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. @BillRoy

    For detailed analysis of NIC issue, google BBC Douglas Fraser’s Ledger

    (not posting the link to avoid post going into moderation)

  2. I’m pleased that Ashcroft’s money in the marginals has not had the desired effect.

    Fortunately, I really think peoplel are very sensitive to attempts to manipulate them, and resent it.

    It would be very gratifying if the maginals did WORSE than the rest of the country. I really dislike the idea that money can buy an election.

  3. Hi AL J

    Not too bad of an election campaign so far.

    Labour supporters are being accused of clutching at straws because Tories cannot quite seal the deal & the 40% polls have topped, stopped & dropped.

    Tories get judged on talk, Labour on results. If economic optimism has improved & there is good news about GDP & employment, Labour will go up a few points, I’d think :-)

  4. @JamesWright

    “the public clearly have every faith in the Tories ability to run the economy better than anyone else”
    Sorry but that clearly runs contrary to the polling figures from ICM I posted to which I presume you are responding.

    As for the rest of your post, it regurgitates “facts” that are almost diametrically opposed to my perspective, but shall not address as I would be breaching the rules for this site on partisan comments, as you have done.


    That is a really good point, actually. I don’t think Ashcroft has had value for money from his spend in the marginals.

  6. @Amber

    I don’t think Ashcroft has had value for money from his spend in the marginals.

    Will he have enough left to pay his UK tax bill I wonder?

  7. BPIX 38/31/20

  8. @Neil A (11.09)


    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?”

    Neil, Just returned to the thread. I did say “IMHO this is unlikely” Difficult to prove, but everything I know or have read about ex public school pupils IMHO indicates that they are far more right wing than left. For example, although I don’t have the figures I am certain that you will find that the percentage of Ex public school in the Tory party far exceeds that in the Labour party. If you have figures to the contrary then please advise.

  9. BPIX 38/31/20

    Googled to find the source and found:

    Tory lead at 22% in new BPIX poll as Labour support slumps to 20%

    (May 16, 2009)

    How are the mighty fallen!

  10. @MichealG Thanks, been searching for that result for ages! Looks like Lib Dem figure in Comres a bit out.

  11. Having looked at the latest set of polls I am still of the view I had last weekend that the Torys will win with a maj of around 10 seats over all.
    Bad week for Labour make me feel may be they don’t want to win.

  12. Hi Amber

    **Tories cannot quite seal the deal & the 40% polls have topped, stopped & dropped.**

    lol ;-) Yes, I am predicting that good economic news will lift Labour. Also, I hear there are some attractive pledges in the manifesto.
    It will be a fascinating week. I can hardly wait for the TV debates. I think Cameron will be on the defensive because he has more to lose and can get ”tongue tied” as he did with the Ch4 News/gay interview. Brown is good with detail so may have more confidence. This time next week I predict the polls will have closed again btw I’m sure all your hard work is paying off ;-)

    @GreenGrass lol ;-)

  13. I’ve done a calculation of the last 10 polls and the Tories are averaging 38.7% so I think the UKPR polling average for the Tories may be about to move up to 39%, assuming the next few polls don’t have them a long way below that level.

  14. The BPIX poll is very interesting. They use the same data as YouGov and yet cam eup with 2% lower share of a vote for the Tories. Not the 1% that I expected.

    Now this begs the question how can the same set of data yield 2% less.

    For what it is worth I would still favour YouGov.

    But the 2% change is a reminder to us all what weighting does.

    Aside from that tonights polls had the following leads

    7% (I count Harris and co. so I feel dutbound to count Kylie’s poll)

    I hope everyone can see the pattern.

    May I take the chance to reiterate the gap between Labour and Tory before the campaign began.

    It was 38.6 v 29.7 that is 8.9%.

    On tonights averages it is 7.4%

    So in 6 days it declines 1.5%.

    [snipped – don’t make comments encouraging them and us partisan argument – AW]

  15. @Peterbell Good post! Haven’t decided who to vote for yet but possibly leaning to your party. However think Liberal Democrats shouldn’t criticise Labour more, trhough see Nick Clegg was pretty scathing at the Public meeting.

  16. @Martin Williams:

    “I really dislike the idea that money can buy an election.”

    Martin, you’ve got to get out more.

  17. @ Éoin

    Good number crunching there – they’ll be on in a minute saying, “not incontrovertable, MoE….”

    But I agree with you. The Tories are at the maximum of their support & may even experience some shift away from them to LD.

  18. @amber,It is what we call respectable polls that humour me the most…what is the difference between the Kylie crew and Opinium?

