Over the last week we’ve had no fewer than five YouGov polls showing the Conservative lead shrinking to only six points, but apart from a 7 point lead from ICM we haven’t had much from other pollsters to see if they are picking up the same trend – Angus Reid tend to show very different Labour figures anyway, and we have no recent historical trend data from Harris to compare.

Tomorrow’s Telegraph however carries the figures from a new Ipsos-MORI poll that shows a very similar lead to YouGov. The topline figures are CON 37%(-3), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 19%(+3). We have to go all the way back to December 2008 to find a Tory lead as low as five points.

The poll was conducted between Friday and Monday last weekend.


278 Responses to “Ipsos MORI show lowest Tory lead since 2008”

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  1. Ms Marsh…

    There are two websites that come to mind ‘garbagegate’ and ‘futurefairforall’.

    Seems to me there is no need to exaggerate the relevant statistics.

    I too am pointing out why the gap is narrowing as well and I believe your views about how easy it would be to reduce the deficit is one of them.

    The debt, the national debt, as opposed to the deficit is heading towards £1 trillion. And like all debt that £1 trillion is and will attract ever rising interest payments. Its a huge and continuing drain on the economy – interest payments of an amazing £60 billion every year.

    Serious issues which need serious consideration, issues which need to be facd not glossed over.

  2. Statto – no, it’s not random from the panel, it is designed to be demographically representative to start with. In practice it still needs weighting because there are different response rates (so if you invite the correct number of young and old people, but old people are more likely to respond to the email and come and take part you still end up needing to weight them down). You can adjust the proportions of people you invite to take account of this (if, for example, DEs had a lower response rate you could always over-sample them) but they do change over time as recruitment patterns fluctuate (and indeed, at different times of the week).

    The new sampling technique to allow daily polling (essentially inviting people in advance) makes those predictions more complicated to make. In effect it means that people are invited without specifying a survey, and then sent to whatever survey requires people in their demographic cateogory. Over time it will be refined and the amount of weighting necessary should fall.

    I should add that YouGov’s sampling shifted way back at the beginning of Autumn, so it’s not a very recent change.

    Regarding the effect on results, there should be no party partisan effect as the weighting targets are identical. The risk would be that more weighting would reduce the effective sample size and lead to more volatility than you would otherwise get with a given sample size. In practice, however, the recent daily polling suggests that volatility is not a huge problem.

    Trevorsden – they might be serious issues that need to be faced and not glossed over, but they don’t need to be faced here

  3. Anthony – Is there any evidence that Yougov’s panel are more likely to vote than the voters who get called or stopped in the street by other pollsters?

    I’d have thought that joining up to a panel like YouGov would indicate an inclination to take part in elections.

  4. @ Trevorsden – GRRRRRRRRR – you deliberately mis-represent me!! The point I made was in NO way that it would be EASY to reduce the deficit!!!!
    The comment about bank shares was actually that waiting and selling them at a profit would be a good idea considering the state we’re in, not giving them away at a loss. I was making the point that the POLLS in my opinion were reflecting ill thought out policies like this.

  5. @ TREVORSDEN

    ” issues which need to be faced”

    But if that “facing” -in your opinion-might result in the loss of YOUR job, and /or the reduction of YOUR State Benefits, then you will think carefully about facing them.

    And GB has told people that they do not need to “face ”
    those issues. He has told people that the Recession is “over”-that more debt is a good thing-that “Growth” will solve those issues-that it can all be sorted out with “fairness for all”.

    And therefore-implicitly or explicitly-the Tories will Cut Jobs, Cut Wefare Benefits, Be Unfair.

    So-if you are one of the 6 million people on the State Payroll-what are you going to decide?
    You have kept your job &seen your pay increase, whilst your Private Sector counterpart has lost his job, or been forced on to part-time work, or seen his pay reduced.
    Your pension benefits cannot be obtained in the private sector.
    Do you really want to risk any of this?

    It’s a no-brainer.

    Their may be a sting in the tail, when UK’s creditors make a judgement about how well you are facing those “issues”-but what do you care?-that’s for the birds-and the Bankers.

  6. John TT – there’s not much evidence, but it could be the case. When likelihood to vote questions are asked using comparable language there isn’t much difference – but there is a high social desirability bias in likelihood to vote questions, so that could be misleading.

    The general estimate amongst pollsters is that people who don’t vote in elections are also less likely to take part in polls (remember the response rate of phone polls is only about 1 in 12). We don’t really know what the difference between different modes of sampling is.

