Wednesday Round Up

D minus 29
Tonight’s polls:
Angus Reid/Political Betting (6th Apr-7th Apr) CON 37%(-1), LAB 26%(-1), LDEM 22%(+2)
YouGov/Sun (6th Apr-7th Apr) CON 37%(-3), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 19%(+2)
Populus/Times (6th Apr-7th Apr) CON 39%(-1), LAB 32%(+2), LDEM 21%(+1)

Three polls tonight. YouGov and Angus Reid polls can be compared with their polling from just before the campaign started, and both show a boost in Lib Dem support, though not really enough to distinguish a trend from random variation.

With YouGov’s Tory score dropping below 40 again those pollsters who have reported in the last week or so are now reporting pretty similar figures for the Conservatives, all in the range of 37%-39%. There is rather more variation in the other parties – the more established pollsters (YouGov, ICM and Populus) have Labour between 32%-33%, Opinium and Angus Reid have them on 29% and 26%. For the Liberal Democrats Opinium tend to give them very low figures and are at 17%, the other companies vary between 19% and 22%.

Considering National Insurance has dominated the political debate over the past few days there is a surprising lack of polling on it. YouGov asked about it for the Sun last week and found the public evenly split 43% in favour of the Conservative policy, 43% against, but that was before the business leaders came out in support, and before a lot of debate on the topic. Populus may have asked about it, but their report only quotes the results amongst those people who wanted a change but not to the Tories – it is unclear whether the whole sample was asked.

Two other articles on polling today worth a read – Mark Pack here and John Curtice in the Indy here. the most important thing to take away from them (and something that really can’t be mentioned often enough) is the volatily you should expect to see from normal sample error. Party support from a single pollster should randomly vary a couple of points in either direction from poll to poll (the lead will be even more volatile, since you’ve got random variation on two numbers). While I get sick of typing it, there is a reason why I end up stating in almost every post that the movement since the last poll is not in itself significant! It’s the trends across many polls that count.

249 Responses to “Wednesday Round Up”

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  1. Interestingly the Ipsos/MORI marginal poll shows that 64% of those who say they will vote Lib Dem also say they may well change their mind

    Food for thought for Red, Blue and Yellow there!

  2. Ken “The choice………
    more money in the pay packet =Tory.
    Less money in the pay packet = Labour

    Wasn’t that the same appeal as last time and every time before? It didn’t always work. it might just be that the electorate would rather cut jobs in the public sector (as long as it’s not their own) and enjoy more of their money in 2011, but that would be a first for a long time

    .There’s still a massive gap between the highest (and l;owest paid, and it’s mostly not down to skill and work-rate differentials.)

    When that gap eventually narrows, then I expect the arguments for more progressive taxation will lose some strength.

    In the meantime, the public are wary of the Wealthy Person’s Friend ,and despite the misgivings, length of incumbency, bad hair, bad smile, errors in office (huge and small), lack of pregnant wife etc etc, still feel capable of voting for more of the same and against a change towards higher risks and lower tax

  3. @sunbeam
    IIRC the Populus poll is Cons 39.3% and Labour 31.7&. With rounding I suppose that’s an 8% lead.

    That’s irrelevant. My point is that 39.3 – 31.7 seems like a really good, accurate poll to me.

    Since I believe the Tories need a 7.5% lead to win a majority I suppose the Tories must like the lead. Just!

    Sorry ! Other posters were suggesting the same yesterday. 39.3 rounded is 39 [ as less than 0.5 ] and 31.7 rounded is 32 [ as greater than 0.5 ]. So, in that case the split is 39 -32. However, as we know the splits , we might as well take it.

  4. Ken -ps Happy birthday – if I ever get to be as old as Roland, I hope I’ll still know what I know now :)

  5. AmberStar

    “Thanks for posting those MORI poll results. Are these all the Labour held Tory target marginals, do you know?”

    Yes, same as last month: Labour seats with a current majority of 5% – 9%, so those that are predicted to determine the outcome of the election. I guess the assumption is that Lab seats with less than a 5% majority are all but lost.

  6. “In the meantime, the public are wary of the Wealthy Person’s Friend ,and despite the misgivings, length of incumbency, bad hair, bad smile, errors in office (huge and small), lack of pregnant wife etc etc, still feel capable of voting for more of the same and against a change towards higher risks and lower tax”

    I think the latest polls, including the marginal ones, would tend to disagree with this. As things stand, Labour would lose their significant mandate, GB would not be prime minister, and the Tories would probably rule the country via a coalition.

