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. I don’t normally post, but…

    I think the polls at the moment are skewed slightly in that no election has been called so the TV companies do not have to give equal coverage, so Mr Brown can go on GMTV or whatever and state his case.

    Once an election is called he can’t do that in the same way.

    Now depending on what side of the fence your on will mean whether you think that a good thing or a bad thing.

    if I was a gambling man I would bet on a conservative majority of 20.

    However, this election may raise more questions on the union than it answers. there is a possibility that labours support in most of England dwindles and they rely on Wales and Scotland, they could even form a government on that basis which would be interesting to watch how it played out.

    Another aspect I am looking forward to is seeing how some local issues play out, for instance in Teesside a labour heartland where there is a strong independent movement starting out. I cannot see anything other than labour in Middlesbrough…..

    Could be a funny election…..

  2. @C.L.A.D.

    I do realise this, and have been reading this blog and PB.com for a few years now. Personally I rate ICM and have some doubts over YouGov.

    Marco says upthread effectively what I was trying to get across: YouGov are on average giving smaller Tory leads than anyone else. Of the 29 polls you refer to none of the 5 under 30 are YouGov.

    Of the top 6 Labour scores, 5 are YouGov. There have been 11 polls putting Labour support at above 30, and 9 of these 11 are YouGov. It may be within the margin of error, but it is happening repeatedly.

    Bearing in mind that Labour have scored lower than the mean average of the polls in every general election for the last 20 years I do not have much faith in any pollster who produces the highest Labour scores.

  3. @Galvatron

    And in no way would you criticise ICM as showing the Tory total as too low if they were showing Labour support the same.

    Apples and pears mate, pure and simple.

  4. @ COLIN & JAMES

    RE: JAY BLANC

    Meowww! Put your claws away, chaps ;-)

  5. I like Chris’s analysis. It’s fab because if it wasn’t for Chris or Amber ……or Alec or Anthony & jay ,,,,,,
    OMG there are more analysists than I thought……
    Anyway if it wasn’t for you guys i’d be a bit lost with all the figures. ;-)

  6. @CLAD
    I agree that certain posters are very selective in their reading of polls to suit their own political alliance. However, I think you are certainly picking on the wrong chap. Nothing Galvatron has said shows any great bias one way or the other. He merely states facts.

  7. @ Roland Haines ‘If what you say becomes fact, a 9/10% Tory lead will be a rather better position than Labour will be in.’

    I totally agree, and it is extremely unlikely that Labour will ascend even to 2005’s dismal level. That’s not the Tories’ main challenge: it’s themselves, based on their failure to hold/regain their position of two months ago.

    But they still have more potential headroom than Labour, judging by responses to this week’s ICM question about flexibility of voting intentions (which has received less attention than I would have expected). On that basis, the maximum potential %s for each of the three main UK parties came out as: Con 43, Lab 34, LD 29.

    Now, accepting that flexibility of voting intention itself is likely to vary a lot during the GE run-up, and diminish nearer polling day, these numbers still suggest that the Tories are far less likely to be set back by a Labour ascent, than by the potential rise of the LDs.

    C 37, L 29, LD 26 is not the result DC is aiming for, but may be in danger of, if his campaign continues to flounder around so unpersuasively.

  8. GALVATRON – surely YouGov are showing the highest Labour share most often because they’ve done more polls more recently than anyone else?! And if, as all the evidence shows, Labour are recovering, then whoever has done more recent polling will show the highest Labour shares…
    Common sense, innit?!

  9. @ AL J

    I’m quite taken with COLIN’s post quoting Ladbrooke’s betting odds coverted to seats.

    I might google around this evening & read more about it. 16 Seat CON majority – given the AR marginal poll – seems considerably shy of unassailable.

    This result = A lame duck cabinet that has to appease its own party or do deals with outsiders. It might be a good thing – but I’m not sure.

    On the upside, if it’s at 16 seats, the CONS are being seriously challenged; there’s still a window of opportunity for the other parties.

  10. I’m surprised we’re not hearing more about the “Shy Tory” factor (or in this case Shy Labour factor) that so upset the 1992 election. After all, Labour have been in power for 13 years – Ghandi probably wouldn’t have won much after 13 years.
    The comments here endlessly show confused Tories wondering why the lead is narrowing, but I’ve been convinced for ages that Labour was nowhere near as unpopular as (media/polls/people – delete according to opinion) suggested.
    This is what I think will make for a very interesting election because as I said on a previous thread, when it comes to actually VOTING, the public will start to think about their own pockets, their own families, their own jobs.