  7. Sue – using the capitals for POLLS brings me out in a cold sweat – I’m sure those who’ve been here a while know what I’m saying!

  8. “using the capitals for POLLS brings me out in a cold sweat – I’m sure those who’ve been here a while know what I’m saying!”

    — shudder —

  9. Thanks Anthony – hadn’t thought of that!

  10. @SUE MARSH
    You make a point (not for the first time) that the Tories, and I am a classic example have forgotton the teachings of one of the last centurys great business leaders, Don Vito Corleone. The Don said “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”. I think Rob Sheffield also made the point that we (Tories) hate Brown and his administration to a point where we cannot believe anyone but a Labour client could consider voting for them. The polls show this is not the case and that our view Labour have indeed failed at everything they have touched, is not shared by all voters.

  11. Colin – if you’re saying that a large portion of the electorate believe in leaving the difficult stuff to the Govt, I think you’re probably right (though of course I recognise your anger at that attitude, and your warning that the Govt are screwing it up in the long run)

    Big Govt gets bigger because there are not enough individualists and volunteers to obviate the perceived need for it

  12. Anthony,

    So my theory was mince again?

    Peter.

  13. @ ROLAND
    ” Labour have indeed failed at everything they have touched, is not shared by all voters.”

    But, from average individual’s point of view Roland, is it a question of “everything”?
    Or is it a question of “the thing(s)” which affect me?

    And top of the issues list in the Polls is the Economy.

    Immigration is next-but that is a personal issue in particular communities. Where that is No 1 issue-the BNP will gain-not Cons.

    For the vast swathe of “ordinary” people -particularly those dependent on State Spending-the issue is have Labour done OK for me?
    And even more pertinent-who is most likelt to take it all away?

    And GB’s consistent drumbeat on that one has been relentless.

  14. Why the shudders? Do share?
    Have I done something wrong again?

    @ Roland – exactly. I’m sure the great Don would have his own way of sorting this mess out. Lol

  15. This clip from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe programme is probably the most succinct and brilliant summary of why the “terrible recession, we all hate gordon, he’s ruined hte country” narrative isn’t taking off the way conservative supporters would clearly have hoped.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQTWwW5UjEo

  16. Sue – a character long gone used to think that putting “polls” iin caps absolved him from the rest of the comments policy. Can we leave it there? Too many memories, too much pain.
    Thanks

  17. @COLIN
    Yes, I do take your point Colin and it is very much the same as the things my deeply apolitical wife says to me. I, however struggle with the moaning and groaning about “bloody immigrants” and an intention to vote Labour from one and the same voter. It is why I reject cries that Cameron should make the matter more of an issue. It gains no extra votes and gives the left ammo to ball “racist”. Of course, as you will doubtless have read in the Telegraph, Ipsos Mori themselves mention a somewhat better picture in the marginals. This, whilst not a “straw to clutch”, should be nothing more than a bonus rather than a lifeline. when facing a government such as this one.

  18. Have just set eyes on today’s Telegraph. Maybe it’s only so in the edition that comes here – 700 miles out in the European sticks – but the Mori poll is tucked away on page 2, incompletely and confusingly presented, and outweighed by the amount of text devoted to saying why it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, so to speak!

    I wonder how Mori like that treatment. All part of the contract I suppose, but honoured to the letter, not in the spirit. As for what Telegraph readers are able to make of recent trends in public opinion, their esteemed organ looks like an unreliable source.

  19. Colin – “And therefore-implicitly or explicitly-the Tories will Cut Jobs, Cut Wefare Benefits, Be Unfair.”

    The tories or Labour if elected will have to cut the deficit. Do you dispute that?

    Thus how do you do it? The govts own published figures in the red book reveal 6% cuts year on year to departmental budgets thats +18% over 3 years. Those reductions in spending will be made . Fact.

    It is quite true that if publicity is given to the idea that tory cuts will be cruel and labour cuts will be cuddly (or indeed non existent – Brown coyly talks of efficiency savings) then we might expect the tory lead to shrink.
    But any casual reflection on the reality would show that that assumption is not realistic. The cuts will be difficult no matter who implements them.

    Ms Marsh – I have no wish to misrepresent you and do not think I did, maybe I misunderstand, but anyway, we agree its wise to hold on tp the bank shares and sell them at least at break even. Your idea I believe was to wait and sell them to reduce the deficit and I pointed out that we cannot wait that long. If in fact you are saying it will be difficult to reduce the deficit – then I agree (see above).

