There is a startling YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Times. The topline figures, with changes from Thursday, are CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2) (this is from the News of the World which doesn’t have the Lib Dem figure). The 2 point lead is the smallest YouGov have recorded since the election-that-never-was back in 2007 and if repeated at a general election would leave Labour comfortably the largest party in a hung Parliament.

The poll will no doubt send a shiver through the Conservatives (and perhaps tempt Gordon Brown towards calling a general election, though the speculation over a March 25th election would require the dissolution of Parliament on Monday, and a “wash up” period for outstanding legislation of only a single day seems exceptionally unlikely. The early election rumour de jour now seems to have shifted to April.).

The question people are likely to ask is whether it is real. Well, the changes from the previous poll are well within the margin of error. YouGov’s polls this week have been very consistent in showing a 6 point lead, and these figures are actually within the margins of error of a true position of CON 38%-39%, LAB 32%-33%, which has been the position all this week. It could just be sample variation – or it could be a further narrowing of the lead. With just a single poll, it’s impossible to tell. All I can say is what I always say when a poll shows sharp movement – until we see some more polls that support or contradict the further narrowing of the polls – be wary.

With a poll like this I expect there to be a lot of rather, erm, excitable discussion, there is a second open thread here for all your gloating, yelling, arguing, ranting and hair-pulling needs, while the normal comments policy will apply here for non-partisan discussion of the poll itself.

UPDATE: The Lib Dems are on 17% and the full tables are here

350 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead dropping to TWO points”

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  1. I am aware of several attacks on my friend Kyle over alligations that the Sunday Times massaged the figures. Just to clarify, the Sunday Times wanted an angle of good news for Labour and they thought the polling figures would be a good. I know that I shouldn’t have told him but I know how much Kyle likes a good conspiricy and of his halairious rants over polling. Kyle didn’t mean any harm and this was blown out of proportion. Kyle Downing and I apolagise for any unintentional allagations made against the Times or YouGov

  2. If you look at the actual tables, then I think we can work out whether some of these theories are why there’s been a movement in the top line figures.

    The public have more sympathy with Gordon Brown aka ‘In tough times they like a battered and scared old bruiser however charmless and unpleasant’? Doesn’t look like it. On the ‘Well or badly as Prime Minister’ question:

    Last Times Poll: Well 37%, Badly 58%
    This Times Poll: Well 36%, Badly 58%

    The public have less sympathy with David Cameron aka ‘They’ve rumbled is inexperienced public schooboyness’? Dosen’t really look it either. ‘Well or badly’ for leader of the conservative party.

    Last Times Poll: Well 50%, Badly 38%
    This Times Poll: Well 50%, Badly 39%

    ‘The economy is recovering! People see this and Labour are reaping the benefits’. Uh, no. Just no. ‘State of Britain’s Economy’:

    Last Times Poll: Good 5%, Bad 74%
    This Times Poll: Good 4%, Bad 73%

    …okay if you break it down a more I concede there’s been a bit of movement from Very Bad to Quite Bad, but I’m not convinced such a movement of a couple of percentage points is significant.

    ‘George Osborne running around promising double extra super austerity has been giving people nasty flashbacks to the early 1980’s. He should put a sock in it ‘. Well, actually, I think you possibly might have something there. Tho’ whether it’s that or alternatively ‘His putting a sock in it and switching track, has sapped confidence in the Conservatives’ I couldn’t tell you. Here’s the ‘Trust more to raise your standard of living’ question:

    Last Times Poll: GB & AD 28%, DC & GO 33%, Neither 31%
    This Times Poll: GB & AD 28%, DC & GO 27%, Neither 36%

    …that one appears to be the only question other than voting intention one where the figures have changed significantly from the ones quoted for the previous poll.

  3. @ Rob Sheffield

    I apolagise for my uncalled for outburst. This thing was blown way out of proportion but I stand by my inital comments and hope this rubbish is over.

  4. What’s with the name-calling going on around here?g. There’s a thread not far away for that. I think Anthony has a couple of pair of boxing gloves just in case anyone really gets excited.

    Anyway, I didn’t read the times article, just the headline numbers and then straight here.


    Christ, that’s a relief. :-)

    RE: Cameron’s speech.

    Do you think it will turn this 2 point lead around?

  6. I doubt whether more people will buy the times to learn about a 2% lead they know about anyway.

  7. CON Deputy: The election won’t be a referendum on the Conservatives or Labour. It will be a choice between 5 more years of Gordon Brown or CHANGE to David Cameron.

    Nobody is answering the poll movement question. The CON party line in response to the polls narrowing is: “Polls fluctuate”.

    Then on the central message of the speech:
    Q. Change… to what?
    A. David laid it all out in his speech.
    Q. What did he lay out in his speech?
    A. We need a change.
    Q. But a change to what?
    A. From Gordon Brown to David Cameron.