    I know one answer

  19. The Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, Lynne Jones, has apparently told voters in the neighbouring seat of Birmingham Hall Green to vote for the Respect candidate Salma Yaqoob instead of the official Labour candidate Roger Godsiff.

    I think Brown would normally expel someone who behaved like this from the Labour Party, but I’m guessing that he’s going to pretend it hasn’t happened in case it causes an unwelcome diversion as far as his election campaign is concerned.

  20. Andy JS

    Must admit that I hadn’t expected the internecine Left/Right battle within Labour to start pre-election!

    I’m sure that a retiring MP won’t give two hoots if she were thrown out of a party that she clearly shares few values with.

  21. @Eoin

    Sky News “poll of polls” which includes the most recent Comres, YG, ICM, Populus and Mori polls released from the eve of the official campaign to date, shows the following:

    Lab 31
    Con 38
    LD 20
    Others 11

    For some reason, though, while this includes the new ICM and Comres polls, It doesn’t yet include the new YG.

  22. @Andy JS
    I didn’t really expect the Left to take the massive spending cuts Budget lying down.

  23. What is this ‘Asian vote’ that people speak of? Are these people working class, middle class, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangldeshi, wealthy, poor, 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation…….

    The ‘Asins vote Labour’ idea died in 79. many Asians now support the Tories as Asians often hold conservative opinions. I think it is fair to say that Grayling and the marriage tax credit won’t hurt the Aisan vote!

    Anywayyyyyyyyyyyy… this may be a week where the Tories move to attacking oppo policies rather than having their own policies under the spotlight. If I was a Tory I’d be moving this away from finance and on to other issues now,

  24. RAF – the Sky News poll of polls has been stuck on those figures since the start of the campaign. I think they must be about to change when they put the latest polls into it.

  25. Amber Star – your mum may well live in Northampton – but i can assure you that neither N’pton N or N’pton S will be won by the Lib Dems.

  26. There is a surprisingly long & interesting interview in the Sunday Times:

  27. @ DWIN

    I can assure you that neither N’pton N or N’pton S will be won by the Lib Dems.
    I looked for any local polling that’s been done to see if her opinion is backed by an empirical evidence.

    Is today’s marginal poll split into seats so that I can take a look at NH-N & NH-S?

    Do you have anything from actual polls, DWIN?

  28. Eoin,

    You’ve got to compare polls on a like for like basis.

    BPIX and Com Res show no change in the lead, ICM show the Conservative lead rising by 4%, Yougov show it dropping by 2%.

    The overall crude polling average since the start of the campaign is a Conservative lead of 8.2%, which is essentially unchanged on last week.

  29. And WRT Yougov/BPIX, BPIX steadfastly refuse to give any details of their workings, so we don’t know why the come up with different results from Yougov.

    but in any case, a result of 38/31 is well within the margin or error of 40/32

  30. @Amber I live in Northampton South and the chances, based on canvass returns is for a large tory majority. The LD are not popular as they have jacked up parking charges and are proposing a ruinous new town centre scheme.

  31. I can’t find Normanton on AW’s maps. Has anyone else? I click all round the area on the little red blobs and find his wife’s seat but not his. Was he omitted?

    BTW, has Amber realised what as basket case of a seat Northampton South is?

  32. Eoin – as Sean says, we don’t know, as we don’t actually know what BPIX do with the data. Note that it is not the same data, it is a seperate dataset drawn from YouGov’s panel, so one explanation is same error.

  33. Have seen the summary of pollsters in the Independent and all (bar one) are suggesting a conservative majority of between 10 and 40 seats.

    Unless the leader TV debates throw up something special, I think a tory majority is inevitable.

    As I said yesterday, although toyu support is 38-40% and unlikely to increase – the Labour support is fragile, will probably suffer from very low turnout or leakage to LibDems.

  34. Howard – you won’t find Normanton, as it’s been abolished. Ed Balls will be standing in Outwood and Morley instead,

  35. @Sean,

    We cannot say that “All polls are equal but some polls are more equal than others”

    The pre campaign leas was c.9%

    Last nights polls give them a 7.4%.

    Although if we count all post campaign polls and round then I still have the Tories on a 8% lead.

    Not sure why Sky news have only got 7%.

  36. Eoin,

    I am a labour supporter so it does not satsisfy me to repeat that the polls just before the campaign included a temporary budget lift for the cons,

    Having closed the gap to 4-6pts 3-4 weeks ago I would say that the Tories have started the GE campaign better in poll terms as the budget was really the starting gun.

    I do think (but this is my partial opinion) that they have had an initial NI debate lift but that this will unravel in the next 2-3 weeks the ‘efficiency savings’ to fund it line loses credibility.

