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. @Barnaby

    but ALL highly articulate perceptions you will note ;)

  2. But Colin, I thought you’d be PLEASED to know they thought it was rubbish?

    Roland – This is not like you. I understand your anger, but what in particular makes your posts so different today?

  3. @ COLIN

    So -no Departmental Spending Plans before you vote I’m afraid.
    The Guardian had detail on the departmental spending reductions.

    # Not sure why my earlier comment is in moderation. If it turns up later apols. for similarity.

  4. @Roland,

    Yes Roland, Sue is right, you normally seem a nice guy…. is everything alright?

  5. Lots and lots of optimism about Labour’s electoral hopes here – but I think much of it is pure hubris.

    People read way, way too much into the UNS. The figures are distorted by Scotland, Wales and the North East – and Labour are the big benefactors.

    There are a group of people who decide general elections in this country – the Middle England folk in marginal seats – and I do not believe they will stomach another five years of Gordon Brown and Labour.

    40/30/20/10 – I still stick by these figures on the day.

  6. @SUE MARSH………Re Roland………..he’s not been the same since he lost his job on breakfast telly. :-)

  7. Sue, I did not think it was Roland either.

    Just by the way, we do have a lot of exiles on here (I can’t remember whether Roland is one). When I lived abroad I did not give a fig for British politics; indeed I rapidly became unaware of them. I had the privilege of that status from 1977 until 1992 so completely missed the Thatcher era. :-)

    So would anyone in this position like to tell me what interests them here?

  8. @ Howard, in answer to your open ended question….

    I have been invovled in politics since I was four (yes four). I think Ireland’s breeds a very politicised bunch….

    The adversarial nature of British politics and the fact that they pretty much invented parliamentary democracy makes it fascinating to witness….

    Also with a keen interest in Victorian politics, it is impossible not to notice history repeating itself….

    All my youth was under tories.. all my adulthood under labour quite a juxtaposition some might say…

  9. Eoin. What did you do in politics at age 4?

  10. @Kyle-

    Unless you retract your Damian MacBride slur, I cannot say I wouldlike to tell you…

  11. Of course,Eoin. That comment was uncalled for and I not only rectract it, but apolagize as well.

  12. @ AMBER
    “The Guardian had detail on the departmental spending reductions.”

    Yes Amber-a variety of departmental savings initiatives have been publicised after the Budget.
    They are not comprehensive , however, and cannot be related to the Red Book numbers.

    There is not going to ba a Departmental Spending review until the autumn. Mandelson & Darling made it clear. The reason -because of “uncertainty”

    So far as 2010/11 is concerned, there is no change to the PBR figures-ie an increase in total spending of 2.point something%

    I recommend the IFS analysis when it is done. They are the commentator I trust. Robert Chote in particular.

    I just heard city commentary to the effect that savings in the civil service & moving them out of London will not address a cumulative DEbt of £1400 BN-and still growing.

    Still-I don’t think the public at large understand any of this -so it won’t impact the Polls-which brings us back to the purpose of this Budget-setting up dividing lines for the GE campaign,

    On that score it is a success, I concede.

  13. The media reports aren’t exactly enthusiastic. Nick Robinson on Radio 4 earlier more or less dubbed it “the Pointless Budget”.

    Maybe pointlessness was the point. I doubt this budget will do Labour much good but it probably won’t do them any harm either.

  14. @Kyle,

    Ok then apology never necessary we’re big boys, but I would wish anyone ill-health

    reference 1983 well I helped fundraise and picket in Sinn Féin’s first contested elections….

    stuck with until 1997 then I left when I went to uni…

    I have since wrote a book on their gender poltiics… but yeah twas the shinners wot dunnit..

  15. Wow, Eoin. It beats my childhood of washing dishes.

  16. @Kyle- I’d have settled for the dishes- in Ireland you didn’t have the luxury back then…

  17. Eoin,
    Yes I understood your interests was as a historian and observer. But there are others who write from France, Australia even. What’s the point of emigrating if you don’t in mind as well as body and pocket? Do you all remember that chap Gould? He apparently breezed onto our poiltical scene and then, as swiftly, pushed off back to NZ (IIRC). He did this after I arrived back in England and my wife and I wondered why he was ever here. I’ve just looked him up and he’s telling them what to do down there now – strange fellow.

