Populus and ICM have now also released figures from instant polls conducted straight after last night’s debate. In the Times’s Populus poll 37% of viewers thought Cameron had won, 36% said Clegg and 27% Gordon Brown. In ICM’s reaction poll for the Guardian Clegg came first on 33%, with Brown and Cameron both on 29%.

Putting all five of the proper instant reaction polls together, Clegg leads in 3 of them, Cameron in 2. All five have the three leaders pretty close together – Brown trails the most in Angus Reid, who tend to deliver lower figures for Labour anyway.

216 Responses to “Populus and ICM post debate polls”

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  1. In most of these Polls except AR, Brown has polled more than the party is in the national polls

  2. So Clegg won the first debate and has the second in 3 of 5 polls, if not in the press. You have to say he’s not doing too badly. The final debate is on the economy which should be his party’s strong suit. Three out of three debates would be quite something, and still the papers would rubbish him.

  3. Gordan Brown was terrific last night i thought if he didnt slope at the end he would of won it do we want change? my answer is no were doing just fine at the moment Nick get real! haha

  4. @Eoin,

    Could you please have a go at spinning the Guardian/ICM poll figures into 38% for the Tories by Sunday? I’m sure there are some underlying trends that mean that the following are irrelevant:

    Brown beats Cameron on all the “substance issues”

    Cameron is still seen as the least trustworthy (spin, not substance)

    Of the 18% who are switching votes after the debate, 43% say they are going Lib Dem compared to 24% for the other too.

    On the basis of this actual data I suspect we will be back to where we were a couple of days ago (33-32-28) by Sunday, but if anyone is going to be a long term beneficiary it will be GB since people see him as the safest pair of hands. The third debate could be good for GB and perhaps NC if the latter can play the Vince Cable card skillfully.

    The Angus Reid data is also interesting – the judgement about who won went very much along party lines, which is why GB did worst (less labour voters in the AR sample, for reasons previously discussed). Clegg captured the floating voters between Labour and Tory in the first debate and seems to be hanging onto them. Meanwhile a higher proportion of others and undecideds favour Clegg.

    I now expect Labour to go up a bit by polling day with all three parties within a percent or two of each other. I think many people want Clegg to have power in a hung parliament, but they also want GB’s familar hand on the tiller while the crisis lasts. The Lib Dems may go down a bit due to fear of the unknown and lack of consolidating activity on the ground where they are not strong but probably not below 28%. I expect them to do well in their target seats with a significant “marginal premium”

    I am not going to be so foolish as to make any “predictions” however -just what I feel right now on the basis of the ICM poll data!


  5. @Parag: in these polls, you can’t vote for “others” because they weren’t in the debate, so you would probably have to discount the percentages by 10% to allow for that. Discounted by 10%, Brown is not scoring better than his party.

  6. @ Colin Green

    I think Clegg has potential to do well in the final debate, but he needs to remind voters of the dangers of the return to casino capitalism and “business as usual” for the banks. He needs to remind voters that it was the Conservatives who allowed the demutualisation of building societies like Northern Rock, Halifax and Bradford and Bingley, which were all turned into disaster areas.

    Speaking as a Lib Dem, I don’t think he did that well last night. He should have given much more detail about what Lib Dem policies are e.g. strict £50,000 limit on personal donations. He went too far to the extreme of spontaneity and could have prepared a bit more beforehand. He was much flimsier on detail this time and that was a disappointment.

  7. Yes, this seems like a pretty good result for Brown and Labour… to be basically neck and neck with Cameron (or just a little behind) in many of these polls is something they would have settled for two weeks ago….

  8. @ Eoin

    Gordon Brown has just made your exact point about 0.2% growth signalling the risk of a double-dip recession in his press conference :)

  9. @Andrew,

    I keep a tally of the parties I am told I favour…. blue leads it comfortably this week. Whatever would my mum think ? :)

    I categorically state that blues will climb to 38%. I think they will fall back to 36% by election day.

    I am not a Tory spin doctor.

    Read today’s mail and telegraph on Clegg. You will see what I mean.

  10. JUst on Angus Reid, they will breathe a sigh of releif that Populus somewhat match them. It just about gets them off the hook. i do think they have soem methodological issues they need to sort…

    Do ComRes have a poll due today?

    If so it is looking like a 24/29/26 just on that dodgy automated stuff they microwave….

  11. Which pollsters are due to report today? Which of them will have all post debate fieldwork? I’m itching to find out what effect the debate has had on voting intention.

  12. just 4 million people watched last night’s debate compared to 10 million last week, this despite being viewable on Sky News, Sky 3 and BBC News on FreeView. Debate fatigue already ?

  13. @Derek Pierson
    Thank you for that, it was something I’d not factored in , but can we not look at the relative differences between the Parties and draw the same conclusion?

