New Harris/Metro poll

There is a new Harris poll in this morning’s Metro. The topline figures are CON 35%(-1), LAB 28%(nc), LDEM 17%(-1). Others are up to 20%. Changes are from Harris’s previous poll and are well within the margin of error.

The Metro, for some unknown reason, have chosen to draw comparisons from the poll before that – perhaps because it makes it look more dramatic. They claim this poll shows support for the main parties being hit by the fuss over the fake lobbyist sting, which is rather tenuous given that the fieldwork was conducted between last Wednesday and this Monday (so two thirds was before the story broke) and that it doesn’t actually show any notable movement from the previous poll.

Anyway, I have also had a look at the tables for the poll, so have some more details of Harris’ method. Unlike most other UK pollsters, they do start out by asking people whether they are registered to vote and excluding the 4% who say no and 3% who are not sure. They also use a squeeze question on people who say they are undecided, and while they ask likelihood to vote using a verbal scale, I don’t think they actually filter or weight by it.

On weighting, Harris use age, gender, education, region and internet usage (obviously all users are online, but some people are more online than others – this is their way of controlling differences between “fast responders” and “slow responders”). Education is unusual, as is the absence of social class as a weighting variable. Finally Harris weight by their own “propensity scoring” – a figure they have calculated themselves to deal with the differences between people who join online panels and take surveys, and the majority of people who do not. It is based on attitudinal, behavoural and demographic characteristics and calculated by comparing the online sample to a representative face-to-face sample, and weighting as appropriate.


270 Responses to “New Harris/Metro poll”

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  1. In 2005, did the polls move much during the campaign and did the actual results confirm the average ratings?

  2. The second poll in a row showing the Tories at just 1.8% above their 2005 result. Catastrophic.

  3. Oooh, first comment.

    This paints a much bleaker picture than ICM, Mori or YouGov. Quite clearly, the methodology is down to it.

  4. Damn!

  5. Metro’s reporting around the polls does seem… odd.

  6. Any hope of a tory majority is all but gone. too close to an election to claw themselves back

    if we accpet previosu trends that the liberals do best in the campaign we are in for a very interesting election night…

  7. I know it has been said before, but I remember elections back to 1951. After all the disasters to hit New Labour since the last election, and with a new, young Conservative leader, it amazes me that the Tories cannot poll anywhere near 40%. They are not going o win this election. I am beginning to think that ‘others’ may well poll over 20%.

  8. The Metro’s reporting on polls really angers me. They are picking and choosing the figures they like in order to spin the story they want regardless of the true picture of their poll trends. They commission a poll, write a story and then fit the two together as necessary. It’s bad enough but understandable for political parties to spin polls this way, for a newspaper to do it is shocking and should be a matter for some regulator somewhere.

  9. Based on this set of polls (nine different companies)

    I would forsee a

    Labour 34%
    Tory 35%
    Liberals 22%

  10. The campaigns proper haven’t started yet, plenty of time for change. :-)

  11. Angus Reid 13%
    Harris 7%
    opinium 7%
    ICM 6%
    Mori 5%
    You Gov 4 %

    This averages out to a 7% Tory lead. (i have excluded BPIX)

  12. @EOIN CLARKE

    I tend to agree with you, both main parties around 35% and the LibDems around 20%.

    All polls show a real narrowing of the gap between Labour and the Conservatives, we need an Angus Reid poll to see where they are going, I suspect they will show the Conservatives around 35% and Labour around 28%, they seem to follow other pollsters in showing the narrowing with their figures matching other pollsters except for Labour where they are always 5 or more points lower.

  13. Strangely these Westminister scandals are helping Labour! If that is you do not believe Labour can achieve an overall majority and therefore their best hope is hung parliament (I simply don’t see the LIbDems backing a Tory led Government!). These stories seem to damage both main parties increasing the votes going to the other parties and therefore strengthening the likelihood of a hung Parliament.

  14. @EOIN CLARKE
    How does a 7 point lead take us to lab 35 tory 35?

  15. Two in a row show 35% Conservative and 7 of the last 10 are 35 or 36. A pretty poor run.

  16. @roland,

    In my humble opinion?

    well first i said 34 / 35 (go back and check)

    second I doubt the value of a harris or AR or opinium….

    that leaves us with a 5% difference

    eg Tories 37,
    labour 32,

    i see two points coming off the tories and going to labour- i think this will materialsie (as i did in major’s election) in silent contemplation of the electoral booth..

    (i have never bought the “its the sun wot won it”)

    i advise you put a bet on- you would make a small fortune…

  17. the first thought I had when I saw this was 2 in a row showing 35%!

    however it should also not be forgotten that the Tories are consistently leading in every poll being produced, and Labour seem to be able to get no closer than 4% behind at the moment

  18. @ John

    And how much down are labour, at 28%, on their 2005 result I wonder?

  19. Eoin Clarke,
    Liberals 22%

    I wish! The Liberal Party (liberal.org.uk) does not currently contest Westminster seats.

