As well as the marginals poll for the News of the World, there is a national ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures there are CON 38%(+1), LAB 30%(-3), LDEM 21%(nc). The changes are from the ICM poll done over the Easter weekend which showed a 4 point lead, which seemed rather out of line at the time. I suspect the apparent drop in Labour support in this poll therefore is not really meaningful, just a reversion to the mean after an outlier.

Channel Four news have also reported the topline voting intention for YouGov’s Sunday Times poll, which according to them shows figures of CON 40%(nc), LAB 32%(+2), LDEM 18%(-2). The Conservatives remain on 40%, but Labour recover from the 30% they showed yesterday. Viewed together ICM, YouGov and ComRes all have pretty consistent figures for the Conservatives (38,39,40) and Labour (30,32,32). There is also supposed to be a BPIX poll tonight in the Mail on Sunday that I’ve seen quoted as showing a 7 point lead, though I haven’t seen any full figures yet.

The 8 point lead in the ICM poll equates to a 5.5% swing, so we can now compare this to the 6.3% swing in the ICM marginals poll earlier and it suggests the Conservatives are only doing very slightly better in marginal seats. To put the level of the “marginals bonus” in context, if the Conservatives need an 11% lead to get an overall majority on a uniform swing, if their swing in marginal seats is 0.8% higher then they would actually get an overall majority with a lead of 9.6%.

Of course, marginal polls have margins of error like any other, so don’t take that 0.8% marginals advantage as gospel – it could be larger or smaller than that, all we can be relatively certain about is that the Conservatives do have an advantage in Con-v-Lab marginals (since all polls of marginal seats have shown it), and that it isn’t particularly large (since no one has shown it higher than a point or two).

UPDATE: Incidentally, yesterday we had a Harris poll suggesting 65% of people were in favour of supporting marriage by raising allowances for married couples. I said at the time that it was one of those things that depend on how you ask the question, so tonight we see ICM’s poll in the Sunday Telegraph finding only 35% supporting it and 65% opposed – the implication is that the question asked about a tax reduction for married couples but not unmarried people – so putting it as a question about fairness rather than supporting marriage.

Which one tells us the true picture? Well, I haven’t seen the exact wording of either so I can’t really say for certain, but assuming both are fair and balanced questions it’s possible they are both right and reflect different ways of looking at it. Which gives us the better guide to how the public will react to the policy would depend on whether the political debate and public perceptions of the policy end up being about fairness, or about support for marriage. It’s a reminder that polls do by necessity force public opinion into neat little boxes for media consumption, when public opinion is almost always more complicated and nuanced.

UPDATE 2: Those YouGov figures from Channel 4 earlier are now confirmed. No sign of the BPIX figures yet.

158 Responses to “ICM and YouGov both show 8 point leads”

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  1. @Neil A

    Your post that Cameron would not be ousted as leader if they didn’t win the election. Recent history of the Tory party clearly would suggest otherwise.

  2. @George Gardner

    Increased Asian vote is, as you say, unlikely to help win Labour seats. However, the Tories need to come up with broad appeal policies to turn the huge swathes of red in the North and Midlands into blue. Pandering to the natural Tory voter will only increase ‘wasted’ votes in the South and East. The marriage tax break stuff won’t do. There needs to be more imagination.

  3. D Campbell: “I think it is fair to say that WHATEVER HAPPENS Labour will not have a majority.” [my capitals]

    Did you read that sentence before posting?

    I won’t bother pointing out the flaw in it if so.

  4. Based on recent polls I estimate that the present position is Con 38 Lab 27 Lib Dems 22

  5. @Steve D,

    Are you referring to the removal of Iain Duncan-Smith as leader? That’s an awful long time ago now!

  6. The election is still wide open. Poll leads of 10% last week are now 8%. The marginals poll shows the Tories failing to win half of them – what guarantees that they will win the first 40?

    Fundamentally what will leave this wide open to the death is the large number still to make up their minds, the general plague on all your houses move towards smaller parties, and plenty of tactical voting.

    My own prediction remains as it has been – Tories win the popular vote but come out with less seats than Labour. I just don’t see them turning over as many seats as they need to for a majority or anywhere near it. If they had a consistent lead, or even a consistent percentage share then maybe. But they don’t.

  7. @Simon

    Labour have been on the back foot all week, responding rather than setting the agenda. I think it is fair to say the Tories had the better first week.

    That was the impression I was receiving from the narrative (sorry Paul Croft), but the ICM poll shows preferences for chancellor as:

    GO 17
    AD 28
    VC 25

    so Lab’s dogged insistence on questioning Tory NIC policy seems to have some effect to the contrary.