    Interviewer gives up….

  8. I suspect it is the Tories “year for change” policy that is doing for them. It probably went down well in focus groups but the truth is that people don’t like change — different can be frightening.

    Status quo is safe and comforting, and at the moment, with an improving economy and unemployment much lower than forecast, for most people most of the time, the status quo is good.

    @ Tony M — you mean debt, not deficit. Different things.

  9. can some-one direct me to where the non-partisan thread is please?

  10. For the first time I’ve noticed articles from journalista and bloggers about what will happen to DC and the Tories if they don’t form the next government. This is very bad news for them as it’ll reinforce the perception that the current Tory fron bench are just not up to the job. As things stand it wouldn’t surprise me at all if come election day Labour and the Tories are neck and neck as I expect the Labour campaign, whilst financially leaner than the Tory campaign, to be a lot smarter.

    I am desperately trying not to be in denial or appear to be in denial. I opened my little Tory heart out to Sue yesterday, not easy for a Tory to locate his heart.
    I have yet to hear Camerons speech so I dont know.
    I am more inclined to think that the real lead is a bit higher and no, Cameron will not increase it much with his speech.


    Cameron’s speech was fine – he didn’t trip on anything but it was very similar to his closer at the previous party conference.

    Even the LAB supporters on this site are urging caution regarding this poll. I guess we’ll all have to wait & see what the next one brings.

    I expect AR to rush out a poll asap – so you have that to look forward to. I have no doubt it will lift your spirits somewhat.

    I feel vindicated by this poll although could live without it. At a significant Tory gathering in the Northern Home Counties on Friday I let loose with a Browning 12 bore automatic shot gun – both barrels. The “how can Cameron know how we cope” school are wrong. Attlee was a public school boy who oversaw the introduction of the welfare state. Cameron has got to get a grip and cease changing the direction of Tory policy every 3 days. If he does’nt [ahem… Gordon Brown – AW] will screw him.

  14. Interested to know whether anyone is revising their GE predictions in the light of taday’s poll – my prediction is currently 35(Con) 34(Lab) 22|(Lib).

  15. Kyle – there are only 3 possibilities: a) you are lying, (b) your ‘friend’ is lying, or (c) you have uncovered the biggest scandal in polling and/or newspaper publishing for 50 years.
    If it’s (c) I look forward to seeing your story on the front pages of all the papers tomorrow. If it’s (a) or (b) perhaps you could go away and leave us alone to our navel gazing…

  16. What Mark S said I reckon.
    This is only bad for the cons compared to the 20 point leads they’ve let slip, taken on it’s own….they’re still standing a good chance of victory…..for lib-dems…..this election is looking worse and worse….the ‘wasted vote’ argument is looking very strong when it’s as close as this between the main two.

  17. As a life long marketing man I know that if one has any chance with getting your message across it’s just
    got to be attractive, clear and credible.
    Why then is anyone surprised at the closing poll gap.
    As I understand the Conservative message it’s

    Stand by for an age of austerity and the rich will be
    helped with IHT reductions.

    Have I got it wrong?

  18. @SKapusniak

    “Here’s the ‘Trust more to raise your standard of living’ question:

    Last Times Poll: GB & AD 28%, DC & GO 33%, Neither 31%
    This Times Poll: GB & AD 28%, DC & GO 27%, Neither 36%”

    I think by deploying this as your fourth statistic you have- unwittingly and unintentionally- hit the nail on the head regarding the shift in public mood as indicated by the narrowing poll lead of the last few weeks.

    Two of the other three statistics are about personalities- namely the one about Brown and the one about Cameron. Much as Cameron’s inner circle would like it to be (and are banking/ relying on it being so) personalities are not going to win/ lose this crucial ‘watershed election’.

    The third one was asking about the state of the economy- well no surprise there. The economy IS in a state and that’s precisely how I would have responded along with the vast majority of respondents.

    BUT- it is the narrative about how you proceed on the economy *going forward* that matters as an economy poll number i.e. how trustworthy you are in terms of the economy, in terms of individuals and households living standards in the future. That is the important poll statistic from the four you set out in terms of the election and the narrowing lead explanation: the other three are frankly irrelevant.

    Clearly voters are beginning to think that their future wealth is best served by Labour- where they believe any party specifically has the answers or where they think another party does but were not given a chance to state that (say ‘NC & VC’- one can only assume that this pairing would have scooped up a reasonable amount of those 36% had they been an option available to respondents).

    Today we have had Cameron saying- in a KEY address at a KEY meeting during the early stages of the unofficial election campaign- that this election is about ‘me and Gordon’ (not different policies and alternative visions of two parties), and that a vote for anyone other than him is- by implication- ‘unpatriotic’.

