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. @ Trevorsden – A poll is a poll is a poll. Sure there might be the odd anomaly, the odd rogue, a dodgy weighting, but overall I look at trend. Clutching at straws won’t change a thing

  2. I posted this on theother thread but better post it here too.

    Anthony has kindly given the go-ahead for us to have regular polling predictions up to the election.
    I suggest we hold them on Sunday evenings so we can all have time to digest the latest week end polls. Now that I have started a spreadsheet it should take just a matter of minutes to give the result of our collective effort.
    If everybody could descend on Anthony’s site during certain hours on a Sunday evening I could collect the data and post the average at a given time. Any suggestions on the timing?
    It is just a bit of fun – so I hope everyone will join in. If required I could post all contributors predictions at the same time so we can see it as a table.

  3. Sue I don’t remember meeting you. I was only in the Brighton Labour Party briefly in the early 80s, in St Peter’s Ward (then quite safe Labour). I did however continue to come down & knock up in their annual elections for a long while afterwards & worked for old time’s sake in 1997 canvassing in St Peters. I also helped Labour take control of Hove Council in 1995. :)

  4. COLIN – as you say and me too, the public are believing that the rebalancing of our economy can be done without cuts. Labour are pretending it can be painless

    If we are to have a budget then the scale of public expenditure cuts under labour will be made clear. Of course these cuts would be the same under the tories. Thats because there is no alternative.

    Any argument about timing is facile – we are basically talking about 6 months.

    If labour are being successful at frightening the electorate about the tories over these cuts I do not think its so much being ‘clever’ as the public being ill in formed by the media. You could say the tories are at fault, but who is it that reports whatever the tories say?

  5. Sue and Amber:

    I’m sticking to my predictions as well .

    I’m hoping Al’s kept a record ‘cos I’ve forgotten exactly what they were, mind you, but they were jolly good and very similar to yours I think.

    I’ve been predicting a hung parliament for a couple of years based on a gut feeling that there will be a lot more people than me who will find the Tory party still singularly unattractive, once they start seeing and hearing them on a daily basis.

  6. Sue/Trevor – if you’ve nothing to say that’s about polls, there is an open thread…

    AL J – don’t just descend on a general thread. I’ll set up a specific thread or something like that if it’s something people want (I did intend to do it myself and set up a proper form that would write everyone’s prediction to a database… but given I’ve been intending to do it for about a year and there are now less than 10 weeks to the election, it ain’t going to happen is it?)

  7. Anthony

    That would be great if you open up a special thread.

    I don’t know how many people are in favour -last night we had 27 -but lots are not here at the mo to ask.

  8. @ Anthony & Al J

    I think it would be GR8 if Anthony can give us a thread for predictions from all us ‘dafties’ ;-)

  9. It’s amazing that there are 10 mentions of ‘Thatcher’ or ‘Thatcherite’ on this thread so far. Can’t people get over her? After all, no-one under about 40 was even of voting age when she lost power. And let’s not forget that her record at General Elections was Won 3 Lost 0. She must have done something that appealed to voters. To hear some people, you would think she was a cross between Stalin and Hitler.

    On these polls – things are not looking good for the Tories. Darling seems to be going against Brown, so if Labour win, his career is over. This means that we will have at least another 5 years of spending money that we don’t have.
    (Darling is relatively sensible).

    Why can’t other non-Tories see that we need to call in the administrators as Portsmouth FC did recently, to try to sort out the financial shambles caused by the present ‘owners’?

    PS I think that the election will be called earlier than May, because Brown will want to take advantage of relativelt favourable polls before the Tory money machine has much chance to make a difference.

    PPS I also watched the program tonight and noted the absence of Cromwell’s suppression of the levellers. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person on here with an education. I do wonder sometimes.

  10. Amber –

    No, not necessarily codswallop. When I wrote that post on why Angus Reid was showing different figures I said at the end it could be something to do with panel. It really is impossible for outside observers to tell much about the quality of an online company’s panel, so there’s a natural inclination when we are looking for reasons for the difference to focus on things we can see like the questions or the weighting, but things like the panel could be just as important.

    I’ve no way of judging other companies panels so I don’t want to say anything that might be taken as implying there could be a problem. I’ve no reason at all to think there is. I’m sure Angus Reid are aware of the problem, since their panel guru once worked at YouGov and certainly knew about it then – I’m sure she won’t have forgotten! YouGov has the advantage of panel size – to skew a panel of 300,000 you need a lot more people to join than you would to skew a panel of 40,000, but there are plenty of ways to check for people up to no good.

