So, with Gordon Brown expected to call the election tomorrow, tonight’s should be the last polls before the formal campaign kicks off. It’s unfortunate timing, given that bank holiday weekends (particularly long bank holiday weekends) have something of a reputation for producing strange samples. I’m not sure the reputation is actually justified, but there is at least one good example (the bank holiday weekend before the 2005 election, when a strange sample left Populus showing a 14 point Labour lead).

Anyway, the first two polls of the evening are ICM and Opinium. ICM in the Guardian have topline figures of CON 37%(-1), LAB 33%(+4), LDEM 21%(-2) – so a sharp narrowing of the Tory lead, down to the lowest they’ve been from ICM since February 2008.

In contrast, Opinium’s figures in the Express have topline figures with changes from a week ago of CON 39%(+1), LAB 29%(+1), LDEM 17%(-1). YouGov still to come (and possibly another, depending on whether that Opinium was the third one I’d heard rumor of or not).


185 Responses to “ICM show Tory lead down just 4”

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  1. My feeling is that, despite a known election date, and heavy campaigning for the past month, most people are not in ‘election listening’ mode and that the next four weeks of official campaigning will be very important.

    Given the deficit environment, the budget shifting 2% from Lab to Con is a pretty good result for Brown.

    There is an argument that Brown needs a bad economy to win, and might be hoping for flat GDP figures in late April.

    I personally reckon he needs a good economy, which will create a better general feeling amongst the populace.

    A weak ecomony favours the Tories. Whatever the past 5-10 years have been like, most people figure the Tories are better at pounds and pence economic management, which makes them mean but effective.

    With that in mind, I reckon the GDP figures will be acceptable. Around 0.4 or 0.5%, giving Brown a couple of points and a hung parliament, with Con and Lab on a very similar seat count.

  2. @ Anthony

    Thank you Anthony for clearing that up. Perhaps the silly talk about a State of Emergency will stop now.

  3. Yes good to have a Scottish Labour supporter here, but there is someone called Falkirkbairn01 who is a Scottish Labour Party member who sometimes contributes in the constituency section.

  4. Perhaps I am just a geek but I was hoping for an intelleuctual discussion of tonights polls. :(

  5. John Fletcher
    There was no election from 1935 till 1945. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know how that was achieved but it shows that it’s possible to delay elections.

  6. “Perhaps I am just a geek but I was hoping for an intelleuctual discussion of tonights polls. :(”

    Me too.

  7. Rumours appears to suggest yougov 12% lead for tories…..

  8. @Pete B
    “There was no election from 1935 till 1945. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know how that was achieved but it shows that it’s possible to delay elections.”
    You really don’t know why that period of time was considered to be an emergency or am I missing the irony?

  9. Eoin & Matt – people are waiting for the YG poll more than likely, with two fairly contradictory polls it is a case of which way will the balance tilt I think.

    In the next half an hour the debates will begin in earnest I am sure.

  10. I’m about to read the comments on this thread. Hopefully it won’t be a case of Labour supporters focusing on the ICM poll and the Tories on the Opinium one!

  11. @Matt,

    If YG show a 10% Tory lead, and bearing in mind Opinium are steady in the polls, we may have to regard ICM as an outlier.

    It is too early to say…… certainly, it owuld not be like them but we have to be open to the possiblity…

    that aside, th eTories start the election campaign 8 points in front I think we can say….

    they cant afford a 2% dip otherwise a 36 v 32/33 could leave them in very uncomfortable territory

    my overall opinion of the outocme has not changed

    i predict a 36/34/20 and the Tories to be the largest party with a possible Lib Dem coailition

  12. @Éoin………………I think we’ve got a 2 legged milking stool, we need the 3rd leg to make it work. :-)

  13. Rumours appears to suggest yougov 12% lead for tories…..
    As I seem to be one of the few here who think that the YouGov polls generally seem to be the closest to reality, that would be interesting (if it’s true).