  11. 2.30 Roland Haines.Your penetrating comments on AR are similar to a number on here.AR polled over 4000 people and gave a careful and detailed analysis of the result. You are able to dismiss their findings as “utter rubbish” without a word of argument – well done!. It would help if you could share your insight with us,and I expect AR would welcome anything constructive you might have to say.

  12. @WOLF MACNEILL
    Yes, your point is that the Tories should be doing rather better. I certainly cannot argue with that. If they dont David Cameron has one man to blame. Himself.

  13. @ Galvatron

    Since the new year, the averages are as follows for labour:

    Angus Reid – 25.0
    Yougov – 31.4
    Other pollsters – 29.8

    Moreover, the yougov score is slightly scewed upwards in my calculation due to the high quantity of polls they have taken since all Labour’s score has increased across all companies. Taking that into account, yougov’s effective average for Labour is no more than a point higher than the other pollsters. AR is five points off.

    I imagine the Conservative lead will remain at 6-10 points from the main polling companies for the near future. The three main things I’m anticipating are the growth figures for the first quarter of 2010, the buget and the television debates. I think any of these have the potential to have a major impact in either direction.

  14. If the different results of the various polling agencies are being shaped by the different ways that each one adjusts or “weights” the raw data they recieve, could anyone suggest if there’s evidence from the American Presidential elections to suggest the methods employed currently by any particualr pollster in the UK have been proved to be more accurate or precise in its predictions?

  15. @ WOLF MACNEIL

    RE: But they still have more potential headroom than Labour, judging by responses to this week’s ICM question about flexibility of voting intentions (which has received less attention than I would have expected). On that basis, the maximum potential %s for each of the three main UK parties came out as: Con 43, Lab 34, LD 29.

    A sanity check begs the question: You Gov already has LAB at 32%; ICM has LAB max as 34%

    Either:
    1. Almost all who’d even consider voting LAB are already stating that as their intention; or
    2. YouGov’s weightings are showing LAB too high; or
    3. ICM sample is unrepresentative.

    Take your pick, folks ;-)

  16. Any comments as to how the YouGov weighting slashes a 14% lead to a 6% one?

  17. @COLIN

    “Good to have another credible pollster in the mix.
    Hope they do regular polls through to the GE.”
    “Sky falls in!
    Panic abounds!
    Labour cry ” Jay Blanc slams Harris Poll lead”
    Tories cry ” Jay Blanc shows signs of partiality”

    Hope you are still saying that when- going forward IF they produce regular polls- they coalesce around the non space-cadet position (the one you like so much only because it’s what YOU want to hear).

    What was that phrase about people; stones and glass houses ?

  18. @ROLANDHAINES

    “I am a Tory and a big AR fan.”

    Can we halt all discussion of AR with this telling phrase please !!

  19. @Roland – you seem surprisingly funny for a Tory!

    @Darren – Maybe that’s the Shy Labourites I was wondering about?

  20. @JOER

    “Since the new year, the averages are as follows for labour:”

    What are the averages for February then- the last 26 days?

    They are much more relevant as we are clearly since then already in the phoney war phase of the actual campaign.

    Anyone care to crunch the averages?

  21. When local supporters start serious canvassing and high profile electioneering, the change agenda will be argued on the doorsteps. The Tories will outnumber Labour and, I suspect, feel they have a better story to tell, Labour offer more of the same only worse.
    I would be nervous campaigning for Labour, especially in marginals. Lib Dems should have a good line on ‘honest Vince’ to give them confidence.
    A spring in the step, can’t wait to get out there, who’s got the edge? Who’s got the most motivated activists ?
    I think the streets reflect the polls, advantage Tories.

  22. @ SUE MARSH

    RE: I’m surprised we’re not hearing more about the “Shy Tory” factor (or in this case Shy Labour factor) that so upset the 1992 election.

    YouGov, AR & Harris are internet polls, not phone calls. I think people are expected to be less ‘shy’ on-line.

    Some of the polls also weight for this in quite subtle ways e.g. what newspaper/ news site is your favourite? Apparently there’s a good correlation between this & actual voting (from historical analysis).

  23. @Galvatron

    “but if all the marginals polling holds true then their current 6-9% leads will probably be enough”

    Oh you mean the ONE poll by mainstream organisation AR ??