    I like to think that I and my colleagues are “in tune with the UK political atmosphere”… but really there’s not much you can do. When figures come in and look wierd, yes, you might go through them and double check everything. You might run lots of extra demographic cross breaks to see if there is something dodgy, something unusual with the sample. If it all checks out though, you’ve just got to trust the data. It’s not like pollsters can chuck out polls they don’t like the look of or think look a bit wierd (or at least, you can’t do that and retain your integrity!)

  11. Anthony,

    Any progress in presenting the YouGov Sund tracker polls as a weekly compilation.

    Peter.

  12. On polls – its true different polls can detect the same trend but their final predictions can all be different.

    And no one seems to be shedding any light on the weightings issues.

    re – ‘Thatcher’ or ‘Thatcherite’ — one significant issue is that labour are not repealed any tory trade union legislation. So the significance of her govt is quite profound.

    And indeed given the need for public spending cuts I doubt labour would be keen to if (let us speculate) they were re-elected.

    The election may well come before May – but only to pre-empt 1Q GDP figures. January data was very poor, Febs should be interesting. Is it too late for Mar 25?

  13. Cheers Anthony, I know it is late so you may have gone to bed, however, in the usual routine of things, who generally will have the next poll. Or is there no sort of timescale for polls now, seeing we are near to the election?

  14. Anthony,

    Thank you very much for the response.

    It’s great to have a little back ground about the AR guru. I’m guessing she’ll be trying to ‘reconcile’ the differences between AR & the other polls.

    YouGov’s record was detailed in the Sunday Times today. It’s very impressive. They were definitely heading off any potential doubters.

    Everybody will be on tenterhooks until tomorrow night at 10pm – ish.

  15. Any polls due tonight?

  16. @ Anthony – “Sue/Trevor if you’ve nothing to say about polls there is an open thread…”

    I have only talked about polls on this thread? every post but one friendly exchange with Barnaby when we realised we might know each other?

  17. Red Rag – I think we should still have the normal rota. The next poll due is ComRes in the Indy, which will likely be out tomorrow evening for the Tuesday paper.

    Geraint – shouldn’t be anything tonight, no.

    Sue – I didn’t mean you were, I was backing up your comment to Trevor about this being the poll for talking about polls :)

  18. Oh good, phew. Thought I’d been posting on the wrong ones for a minute there.

  19. @Colin – “ALEC @ 5.40 pm

    So how do you feel about the much used “Labour values are British values”?”
    I think Amber summed this up. There really is a world of difference in saying that you believe your values are in tune with your countries values (whatever that is meant to mean) and saying by implication that you are unpatriotic (guilty of treason?) if you support another party. It’s crass and offensive.

    Later you said – “but Cameron quite often just says what he believes, whether it’s considered “risky” by concerned Labour voters or not.”

    I disagree. Reading the reports of the Cameron camp in the Spectator its pretty clear that he doesn’t believe in anything much. His close advisers have admitted ‘he’s more right wing than you think’ and ‘he’s not interested in policy’. Jeff Randall clearly thinks he’s a liar, based on his dealing with him while he was at Carlton. He has ruthless ambition – beliefs don’t come into it. Stop pretending and just talk about policy. [BTW – I found Brown’s ‘son of the manse’ stuff just as turgid].

    CONSPIRACY ALERT; Mandelson is orchestrating a scheme whereby Darling and Brown appear to be slightly antagonstic. Shortly, briefing will start that if Labour win, Brown won’t go the distance and will hand over to Darling. Everyone loves a Badger, Cameron stuffed, and surely a joke somewhere about TB (for our agricultural readers).

  20. By the way, I also like the prediction game (Al J = maybe we could add in the fantasy cabinet idea for fun too???? just a thought though.)
    and can’t wait for the next poll, whatever it shows.

  21. @Pete B – she won three elections, but with only around 42% of the vote, and less at each election. She was divisive and the divides she created still resonated.

    You could say the same about Blair, of course, which is part of the reason why he’s the other big figure of the past thirty years. It’s just that Labour hated Thatcher on ideological grounds more than the Tories could ever really hate Blair on ideological grounds. Hell, the major force keeping the Labour Party together is how much we hate Thatcher. And I was three months old when she won her third term.

    @Anthony – you say you’re only polling for the tracker on weekdays for now. Does that mean you’re changing nearer the polling date? And if so, does YouGov have measures in place to deal with the possibility of getting unrepresentative samples? Or is the issue of weekend contacts only really of concern to telephone pollsters?