  18. Eoin Clarke, bit late in replying, back from dinner.
    Not sure why you want my opinion; like Manuel, “I know naaathing”.
    Nevertheless . . . I reckon people in the future may regard us looking at the polls as we regard the ancients and Roman emperors trying to figure out what’s going to happen by looking at animal entrails. Anything can happen in the polls. Three Labour (former) cabinet ministers on camera say they will sell their services to the highest bidder and the public decides . . . it’s all the fault of the Tories. Doesn’t make sense; actually it may do if you take the long-term view. Having killed my chicken, I reckon the general election result will be 40/29/23/8(Con/Lab/LibDem/Others).
    This opinion is partly based on current and recent polls (you cannot just forget the London poll overnight) which may well have been somewhat distorted by YouGov (but may not!), and the long-term view.
    This view is that:
    – the Tories have been ahead in all polls for over 2 years (that is over three hundred polls); statistically a significant fact; indicating a long-held public view.;
    – the Tories have more money, more members, more councillors (this doesn’t appear in any opinion poll)- if money was not important the politicians would not be trying to get their hands on as much of it as possible;
    – I reckon the Tories will have a much better campaign than Labour, and Cameron will out-class Brown (in 4 and a half hours of questioning Cameron may make some mistakes, Brown will make more). This belief is a pure guess based on it being unlikely that the Tories can be so bad for so long;
    – marginals, Scotland, Labour piling up votes in safe areas etc . . . all small indicators that the blues may do a bit better;.
    – If people wake up on 7th May and see Gordon Brown standing outside No 10 thanking the nation for five more years of untramelled power over us all, millions will be saying “what the **** happened?”; implying, it is an unlikely eventuality.
    If Labour get a lead in three successive opinion polls, I will change my mind, obviously.
    Off to bed now and will set the alarm clock for the YouGov poll ; only joking; by 10pm I will definitely not be in a state to examine opinion polls.

  19. EOIN – i was six when Maggie became leader and I told kids at school that just because she was a woman it didn’t mean she’d be good for women. Precocious.

  20. @Marco,

    Thank you- quite an interesting take…. viewing something over the long dureé has its logic…

  21. Steve Kingson

    At least Dundee and the computer games industry got a boost from the budget – and no surprise that tax breaks for the industry have been a major campaign in the city for a long time now.

    Of course, that would have been unimportant – except that both Dundee seats are SNP/Lab battles.

  22. 2 polls now at 35% makes you wonder if we may soon see 34 or even 33% like 2005 General Election. After last night’s Channel 4 news /Gay Times performance I would not be confident about David Cameron performing well in the debates either.

  23. @Sue,

    We want women’s rights- not ring wing women!

  24. eg1 – “I was impressed by Cammo’s response, clever and well presented, impeccable timing as ever, Prime Minister in waiting, methinks.”

    rg2 – “I was not impressed by David Cameron’s response, far too much anger and not enough thoughtful statesmanlike commentary. After the very competent performance by Darling I doubt whether the polls will move against Labour.”

    Shock horror, as Conservatives all think Cameron did well and Labour supporters all think he did badly (not picking on the two people specifically, just the first two I laid eyes on).

    Please, everyone, don’t pollute the comments here with these sort of pointless exchanges after every event. Can we just take it as read that all the Conservative supporters will think everything is bad for Brown, and every speech he gives is rubbish and that the Labour supporters all think that everything will work to Labour’s advantage, every Conservative activity will backfire and every Cameron speech is awful… and then move on?