    You’d be wise to wait- as has been said-to-death on threads on here in last days- till we have marginal polling from the other orgaisations that give the Tories a UK lead of 5-7 points less than AR.

    When we do you will most probably- I *project*- find that this assertion loses all validity.

  24. @KEN

    “When local supporters start serious canvassing and high profile electioneering, the change agenda will be argued on the doorsteps. The Tories will outnumber Labour and, I suspect, feel they have a better story to tell, Labour offer more of the same only worse.
    I would be nervous campaigning for Labour, especially in marginals. Lib Dems should have a good line on ‘honest Vince’ to give them confidence.
    A spring in the step, can’t wait to get out there, who’s got the edge? Who’s got the most motivated activists ?
    I think the streets reflect the polls, advantage Tories.”

    Excellent pep talk for Tory canvassers- have you given it to them yet !!

  25. “You’d be wise to wait- as has been said-to-death on threads on here in last days- till we have marginal polling from the other orgaisations that give the Tories a UK lead of 5-7 points less than AR.”

    MORI, ICM, and Yougov have all produced polling in the past three months, which implies a bigger than average shift from Labour to Conservatives in Labour-held marginal seats.

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that that is the pattern that we’ll see on polling day, but there’s certainly more to this idea than either the one AR poll, or enthusiastic canvass reports.

    It’s worth noting that both Peter Kellner and Lewis Baston expect there to be a higher than average swing against Labour in such seats.

  26. @SUE MARSH
    Amber told me I was adorable, you think I’m funny, Labour could win me over. There is no fool like an old fool.

  27. @ Rob “Excellent pep talk for Tory canvassers – have you given it to them yet!!” LOL

    Yes, Anthony won’t be pleased!!!
    FWIW though, not factually true either.

  28. @ ROB SHEFFIELD……………The Tory surge is about to descend on the Great British public like a bright blue spirit lifting wave of light. Snag is, I won’t be in the vanguard for change, otherwise engaged. ;-)

  29. @ Roland – We’re quite devious you know!!! Don’t tell Andrew Rawnsley

  30. @ Amber – thanks by the way. If the polls do narrow further though, I think this has a lot to do with it.

  31. On Tory canvassers – who are they? In my rural idyll, they use the Royal mail for everything because their supporters are mostly pensioners or older still. Thus the donutting on TV for Cameron.

  32. Good to see Harris back in the game. Any chance of an exclusively marginal poll?

  33. On my last I meant ‘just over pension age’ sorry.

  34. Amber, actually, ICM, ComRes, and Populus all adjust for “Shy Labour” voters. Without these adjustments, they’d be showing the Conservative lead to be 1-3% higher than the headline figures.

  35. @ Rob Sheffield

    During february alone you have

    Yougov – 32.0
    Angus Reid – 25.7
    Other Pollsters – 29.8

    With the overall average working out as 29.9. I don’t pretend this is as accurate a reading as a proper moving average because all polls in the period are given equal weight, but it is interesting that the Labour result is varying so greatly. I did similar calculations with the Conservative scores over time by different pollsters and there was never more than a 0.5 between them.

  36. Anthony

    Any chance of another one of those splendid marginal seats polls?

  37. Just a word about the ICM ‘ceilings’ for each party of 34% Labour and 43% Tory. On the face of it, good news for the Tories, but I honestly wouldn’t put any store on these at all. Such questions only tell us what the effective ceiling is like when the questions are asked. As with any polling question, the answers will change as people’s perception changes. I suspect that if these questions were asked thwo mothhs ago we would have had different numbers, and if Brown continues to up his personal ratings and Cameron’s slide, so will the theoretical maxima for each party.

    @Colin – Osborne’s Mais lecture yesterday was interesting, but not that interesting. Osborne’s enemies (and many neutrals) are making the assumption that he has set out a plan to have a somewhat sham ‘inspection of the books’ which he will then say show we are massively more in debt that previously thought through pension and PFI committments etc and use this as an excuse for the emergency 50 day budget. I say sham quite openly, as with the money the Tories have for research and the Freedom of Information act where necessary, there is no excuse for them not knowing any of these figures – most of them are publically available and the others can be reasonably estimated. Oppositions always use the ‘lets have a look at the books’ line and its always nonsense, so the fact that Osborne has now used it makes it clear to me he wants to make deep cuts fast but doesn’t want to say so until after polling day. It confirms my initial impression that Tory claims to be ‘telling it like it is’ are nonsense and they are behaving exactly like Labour in terms of honesty about spending cuts.