    Things could still shift towards Labour though admittedly – but they’d have to!

  7. @Ken

    Sorry to temper your optimism on your b’day but I think that rather than more money in your pay packet (marginally), it will be the risk of unemployment that will have most impact.
    I am convinced that AD will return from Washington on 24 April claiming that his policies are vindicated by the G20 and that GB will use this in the final debate.

    Many happy returns

  8. EOIN – I’m amazed by those question!! Not that I don’t agree that GB is nowhere near as hated as the Tory press make out, but they seem to go against all other poll questions of a similar nature.

    Re This mori poll, is it all marginals this time? if there is a 1.5% higher swing there, is that worse than the Cons are hoping for?
    More info needed i think.

  9. “Re This mori poll, is it all marginals this time? if there is a 1.5% higher swing there, is that worse than the Cons are hoping for?
    More info needed i think”

    It definitely is worse than the Tories would hope for, Sue. Despite a slight swing towards the Tories since the last marginal polls, on this evidence they would only be the biggest party in a hung parliament.

  10. Sue,

    It’s a poll of seats where Labour led by 10-18% in 2005 (14% overall). As the seats are far more Labour than the country as a whole, one would expect the Prime Minister’s ratings to be that much better.

    It implies a swing of 5.5% to the Conservatives, which would give the Conservatives a gain of about 80 seats from Labour, were it uniform.

  11. @Sue,

    This close now to an election, Labour will take this poll as remarkably good news.

    the 22/03/10 previous poll form MORI was when Labour were riding high (pre-budget)

    That Labour has come out th eother side of national insurance and budget with their 41% intact will please them immensely.

    These marginals are not the first 50… they are the next batch (100 i think)

    On balance, it is not clear than the Tories would win many of them….

    Labour will look at these results and feel confident of emerging as the largest party….

  12. “Labour will look at these results and feel confident of emerging as the largest party….”

    Conversely, the Tories would feel very confident of being the largest party as things stand I would say (Labour would have to improve quite a bit in the polls to be the largest party). It does show how hard it would be for the Tories to gain a majority though.

  13. Eoin,

    Labour certainly wouldn’t be the largest party if this were the outcome on May 6th.

  14. @John TT………….I take your point, but I think when it comes to battening down the hatches time, after the election, the public would prefer the comfort of extra money. The real message hasn’t been aired yet, the only way a wage earner can get a pay rise in the next few years is with a tax cut, public or private sector.
    Times are going to be hardest for the lowest paid and they understand the need for cash and choice.
    In other elections the motivation has been different and people have been relatively secure. I could of course, be wrong ! :-)

  15. “Labour certainly wouldn’t be the largest party if this were the outcome on May 6th.”

    Agreed. They’d certainly need to gain quite a bit in the polls to be the largest party. Still possible though.

  16. @ KEN

    I never avoid your posts – I like them even though you are a blue ;-)

    I hope you have fun this evening, then return somewhat merry from a glass or two, to post your opinions of today’s marginal & tonight’s YG polling.

  17. A 5.5% swing in the marginals would give the Conservatives about 40 seats more than Labour (depending, of course, on what happens in Lib Dem marginals)

  18. @Sean

    If we use your own logic, that is that in the marginals the Tories perform better, then surely their lead accross other constituencies would be less? In which case they could not be sure to win all of the 0-50 marginals, or indeed hold all their existing seats. I put it to you that your interpretation is the best possible outcome for the Tory party…..

    To fall back on UNS for the other constituencies when so much of your argument hinges on it beign bigger in these seats, defies logic surely.

  19. @Greengrass………….Thankyou. I see your point but my view is, that voters crystallise arguments the closer it gets to polling day, discarding most and retaining few. The appeal this time is different, we are being warned of potential meltdown, in my view, people will run to money. Just a view mind, because I will. :-)

  20. @Sean

    Let me put it this way…. had this poll shown a 4.9% swing the the conservatives could have expected to win ZERO of them.

    Are you saying that a 0.6% increase on that figure for these seats…. as well as a 1.5% less than that swing for other seats, leaves them as the largest party?

  21. @Amber………………How very sweet of you, I will enjoy my evening more, for that. :-)

  22. More information from MORI

    The polls were in 56 marginal constituencies where a swing of between 5% and 18% is needed for the seat to fall to the Conservatives.