  8. @Philip JW

    I think you’ll find in recent polls Labour have been between 30 and 32% and the Tories on 38/40%

    Don’t know where the 11% differential comes in!

  9. @Neil A

    To some extent, yes. But there is a narrative that suggests DC has moved the party in a direction a significant number of Tories are not particularly happy with. However there is nothing like good bye-election results and good opinion polls when you were previously doing so badly for some considerable time. Therefore I’m suggesting that if DC fails to deliver the promised land, there is the potential for a significant backlash.

  10. It is important to note that ICM are one of the few firms who have not changed the way they operate from the time before the 2005 GE.

    In the run up to the 2005 GE ICM underestimate both Cons and Lib Dems by 1 and overestimated Labour by 3.

    We also had the Harris poll on the 8th which showed Con 37 Lab 27 Lib Dems 22

  11. I presume the Lab/Con marginals include some 3-way marginals. This would mean the rise in LibDem support in the marginals poll is likely to affect those particular marginals.

  12. Hmm, I have to say I disagree Steve. Now that the Euro is a dead parrot of an issue, the Tories can be pretty united. If this election doesn’t see the back of Labour, the Tory party will be absolutely desperate to do anything they can to win. A candidate to replace Cameron would have to be pretty amazing to present a better chance of a victory in 2012/3/4/5 or whenever the next GE comes.

    Everyone has been lecturing us for months on what an enormous mountain the Tories have to climb to get a majority (biggest swing in modern UK history etc). If Cameron gets almost to the summit and is a few steps short, noone is going to blame him. Noone who matters anyway.

  13. @Parag Leicster (10.24)

    “As far as the competence of the two parties, does anybody else think that DC does not represent what the majority of his Party think or want and that this could pose a real problem if he ends up with a relatively small majority?”

    I certainly agree with you regarding the rump of the Tory party. The new intake of MPs may be less right wing although with the high percentage of Old Etonians and private school in the group IMHO this is very unlikely. I would even question where DC really stands – remember he is a PR man and their sole purpose in life is to spin a story which will pacify the public. IMHO this is why so many of the recent Tory announcements appear to me to have been based on Focus Group outcomes.

    I am surprised that Lab & LDs have not endeavoured to tease out the “real” Tory party. If they start to do so during the next 3 weeks we may well see a reduction in the Tory lead.

  14. National Centre for Social Research study suggests 1m fewer voting this time than in 2005 and turnout of 59%, matching modern-day low of 2001. (Telegraph website today).

    It seems to question the received wisdom that turnout is expected to be high, though it does seem to be based on 2009 research when expenses scandal was high profile. Why is the Telegraph publishing it now as if it were recent news? Any more recent data to support either view?.

  15. Ian

    I think the concern for Labour is that they are beginning not to get the narrower leads anywhere ie the 4%, 5%, 6% leads which gave them some comfort are vanishing (for the present anywhere). Similarly Tories will be concerned that they can’t quite get to the safety of 10% plus. But their 8% lead (I think you are about right) is perhaps a more solid lead than a couple of 10%’s and the odd 5% or 6%. Tories have it to lose in the debates but I doubt it.

  16. Phillip JW – “In the run up to the 2005 GE ICM underestimate both Cons and Lib Dems by 1 and overestimated Labour by 3.”

    Oh well then, its bound to happen again this time.

  17. @Peterbell,

    Do you have any evidence for your assertion that MPs with a public school, or specifically Eton education are more right-wing than their state-schooled counterparts?

  18. @Peterbell

    I don’t really disagree with you regarding % and seats. I’m not sure how far I accept your point about LD supporters comprising SDP/ former Labour types in the north. In my experience that is more true of activists than the voters themselves.

    My point really was that the northern Lab/Lib fights often take place in seats which would more ordinarily be Lab/Con marginals, but which have a depressed Tory vote due to the unpopularity of the party in the 1980s. Hope this makes some sense!

  19. Ian,

    A heavy dose of wishful partisan dreaming here.

    Yakobs, I agree with you 100%.

    Generally speaking, a lower turnout boosts the Conservatives, barely alters the LDs and hurts Labour, and as a man in, shall we say, my “second flush of youth”, I’ve seen very many elections over the years.

  20. I would possibly agree if it were just the Euro issue, which I don’t agree is a dead parrot btw. I think it extends over a whole range of policies such as immigration, tax, public services, welfare and social issues.

    Still, it’s pure speculation on my part anyway.

  21. Surbiton – are you saying the Libs will hold on to all their own seats? They might but then again they might well not as people who voted LD in 1997 ‘unwind’.
    Why is it surprising that a few disillusioned former labour voters swing to LDs in labour marginals??