    For the life of me I cannot fathom out how the Tories seem to have lost their political antennae to such an amazing extent.

  19. CLAD – I think News International are YouGov’s client, but the Friday polling is for the Sunday Times. How fellow newspapers within the same stable deal with their data is their business.

    Rob – Kyle’s comment is, of course, not just nonsense but nonsense on enormous stilts wearing a clown costume. As I said earlier, I saw the tables on Friday afternoon long before they went anywhere near the Sunday Times, and they showed the same 2 point lead then (indeed, for people with bonkers Kellner conspiracy theories, I saw them before Peter did too. As President of the company, Peter doesn’t actually code up the surveys, draw the samples, do the fieldwork, process the data etc himself ;) )

  20. @DAVIDB

    “Interested to know whether anyone is revising their GE predictions in the light of taday’s poll – my prediction is currently 35(Con) 34(Lab) 22|(Lib).”

    No- sticking by my 39-32-19 to Tories for at least another 7 days. I think this poll is a rogue and would like to see more data and not only from YG.

  21. Re the comments above about various combinations of Chancellor and PM: it would be good if we could “pick and mix”? Vince Cable or Alistair Darling would fairly good chancellors, but finding a PM to go with them from the 3 candidates is less easy.

    Perhaps this is why we are leaning towards a hung parliament? People want a (working) coalition?

  22. @ ROB & DAVID B

    RE: Predictions

    From out here on left field, my prediction has consistently been: CON 34, LAB 38, LIBD 21

    LAB to get larger vote share than they did in 2005 but probably less seats.


    RE: Today we have had Cameron saying- in a KEY address at a KEY meeting during the early stages of the unofficial election campaign- that this election is about ‘me and Gordon’ (not different policies and alternative visions of two parties), and that a vote for anyone other than him is- by implication- ‘unpatriotic’.

    That’s the ‘take away message’ & commentators seem to agree with your interpretation.

    He was fluent & articulate but all it amounted to was: ‘It’s me or Gordon’, take your pick.

  24. Just popped in for a few minutes-having read a few posts I would suggest we can have several collective polls- if Anthony doesn’t mind- between now and the GE. That way we can also see how our forecast changes -perhaps once a week? Any sggestions.

    I’m happy to do the spreadsheet and bring you all the %’s.

    Is that ok with you Anthony? ;-)

  25. I stand by my comments despite massive opposition. But I hope my contribution will make people stop and think and look beyond such data. A poll, any poll can give the interviewer any result they like. If one can play their cards right, they could give the Lib Dems a one point lead. My friend could have been slightly wrong, I admit that but its a poll not something that is going to change the world. You won’t hear the last from me and I hope in future we will have more sensable discusions.

  26. Actually, maybe Cameron made one faux pas that might be picked up by the voters.

    He accused LAB of being a tired & worn out after 13 years. He then went on to say that the LAB cabinet has undergone many reshuffles but CON shadow cabinet hasn’t changed.

    This may beg the question:
    Aren’t the oppostion cabinet more tired then? &
    Where are their “shadow” policies, they’ve had 12 years to think about them but little to show for it?

    One thing that gets up my hooter is the contention that I live in the past because I am 63 years old. Therefore, my attitude to Europe for example is due to the Kaiser supporting the Boers or some such.

    I think you and I see eye to eye on certain things because we both understand that 50 years is half a heart beat in historical terms. Also I think we both understand that a country, lets say Russia as an eg,
    does’nt change its long term plans and goals whether it is led by Czar Nick or the old mate Josef Vissarionovich Dujgashvili.

  28. There’s something interesting to note:

    The prediction tool on this website with this poll gave the result of Labour sort by 9 seats of an overall majority.

    On Electoral Calculus’s prediction tool, it gave the result of Labour short by 5 of an overall majority.

    The reason why i’m pointing this out is because this site’s prediction tool is usually more favorable towards Labour.

  29. Re ‘year for change’ – beggars constantly ask for change. The real point is what do they want the change for?

    Didn’t see Cameron’s speech today, but extremely angry that he is reported as talking about ‘his patriotic duty’ etc. By implication he is decrying his opponents belief in their own country – something I have always found the refuge of the dishonest and dishonourable. Enough to lose my vote for sure, but overall not sure how the speech will impact upon the polls, if at all.

  30. I thought Cameron’s speech was a missed opportunity for the Tories. It was about rallying the faithful & preaching to the converted. Still banging on about how awful GB is. I can’t see how it’s going to reverse the decline in the polls.

    I think the English floating voter is on average slightly left of centre and needs positive persuasion to vote Conservative rather than Labour or LibDem.

  31. @ALEC
    “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”
    What a soundbite for Gordon Brown.

    He was fluent & articulate but all it amounted to was: ‘It’s me or Gordon’, take your pick.”