  22. next poll : (my bit of fun) Con 39 Lab 33 Lib 21

  23. Alec, does anybody actually like Darling? Lobby journalists aside, obviously?

    Brown could be spun as the heir apparent because he was the natural successor and because as he hated Blair a lot of Blair-hates automatically liked him.

    Whereas Darling is grey and doesn’t have his own massive base of support. If you’re going to spread that kind of rumour, you’d name somebody like Ed Miliband.

  24. @Edward Carlsson Browne

    “Hell, the major force keeping the Labour Party together is how much we hate Thatcher. And I was three months old when she won her third term.”

    So you have no personal experience of her regime. Is this some sort of tribal thing? It’s a bit like me saying I hate Lloyd George because my grand-dad said he was a womaniser.

    To bring it back to polling – This Labour government only polled 42% in 1997. 2005 was 35% of the vote. They got a higher percentage in 1979 when Lady Thatcher won her first term. So my question to you is – who was more popular with the British people – Lady Thatcher or Blair/Brown?

    Oh – and for God’s sake – Get Over Her!

  25. I believe this poll is on the edge of the ‘margin of error’ but there is certainly a steady narrowing of the Tory lead at the moment
    Plenty of time to move the other way again but there is certainly less certainty about a Tory landslide now
    I still think they’ll win comfortably but a few more polls like this will make things very interesting

  26. @Anthony

    Thanks for the reply earlier. I guess with the Sunday Times poll being a historic contract, YouGov have no terms under which they could negotiate a release time for results.

    As I said earlier, i think the open thread is an excellent idea. No matter what you do you will always get the overtly partisan comments.

    May I make a suggestion, and suggest that the open thread be the most recent thread. Most people will comment on said thread, human nature I suppose.

    Sometimes I will just read the comments, as many of the other posters are a great deal more erudite than me, when it comes to psephology . But having to scroll through some of the less well thought out comments can become a little annoying.

  27. Anthony

    There is a new MORI Scotland poll in The Times tomorrow which shows an amazing contrast with the YouGov survey.

    The headline figures are

    LAB 34 (-5) SNP 32 (+14) TORY 17 (+1) LIB 12 (-11)

    CHANGES SINCE LAST ELECTION

    Could you get the full tables?

  28. @EX-PAT

    If the polling is right, and the rest of their polling is right, and Labour are losing support in Scotland, then this is paradoxically a *good* thing for them. Labour stack up a lot of their ‘wasted vote’ in Scotland. So if they’ve fallen in Scotland, but risen over the whole of the UK, then they must have made up substantial ground in England.

  29. ex pat

    The differences between the two polls are:

    Lab -4 SNP +11 Con -3 LD -3

    it looks a little bit rogueish to me I have to say though that could just be the meme du jour !

    Times headline for this poll however is interestingly:

    “Salmond’s ratings slump as Brown stages revival”…!

    Further snippets

    “The SNP would win ten seats at the General Election, three more than they have at present and better than predicted in other recent polls — but still far short of Mr Salmond’s boast of winning 20 seats. Labour would win 37 seats — four fewer than in 2005. ”

    “But if the evidence from the poll is rather sobering for Mr Salmond, it is positively gloomy for the Scottish Conservatives with still no sign of a “Cameron bounce” north of the Border which would result in a significant increase in the number of Tory MPs from Scotland in the Commons. ”

    “David McLetchie, the Scottish Tory election campaign chief, tried to downplay the poll. “In 11 seats … the Conservatives are well placed to win.”

    It also says something that I was told by my now infamous Scottish (and Scotland based) brother-in-law:

    “However, Mr Brown, who has appeared beleaguered in recent months in the face of a string of negative media stories, appears to have found a groundswell of sympathy and support in his native country. ”

    Seems that he was giving me accurate reports on the picture up there….

  30. Maybe more Scots will vote SNP if Labour is seemingly going to win in the country generally? They are then free to vote with conscience without bothering about stopping Tories.

  31. Thanks Rob.

    I saw the typically biased and totally daft story line in the times.

    This is a seriously good poll for the NATS and a worrying one for Labour.

    It is completely incompatible with YouGov and my money would be on MORI being mostly right and YouGov being mostly wrong.