    The L-D’s no longer bear any resemblance to a Liberal party save for their commitment to electoral reform.

  20. The real drama of the polls will be whether they provide a “tipping” point. In my view if the Lib Dems get close to the mid-20’s and the Tories drop close to the mid-30’s [say 24% versus 36%] then absolutely anything can happen. The Labour figures are, at present, less critical in this.

    I’ve predicted a hung parliament for two years: I just wish I’d put money on it. On recent figures I can’t see a Conservative majority and don’t feel the electorate really want a freshly empowered Gordon Brown and Ed Balls at the treasury.

    The debates and especially Darling/Osborne**/Cable will be critical.

    ** Please note correct spelling.

  21. Ultimately this election will come down to the Labour vote share if the polls are to be believed. Everyone pretty much agrees the Tories are on 35% or just above. Whether or not Labour are in the mid to high twenties or the low thirties is the issue. And it must be said, even given the rise of the Lib Dems (as pointed out above, the Liberals are a fringe party that now only exist with any force in Liverpool, the LDs are the third party and hold almost 10% of MPs) I’m not sure I can believe Labour will fall much if at all below 30%, they didn’t in 79 and the Tories didn’t in 97. I think the Tories need to get to 40%, or they won’t get a decisive win, I don’t buy they can rely on Labour dropping so far that 35-37% gives them a good majority.

  22. I can’t see either party winning a majority, if the current polls are anything to go. Although this makes the election more exciting, it will probably mean that neither party would rule for more than a year or so (if that!) i.e. I think there would almost certainly be another GE within a year.

    The problem is that history shows that even a very small majority is problematic for the ruling party – and both parties are a long, long way from getting a 1 seat majority at the moment!

  23. The striking feature of this poll is just how unpopular BOTH Labour AND the Conservatives actually are. And they also indicate a low support for the Liberals.

    Labour and Conservatives added together get 63 percent of the vote. Perhaps we’ll have a Labour / Conservative coalition, with the other parties forming the opposition.

  24. “Strangely these Westminister scandals are helping Labour!” – Mark B

    Hmmm, it does seem odd… could it be possible that the continued sleaze stories are having the effect of rapidly reducing likliehood to vote among swing voters, reducing parties to their core support bases? It would go some way towards explaning the narrowing of the polls – personally, I haven’t sensed anything of a recent swing from the Tories back to Labour, more just an increased sense that people simply don’t care.

  25. I’ve got to be honest – as a Tory, I wouldn’t mind a hung parliament at all! As long as Labour don’t get a majority/public mandate, I would definitely take that.

    My main wish is basically to deprive Labour of government (which still looks extremely likely, even if it does for the Tories too!)

  26. Matt,

    You don’t think that a coalition government could last more than a year? So long as both parties are on side, they won’t lose a vote of no confidence. it would be a matter of one of the parties deciding they couldn’t go on which is a matter of both of them being willing to co-operate.

    A minority government is another thing. As soon as the other party thinks they can win an overall majority, they’ll call a confidence vote.

  27. John:

    That was a very grown-up post: well done.

  28. “You don’t think that a coalition government could last more than a year? So long as both parties are on side, they won’t lose a vote of no confidence. it would be a matter of one of the parties deciding they couldn’t go on which is a matter of both of them being willing to co-operate.”

    I don’t think so. The Lib Dems and a Labour or Tory coalition wouldn’t work imo – especially if Labour wins, and the Lib Dems insist on proportional representation (which would damage Labour severely in subsequent elections).

    I think a coalition would be formed, but I don’t think it would last long at all!

  29. I also think that were Labour to be the largest party and form a Lib Dem coalition, they still would struggle to win a GE shortly after (by trying to win an outright majority), especially in light of spending cuts/bad budgets that will have to happen (whoever gets in) shortly after this GE.

  30. @John,

    You should seek to avoid fulfilling stereotypes.

    My opinions are simply that- yours are equally valid, in every respect. Even ones that tell me I’m full of pooh!

    You know you might be right….. :)

  31. @ EOIN

    As things stand, I agree with you. For Labour, as election day draws near, things can only get better ;-)

    Support for ‘change’ slips against experience when it comes to x marking the spot. Labour asked voters to take a ‘long, hard look at the Tories’ before deciding. Maybe it’s time they make the same suggestion re: Other Parties too.

  32. I watch these polls and am fascinated by the partisan interpretation and wild guesses as to the outcome of the election. I read somewhere that 53 percent of those in work are employed by the state, add to those the long term unemployed and I suggest that is why the Conservatives can’t get above 40 percent. People are not likely to vote for a party wanting savage cuts to their jobs and warm to what is seen as the softer option of growing our way out of recession. This employment profile might explain why London and the South East is different to the rest of the UK. I apologise if this is not the site to offer this comment

  33. “As things stand, I agree with you. For Labour, as election day draws near, things can only get better ;-)”

    Labour would need a major shift to get even a tiny majority though. Can’t see it happening myself – same goes with the Tories.