    With my new apolitical hat on, thats not so bad when you look at there personal ratings is it? Now I know Gordy has improved but he is still way back.

    It depends where you bide Derek. They burn Tories at the stake on Tyneside and where I live Labour voters are locked in padded cells. LDs are treated as a joke in both places.


    Fair point, sir.

  35. AL J

    You can do it continuously by “declaring” results seat-by-seat, which might give a better picture than the national polls.

    Anthony, care to place the link within each constituency page on this site?

  36. @BOBBY

    “The reason why i’m pointing this out is because this site’s prediction tool is usually more favorable towards Labour.”

    Yes that is interesting (he said genuinely as a true geek)- I wonder why that might be- changed model?

    Anyone with any experience of both have an idea about this?

  37. I think that the markets have been pricing in a Tory election victory. I wonder what impact the recent polls will have on the market. It the market gets the wobbles, and the pound crashes yet further, I wonder whether it will have any impact on Labour’s fortunes. Probably not.

  38. @Roland Haines

    I live in the Tories No 1 target seat, but I come from Teesside. Labour may lose seats on Teesside, incredible though it may seem, due to the Corus situation.

    Safe seats are, in any case, irrelevant in the electoral calculus.

  39. Bobby/Rob – Martin Baxter’s projection is no longer a purely proportional system, but it is still proportional to some extent. Crudely put, that means it will show more seats changing hands on large swings than UNS, and fewer seats changing hands on smaller swings than UNS. Certainly mine is just UNS, and hasn’t changed since it went up there.

    Al J – course it’s OK with me.

    Kyle – “I stand by my comments”.
    You what? Did you actually read the rest of the comments? I saw the figures on Friday before they went to the Sunday Times. Unless the Sunday Times editor not only changed the figures, but also went back in a time machine to change the figures before they ever left the YouGov office, then it’s hokum of the higher order.

  40. Capital flight is not pretty, just had a note from a Far Eastern client calling for an urgent meeting am, can only be one reason………..aaaarrrggh!!

  41. @KEN

    “… just had a note from a Far Eastern client calling for an urgent meeting am, can only be one reason………..aaaarrrggh!!”

    Ha ha ha – very entertaining- is that the first line of your novel !

    You’ll find the city- just like every other part of society- is divided in opinion about the best way forward in terms of economic policy.

    Hence the difference in terms of economists/ analysts and bankers opinions (amongst other groups of “professionals”).

    What would cause a short term panic (until the situation was sorted out) would be a hung parliament.

    “The city”- in general- would prefer a Labour government being re-elected to a hung parliament- unfortunately for them as that is what we are on course for.

  42. cheers for explanation Anthony

  43. @ Amber Star re: the shadow cabinet
    have only caught snatches of DC’s speech but for me what was nauseating was all the nodding heads behind him. They’d obviously all been told to look earnest and agree alot with what he said (even tho’ they like us had heard it all before) but it had the effect of looking like little buoys bobbing about on the waves to such an extent it made me quesy. And yes exactly, if the shadow cabinet are all so good at their jobs how come we’ve never heard from them or their policies?

  44. @ROB SHEFFIELD……….I wish it was.

  45. C4 news: latest “bully gate” nonsense is from a recording that the interviewee had insisted be kept confidential and has a signed declaration to that effect !!

    Yet again an error by the paper concerned and whoever gave them the green light……

    Oh come on Rob, Amber, Al, Jay ect, if the City of London dont want hung its your civic duty to vote Tory.

  47. @KEN

    “@ROB SHEFFIELD……….I wish it was.”

    Dont worry yourself: after the dust of the election has settled they’ll (as in the few being advised- incorrectly- to cash in their chips) will be back with avengence.


    “have only caught snatches of DC’s speech but for me what was nauseating was all the nodding heads behind him”

    I’ve always felt this approach- from whatever party (and they have all done it- and expect more over the next 7/8 weeks) is pretty unedifying.

    I can’t understand the rationale- ditto when they try and match the entire spectrum of UK demographic in the 4×3 places directly behind a speaker (yanks awful habit of always doing this ).

  49. There is something very wrong somewhere if the Tories’ lead falls from 16 points to two points in just one month.
    This must be unprecedented in the history of polling.
    There must surely be some methodology or arithmetical mistake somewhere along the line – either that or public opinion is more volatile than ever.

  50. ITV ( not in my opinion the best friends of Gordon Brown) have been running this story today. Their interviewees say that they don’t like Brown much but Cameron just hasn’t done anything that would make them go out and vote for him.
    The view is that the UK middle classes have had it pretty easy so far.If Brown can keep things going until polling he may do as well or better than this poll suggests.The Tories frankly have just been weird – do you go to a foreign country and say you are going to be more pro-gay than Labour if you are serious about power?

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