    Also my partial view is that the marriage thing will only play well to already con supporters and may put off a few Tory leaning ‘liberals’

    Someone said above the GE will be decided in the midlands and they are probably right with London and the NWest having a big say.

    Ashcrofts millions may have more effect in the west mids

    Up here in the North-East it is possible that no Lab/Con targets will go but as there are very few it matters little nationally.

  37. It’s not my point Eoin.

    If you have a different set of organisations polling in the immediate pre-campaign period (Yougov, ICM, Angus Reid, Harris, Opinium) to those publishing results today (Yougov, BPIX, One Bottom, Com Res, ICM) you’re comparing apples with pears.

  38. Sean,

    I do not discriminate.

    There has been a post camapign harris and a post campaign AR which showed very low Labour scores. I have included them.

    All April Pre-Camapign polls have been compared with All post campaign polls.

    The trends are inrefutable

  39. I am not going to take any notice of any polls until after the first leaders debate on ITV. I believe these debates could prove to be a key factor in helping floating voters decide who to back. If Cameron or Brown have a poor debate, we could see a significant change to the poll ratings next weekend.

    My only caveat to this, is that if the viewing audience is not that great, people will go by the policitically biased newspaper coverage the next day. This was the case with the chancellors debate, when according to which paper you read, they were all winners, with Cable probably most respected. But Clegg is not seen in the same way as Cable. Clegg may not be stood in the middle, being able to score off the other two.

  40. AW Thanks, I think I’ve been wikipedia’d.

  41. You can all talk about the polls till the cows come home. However one thing you can be historically sure of, Is Labours share is overstated by pollsters, when the results come out in the last 25 years of GE’s The most accurate share for Labour is normally the lowest among the polling companies ! So it’s probably about 27% at the moment and torys probably 40ish !

  42. Rosie P – I can’t find the pollster opinions you refer to in the Independent. Do you have a link? their conclusions seem rather counter-intuitive?

  43. Sue – I’ve linked to it in the new post above. You need to scroll right to the bottom (of both my article, and the Independent on Sunday’s one)

  44. JimJam

    Agree with you. The only Lab/Con target in the North East that will definately go blue is Tynemouth, the rest can be written off. It is the Midlands and the SE where this election will be won, and that happens to be the areas where Cameron is doing exceptionally well is we are to believe the polls.

  45. @Wayne

    “So it’s probably about 27% at the moment and torys probably 40ish !”

    Remember the “IMHO” please- this is your personal opinion (and likely the outcome you are desperately wishing for): it is not a scientific fact !!!

    Writing it down won’t make it happen chum…….

  46. @Jim Jim,

    The Budget occurred 9 days before the April polls,

    thus the budgetary bounce is not in the April polls.

    The April polls probably show G O’s NI announcement but thats politics.

    You cannot go picking an choosing polls or dates or issues.

    When I started the avergaes calculatins on April 6

    I was not to know that Labour would begin to close.

    I predicted as much, but I was not certain.

    Now that we have sour grapes because that is occuring does not surprise me…

    expect more of them as the election draws nearer

  47. Thanks AW for advising Sue where the comments were!

    I think Rob from Sheffield has a point! Whatever ‘political colour’ there does seem to be some subjectivity here!

    An average of an average of an average will not necessarily translate into fact!

    Labour support is ALWAYS difficult to get out and if it is, as I reckon, disillusioned then it could hand the Tories a decent majority.

    Labour need to get the likes of John Prescott into the limelight and bang on about the tories VAT bombshell.

  48. AW/Rosie – Thanks, I’ll take a look

  49. @Greengrass
    The current thoughts on the TV debates are that much is expected of DC so room to disappoint and little is expected of GB so room to perform while the exposure will do NC good. DC seems to think well on his feet but is poor on detail whereas GB prefers the set-piece but gets bogged down in the pig-iron production figures. However both men have a simple aim to be the next PM and view each other as the opposition.
    It is much harder to play for the draw. NC will try to attack both while not driving their supporters away. It will be very difficult to appear even-handed if that is his strategy at all. He will be pestered on the hung parliament issue and his responses so far have been poor. IMHO his tightrope act will be much tougher than the entrenched positions of the other two. Exposure is great but with it comes increased scrutiny.

  50. These results must be frustrating to EVERYONE. Without resorting to crystal balls, at the moment they seem to imply a hung parliament with the Tories just short of an overall majority.
    That has to be the worst outcome there could be? Even I would prefer an outright for them so that they can have at least some attempt at governing.
    Constitutionally, even Labour being the largest party in a hung parliament seems more likely to succeed than the Tory equivalent as they seem to have more opportunity to form alliances than the Tories but outright wins one way or the other would be the ideal outcome and that’s looking more and more unlikely.

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