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 quite grasp what these ceilings actually mean in real terms. Is it a percentage of the total electorate or is it a percentage of the 65% or so who are likely to vote? For example 29% of the total electorate could easily turn into a much higher figure of actual voters – and similarly for the other percentages.

  2. HI ROLAND–Yes indeed-I do realise how it works-thanks for your advice.

    Space Cadets-like beauty-are in the eye of the beholder.

    or to put it another way-

    One man’s space cadet is another man’s apolitical psephological anorak.

    Rob Sheffield’s posts are of course the very antithesis of Space Cadetery, being grounded in a wonderful confection of balance , good humour & the hand of friendship to political oponents. Oh yes -a joy to read.

  3. In terms of polls – the big one may not be far off.

    Guido is reporting that the BBC are on red alert for an election announcement over the weekend. Presumably this is the last chance for March 25.

    The Grand Old Duke of York rides again …

  4. ATTENTION HUMANISING GORDON UPDATE
    Gordon Brown has apologised for the death of Bambi’s mother in the Walt Disney film”Bambi”. The PM said ” along with helping the many not the few, we aim to soft soap both constituencies”.

  5. Roland

    **Gordon Brown has apologised for the death of Bambi’s mother in the Walt Disney film”Bambi”. The PM said ” along with helping the many not the few, we aim to soft soap both constituencies”.**

    You rascal

    The many – not the few

    OR for you

    The few at the expense of the many ;-) lol

  6. Anyone seen any trace of that site that was to do with analysis of polling data? it used to be rather interesting.

  7. I have asked a question on polling data and got no response Mr TT

  8. Completely off topic but did anyone watch ‘On Expenses’ the other day?

    I would compare it with a pantomime written by a tabloid journalist who had taken a bucket full of cliché inducing drugs but that would be generous.

    As I say ‘completely off topic’ but I’d just like to know if other people think this a new low in political drama.

  9. There is one fact regarding 2005 that should be understood. Many , in fact, most Labour supporters were very angry with their own party due to Iraq. Most [ say, 80% ] due to party loyalty still voted Labour. However, many did not. Some voted Lib Dem and others simply did not vote. However, those votes are “Labour”.

    Put it this way, the 36 – 33 -23 split was probably 38 – 33 – 21. Including the regular voters who deliberately abstained, it would probably be a 40 – 33 – 21 split . However, reworked back to 100% , it would be something like 39 – 33 -20.

    So , to really get a true picture of 2005, 38 – 33 – 21 should be considered as the base figure.

  10. Didn’t notice it amongst the drivel old thing. An early call would suggest that Brown doesn’t see things getting any better.

    I’d be surprised if he had the gumption, but I can imagine a series of shots on goal from the Tories if he seems to be cutting and running while the polls are narrowing…

  11. In terms of polls – the big one may not be far off.

    Guido is reporting that the BBC are on red alert for an election announcement over the weekend. Presumably this is the last chance for March 25.

    The Grand Old Duke of York rides again …

    ———-

    Before the clock changes ? No.

  12. I asked a question at 2.21pm and got a rather cheeky answer from Mr Roland Court Jester

    I can ask it again —

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

  13. sorry, that addressed to Trevorsden. We’re back in the real world now, thank goodness

    Gareth – I though Brian Cox was fantastic, and it was certainly no worse than the Thatcher drama of a few months ago

  14. Poll alert – the Independent will apparently have some ComRes polling tomorrow showing Osborne outscoring darling on a number of fronts. No news of whether it’s part of a full new poll though.

    Tory Statistics Cock Up Alert – apparently the Tories had a press release today claiming that 50,000 people ‘die of malnutrition’ in the NHS every year. Sounds a bit extreme? The actual number is 239, but it seems they have confused undernourishment, which affects many people especially with terminal cancer etc, with the actual cause of death. Its a bit like the ‘54% of teenage girls get pregnant..’ – you would have thought somebody would look at the number and think this doesn’t look right.

  15. @Al J – re the AR lead in the marginals; It seems that AR if anything have a bigger discrepancy over the lead in marginals than in the full poll numbers. Essentially as I posted before, it doesn’t really move us any further forward. Either AR are right, in which case Labour are about the be slaughtered, or YouGov and the rest are right, in which case we could be at hung parliament time and subject to the marginals getting close to Labour as largest party. Given the nervousness in very senior Tory ranks I get the impression that they don’t believe the AR scenario, and given the amount of unpublished polling they must doing this should make everyone wonder.