  32. @EDWARD CARLSSON BROWNE

    You are wrong to say Mrs Thatcher had a declining vote over her premiership she infact had more total votes in 1987 than she had in 1979 just the turnout fluctuations resulted in a miniscule change in percentage Also John major managed to gaina record breaking 14 million vote total never since or before beaten in 1992

    Labour however under Blair saw a massive hemorrhaging of votes since 1997 losing more than 4 million voters I dont see any reason to think this trend wont continue Figures below:

    Conservative

    1979 13,697,923

    1983 13,012,316

    1987 13,760,935

    1992 14,093,007

    Labour

    1997 13,518,167

    2001 10,724,953

    2005 9,562,122

  33. Just thinking of the Maggie questions from earlier. “13 mentions of Thatcher or Thatcherite” I would argue it IS relevant today.

    More than at any time before her, Maggie polarised politics. She took the country in a very different direction and like Marmite, you either loved her or hated her. No middle ground for Maggie
    If a week is a long time in politics, then it turns out 13 years is not so long. A lot of moderate Labour voters believe Labour HAVE moved broadly in the direction they wanted, but they still feel they’re only really reversing the decline of the late eighties/early nineties
    Maggie took the country down an 11 year path that many hated so much, they will never forget it.
    The Tories loved her so much, they can’t quite shake her image away and move on – or can they now?
    The fact that today, Cameron’s “We’ve changed” message needs to be made at all is because so many still believe Maggie (or her ethos) still run the show behind the scenes.
    I think when some say “Maggie” they mean monetarist too.
    If Tories think Blair or Brown turned voters off, then I think that fails to truly understand how much Maggie contributed to the “Toxic Brand” problem that Cameron thought he could shake off (jury’s still out on that, obviously.)
    Her “evil” (as perceived) entered popular culture in films, songs, comedy and somewhere around 97 (or before) there was a sea change.
    A winning slogan for the Tories would probably be “We think Maggie was wrong on many things” (just as Blair had to break with Clause four) because in my opinion, it is the sceptre of Maggie that still dogs the Tories today and is causing such a swift and significant wobble in the polls.
    Finally, the Tories were still warning about 1979 and Winters of discontent in the 97 election, so it’s not new. I’ve even heard some on these threads mention it lately…..
    So (and sorry it took so long to get to the polling point here) I would argue that this sudden disintegration of the Tory vote (if indeed that’s what it is) has almost more to do with Maggie than it has with Cameron. It could be that this election will be the one that either rejects or confirms the Toxic Brand of the Tory eighties. And for all our supposition, it could STILL be that causing the narrowing gap……

  34. POLL ALERT – QUARTERLY IPSOS-MORI SCOTTISH MONITOR

    Ipsos-MORI/Times
    Westminster voting intention – Scotland
    (+/- change from November Monitor)

    Lab 34% (+2)
    SNP 32% (-2)
    Con 17% (+2)
    LD 12% (n/c)

    “Ipsos MORI Scotland interviewed 1,006 Scottish voters by telephone between February 18 and 21.”

    So, that was at the same time as the 17th – 24th February 2010 YouGov for the Scottish Sun was out in the field:

    Lab 42%, SNP 20%, Con 19%, LD 14%

    The Lib Dem and Tory figures are within the MoE of the Ipsos-MORI figures, but how can YouGov find a 22% Lab lead over the SNP, but Ipsos-MORI find only a 2% Labour lead? It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  35. HOLYROOD VOTING INTENTION

    The Times only makes a very brief mention:

    – “… the SNP is still maintaining a clear lead over Labour when it comes to the first-past-the post section of the Holyrood vote.

    Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP deputy leader, described the poll findings as “fantastic”. She added; “We are neck-and-neck with Labour in Westminster voting intentions, and we have a substantial 7-point lead in Scottish Parliament voting intentions.””

  36. The Times – “… Mr Brown, who has appeared beleaguered in recent months in the face of a string of negative media stories, appears to have found a groundswell of sympathy and support in his native country.”

    I note that the Times report does the classic biased analysis of opinion polling, by comparing Mr Salmond’s satisfaction rating the the Ipsos-MORI monitor of 6 months ago, not the most recent November monitor. I thought that this kind of thing was against BPC rules?

    Here are the satisfaction ratings (net) compared with the November MORI Monitor:

    Gordon Brown +4 (up 12 points on November 2009)
    Alex Salmond +1 (down 3 points on Nov)
    David Cameron ? (he was at -11 in Nov)

  37. Not sure if all news media on TV covered the story this morning about imminent massive council spending cuts, the BBC spent a lot of air time on it.
    The BBC conducted a survey, so it might just be a BBC story, about councils reducing spending by up to about 15%, even went as far as saying one council is stopping offering biscuits with tea at council meetings.
    Superficially, this might sound trivial but, I think that the BBC seems to have swung round a little towards the Tories, coupled with the excellent coverage of Cameron’s speech, this announcement of council cuts under a Labour controlled Westminster, can’t do the Tories any harm at all in polls.
    May be just coincidence in this announcement’s timing but, somehow, it seems planned to coincide with Cameron’s speech.
    Just a thought.