  14. MikeP

    “Debate fatigue already ?”

    I think the first debate had the power to be a shocker and the last one the clincher. The middle debate is a bit of a nothing so perhaps people decided to have a week off.

  15. @mikeP,

    If you did not have tinternet or sky you wud not have been able to see it.

    Expect BBC iplayer, if its available there, to rack up a few more viewings of it…

    Sky shocked me with how bad they ran the debate…

  16. Average of the five polls is Clegg 33.4%, Cameron 32.8%, Brown 27.6%.

    Ignoring Angus Reid as a partial outlier (just as an exercise, of course) gives Clegg 33.5%, Cameron 33% and Brown 28.75%.

    This is going to be one heck of a close election. Wonderful!

  17. @ Eoin

    No the BBC News channel is available on FreeView as well, most if not all districts of UK now digital

  18. There is a definite danger of pro David Cameron bias in any polls where responders were asked their views after Sky News published the yougov “Cameron wins” and flashed that across the screen.

    Who won the debate? – A responder who thought it was quite close but needed to select a “winner” could easily have been swayed by the CAMERON WINS! narrative and Kay Burley talking DC up.

  19. Eoin Clarke

    “If you did not have tinternet or sky you wud not have been able to see it.”

    Sky News is on Freeview, as is the BBC News Channel, and radio 4 come to think of it. I don’t have sky and I saw it.

  20. The viewing figures have to be taken with a pinch of salt – due to the fact that it was on non-terrestrial TV.

    The impact of iplayer and other internet streaming sites also needs to be taken into account. I know several people that watched via the web. And does the viewing figures include those who might have watched on BBC News 24 (It was also on at least two other stations as I flicked through the News section on my Sky box last night.

    I also know that Lib Dems in Carshalton/Sutton made an event of it at the local hotel and invited supporters to watch it as a group along with a few drinks. No idea how many others may have done the same!

  21. @MikeP,

    Aahhh I see. Well then your right!

    I think a poll after the first debate said that 45% would definitely watch the next one and that a further 30% were much more likely to having seen the debate.

    That is 75% which should roughly equate to 7.5mill. I had factored in Clegg hype among the youth as being likely to push it even higher.


  22. An example of perhaps how this election is so localised from the ‘Inverness Courier’ (link at end, gap in http)
    The readers’ comments show a general antipathy to the idea of more inward migration and, although not a scientific sample, it is hard to see where the recent surge in support for Nick Clegg actually came from if there are other areas like this ( actually a LD held seat at present). It is also interesting to note that the local Conservative PPC uses the forum on this newspaper to make various points (even though he can’t spell!). Personally, I thought that Cameron was the best in last night’s debate, but freely admit to being a Tory voter. It is hard to be objective when you favour one candidate over another. I also think that Brown is gradually chipping away at his poor image and certainly took a well-earned second place. Clegg comes across as just a little too ‘cocky’ and I can imagine his style will begin to grate after a while. These are all, however, my own subjective opinion and I do find this whole idea of an ‘x-factor’ election a bit of a turn-off.

    h ttp://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/12150/City_in_need_of_more_migrant_workers,_say_the_Lib-Dems.html

  23. It is clear that despite the press being biased towards the tories the public are simply saying that they have a different opinion.

    The debate has reduced the effect of newspaper bias, I think?

  24. Clearly a much better performance by Brown, Cameron did well on the immigration ‘dog whistle’, Clegg managed to hold his own, primarily because he is the most telegenic of the three. Clegg struggled a bit in defending policy positions on Trident and the amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    Clegg’s communication skills remain the biggest surprise of the 2010 election. I detect Cameron looking more and more upset that his supposed biggest asset has disappeared into the ether. It has thrown him completely off his stride.

    We are now entering the ‘moment’ of truth part of this election. Fear of the unknown. It will be like what used to happen with Thatcher – few people will admit that they were voting for her, but in the privacy of the poling booth, the cross was placed in the blue box.

    This is what I tink will happen – Labour will get those fear votes. From now until polling day it will be the economy, stupid. Relentlessly. The change mantra will not be decisive against this and in any event the TV debates have dissipated the claim to that. This is NC’s real impact – he has blown up the right of Cameron to claim his coronation as the King of Change.

    My prediction: Con 35 Lab 31 LD 27

  25. MikeP:

    Debate fatigue already ?

    Nah, those are stonking figures for those sorts of channels. This debate was always going to get lower viewing figures because it was on Sky.