    Why do you and others assume that the LD vote has anything at all to do with the LD party? How many true ‘LDs’ are there ?


    I can quite easily see it losing some of its own marginals.

  22. @Yakobs

    Tories have it to lose in the debates but I doubt it.

    It’s been said before, but expectations for DC are highest, so risk of failure to meet them greatest. I have not seen anyone disputing the prediction that NC has the most to gain from exposure. Better than even chances on GB exceeding low expectations, IMO.

  23. We’ve had all these polls today but the UKPR polling average hasn’t changed yet, so it looks like today’s polls haven’t changed the situation much.

  24. This is a good night for the Tories in the polling, although not as good as I was expecting after the first week of the campaign. I believe the latest poll by every one of the polling organisations now gives them a lead of between 7% and 11%. Added to the fact that they have now been in the lead in all polls for over two years, that is about 350 polls, means that the settled will of the people is that we are going to have a change of government, probably a Tory majority, and if not a majority then a Tory-led minority government leading to another election in 2011. As each day goes by the chance of either any sort of Labour win, or of a Tory landslide, is becoming vanishingly small. I would expect the Tory lead to gradually increase up to polling day and for the final lead to be about 11 to 12% with a Commons majority of 50.

  25. @Trevorsden: that represents your partisan opinion of the LibDems. It has very little connection to reality. LibDems tend to win Westminster seats in constituencies where there is strong LibDem representation on local councils. Your view of the LibDems seems to relate to the party of protest that it largely was 30 or 40 years ago.

    Of course, the LibDems can lose seats, but the past 18 years has shown LibDem MPs pretty tenacious in holding their seats.

  26. If LibDems win seats where they have councils, then this year may be *cough* a bit of a problem for them…

  27. I agree Marco. The lead is between 7% and 10%, and at the moment, is not changing much at all.

    Despite what a couple of posters are saying, I doubt we will see much of a change in the polls over the next couple of days, as all the noise from Cable and potential debate over marriage allowance will be lost in the media due to the sad news about the Polish PM.

  28. @IanBailey
    My own prediction remains as it has been – Tories win the popular vote but come out with less seats than Labour.

    Don’t see how you can justify that Ian, though Pickles’ appeal to LDs to vote Tory during yesterday’s Any Questions did seem a bit desparate! (sic)

  29. @Neil A: I apologise for being too subtle for you.

  30. @Derek Pierson

    Agree entirely about the Lib Dems which is why it will be difficult for Labour to retain my constituency, Watford. But there are local issues particularly around our hospital which may play into things as well. However with a Lib Dem Mayor and Council, it’s a very good target for them.

    This is why I’m confident that even if their overall % share drops their seats will not, at least nowhere near as much as the various predictors currently suggest.

  31. @Derek,

    An election campaign is no time for subtlety! I apologise for my cheap shot by the way. The LDs haven’t done all that badly in council elections since 2005. Its just that the fact that the Tories completely dominate local government hasn’t been mentioned once….

  32. @ Derek Pierson

    My mother lives in Northampton. Her opinion is that the LD’s have a good chance of taking NH North & NH South because they have done a lot of positive things during their time on the local council. That supports your point.

  33. My hunch is that the polls are significantly overstating the % of people who will actually turn up and cast a vote for Labour, and slightly understating the Tory %. At the moment I am plumping for a 40-29 lead on polling day.

    My expectation is that Labour will be routed by the Tories in the South and Midlands, but the Tories will be deprived of an overall majority by a strong LD performance in LD-Con marginals.

  34. @Jaime


    Have you an expected turnout figure to hand from the polls? I was hoping someone here could tell me.

  35. Trev/Den:

    “The LD’s have no point or meaning other than as a repository for disillusioned votes”

    Mmm, quite a substantial few million of them in fact, spread somewhat wider than the two “main” parties.

    A particularly silly comment, even by your own standards, I think

  36. @Neil A, sorry for being irritable. I deliberately said “strong representation”, rather than “control”, because LibDems win Westminster seats where they don’t have control, but merely a lot of councillors.

    The election of LibDem MPs tends to result from local council strength, rather than the opposite case where Tory local councils feed on national strength. This is the LibDems’ policy & in my area the major effort is going into increasing the number of local councillors on May 6th, rather than busting a gut in unwinnable seats.

  37. Well it could have been worse for Labour. Yesterday’s polls were both 10% Tory leads & there was a clear danger that could have grown further. There will be a measure of relief that it has gone back to 8% in tonight’s 2 polls and that the election is still very much alive.

  38. Greengrass

    I’m afraid not. It’s just my impression that a big chunk of the former New Labour vote in the South and Midlands will not turn out.

    I also think that any tactical voting against the Tories will be limited and could be more than offset by tactical voting to oust Labour MPs.