  14. Yakabos- where did you get that 12% rumoured lead?

  15. Eoin,

    I think one problem is that the polls tonight haven’t given a clear message. It’s not clear whether or not we’re looking at the start of a new trend (ICM) or that the current trend of a slowly growing Tory lead is still ongoing (Optimum). At least one of these polls is significant, but we can’t know which one, yet.

    I will say one thing: based on the election campaign thus far (and it’s been going on for over 30 months, ie. since September 2007) you’d think that Cameron and Osborne were salty old veterans and Brown the young-up-and-comer. I’m struggling to think of a more expert use of the advantages of opposition than the Tories’ use since 2005.

    Each time Labour have found a good negative narrative (“No time for a novice” “Tory cuts vs. Labour investment” “The Tories have no policies” etc.) it’s been unable to get any momentum. “No policies? We’ll cut national insurance. Investment? Your sums don’t add up and we have an excuse not to do sums.” etc.

    In the case of the “No time for a novice” narrative, it was the exogenous factor of Obama’s election and subsequent canonisation that killed the line, but it was important that Labour couldn’t depend on the Tories being too stupid to seek the connection; on the other hand, Brown has failed to ram home the sorority of the Tories and the Republicans.

    I think this is reflected in the polls: whenever Labour have gained momentum (and they’ve come very close to reversing the tide on several occasions since the campaign started in 2007) that momentum has been lost for one reason or another. I have no idea whether or not Cameron will act like an experience Prime Minister, but he’s certainly acted like an experienced Shadow Prime Minister.

  16. Sir Alec Douglas Home despite his faults certaintly lead the Tories to their best ever defeat in the 20th Century. 305 seats. No opposition had more than 300 seats. He also prevented a Labour landslide and I think he was quite an under rated Prime Minister. Even though he was out of touch to have lead Brittain during the 1960s, I think he was a man with great integraty. The last of a dying breed who looked completly bewilderd in front of TV cameras.

  17. Apparently latest YouGov Poll: Conservatives 41% (+2), Labour 29% (nc), Liberal Democrats 19% (-1). Tory lead 12%

  18. It would be amusing if the next AR poll showed the Tory lead, at let’s say, 8 points or less, while YouGov showed a 10% or more lead for the Tories. Both of their roles would be reserved!

  19. @Eoin,

    I agree with your post (as usual).

  20. Eoin – as I posted on another thread I have down graded Labour a point today whilst keeping steady on Conservative. So my GE prediction now is:

    C = 43%
    L = 27%
    L/D = 20%

    Tonight and tomorrows polls will be a great indicator as I expect only one – three point movement in the polls for each party from the campaigning – barring some almighty event happening of course.

  21. The foot and mouth crisis delayed the 2001 election but unless anything happens overnight the election most probably be called tomorrow barring the most spectacular U turn.

  22. BILL ROY

    With reference to your request for an apology when I confused you with Roland Haines in the previous thread – I am very sorry to have in an way associated you with the bizarre concept of departing to live in Australia as a way of escaping an alleged homosexual hegemony.

    ROLAND HAINES

    I object to bing accused of Stalinist tendencies because I failed to see the humour in your remarks about homosexuals in the previous thread – rereading your comment I can see that it might have been a throw away comment of relatively little moment but it still isn’t funny.

  23. Bill Patrick gave an analysis there that seems to be on the mone, intellectually. No smileys, just non-partisan analysis of the apparently volatile data which seem to be more converged than was expected 6 months ago

  24. If the Twitter rumours of the YouGov poll showing 41-29 are correct it’s a pretty bad result for Labour, only slightly tempered by the ICM poll.

  25. If you look at the average Tory Lead for the last ten polls, it is almost two points ahead of the lead from the previous ten polls. (7.9 vs 6.1)

    Talk of a two point Tory lead (or less) on election day is, based on this evidence, wishful thinking on behalf of the partisan Labour supporters.

  26. Telegraph reports on a poll showing sharp drop in gay support for the Conservatives following gay B&B error (home page).

  27. Is there any pattern over past elections as to whether the incumbent party or the opposition tend to gain/lose support during the campaign?