    It’s just such a waste of otherwise intelligent people’s time and effort. For a siginificant proportion of people here, it is entirely unnecessary to read their reaction to events since we know exactly what it will be either “Conservative Good, Labour Bad” or “Labour Good, Conservative Bad”. Look at it from the view of the other side – if you are a Labour supporter, are you really interested in reading lots of comments from Conservative supporters robotically saying how great Cameron is? No? Thought not, so why do you think they’d be interested in your pavlovian response that everything he does is awful? (and, of course, vice-versa in the other direction).

    Please, read the comments policy and try to post in the spirit of non-partisanship, and in a way that encourages interesting conversation about polls and public opinion with people regardless of their views. Not them and us, back and forth, partisan praise of your own team and criticism of the other.

  25. Anthony, with all the partisan feelings exploding on this site due to a political event, I think we need an Open Thread. *wink* *wink*

  26. Oh yes, @Howard – in answer to your question earlier, I lived abroad for a few years and I found it made me see politics in a whole new light.
    Italy, that pinnacle of all ex-pats for terrace lunches and wine drinking retirement was corrupt all the way through. It had a totally ridiculous 70s style public sector, the infrastructure was crumbling, the overall tax burden was higher, Gas and Electric prices were STAGGERING and the electric was so bad you couldn’t run a toaster and a kettle at the same time. t
    he average wage was a round half of ours and Berlusconi…..well, I don’t really need to say more, just Berlusconi. The health system was excellent until you became an in patient and then it was still run by Nuns and relatives had to bring your food in
    I hope I have never complained about those things since I returned to the UK and it’s why I so vehemently reject the Daily Mail version of the UK

  27. Anthony

    Appreciate your request -but it is *very* difficult.

    But will oblige to the best of my ability . ;-)

  28. AW
    Well, now you are off work (are you ever?), could you give your view on this examination of online panel volunteers against others that you report Harris do.

    If it has merit, presumably other online polls are missing a trick?

  29. Marco- Your point regarding Labour support piling up in already safe seats is indeed valid, however in Glasgow, one of the biggest (and what a pleasant one that was too!) surprises for me was seeing Labour ousted by the SNP in Glasgow East by-election in ’08.

    Stirling, my home town, is an unusual seat, one of the very few direct Lab/Con fights in Scotland.
    Normally in Scotland, marginals are Lab/SNP (use your example of Dundee OldNat), SNP/CON (eg Angus) and LD/LAB (E.Dumbartonshire).

    The political landscape in Scotland is actually considerably more complicated than most appreciate.

    The Stephen Purcell issues will, I believe, affect the way in which Glasgow votes, the most likley benificiary will be the SNP. Local factors/events/scandals must always be taken into account.

  30. Weightings:

    I have never been a statistician but, am able to follow reasoning within figure groups. I have just been looking at the tables for yesterday’s YouGov poll and, to be honest, need a bit of direction from someone with more experience than I, possibly Anthony

    The polled sample was 1756 adults, of which, 590 responded in favour of Conservatives and, 391 in favour of Labour, followed by 262 LibDems.

    These are the unweighted figures but, if I understand correctly, they are actual responses from people who expressed an opinion as to who they would vote for, not ‘ifs, buts or maybe’s’.

    When weighting came into play, the figures changed as follows:

    Con 590 > 508 a reduction of 82 voters or, -14%
    Labour 391 > 458 an increase of 67 voters or, +17%
    LibDem 262 > 252 a reduction of 10 voters or, – 4%

    The unweighted total of votes is 1243 of the 1756 who responded.
    The weighted total of votes is 1218 of the 1756 who responded.

    So, for whatever reason, just over 500 votes were not initially given to any of the top 3 parties, (obviously some of the 500 were given to ‘others’)

    Maybe some of these will vote, maybe they won’t. Maybe some of the voters who gave their preference won’t vote, maybe they will change their vote.

    Here is my dilemma. From the tables there is no indication at all who these remaining individuals will vote for but, from the tables the Con figure has had a 14% reduction and the Labour figure has had 17% added. These percentage changes in actual voter numbers are very similar, 82 and 67 respectively. Which, would appear that the weightings have just taken about, say, 75 Con votes and added them to the Labour vote. The LibDems remained fairly static.