  39. Does anyone kn0w when the constituencies were gerrymandered to the point that a 40:32 rating cons:lab still means a likely hung parliant?

  40. How can I justify a Labour getting less votes but more seats argument? Simple. The Tories get a lead nationally of say 4-5%. Clearly they win most votes but this doesn’t translate into seats.

    Fundamentally their problem is the sheer number of seats they need to win. If there was a clear mass movement to get the government out then maybe. But there isn’t. We’re looking at enlarged votes for “others” and a resurgent LibDem vote. All a Labour MP needs to do is get a majority – watch how many seats we have where the opposition vote splits and the incumbent slips through.

    Will LibDem voters really vote Tory tactically? Really? Because thats what the Tories need. And as everyone has noticed the Tory and LibDem positions are further apart than ever. LibDem voters want a hung parliament knowing that not only is it doable but that they would then hold court. On what grounds would a LibDem voter decide not to go for that but instead to vote tactically in favour of a Tory who wants to deny them their referendum on the electoral system?

  41. @HoodedMan, why should 40% of votes entitle a party to a majority? It means 60% voted against them.

  42. barnaby

    You do of course omit to mention that in ICM the Tory lead has grown from 4 to 8%. You Gov down to 8, harris up to10,

    I accept your general point that the outcome remains uncertain, which is I guess why we’re all on this website rather than doing something more productive on a Saturday night.

  43. I agree with Barnaby. I expected the 10% Tory lead to hold or even grow. I am pleasantly surprised at the drop to a 8% lead, as I am the marginals poll, giving a smaller swing to the Cons than I’d expected.
    We still have some very important events. Labour has every chance to perform well with their manifesto launch and TV debates.
    I predict the Tory marriage tax plan will not benefit them much (if at all) -it may even backfire. Everything still to play for. ;-)

  44. Tactical voting is interesting. My understanding is that in the last few elections the bulk of tactical voting has been directed against the Tories, for whatever reason.

    I suspect that this time there is likely to be more that is directed at destroying Labour.

    However that may be, I have a couple of points to throw in –

    1) Generally speaking, marginal seats tend to stay marginal, therefore any anti-Tory tactical voting has already been taken up in earlier elections. If anything, some will unravel this time.

    2) How often does (say) a Liberal supporter have to vote Labour for tactical reasons before he becomes counted as a Labour voter rather than a Liberal tactical voter?

  45. @Ian Bailey

    Not sure that PR is the number one issue for Lib Dem voters, even if it is for the party.

  46. I am not after bringing the NIC debate up front but one thing does puzzle me, so please no-partisan comments just stright answers would be appreciated.

    In the £6 billion figure that gets bounded about does this include the public sector which is apparently currently employing 25% of the working population?

    The reason I ask is because if it does then surely, even allowing for public sector employees being paid less than private sector employees, then I would guess that circa £1 billion of this figure would have to be found by the taxx payer – well if this was so then that would not increase income to the treasury.

    Any help appreciated as I think either I have missed something in the budget.

  47. Not a bad day, Tiger and Labour both still in with a shout :)

    Time for bed.

  48. @IanBailey

    On what grounds would a LibDem voter decide not to go for that but instead to vote tactically in favour of a Tory who wants to deny them their referendum on the electoral system?


    I think that may apply to core voters, but not sure floating ones have electoral reform at the top of their agenda (generally speaking)

  49. A new clutch of polls confirming a Tory lead of around 7–10% with the conservatives on around 38-40% and Labour on 29%-32%. After a narrowing of the lead between January and mid-March, there has been a clear swing back to the Tories post budget.


    I agree with yesterday’s assessment by Steve that George Osborne is an underrated figure. I my opinion he won the Chancellors debate as the National Insurance issue has clearly struck a chord with the public. And he has done it again this morning with the proposal relating to marriage tax breaks. Gordo and Clegg can whinge all they like about how its going to be paid for. However, the public clearly have every faith in the Tories ability to run the economy better than anyone else. [snipped partisan guff – AW]

    My view is the election result will come out somewhere between a small Tory majority of up to 30 seats and a hung parliament where the Tories are the largest party 20 seats short. The latter will therefore leave us facing an October election which the Tories will almost certainly win. Given the current state of Labour finances (which are in a similar state of shambles to those of the national economy), how are on earth are Labour going to afford to fight a second election in 2010?

  50. @derekp
    was not suggesting it “merited” a maj but if we accept that FPTP is the system then 36:33 the other way in 2005 brought a comfy maj for labour and major won a majority with less. Even 45:30 for Blair I think got a massive landslide yet 40:32 is not good enough. Just curious as to when the changes were made….

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