  34. Eoin

    I go along with you & Amber ;-)

    Don’t take any notice of John’s silly remarks after all it is budget day lol – & Darling is just about to do his magic ;-)

  35. @ Matt

    Personally, I think the ‘Long, hard look’ was a master stroke by Labour. It actually treated voters as ‘grown ups’. Instead of “vote for us” or “don’t vote vote for them, they’re rubbish”.

    And the economy of this country needs to be rebuilt on a wider base than shopping & banking. Labour are the only party that care enough (will win more votes) by trying to achieve this.

  36. Amber Star,

    “… the economy of this country needs to be rebuilt on a wider base than shopping & banking. Labour are the only party that care enough (will win more votes) by trying to achieve this.”

    I’m glad you added the caveat as it would seem that Vince Cable on his own cares more about the economy that the Labour Party. That or he is more often right about the economy than the whole Labour Party.

    PS sorry for the brief partisan interlude here. VC is the only politician I actually like.

  37. @ JOHN

    Disagree but do not insult please. An apology would not hurt, we all get carried away at times on here.

  38. “I read somewhere that 53 percent of those in work are employed by the state, add to those the long term unemployed and I suggest that is why the Conservatives can’t get above 40 percent. People are not likely to vote for a party wanting savage cuts to their jobs and warm to what is seen as the softer option of growing our way out of recession”

    It’s a reasonable comment Brian, but I don’t buy it. The reason is that I think people vote out of more factors than just employment sector. Certainly people vote by self-interest (in the main, not entirely), but it’s not as if the private sector is a Tory block vote, so why do people point the finger and claim that the public sector is a Labour block vote?

  39. Budget news.

    No stamp duty for first time buyers up to £250,000 paid for by 5% stamp duty on properties over £1,000,000.

    ISA limits to be raised.

  40. David Nettleton (first post)

    David, I posted on this last night. The last month of the election did not see any significant change in the polls. If you google with MORI Bob Worcester 2005 blog (or similar) he had the figures both on his April 5th entry and on May 7th of that year.

    Hope that helps

  41. Fuel duty will be staged – 1p in April, 1p in October and 1p in January.

    Borrowing will be 11bn less than expected. Whoopee. We’re “only” adding £167,000,000,000.00 per year to our already huge debt.

  42. Colin – my daughter will be 18 in May. Can I sell my house to her?

  43. No further changes to NI income tax or VAT.

    Inheritance tax frozen for 4 years – I guess unless Osborne rather than Darling gets to have a say on this after an election.

  44. David Nettleton,

    “Colin – my daughter will be 18 in May. Can I sell my house to her?”

    Please do. I’m quite impressed that she can raise that much capital aged 18.

  45. “I read somewhere that 53 percent of those in work are employed by the state, add to those the long term unemployed and I suggest that is why the Conservatives can’t get above 40 percent. People are not likely to vote for a party wanting savage cuts to their jobs and warm to what is seen as the softer option of growing our way out of recession”

    First time I’ve ever been moved to comment, there are c. 6m public sector employees in the UK and c 30m in employment – where do these 53% type figures come from.

  46. David Nettleton – please refer to others by their full name. (ie Colin Green rather than Colin)

    I’d hate to think I was being conflated with “John”

    Cheers

  47. The best way to get people ot beleive you is to have a proven track record on honesty. Labour is not always very good at this.

    In fairness to Allistaur Darling- he is developing quite a reputation for honesty.

    Thus, undershooting borrowing, understimating the bank revenue, and overestimating unemployment shows that he is caution about his predictions.

    I am scpetical about his 3.5% growth.

    Other than this however, the voters will find it easier to blieve him on borrowing, cuts, unemployment etc…

    this is his best budget statement

    Flander, Preston and Robinson will commend it.

    Thus I don’t forsee a 3% dip.

    Still though do not be surprised to see a 1%

    my humble thoughts……

    ps. John an apology is not necessary- I am a big boy.

  48. I think a proper coalition government can be stable particularly if the alternative is presumably going through the throes of post-loss trauma, squabbling over blame, etc. Also I think it is true that the public is adverse to having two general elections in a year unless there is a very good reason. I think a party that pulled the plug on an otherwise viable coalition would pay a price electorally, unless perhaps the other party was insisting on doing something particularly silly.

  49. Tax treaty with Belize.

    Darling, gotta love him!

  50. @Jock,

    A combined Labour/Tory vote total of 63% is pretty much in line with the trend from 1951(96.8%) to 2005(67.6%). Given that nothing since 2005 is likely to have encouraged voters towards the 2 main parties – expenses being particularly damaging for both of them – entirely unsurprising. When you factor in turnout, barely 2 in 5 voters supported Labour or the Tories in 2005.

    This election will be the best chance for electoral reform since the war. If Labour ends up getting significantly more seats than the Tories on about 3-4% less votes, I think FPTP will be unsustainable.

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