciated the lead was still that high in E&W. Something I should of been aware of. I suggest AW may have the details you want.

  31. @Colin
    A bit disappointed with the Ladbrokes numbers, but I suppose with the daily You Gov lead so low for Cons, what can one expect. I must say its good to see dear old Harris back on the scene.

  32. “I’m guessing (and it is only an educated guess) that the Tories will recover a point or two in the election over the polls during the campaign, so assuming things don’t change too much I would put them at 39-41% with a 10-11 point lead”

    I really can’t agree at all. From my experience in polling, popular oppositions (Ok, the tories are hardly 1997 new labour, but they are quite obviously more popular than the government) tend to peak in the months before an election. Then the government tends to claw a bit back.

    As far as I’m concerned the tory drop from say 12-6% lead over the last 6 months is totally consistent with election polling. And I don’t think there are any guarantees that it will ever get back above 10%.

    Speaking as a political scientist, I put this phenomena down to “cold feet”.

    Much polling is based on the fact that their answers mean nothing, on the grander scheme of things.

    When the vote counts, and people start worrying about different scenarios for their vote.

    So you will always have a drop off. For the simple fact that, although they are unpopular, Labour are probably the “safety first” vote, unbelievably.

    People may not like it, but they probably know what they are going to get from Brown.

    Voting for Cameron is, by many, seen as the riskier vote. He may be better. He may be worse.

    As I said, for this reason, polls always shorten towards elections

  33. @C.L.A.D.

    So far this year YouGov has had shares of 30-33 for Labour, and 32/33 in their most recent polls. Other pollsters (excl. AR) have generally had a range of 28-31, though most have been 29 or 30.

    YouGov’s Labour shares this month have been 32 on average, whereas everyone else (excl. AR) averages at 29.8%, so YouGov is at the far reaches of MOE, and their latest polls are outside of it. These are the ones where the weighting has changed to Loyal/Disloyal Labour.

    I’m not saying they’re wrong, just pointing out the difference. For all we know everyone else could be understating Labour.

  34. “Also on PB.com it showed that while the Tories have a 6% lead nationally, it is 11% in England & Wales. That means a 4.5% swing UK-wide, but does anyone have the 2005 results for E&W only so that the swing can be calculated?”

    As far as I’m aware, the tories need a 7% swing UK wide, to win a majority.

    The tories problem is not the fact that Labour are losing support. It’s the fact that not enough of them (at the minute) are going to them.

  35. “A bit disappointed with the Ladbrokes numbers, but I suppose with the daily You Gov lead so low for Cons, what can one expect. I must say its good to see dear old Harris back on the scene”

    Roland still blaming the system. Not the party.

    Bad workmen always blame their tools………..

  36. @Galvatron

    England only results in 2005:
    Lab 35.4
    Con 35.7
    LD 22.9

    Wales only results in 2005:
    Lab 42.7
    Con 21.4
    LD 18.4

    Not sure how they aggregate. but an 11% lead in England alone would equate to a swing of about 5.5% (I think). So slightly higher than the national swing, but not much.

  37. “YouGov’s Labour shares this month have been 32 on average, whereas everyone else (excl. AR) averages at 29.8%, so YouGov is at the far reaches of MOE, and their latest polls are outside of it. These are the ones where the weighting has changed to Loyal/Disloyal Labour.

    I’m not saying they’re wrong, just pointing out the difference. For all we know everyone else could be understating Labour.”

    ————————————————————————-
    You’ll probably find that all polls are at least 3% off, come election time.

    I don’t really see whether it’s a 6% or 9% as really being an issue.

    More the fact that neither 6% or 9% is probably enough for a majority at the minute. And you also have to add in the scenario that both may be too generous towards the opposition.

    Not that they can’t win a majority with the current polls. They may well.

    Just saying, I’d suggest Cameron won’t even be 100% comfortable with even winning the election with 6% polls.

    Going into any election with even a 9-10% lead is dodgy ground on my book.

    I’d have thought Cameron would be wanting at least 12-13% to go into the election, confident of having a majority.