    The next few days could be interesting. The Tories have been ordered to release the information about Ashcroft’s promises. Given that they have fought tooth and nail to keep these secret the obvious assumption is that they have got some thing to hide, but who knows. Whiffs of approbrium are also encroaching on Coulson with regard to his consorting with criminals. People like us will never know, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if some distant guns are being loaded with unpleasant bombshells as we speak.

  38. ROB SHEFFIELD :-

    “space-cadet position (the one you like so much only because it’s what YOU want to hear).”

    Hahahahahahaha.

    Thanks Rob-best laugh since-ooh-your previous post.

    ;-)

  39. TORY CRISIS UPDATE – guys – this one is serious. I’ve just been told from a reliable source a Cameron bald patch has been spotted….
    No bald man has ever been elected PM since Atlee. Is this what the Tory high command meeting was about?

  40. Just trying to be objective here but won’t the weight of disillusion and disappointment affect the Labour activists, flogging a dead horse is enervating and the dry cleaning bills can be an issue, especially if your’e within striking distance of the Great Clunking Fist on the stump.
    Sorry folks, I’ll Zimmer off up to the 4 acre, there be a ‘ouse there. ;-)

  41. COLIN
    You must realise by now that the “space cadet position” is anything that does not wind up with a Labour largest party in Westminister situation. Any poll or polling organization which does not support the preceading premise is a Tory funded Murdoch subsidised black propaganda set up. Now please get with the programme.

  42. @ALEC
    At 63 I expect to be bald, but my vision is excellent.

  43. @Alec ‘Just a word about the ICM ‘ceilings’ for each party of 34% Labour and 43% Tory. On the face of it, good news for the Tories, but I honestly wouldn’t put any store on these at all. Such questions only tell us what the effective ceiling is like when the questions are asked. As with any polling question, the answers will change as people’s perception changes. I suspect that if these questions were asked thwo months ago we would have had different numbers, and if Brown continues to up his personal ratings and Cameron’s slide, so will the theoretical maxima for each party.’

    Yes, of course, and the level-of-support data, and the potential flexibilty data, will keep changing through to GE day. But whose ICM findings do you think the party leaders would rather have this week:
    Con + 6% potential
    Lab + 4% potential
    LD + 9% potential

  44. Perhaps the Tories should commission AR to do daily polling up the election. Two polls a day. No, three… That should do it..

  45. I said I was expecting a non-Yougov poll of Con 40 Lab 29 Lib Dems 21, only one point out on each.

    We should be getting a lot of non-Yougov polls in the weeks to come showing a Con lead of at least 9 points over Labour, and a Labour lead of no more than 8 points over the Lib Dems.

  46. Honestly Roland, I don’t think many of us Labour chaps are saying we’re set to win at the moment. Certainly I am not. I think that the Tories are likely to be the largest party, but short of a majority, and don’t think that those who say that are space cadets! (Although of course they might be for other reasons LOL).

    By the way I think you’re great.

  47. Blair was very careful in glossing over his bald patch in 2005.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-229409/Spot-bother-Blair.html

    Its seems to be one of those standard Mail stories, like cellulite on Jennifer Lopez’s bum.

    For a polling site the deafening silence about Mr Smithson’s point about the way polls distribute ‘will not votes’ etc is quite remarkable. No comments?
    Why should pollsters try to second guess people who say they will not vote. Why not go the whole hog and second guess people who say they will vote LibDem.

  48. I don’t think any labour supporters are currently imagining a potential “win” in the sense of an overall majority with an unscathed Gordon Brown as PM after the election either. The hoped for victory for most ordinary punters who aren’t active conservatives is that any Tory government is too small and weak in terms of numbers to easily inflict a conservative social or economic agenda on the country.

  49. Roland

    **At 63 I expect to be bald, but my vision is excellent.**

    Are you sure because you read my other post all wrong. ;-)

  50. Amber

    **On the upside, if it’s at 16 seats, the CONS are being seriously challenged; there’s still a window of opportunity for the other parties**

    It’s amazing betting odds ONLY 16 seat Tory majority.
    Let’s see if Roland can join us with a countdown to overturn it .1…2….3 :-)

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