    Fieldwork was from 30 Mar to 5 Apr

    Absolutely certain to vote (MOE +/- 4%)
    C 38, L 41, LD 11 (this poll, 46% may change their mind)
    C 31, L 45, LD 17 (last GE)

    Those not certain if they’ll vote
    C 35, L 42, LD 13

    The swing from the last election is stated as 5.5% suggesting that a small number of these seats will fall, plus all those with a smaller majority.

    The BBC’s swingometer says that 5.5% will give C 301 and L 263 seats, CON 25 short.

  23. “To fall back on UNS for the other constituencies when so much of your argument hinges on it beign bigger in these seats, defies logic surely.”

    The kind of swing we are talking about, in addition to the national polls recently, would leave the Tories as the largest party. The marginal swing is not as good as Tories probably hoped (to win a majority it would need to be greater than the UNS, but it’s that much different), but it still points to an 8% lead nationally (as AW said). Even if the Tories were, in reality a % (or even 2%) below this, it would still make them the largest party.

  24. *but it isn’t that much different*

  25. Eoin,

    I’m sure that Anthony can explain it better than I can.

    However, suppose that there’s a swing of 5.5% to the Conservatives in Labour-held seats in 2005 (there are 348 Labour seats). That still leaves 294 seats where the swing to the Conservatives may be very different (it may be more, it may be less). But, for the purposes of these seats, it doesn’t matter very much.

    In theory, everything with a Labour lead of 11% or less, in 2005, falls to the Conservatives. In practice, that won’t happen. There’ll be seats where the Conservatives underperform, and seats where the overperform.

    But, it’s a reasonable guess that 80 or so Labour seats would fall to the Conservatives (it may be a few more, or it may be a few less).

    In theory, it’s possible that Labour could gain seats from the Conservatives if there’s a swing against the Conservatives in their marginal seats – but that would be hugely unlikley, on these figures. The Conservatives in fact would need no swing at all in their favour, in such seats, to retain everything they had.

  26. Also worth bearing in mind is that these were all staunchly Labour seats with a swing of 5% and 18% needed. They will, therefore, by their very nature be constituencies that will be a lot less willing/inclined to switch to the Tories than more marginal seats – or other seats around the country which are not such staunchly Labour seats. In other words, they are some of the hardest for the Tories to make inroads. They will, of course, have to do better to get an overall majority, however.

  27. More info-

    Con ahead with 18-24s
    Con ahead Midlands

    High degree of uncertainty among Lab respondents

    DC has all to play for if he can firm up on those demographics

    Here are three conclusions from Alex Barker’s wholly unscientific survey in Dudley over the Easter weekend (

    1) A mood running against Labour but not with the Tories There were a few straight switches from Labour to the Tories. But most disillusioned Labour voters could not bring themselves to vote for Cameron. If they decided they’d had enough of Brown, they were going to show it by not voting. A few even planned to spoil their ballots.

    2) An unexpected yearning for a hung parliament Without being prompted, several people backed the idea of a minority government. The argument goes something like this: the parties in Westminster only serve their own interests; forcing them to work together is the only way the only way they will serve the country. This is one to watch: support for a hung parliament has been extraordinarily high in some polls. Tories will have to tackle this head on, particularly if they want to win some tactical votes.

    3) A distinct lack of engagement with politics in Westminster Very little excitement about the election. Very few signs that any of the big political debates in Westminster were reverberating in the West Midlands. No mention of National Insurance, Ashcroft, unions etc. Lots of undecided voters. In general, left with the impression that turnout may be lower than expected. But the campaign may change that.

  28. @Sean,

    the fundamental weakness of that argument is as follows.

    For weeks UNS has been slighted. The reason for this is that we all agree there is an exagerated swing in marginals. eg a 5.5% marg (51-99) could see a 4% in marginal (1-50), thus a net gain of 60-70 seats..

    Are you now returning to a conventional UNS argument?

    for the interests of clarity it is important to address this.

  29. @ Eoin,

    Whichever way you interpret/look at the marginals (polls), there is no chance Labour would be the largest party on these current polls.

  30. No I’m not.

    If there were a uniform swing of 5.5% to the Conservatives (across the the whole country), the Conservatives would lead by 8%, across the country as a whole.

    This poll of marginal to safeish Labour seats tells us nothing about the national picture. Had MORI conducted a standard voting survey, they could have shown an overall Conservative lead greater or smaller than 8%.

    Were there a swing, in Labour-held seats, of this magnitude, regardless of the national picture, then the Conservatives could expect to gain about 80 seats off Labour.