    Anything below that, squeaky bum time.

  38. @Chris

    A 7% swing would be something like an 11% lead, which is amongst the most pessimistic (or optimistic, depending on your outlook) of projections. Some experts believe it would be possible with a swing of around 5%.

    England and Wales figures are important because together they contain almost 90% of the seats, so any party could win easily in this region regardless of how they do in Scotland.

  39. @chris
    I am blameing Gordon Brown Chris, for being a brilliant PM and not giving the Tories a chance.

    Otherwise my comment attached no blame anywhere.

  40. @COLIN…..(Quoting Merv the swerve)………..120% mortgages, toxic assets, CDO’s. Oh! I almost forgot, borrow as much as you can and get into buy to let. I’m almost too polite to mention….” No return to boom and bust”.
    I think we should exercise caution when considering the musings of these particular suits.

  41. Looking at the last 25 polls listed here, the average Tory lead on YouGov is 7.2; the average Tory lead for all others is 10.4; the average Tory lead for all others not including ARS is 9.5. I’m not saying nuffink.
    The average Tory lead in the most recent 12 polls is 8.5; the average Tory lead in the next most recent 12 polls is 9.7. That is an average fall of just above 1% in the Tory lead.
    I am not in the business of providing succour to hysterical Tories. And Labour might just suddenly roar ahead. There has clearly been a substrantial drop in the lead compared to last year. But it appears to me that there has been no statistically significant change in recent weeks.

  42. @Toby

    Thanks for those figures. Based on my rough calculations that means E&W 2005 was:

    Con 34.7, Lab 35.9, LD 22.6

    I think that makes the swing 6.1%, or around 1.6% higher than the UK as a whole.

    @Chris

    The Tories should really be doing better, around 40%, but if all the marginals polling holds true then their current 6-9% leads will probably be enough.

    We will have to wait and see, and I’m sure a lot will happen in the next month or two that make our calculations pointless.

  43. @MARCO
    Respect Marco man you is well wicked.

  44. Chris

    What do you make of AR 14% Tory lead in the marginals?

  45. @Chris ‘Going into any election with even a 9-10% lead is dodgy ground on my book. I’d have thought Cameron would be wanting at least 12-13% to go into the election, confident of having a majority. Anything below that, squeaky bum time.’

    I agree, and have always seen the Tories’ heavy post-Christmas offensive – billboards, weekly chunks of draft manifesto etc – being intended to open up at least 10-12% consistently by the start of March, and so demonstrate clear momentum, before the Labour big guns started to fire.

    Going into the election proper is probably still a month away, but notthing we have seen in the last two months suggests that the Tories have the capacity to regain that critical 12-13% lead over the next 4-5 weeks.

    Once we are in the campaign proper, what Chris calls the unbelievable “safety first” vote for Labour will probably operate against all the opposition parties, but especially against the main challenger for government.

    The Tories have about a month to turn it around massively, or they will fail to win a majority of seats on 6 May.

  46. @Galvatron

    Since the start of 2010 only one pollster has had Labour below 28%. No prizes for ‘guessing’ the odd one out. There have been 29 different polls in 2010 listed by Anthony. Of those only 5, excluding AR, have recorded a Labour score of less than 30%. Of those 5 YouGov never showed a greater Labour score of more than 2%.

    I don’t know whether you realise this, but around here YouGov and ICM are considered as the gold standard of political polling. On PB that honour goes to the polling company who’s results fit with the site narrative the best.

  47. I can answer that Al, utter rubbish.

  48. Just a very minor point Roland, from quite a few posts back; Harris are not really “good old Harris” any more. Harris Interactive only have a very tenuous connection with the previous Harris Research, the great majority of which was taken over by WPP, who also own other well-known market research organizations such as BMRB. I have worked in the past for “good old Harris” and now work for part of WPP.

  49. @WOLF MACNIELL
    If what you say becomes fact, a 9/10% Tory lead will be a rather better position than Labour will be in.

  50. @Barnaby
    I am greatly reassured that the Harris staff of old like yourself, are with the new company.

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