  20. @WOLF MACNEILL
    I would’nt put it quite as harshly as you but there is certainly some accuracy in what you say. Where are you in Europe? Once that fog comes down in the channel, I could not stand the isolation.

  21. Will this affect theUKPR average once it is included?

  22. Had there been a uniform national swing in 1997, the result would have been

    Lab 390 seats
    C 211 seats
    LD 28 seats
    Oth 30 seats

    This would have given Labour an overall majority of 121 – not 179 as it actually got.
    Similarly, in 1992, the Conservatives had a majority of 21. On a UNS, it would have been over 70.

    This is a good illustration of how useless the UNS calculations are when we have a general election where the opposition party is competitive.

  23. @ANDREW

    “This is a good illustration of how useless the UNS calculations are when we have a general election where the opposition party is competitive.”

    Also a good indication as to the level of anti0Tory TV in those elections

  24. I would not read too much into these opinion polls. Anyone who actually believes them must need their heads examining. I get around a lot and can not find anyone who has said that they will be voting Labour in the general election so would like to know where this 33% figure comes from.

  25. I’ve spent so much time abroad I forget English spelling – I thought it was crystal not chrystal?

  26. Brown is not winning this election, Cameron appears to be doing all he can to throw it away.

    In a ludicrous attempt to appeal to disaffected labour supporters (never going to be successful in enough numbers) he is effectively kicking hundreds of thousands of core conservatives out. They will not stay and take it as there are other parties who will warmly welcome them, and are doing in massive numbers. (not enough numbers to give UKIP big wins, but enough to make the tories in the marginals lose against liberals and labour.

    The EU election result was a warning to CMD. Labour voters stayed home, and UKIP beat labour. Cameron assumed those UKIP voters would return to the tory fold and labour voters would stay home.

    It looks like labour voters enjoy giving the tories a kicking too much and Cameron has not given the tories who voted UKIP enough of a reason to return yet.

  27. Jenni Russell in the Guardian today is interesting about the realities of Brown’s leadership.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/25/only-paralysis-fear-pervades-workplace

  28. @Ken
    ‘he is effectively kicking hundreds of thousands of core conservatives out.’

    How’s he doing that then?

  29. Labour are closing in and the tories are starting to quiver. As Tony Blair put it, come election day David Cameron will walk into a mighty fist, fall on his backside and we can start to look forward to the GE in 2015! – In that time, London will host the Olympics, economy will be booming, England will win the world cup and everyone will feel good! :-)
    sniff sniff! hmmm whats that?? Coffee!!
    if only…..one is allowed to dream!

  30. A few months ago I posted asking if there was any evidence of a swing against the incumbent following the expenses scandal – nobody replied.

    I think the question is more relevant now that we are focusing more on marginal seats and the gap between Conservative and Labour is closing.

    If there is a swing away from the incumbent then it might be this which explains the difference between national polls and polls of marginal seats, the vast majority of which are held by labour.

    As things stand it makes little difference whether this is the case, whether it is down to Ashcroft’s millions or the poor weather we suffered recently is the cause.

    However, if the polls narrow further then seats held by the Conservatives with small majorities might start to be considered marginal. If swing against the incumbent is indeed a significant factor then Labour might start picking off these seats.

    ‘According to my theory’ swing against the incumbent exaggerates the effect of a small swing in the national poll – a relatively small swing to the Tories – they gain loads of seats. A relatively small swing to Labour – they gain loads of seats.

    Off course ‘my theory’ could be a load of rubbish. If it is I’m sure one of you will let me know!

  31. The Tory guy on the Daily Politics was talking about Tory cuts being earlier & deeper than Labour cuts. I’m baffled. I was under the impression that the Tories had realised that this sort od talk was a vote-loser (even if it’s realistically what needs to be done).

  32. if i was a betting man i would say the tories will win with a small to meduim majority

  33. @NAYLOR
    Yes one is allowed to dream but have freedom of speech it seems if it crosses the lines laid down by people like you. Your rant yesterday regarding a comment I had made to another poster absolutely reminded me why I detest the party you clearly support.
    I insulted no one and the example of abuse I used was hypothetically directed at the leader of the party I support. The fact that I used the term “gay boy” was enough to set you off into a typical hissy fit. I will not be dictated to by you or Harriet Harman on my language. As they say these days, get over it.

  34. @NAYLOR
    but not have freedom of speech is what it should read.
    I am to bloody angry to type straight.