    I am sure this is a simplistic approach but I think there must be other blog members who are on the horns of the same dilemma, possibly. Or, am I being very naïve and lack experience?

  31. Anthony’s analysis of Harris’s methodology makes them sound very sensible. No necessarily better than any others, but entirely reasonable.
    From this poll and others it does look as though ‘Others’ will play a significant part in the election. In England, for instance, it is generally accepted that the majority of UKIP voters are or were Conservatives at heart. If UKIP did not exist, I wonder how big the Conservative lead would be? Similar comments could be made about BNP and Labour.

  32. OK the general election result following recent polls and aided by
    the budget is clear to me———-
    Labour against all odds will remain as the largest party
    they will obviously need the Liberal Democrats for a majority
    and that will happen with Vince Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Darling will go quietly to the Home Office.
    The Lib Dems will be pleased to get the AV on the statute book for the future election which would not then be far away.

  33. Tit bit read on Dutch press web site is that Geoff Hoon has lost his job with NATO because British Government refuses to support his candidature. Could it possibly play to GB’s benefit while they try to overcome the bad publicity?

  34. Kyle – in hindight I think the last couple were counterproductive.

    Howard – off work? I’ve just finishing drafting up the Sunday Times questions for the weekend I’ll have you know! To answer your question, I can’t really judge how well it works, but it is really just an alternate solution to what YouGov or Angus Reid do using party ID, past vote or newspaper readership. While it sounds very different, it’s really much the same – comparing attitudinal or political measures of the sample against similar measures in a sample that is thought to be represenative, and weighting if there is a difference.

    Barry P – there an explanation of weighting here. Hopefully that should make it clear, but to address some specific points

    If Conservatives go from 590 to 508 it doesn’t mean any of those voters have been taken away or reallocated (or at least, not in YouGov’s poll it doesn’t. Some companies do have a turnout filter where voters who they consider unlikely to vote are excluded from the final figures).

    All 590 remain, but some are weighted down. For example, if the original sample contained a greater proportion of men over 55 than there actually are in the British population then every man aged over 55 in the sample would be weighted down (they might, for example, only count as 0.8 of a respondent each). Equally with groups that are under-represented – if there are not enough Mirror readers in the sample then each Mirror reader might be weighted up and end up counting as 1.1 of a respondent. The fact the Conservative figure went down means that on average people voting Conservative must have been in groups that were over-represented in the raw sample, and ended up being weighted down.

    The 500 people not included in those voting for the main parties will be people voting for others, people who said they would not vote, and people who said don’t know when asked how they voted. YouGov do not make any predictions about how don’t knows might end up voting – they are just excluded.

  35. David Greybeard.

    In the unlikley event that did happen, I can state almost without fear of contradiction that the removal of Gordon Brown would be a prerequisite of any coalition with the LibDems.

  36. Anthony
    I found that very interesting and informative.

    With regards to the don’t knows, is there a reason why they are just excluded rather than prompted. Would it be correct to suggest the reason is that they are unlikely to vote?


  37. Well I have no evidence George G that this would be a prerequisite for support or coalition – have you? I do mean evidence like NC saying ‘I will not accept GB as PM’ or very similar.

    AW thanks for this, it’s one of these factors that I am sure occurred to all of us when we first heard of online pollster YouGov. I couldn’t believe it – intuitively I thought there just must be the most enormous bias in the sampling method. Then YouGov started to get it right. Then it dawned on me that if the original panelists had to do their time giving opinions on sliced bread and similar, then they must mostly be ‘ordinary’ folk after the prizes offered -there are prizes are there not?

  38. George Gardner – So the LibDems would put that above all else?
    Gordon Brown would have just won a historic 4th term for Labour, whatever you might think of their mandate. Labour would have just won (if they are the largest party) something like 300 odd seats to the LibDems 50 and Gordon Brown would have reversed a 20 point lead to give Labour the most unlikely “win” in recent history.
    Do you honestly think this would give the LibDems the right or indeed the mandate to dictate Labour’s choice for leader. Given this scenario, surely even the biggest Brown haters would have to concede that the guy earned some kind of kudos?