  38. TREVORSDEN

    “If labour are being successful at frightening the electorate about the tories over these cuts I do not think its so much being ‘clever’ as the public being ill in formed by the media. You could say the tories are at fault, but who is it that reports whatever the tories say?”

    I do say the Tories are at fault.
    Labour’s campaign is all about the Cons-not themselves.And it is entirely negative.
    Of course that is reasonable-but there is a difference between negative interpretation of an opponents policy, to downright lies about it.
    Tories should be refuting this stuff daily-and making Labour answer for their own past record.

    “Any argument about timing is facile – we are basically talking about 6 months.”

    Of course it is-and we are seeing beneath the fascade bit by bit-the LOcal Councils survey on jobs today-Lian Byrne on the NHS cuts a few days ago.
    That made me think.

    It would not surprise me to sa Budget of detailed cuts announcements and a switch to “Labour tougher than Tories on cuts”. If they do it at the last minute-who knows-and the long road from “Investment” to “Cuts”-( still clutching a wildly spinning moral compass) will be complete.

  39. I think it shows amazing ineptitude by the tories, they rested on their laurels and somehow let Gordon Brown put up a genuine fight for this election after just a month ago he looked doomed. I seriously think that the Lib Dems will side with Labour if there is a hung parliament, Labour certainly have the momentum at the moment, Cameron’s leadership is going under its most severe test ever and so far he is failing bad. If Brown turns this around it will be one of the biggest political shocks of all time, but it is becoming more and more realistic. Anyone for 6/1 Labour Majority now? I think I mighty have a little flutter…

  40. @SUE MARSH
    Agree so much with what you say, I know a few people who have moved away from Labour but have now or are thinking of moving back, because they fear the ‘Maggie’ in the background effect, real or imagined.

  41. BARRY P – not sure this will help the Tories. If they are being perceived as ‘harder and faster’ on cuts then the spectre of what even Labour’s cuts might mean could scare people even more about the Tories plans…

  42. Athony:

    Sure you’ve answered this elsewhere but I can’t find it. Is the Yougov tracker polling the same panel or is it a new sample with each poll?

  43. @ Darren Bruce

    You seem to have forgotten the Conservative trend:

    1992: 14.1m
    1997: 9.6m
    2001: 8.4m
    2005: 8.8m

    I too see no reason why this trend should be reversed. Many of the voters to the right of the Conservatives (roughly 2.5m) will either vote UKIP or won’t bother to turn out.

  44. Robert: I’m not a Conservative but I do like clarity: from your figures above the downward trend has, between 2002 and 2005, ALREADY been reversed.

  45. AW
    A recurring theme here is whether AR has credibility. Surely, if a pollster records a variance of more than 3 points from the others’ average for any one party, is that not prima facie evidence that the method must be more than suspect. I mean is there any history of such ‘out on a limb’ variance being the correct prediction?

  46. From the FT

    “British government debt is already trading at prices that suggest it has lost its prized top credit rating, heightening concerns that investors already view gilts as less than triple?A-rated assets and demand greater rewards for holding them.

    Since the end of November, the gap between the interest rate Britain and Germany must pay on 10-year government debt has risen from 0.35 percentage points to 0.9 points.
    Market uncertainty has risen as the Tory opinion poll lead has narrowed, raising the prospects of a hung parliament and questions about whether a weak government could successfully tackle Britain’s deficit.”

  47. Colin – that could easily lead to a Labour lead and a Labour majority.

  48. The last time the WMA CLead was this low (5.6) was 14/12/08. And indeed a poll around then put their lead down to 1. One month later their lead was 8 and 2 months later it was 15.

  49. @BARNABY L MARDER
    “My my Roland. I may not like David Cameron very much, but I think a comparison with Heydrich is somewhat far-fetched”…….

    Barnaby, I dont think I expressed myself very clearly.
    I dont compare loverly Dave with Heydrich, or St Gordon with Stalin, but having read opinions in everything from the Spectator to the Guardian many non committed people have very negative views of both men. (Some committed ones are not that keen.)
    I think my poor explanation is due to the strain of struggling in a washed up, unpopular, right wing political party.

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