    If the swing were much less in more obviously marginal Labour seats (0-10% leads) then the Conservatives’ would obviously gain fewer seats than this. Were there a swing to Labour in Conservative-held marginals, they’d do worse still. This poll tells us nothing about such possibilities.

    However, it is likely that if there were a swing of 5.5% to the Conservatives in these seats, there would be a similar swing to the Conservatives in the more marginal Labour seats – although we can’t be certain of this.

  31. With the margin so close poll of Con/LD/Others and Lab/LD/Others marginals required methinks

  32. Matt,

    For weeks tory posters have stated explicitedly that these are the constituencies where we would see the largest lead for the tories

    ie we were told to interpet a 8% national lead as a 10% lead in rela terms when the marginal effect took hold.

    You cant have it both ways…

    surely a 5.5% in the (50-99) marginals = a smaller lead in the convetnional seats.

    If you accept that this is the case, then can we say that EVERY single seat up to 5.5% in these marginals will go tory?

    Leceister North for example?
    Dumfries for example?
    Crewe an Nantwich?

    In addition what about the Lib-Con seats…

    to pronounce on the basis of the marginal effect that 300 seats would fall to the Tories does two things..

    a) it is the best possible outcome for the tories- ie th emost optmistic interpretation

    b) it retreats to UNS…..

    if the latter is accepted then ICM, YG, Populus all combine to show that the Tories and Labour stand an equal likliehood of being the largest party…

    It strikes me as having ones cake…

  33. I note that the MORI marginals poll has an MOE of +/- 4%.
    1% higher than normal – why is that?

    With this is mind we have to remember that there is a chance that this poll could read Con 34% Lab 45% or Con 42% Lab 37%. Big differences!
    The best conclusion would seem that there really is all to play for and any result is still possible.

  34. On the voters uncertain to vote, labour enjoy an even bigger lead again….

    labour voters are also more hardened in their decision than tories…. (the first time I have seen that)- This lends to my theory that the Labour vote is hardening nationally

    thus to suggest that the undecideds are more likely to go blue does not stack up…

  35. “For weeks tory posters have stated explicitedly that these are the constituencies where we would see the largest lead for the tories”

    I personally would expect to see the closer marginals to see the greater swing from Labour to the Tories. These polls were for constituencies which are more into Labour safety territory, but the Tories had to pick up some of them to get an overall majority.

    However, even withstanding this point, I think that this set of polls has shown us that the marginal swing is MUCH LESS than we were anticipating – certainly a lot less than Tory supporters were hoping. The fact is that the marginal swing is a lot lower than we all expected, which is to the benefit of Labour. However, most of the current polls’ UNS put the Tories as the largest party; and when you factor in that there is a slightly bigger swing in the marginals than nationally overall (i,e. with the UNS), it does lead to the conclusion that the Tories would have the most seats.

  36. “thus to suggest that the undecideds are more likely to go blue does not stack up…”

    Yes, I’d agree. No one can tell which party the undecideds will vote for.

  37. Let me phrase it another way; most people would say that the national polls show a Tory lead of around 7% at the mo. This would make them the largest party according to the UNS. If you then factor in that the Tories lead by 8% in the marginals, it means that in the seats they CAN gain (i.e. that are winnable) they are doing slightly better than the UNS, and hence will get a few more seats than even the UNS indicates. This puts them closer (but still too far) from an overall majority.

  38. @Matt,

    fair point….

    the story of this election in terms of swing will be a carbon copy of last election.

    We spend so much time obsessing over red v blue swing that we ignore the yellows…

    more than 80% of voters who deserted labour last time went yellow…

    I think a lot of these newfangled yellows will go blue,

    I do not see a big switch from red to blue at all… and I think if you look closely at where the blue gain is coming from, it backs up my point..

    when you deduct the drain from red, factor in that some of these are going to BNP.

    the net result is that the switch from reb- blue is much much less than we blether on about… certainly it is nowhere near a 5.5% switch.

  39. This poll clearly suggests Tories as the largest party but a hung parliament overall.

    But that soft, spongy Lib Dem support could swing things either way.

    Blue and Red need to start training their fire on the Yellows given how many Yellows say they may change their mind.

  40. Page 2 of MORI’s table shows where the vote has come from in these marginal seats (because the numbers are small, they must be viewed with caution).

    15% of Labour’s 2005 voters have switched to the Conservatives (3% have switched from Conservative to Labour).

    20% of the Lib Dems’ 2005 voters have switched to the Conservatives (2% have switched in the other direction).