  39. Al J – Don’t knows are much less likely to vote, but you do get some people who say they are certain to vote but don’t know for who. The question is whether those people will divide roughly in the same proportions as those who do give a voting intention, or whether they will break in one direction or the other.

    ICM and Populus take the view that they will disproportionately break in favour of the party they voted for last time, and have good evidence to support it. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that people would behave the same in online surveys (indeed, if ICM’s theory that the skew is down to a spiral of silence, we’d expect it not to work the same without an interviewer for people to be embarrassed in front of).

    Howard – not prizes, money (50p a throw). Money works better than prizes ;)

    Sue – doesn’t mean they won’t ask for it. Thorpe asked for it in 1974 (the cabinet offered Heath their support, he told Thorpe the cabinet would not serve under any other Tory leader, and Thorpe backed down on that demand).

  40. George G
    No! No! No! ——Nick Clegg would be so tickled to be part of the action and to have the main cabinet place (something never achieved in previous Lib/Lab coalitions) and with AV to boot that he would do just whatever his party wanted.
    Make mistake the Lib Dems in the country would never support
    the EU hating Tories.(and nor would Vince)

  41. It is appreciated accross the bulk of the political media that the LibDems would nor work under Gordon Brown and would request a change of leader prior to entering an agreement.

  42. Aw recalls Ted. Poor old Ted. Thorpe should have thought more about the most reasonable Tory leader we’ve ever had and less about bunnykins or whoever he was.
    I remember Phase 3. Do any of you – it was great. Every time there was a rise in inflation we all got a wage rise to compensate. Also in the fuel crisis there was a national speed limit of 50mph. We should do that now if there is truth in man-made global warming.

    He was a good bloke, the Grocer, and took us into Europe. The best Lib Dem prime minister we ever had and we didn’t deserve him, rest his soul.

  43. Fair enough Anthony, but under very different circumstances.

    George – Even on the least partisan analysis, “the bulk of the political media” are not exactly pro-Labour are they? The point I was making was, the LibDems could request all they liked, but if they were willing to sacrifice every single political issue they hold dear in this shot at power, it doesn’t say much for politics does it?

  44. Anthony -thanks for the answer.

  45. Anthony

    There is news of a poll to bring a smile to Amber & Sue
    – I don’t know which one or when.

    Please can you shed some light. Thanks

  46. ‘It is appreciated across the bulk of the political media’

    If that’s the evidence then so be it, not good enough for me though. Anyway it’s academic at present but I still see no need to alter my prediction made all those days (weeks?) ago (36 34 22).
    Just to show again my lack of partisanship, I too thought Clegg reading from notes not very tele visually impressive. Could he have not learnt his lines? It was as though his paperwork was the equivalent of having Vince Cable holding a rod stuck up his back. Mind you, it stops your hand shaking if you have no lectern to lean on. These details do count unfortunately. It doesn’t matter what you say. Just look serious and purse your lips decisively like DC.

  47. Thinking about the 1974 situation—–true Thorpe might have asked for Ted Heath’s departure but surely that was by the way.
    Fact was that the Liberal activists in the country would not
    contemplate support for the Tories. And of course they had fewer seats than Labour which was to prove to be the clincher
    and so it will be in 2010.

  48. Tory lead down to 2% tonight

  49. @ Sue Marsh

    Yes I do believe they would have the mandate. That is what happensin hung parliaments. Rightly or wrongly in our system if no party has a majority a deal has to be done. Or a party govern’s in a minority.

    If we take your scenario. If the Labour party is the largest party and is talking with the LD anything is on the table. The Labour party in this scenario needs the LD more that the LD needs Labour ( LD are not in power before they start talking, so practically they have nothing to lose) If GB wins with a majority he will indeed have kudos. Though we are in fantasy land talking about GB getting majority This will not happen. There has been no poll in months anywhere near this happening.

  50. YouGov: CON 36 (-1), LAB 34 (+1), LDEM 17 (-1

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