  16. **Tory Statistics Cock Up Alert**

    It’s like waiting for a bus – but in this case they all come at the same time ;-)

  17. Seems that Harris were 0.6 out on the WMA and 2.2 on the Retrospective, well within the MoE.

    My WMA is now 38:31:19 and the trends are all much the same. Politically, I will be amazed if the decline in CLead continues but statistically there is no convincing evidence that it has stopped.

  18. I think it is too late to go for March 25th. That would only give an election campaign of less than 4 weeks – early April might be possible though, After Easter, the clock change but before the GDP announcement.

    Regarding some of the early posts there is absolutely no evidence that the oppositions poll lead shortenes before the election – it didn’t happen in 1997, 2001 or 2005 and 1992 was widely regarded as a freak occurance.

  19. Alec
    Thanks for your answer-I too find it odd the Conservatives are in panic mode with a lead in the marginals of 14%. I agree with your observation.
    Something odd going on.
    Any idea how party polling is panning out?

  20. ALEC:-

    From Cons Party website ( my Caps):-

    “Shadow Health Minister Stephen O’Brien highlights a new Government report that reveals that almost 50,000 people a year could be dying WITH malnutrition in NHS hospitals in England.”

    From the Report (originally handed to the Department of Health in August last year but just published now.)

    “239 patients were reported to have died because of malnutrition in English hospitals in 2007; 2,656 were reported to have died from malnutrition in hospitals and care homes since 1997 (Hansard, 1 April 2009, Col 1225-6W). However, we believe that these statistics can be very misleading. They represent less than 0.5% of the number who died in hospital with malnutrition. We know that malnutrition predisposes to disease, it delays recovery from illness and it increases mortality (3, 4). It follows that the effect of malnutrition on mortality rates is substantially greater than the number reported to have died because of malnutrition.”

  21. Anyone who reads Guido has an inbuilt bias and should be adjusted accordingly!!

  22. Well few here are as partisan as NBeale, but to give him his due his WMA is compiled in a scholarly fashion. It’s quite unusual for it to have a lower Tory lead than Anthony’s figure but at present he seems to.

  23. @ChrisC

    You’re right, the fact that YouGov have carried out most of the polls in the past couple of weeks must be pushing their average up. Comparing YouGov with everyone else (except AR) from Nov-Jan shows Lab only 0.5% higher (and also Tory 0.4% higher, so the same lead as everyone else).

    However, what I was implying before is that YouGov have only recently started overstating Labour since their change in weighting. Because this coincides with ‘Bullygate’ and other events it won’t be possible to tell untill we have more polls from other pollsters.

    Looking at YouGov’s unweighted figures (such as the most recent 14% which became 6%) and comparing them to last year it seems that the Tory lead has shrunk slightly, but that the fall has been exaggerated by weighting changes.

    @Rob

    No, I’m not referring to only Angus Reid. There have been a few marginal polls over the past year. There is also data such as regional and demographic group aggregates. This all shows that the Lab-Tory swing is higher in areas where it needs to be. Admittedly the Tory lead has shrunk considerably since this data was collected, but it still seems that they will outperform UNS due to their vote distribution.

  24. @ Surbiton ‘There is one fact regarding 2005 that should be understood. Many , in fact, most Labour supporters were very angry with their own party due to Iraq. Most [ say, 80% ] due to party loyalty still voted Labour. However, many did not. Some voted Lib Dem and others simply did not vote. However, those votes are “Labour” …… So , to really get a true picture of 2005, 38 – 33 – 21 should be considered as the base figure.’

    Apart from whether I agree with your line of reasoning, what’s your purpose, Surbiton? What light would this base figure throw on current pre-2010 GE poll findings?

    Does it make any difference to your model that so many so-called “Labour” voters carried on not voting Labour long after their Iraq fury of 2005 had died down, eg in local government elections, year after year, and that even more “Labour” voters defected or abstained than had done so in 2005?

  25. “did anyone watch ‘On Expenses’ the other day?”

    Yes Gareth-I thought it was great.

    Superb acting by Brian Cox as Martin.Actually I felt it portrayed Martin-as he realised the game was up-trying to get some reasonable changes through-against massive opposition by the MPs.

    The browbeaten Fees Office was well portrayed.

    But I had not realised what a pivotal role Heather Brooke played. It was shameful that she did not get the credit she deserved-it took an American to batter down the closed doors of privilege & secrecy in the name of Feedom of Information.

    She stands alongside Paul Van Buitenen & Marta Andreasan-and she deserves a place on a plinth.

    It was a great drama-no doubt with some licence on the actual dialogue.