  41. Sean,

    So the Tories 7% gain has come 3-4% from red ad 3% yellow….?

    Is that how you read it?

    Wales told a similar story…. Tories gained 9% but Labour only dropped 5%.

  42. The message the Tories need to get out in these marginals is “Vote Clegg, Get Brown”.

    Labour needs to do the obverse.


    There was meant to be an element of humor in my comment to you hence the smiley.

    But, my own personal situation is far from comfortable for my retirement and like a vast number in this country will rely to a great extend on the state pension (which I have paid for through my NI/Tax contributions). I have some pension provision from my previous employers, one of which is final salary and protected against inflation. I will also benefit from a small inheritance at some point.

    So, I consider myself to be in a fortunate position compared to many, but not as fortunate as others.

    Pension funds had plenty of investment opportunities to grow their pots of money. That many failed to do so is not the fault of removing the tax relief but of their investment decisions. It made no sense for the taxpayers of this country to give £20 to a pension fund for every £80 they made in dividends.

    I’m sorry if some people feel they have ‘lost’ money

  44. It seems to me that more of the Conservatives’ gain will have come from Labour than Lib Dems. Labour start with 45% in these seats, compared to 11% for the Lib Dems.

    12% of 45% is 5.4%. 18% of 11% is 2%.

    Labour have presumably, gained some support from Other and/or former non-voters, so that their vote share only drops by 4%.

  45. @Sean,

    In that case I wonder where the overall 9% drop in LD share in Wales and overall 7% drop in these MORI marginals went….

    afterall Labour’s share has dropped nowhere near as much as LD in Wales or in these Marginals….

    forgetting your sub-splits since the sample is ridculously small….

  46. Paul Waugh in the Evening Standard:
    08 April 2010 3:36 PM
    Sir Stuart Rose backs VAT rise
    Amid the smoke and gunfire in the latest NI battle today, Labour somehow missed an open goal.

    All the attention was on Sir Stuart Rose’s lovely quote that GB’s “deception” remarks were “an insult to the collective intelligence” of business leaders who had criticised the tax hike.

    In the battle of the suave suits, the Prince of Darkness couldn’t resist having a dig a “metropolitan-based CEOs”. He also said he would “tease my friend Sir Stuart” about his claims to be non-political.

    But amazingly neither Lord Mandelson, the Chancellor nor the PM appeared to know the M&S boss’s full remarks.

    If they had actually heard the Today prog or been handed a transcript, they would have known that he said this:

    “Listen as a retailer, I’m not going to vote for VAT going up. But as a citizen of the UK , if this is something we need to do, then yes.

    “Of course, the difference between National Insurance and VAT is something that you have no choice about. It’s a tax on jobs. VAT is discretionary. If you don’t spend the money, you don’t spend the VAT.”

    “Of course what the Govt has to do, whichever govt is in power, is it has to look for certain income streams and VAT would be an income stream which would give a level of certainty”

    So, one of the top businessmen who attack the NI rise is suggesting that a better tax to put up is VAT. Isn’t that exactly Labour’s line of attack: that in the absence of long-term credible spending cuts, another tax would have to rise if NI doesn’t?

    Sir Stuart did go on to say that “there’s a huge opportunity to reduce waste in Government” but his VAT-is-tax-rise-of-choice remarks were ammo that Labour could have used in the trenches.

    It’s not quite Kit Malthouse, but still offered them a rare chance to hit back. Further proof that Mandelson is losing his touch?

    With the Lib Dems unveiling their own ‘VAT bombshell’ poster today (claiming George Osborne is plotting a big increase in indirect taxation), Sir Stuart Rose’s comments would have even more resonance. If anyone had known about them.

  47. @Anthony & Surbiton

    Please can you tell me if votes are being counted on Election night? I thought Labour had put a clause in the constitutional bill to ensure votes are counted within 4 hours of the polls closing -but a friend of mine seems to think otherewise.

    Any information will be appreciated. Thanks

  48. Greengrass @11.33 am

    I didn’t reply earlier as I was engaged in the much more important task of dealing with my compost heap today! – beautiful stuff. :-)

    This isn’t the site for detailed political discussions on such issues, but if you want to pop over to the BBC blog site “Blether with Brian”, I (and many others) will be delighted to discuss the issues.

  49. Two non ICM polls (who always give them a slightly higher figure) give a LD score > 20%

    I never expect progress in the Polls for my party to be rapid.. but that is progress

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