  28. A sound source has let slip that You Gov has been inundated with Con party activist’s joining their membership panel -remember before accusations and sour grapes are flown about – this is before tonight poll. Although,this would certainly explain recent movements I am still sceptical such a renounced polling company could be infiltrated so easily.

    AW – If you allow this whilst it’s relevant maybe you’d like to put your view on this.

  29. Is it correct that ICM do their polls for NOTW and for the Guardian? If so can i ask whether different methods are used etc, it is just that last sun out of balance with tonights poll. Not that i am suggesting any conspiracy – who pays the piper and all that.

  30. DavidB – Thank you, as I have said previously we have all misread posts, including me.

    Good luck DavidB with the campaign, we should all remember at the end of the day we just view what is best and how to get there slightly differently.

  31. Andy JS – “If the Twitter rumours of the YouGov poll showing 41-29 are correct ”

    Rather a huge, towering, monstrous *if* isn’t it?

  32. DWIN – exactly the same method in every way.

  33. Kyle,

    There was something rather special about Douglas-Home. Partly, I think he was a very interesting antagonist for Harold Wilson: they had totally contrasting public images and abilities. I remember seeing Douglas-Home’s speech in reaction to the assassination of JFK (recorded, of course; I’m probably one of the youngest persons on here) in which he managed to capture the spirit of the moment and the proper rational moral response perfectly. It was Blair-esque.

    Douglas-Home also managed to largely avoid the scandals and mistakes of the late MacMillan era. The one big mistake he made was to give too much discretion to Maudling and allow the disastrous “Dash for Growth”, which was at the core of the exchange-rate problems that dogged most of the 1960s. However, Prime Ministers were far less presidential before Wilson and it was then traditional to leave economic policy to the Chancellor, a tradition that didn’t really get going again until after 1997.

    It’s only a historical nicety, but Sir Alec was the last Etonian to be PM, unless Cameron gets into office. It is fitting, therefore, that he should get a mention when we’re once again looking at an Etonian PM, even if the days of an Etonian cabinet are probably gone forever. The current Tory cabinet, with only about three Etonians, would be hopelessly plebian by the standards of the One Nation era.

  34. Opinium Lib Dem result = 17% according to Richard Willis’ blog, which is the joint highest score for LD from Opinium.

  35. As ever it is pointless getting excited by one poll, and it never ceases to amaze me how certain media outlets (eg C4 and the Guardian) seize on only the ones that appear to favour Labour. It’s as if they think they can influence voting intentions by talking up certain polls and not others. I’d be interested to know if other people on this site think that is possible,

  36. Eoin (and Matt)
    Eoin ‘Perhaps I am just a geek but I was hoping for an intelleuctual discussion of tonights polls.’

    Nothing stopping you providing one. :-)

  37. AW :)
    How much can Twitter affect election day? In the US there has been evidence that “in-running” news reports leads to increased turn-out (I think I remember reading anyway!)

    I can imagine the twittered being tweeted with messages like “it’s close, why not get down the polling station and make your vote count”

    Or is it too early for a Twitter election ?

  38. A YouGov showing a lead of those proportions would cause consternation in YouGov’s offices themselves.

    They would have gone from showing the lowest Tory lead, to the highests.

    3% greater than Angus Reid whom them once trailed by 11%

    That is a 14% turnaround, which is difficult to ignore.

    Having said that, Opinium backs it up more or less and the old ICM score backs it up. ICM telephone if I am not mistaken, perhaps a telephoned bank hol poll is more prone to wide fluctuations since those willing to complete a holiday survey via the internet would be those less disposed to treating a holiday as a time of relaxation, hence the fluctuation would be less. I know that is wacky but I am trying to give the juxtaposition between to reputable companies some considered thought.

    The fieldwork dates, if they match (for YG & ICM), will send both firms into a tizzy.

    eitherway the Tories take a 8-9% into the general election and seem like they may be on the crest of achieving a majority.