  26. I still think the 92 election will give us the most clues as to how this one will play out.
    I should have thought the mood of the electorate was similar and the story in the marginals may go along the same lines. (Have no idea what the story was by the way, if anyone can enlighten me)

    @ Alec – One wonders if the Tories actually WANT to lose this election? The own goals seem to plentiful? Perhaps they think they’d be better off leaving Labour to stew in the defecit until the electorate REALLY want a change!! Maybe they are secretly engineering the narrowing polls……..

  27. I’ve been keeping a record Of the projected Election outcomes according to Anthony’s swingometer

    22/11/09 TORY MAJ 58
    23/11/09 72
    27/11/09 28
    7/12/09 12
    11/12/09 28
    13/12/09 50
    14/12/09 36
    18/12/09 50
    22/12/09 36
    2/1/10 26
    7/1/10 10
    8/1/10 38
    11/1/10 44
    23/1/10 20
    29/1/10 Hung -3 to 10maj
    1/2/10 Hung -4 to -12
    11/2/10 Hung 3
    13/2/10 Hung 5
    19/2/10 Hung 3
    21/2/10 Hung 12
    23/2/10 Hung 17
    24/2/10 Hung 19

  28. Sorry Anthony – it didn’t look so big before I posted

  29. @ Al J – Fascinating post though.
    It’s hard to see trends at times, but the above certainly appears to show the change over a quite recent period

  30. Wonderful article by Jeff Randall on the Darling interview-and after!

    Must get Rawnsley’s “After the Party”-it sounds like a hoot.

    Much discussion on pb about the change in YouGov weighting since mid 2009 where previously the weighting tended to provide an uplift in the figures for the Conservatives they now provide the exact opposite-allegedly.

    It would be nice to have a reaction/explanation to loyal UKPR visitors.

    I just want to know if YouGov Polls this year are consistent with YouGov Polls last year.

    It kind of matters at the moment.

  31. Although the election is only ‘weeks away’, my own sense is that the starting gun has not yet been fired. It may be that Mr. Brown is waiting until after his appearance next Friday at the Chilcot Enquiry – who knows. It would be fairer to all of us to have the date announced a.s.a.p. Once it is, I predict a change in the polls to a 12-18% lead to the Conservatives.

  32. “Up to 270,000 civil and public servants (which will involve Jobcentre staff, tax workers, coastguards, border agency officials, courts staff and driving test examiners) from across the UK are set to launch a month of industrial action with a 48 hour strike on 8 and 9 March in a dispute over unilateral changes to redundancy terms, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced today.”

  33. I understand there is an Andy Cooke model in PB which apparently removes the “bias” in opinion polls in favour of Labour.

    So much so, if you put in the 2005 results into his model, Tories win an extra 40 seats than they did and, of course, there is a hung parliament.

    Thank God, we didn’t have that in 2005. What a waste of time it would have been !

  34. I wouldn’t get too excited about Guido’s BBC source exclusive.

    The most likely explanation is this is due to the Conservative Spring Conference being held this weekend and David Cameron will no doubt want to use his key speech as a springboard for the coming campaign.

    However should Gordon does decide to announce the Election date (6th May) this weekend the only reason would be to counter some of the positive media coverage (& possible poll bounce) that the Tories will gain.

    Everything else still points to a 6th May Election which will produce a high turnout in the local elections being held the same day and save a cash-strapped Labour the costs of running 2 separate campaigns in the spring (as well as also allowing Labour to regain most of their 2006 local govt losses)…

  35. AL J

    Regardless of whether the UNS reflects the seat forecast correctly, a trend is a trend. From 58 seats to -19 is a swing of 77 seats !

    I understand in the Andy Cooke model, the swing since last summer is 70 seats !

  36. If it is 6th May I’m guessing it will still be 4-5 weeks before it is called?

  37. Wolf :

    Does it make any difference to your model that so many so-called “Labour” voters carried on not voting Labour long after their Iraq fury of 2005 had died down, eg in local government elections, year after year, and that even more “Labour” voters defected or abstained than had done so in 2005?

    My contention is that many Tory supporters are surprised that Labour has “lost” only 1 out 12 votes since 2005. Actually, in reality, Labour has lost more.

    Something like 1 in 7. So 32% is not a good figure for Labour under the circumstances. It’s actually still bad. However, this tells me Labour can still improve to 34%, that would still be losing 1 in 10 votes from my nominal 38%.

    This is still a very big loss. The biggest since 1983. But because it puts Labour at a higher figure than was hitherto thought [ in my case, I felt 32% ] , the chances of a hung parliament increases hugely unless the Tories hit 42% or so which appears increasingly unlikely. Even AR doesn’t give the Tories taht kind of polling.

  38. Sue

    Thanks – it’s *big* change to when I first arrived.