  35. If I were a betting man I would say that the vast majority of posters who simply say:

    ‘If I were a betting man I would say the Tories will win with a small to medium majority.’

    really mean

    ‘I hope the Tories win with a small to medium majority.

  36. Gareth – it’s already in there. The polls are in order of fieldwork closing, not order of publication.

    Sue – We should let you in on the joke. There used to be a pollster who repeatedly overstepped the mark with the comments policy, but tried to claim his comments were on topic by mentioning the word POLLS in capitals.

  37. I don’t really want to enter this debate.

    However whichever party you or I support the use of the term ‘gay boy’ is pretty poor.

    Slagging off someone for pointing this out is almost as bad!

  38. @ Roland: Vaucluse, sorry for delay in replying – long continental lunch hour, warm sun beating down etc!

    But little diversion offered by much sign of close contests in imminent regional assembly elections over here. It looks like a red-green walkover right across France, as Martine Aubry (daughter of Jacques Delors) finally seems to have got her act together as opposition leader, after a very faltering start. Maybe a lesson here, but too late for DC, about flying too high too soon.
    Back to reality on Sunday, subject to fog in Channel, of course!

  39. @ C Beavin “I get around a lot and can not find anyone who has said that they will be voting Labour in the general election so would like to know where this 33% figure comes from.”

    Funnily enough I never meet anyone who says they’ll vote Tory.

    Perhaps we just mix in different circles.

    Which hopefully answers your question.

  40. @GARETH
    Well dont enter the debate then. In any event nothing is going to change.

  41. The theme ‘cut deeper and faster than labour’ is still prominent.

    This gives the impression the whole thing is about cuts not bothering about the effects. Presumably cutting to a well thought out plan is better than cutting deeper for the sake of it.

    anything you do i can do better is not a winning slogan

  42. @C Beaven – “Anyone who actually believes them must need their heads examining. I get around a lot and can not find anyone who has said that they will be voting Labour in the general election so would like to know where this 33% figure comes from.”

    I heard very similar views in 1992 and 1997 from anti Tories. The answer is pretty similar, in that people generally are polite and tend not to disagree with people who obviously hold strong views on something like politics, especially when they feel their view is generally unpopular. So the people saying ‘isn’t John Major/Gordon Brown useless’ think the entire world agrees with them, as most people they come into contact with don’t bother to challeneg the statement. A good example is my neighbour this morning complaining about gritting the roads. he blames Goardon brown and said the sooner we get him out the better. I couldn’t be bother to say that, in my view, our Labour council has been brilliant at gritting this winter, that its a council, not Westminster duty, and that I would expect gritting to get a lot worse if Cameron ran the show. He probably thinks I agree with him.
    This is supposedly the nub of Labour’s campaign strategy. they are apparently not going to spend on posters and are talking of an under the radar ‘word of mouth’ campaign. Interesting. You never know – some posters on here could have been recruited. It could even be me.

  43. @WOLF MACNEILL
    Interesting little post Wolf. I am of course bright green with envy.

  44. Roland – with the redness of anger and the greenness from envy, that should come out as a perfectly decent tan! Just ignore the personal guff, they eventually stop.

    Anthony – can you confirm YouGov has now closed its books with regard to panel members from interested parties wanting to flood in and skew the data?

  45. John TT – yep. There’s an article from Peter Kellner on the website annoucing it towards the end of last year.

  46. C BEAVEN – if you don’t believe opinion polls, what are you doing on this site?!

  47. So what do we have to look forward to next? Which poll will come out first after the mini conference at the weekend?

  48. @ Chris C – “If you don’t believe in opinion polls, what are you doing on this site?”

    Hoping they get better I guess!!!

  49. More bad news for Cameron as the current YouGov/MORI polls are confirmed by this latest analysis of local council election results in February:
    http://www.24dash.com/news/Local_Government/2010-02-26-Lift-for-Labour-in-Mansfield-council-by-elections

    “Analysis of eight comparable council results this month – with 14 weeks at most to a General Election – suggests a projected 6.6% nationwide Tory lead over Labour – in line with opinion polls.

    A calculation based on four wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of: C 36.2%; Lab 29.6%; Lib Dem 24.2%.”

  50. @ALEC
    I agree with you (tho’ not about gordie brown). I think labour are using a strategy of electioneering through the unions and this is in effect ‘talking up support’. If so this is clearly having an effect on the polls.

    I think Barack obama used a similar strategy involving call centre’s. In this country I think Labour are using the unions.

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