    I stand by my 36/34/20 prediction. :) :)

  39. First, sorry if I ruffled a few feathers when I suggested that the election might not be called tomorrow.

    Does anyone have a rational explanation for why ICM have Labour at +4? I can’t think of any particular news that may have caused it.

  40. @jaime
    “…certain media outlets (eg C4 and the Guardian) seize on only the ones that appear to favour Labour. It’s as if they think they can influence voting intentions by talking up certain polls and not others.”
    I’ve never understood this logic. Surely it would be just as logical to assume that showing ‘your’ party as being lower in the polls would encourage people to vote to stop the ‘other’ party getting in.

  41. DWIN

    ‘Not that i am suggesting any conspiracy – who pays the piper and all that.’

    Don’t go there DWIN or AW will be on top of you like a ton of unsullied polls

  42. AW,

    Funnily enough my campaign coordinator and I were discussing your second point this very afternoon. My view is that Brown knows he has let himself get boxed in the way John Major was in 1997. While some people in areas without local elections might think Brown can hold out for June, he must know that this is totally untenable and would be political suicide. Even if he does not, I can’t imagine that the Cabinet would allow hims to delay any further and would be wanting to know what is going on if he has not been to the Palace by lunch-time tomorrow.

    As you say, no announcement tomorrow would guarantee horrific backlash in the media. Even though he could technically wait until next Monday (12th) and then call a “snap” election for 6th May, there is really no upside to doing so.

  43. John TT – Twitter on election day. Before the last German elections concern was expressed that exit polls would be leaked on twitter before the polls closed. When election day finally came Twitter had litterally hundreds of fake German “exit polls” every minute (whether it was a deliberate attempt to prevent the possibility of actual leaks by flooding, or just lots of people having some fun, I do not know)

  44. @GOATBOY

    March rise in manufacturing highest in 15 years (Purchasing Managers Index published 1.4.10)

  45. Thanks Bill Patrick. The other thing that I liked about Sir Alec Douglas Home was that he had the honor of serving in Ted Heaths Cabinet as Foreign Secratary. Imagine Blair serving in Browns Cabinet or Thatcher serving in Majors Cabinet. Such a great man who history sadly ignores unfortunetly.

  46. If YouGov shows a 12 point Tory lead, then the only conclusion is that ICM has chosen to poll on different planet.

    So much for the Gold Standard.

  47. A sound source who is bonkers. No one who joined YouGov’s panel after Sept 2009 is able to take part in any political polls, they are locked out specifically to prevent entryism during an election period (though in practice, it wouldn’t be possible anyway – the size of the panel means you would need a number of people so large as to be impossible to conceal).

  48. Hi Eoin,
    So you have now agreed with the 8-10% lead for now!

    Sorry for making you repeat this, but why do you go for a drop in the lead to 2% in your prediction? What is going to make such an impact for GB & co? Much as I would like to see a closer battle.

    Hi IKCDAB
    Good question, hoped someone with more knowedge would get back to you. I dont think there is much of a pattern, with 2001 and 2005 going away from incumbent and 1992 going towards.

  49. WMA = 38:30:23.

    ICM in fact tend on average to slightly over-estimate the CLead, but curiously their Guardian polls seem to be more Labour-friendly than their NoTW ones(!) On this one they are 3.8 away from the WMA which is well within MoE and indeed on 8/10/09 they were 5.4 away (the other way, for NoTW: on the Retrospectives they were 4.4 out) and on 17/5/09 they were 5.2 out (for the Guardian, confirmed on the Retrospectives).

    The only statistically significant trend is the 2-week WMA which has an R2 of 0.74 and is sloping up about 3.75pts/2 weeks. Still on course for a CLead of 10-15 at the GE.

  50. Anthony – interesting – I suspect the “lots of people having some fun” take is more likely here, especially given the apparent readiness for Tweeters to Tweet without recourse to fact so far…

    Whether people would be persuaded anyway in this country to go and vote on the basis of a tweet is debatable, and I’m not sure whether it would be more democratic or less if turnout were increased on the back of rumour and gossip. (Although i think it would be less democratic if such rumours led to lower turnout)

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