    Surbiton

    **So much so, if you put in the 2005 results into his model, Tories win an extra 40 seats than they did and, of course, there is a hung parliament**

    That is incredible. So perhaps the Tory share of seats is too high now!!

    Please excuse my ignorance -where is the Andy Cook’s model?

  39. Re “On Expenses”

    Apart from being an excellently scripted, and acted piece of drama, the interesting thing that what was obviously a very expensive production (destined for prime time BBC1) was exiled to BBC4.

    Clearly not the original intention of the Beeb, so they must have been “persuaded” by those who did not wish voters to be reminded of just how corrupt “Westmidden” had become.

    If you missed it, it’s available on BBC i-player.

    Even then we get someone popping up here to rubbish it!

  40. John Major had a 6 week campaign in 1997 calling it in mid-March for 1st May. The intention or hope was that a longer campaign might help him reduce Tony Blair’s double-digit poll lead (no 6% Labour poll leads then!).

    So there is a precedent for a campaign longer than the traditional 3-4 week campaign.

    My guess would be that the Budget would be held at least 1 week prior to any election announcement. The date for this year’s Budget is still yet to be announced. When the Budget date finally is known that will probably give us a clue as to when Brown is planning to go to the palace and call the election.

    Out of interest does anyone know what historically has been the minimum notice period between the date of a budget being given and the date it actually takes place? Thanks.

  41. I should say re the ‘welcome back to Harris’ comments that this is a completely different firm from the one where I was in charge of political polling 1986-94 (and where Joe James B and Barnaby also worked!) – that Richmond-based company was taken over by SOFRES, the French company headed by Pierre Weill, which was followed by the departure of most of the staff including myself, and the end of polling. So we can’t really judge Harris Interactive in the same light, although both ultimately take their name from the American (eg JFK) pollster Lou Harris.

    Having said that, the new poll results seem fair enough, and as long as the results and methodology are transparent, the more the better – to be able to judge the overall trends and outliers.

  42. Oldnat – On Expenses was almost certainly commissioned with a view to BBC4 .

    If it goes to BBC2 or BBC 1 that’s a bonus, but I think it;s a mistake to think of BBC4 progs as being sub-standard in any way.

    Top notch talent (in drama) still work for relatively low fees, so BBC4 can perform well with this type of drama

  43. “Guido is reporting that”
    Always a bad way to start a sentence

    @ Colin

    I wouldn’t be putting her on the plinth any time soon. Just a muck-raking journo as far as I can see.

  44. £50 quid to win £320 on Betfair that Labour will be the largest party in the election. Has to be worth a flutter?

  45. Surely Ms Marsh anybody who is determined not read Guido has an inbuilt bias.

    I am not getting over exited at Guido’s prediction – I merely pass it on.

    But we are fast running out of March 25 territory. And this is the date brown should be gearing towards.

    April will mean having a budget and there is clear friction between Brown (who wants propaganda) and Darling (who wants sanity and a respectable plalce in history).

  46. re Guido – I used to avoid any post that was headed “trevorsden” before I realised there was occasionally a sign of a decent thinker :)

  47. **Poll Alert**

    May be wrong but this is from twitter

    YouGov/The Sun daily tracker: Con 39% (+1) Lab 33% (+1) LD 16% (-3)

  48. @ JACK

    “Just a muck-raking journo as far as I can see.”

    How right you are.
    She raked like crazy, despite their determination to hide their scam
    And muck a plenty she found-the Augean Stables had less.
    She was a heroine of The People Jack-they just haven’t heard of her .

    I know you wouldn’t be putting her on a plinth Jack-and I understand why.

    ( “On Expenses” is repeated tomight at 10.30 on BBC4)

  49. Talking TV political progs-just watched “The Treasury” from The Great Offices of State series-again BBC4.

    Terrific -anyone who posts here will enjoy it.

    Expect there will be a re-run somewhere.

  50. “Just a muck-raking journo as far as I can see.”

    How right you are.
    She raked like crazy, despite their determination to hide their scam
    And muck a plenty she found-the Augean Stables had less.
    She was a heroine of The People Jack-they just haven’t heard of her .”

    There is no doubt she started out with an (anti politician/ anti state NA conservative/ libertarian) agenda.

    But that should not detract from the fact that what she uncovered was very imporatant and – over the medium term- politics in the UK will be the better for it.

    “**Poll Alert**

    May be wrong but this is from twitter

    YouGov/The Sun daily tracker: Con 39% (+1) Lab 33% (+1) LD 16% (-3)”

    IF true (IF) then more evidence that Darling gate/ Bully gate has had no impact at all- despite the wide eyed rantings of Jeff Randall (UK branch chair of the Tea Party).

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