    Not everyone has switched to digital yet, and even among those who have there are many who don’t stray far beyond the first few channels (I know an old lady who is delighted with her widescreen hi-def TV but still just jabs a number 1-5 to get what she wants, and I don’t think she even really believes in Channel 5). And there are still households that will tend to stay tuned to BBC1 or ITV for much of the night, whatever’s on. Patterns of TV viewership have undoubtedly changed immensely since (say) the ’70s, but old habits die hard for some.

  26. Somhairle,

    I have family just outside inverness than own two companies. On eis a hydro-electric power plant, the other is a building firm. They struggle to get workers. The regional migration plan would suit them perfectly. As it would cabbage and strawberry pickers. Last year we lost a high portion of our strawberries since we had nobody to pick them.

  27. @Alasdair Cameron
    “Yes, this seems like a pretty good result for Brown and Labour… to be basically neck and neck with Cameron (or just a little behind) in many of these polls is something they would have settled for two weeks ago….”

    I think you capture the key point here. Let’s all cast our minds back to when the TV debates were first announced and how the conventional “wisdom” then was that Cameron’s greater debating and rhetorical gifts would triumph decisively. Clegg was an unknown quantity, but Brown was felt to be the most leaden and weakest performer of the three. The assumption amongst the political cognoscenti was that he would fare poorly in comparison to the other two, but particularly to Cameron. This hasn’t transpired from the first two debates and, in my view, is unlikely to do so in the third and final debate.

    Therefore the real story of these TV debates thus far, despite the spinning, is twofold. The emergence of Clegg as a substantive political figure and the failure of Cameron to use them to “seal the deal” and gain a decisive advantage vis-vis Brown.

    To recycle my rather vulgar and now well worn cliche, if I was a Tory strategist, my squeaky bum would have gone up another notch in squeakiness (apologies to the English language here!!)!

  28. @ Eoin

    I believe that the students in Bristol’s two universities have cheaper beer on tap in the local pubs on Thursday nights, so they doubtless had better things on their mind ;)

  29. I wonder whether in fact Clegg might be the big loser last night. Last week everyone said he won. About 50% of the population said he did and his poll ratings went up 10% to about 30%. Last night this dropped by 17% or so. Now it might be that opinion is hardening and he keeps the 30% but might it not also mean that there are a number of people who like him but aren’t convinced by the party? We will see over the weekend but I wonder if we will see a slight drop in his numbers.

  30. @mikeP,

    Yes Mike I have long suspected such. My own campus is similarly welcoming.

    How do you see the final result out of curiousity?

  31. Eoin,

    I know you don’t care about the actual result – like Nostradamus, the prediction is everything! Do you keep a record of the your prediction deadlines too? (insert smiley here!)

    You didn’t answer my question though. Based on the ICM figures GB has most to smile about today, I would say. The instant ComRes poll shows that people have basically the same voting intention after last night as they did after the first debate (ignoring the actual figures), suggesting the press mud has not stuck to Clegg. Meanwhile Brown exceeded expectations the most – he did well

    I had a look at the Telegraph by the way – they go after Brown more than Clegg today. Reporting that Clegg and Cameron drew cannot be bad for Clegg. Can’t be bothered to look at the Mail!


  32. @Andrew

    my final result prediction has never changed! :)

    If you asking me which of the three will be happiest, then yes I would say Brown.

    Cameron will be the most relieved.

    Sky were atrocious.

  33. Economy Debate
    Brown will go on about the Tories risking the recovery, Cameron will go on about a hung parliament risking the economy. Clegg will mention Vince Cable’s name until we are sick of it – but might do better to point out that Greece changed it voting system to (more or less) ensure single party government and that it has had single party government for 20 years.


    “So Clegg won the first debate and has the second in 3 of 5 polls, if not in the press. You have to say he’s not doing too badly. The final debate is on the economy which should be his party’s strong suit.”

    ?? I would say the economy is definitely the Lib Dems “weak suit”. It is naive and has unexplained holes in it everywhere.

  35. @Will,

    In YG’s daily polls the Lib Dems enjoyed a 3% lead. They now trail by 6%. That is a net difference of 9%. That is statistical evidence that their bubble is already bursting. How far it will fall is difficult to tell. By next Thrusday I expect it to be 25%.

  36. Steve 1976:
    “The debate has reduced the effect of newspaper bias, I think?”

    Absolutely. We’re actually getting a chance to make up our own mind, rather than just being told what to think by our preferred paper.

    In fact I would go as far to say that if you have a paper you buy regularly, you’re mind is probably made up already. What the debate really adds is a way for people, like myself, who have no interest in the opinions of the papers to get interested without being subjected to the influence of editors. I wonder if the voter turn out will be higher than usual this year.

  37. Again these post-debate ‘polls’ are pretty meaningless. I suspect around 3m will have watched the debate last night so about 1 in 20 voters watched and we now have polls of these 1 in 20.

    Meanwhile for the other 19 in 20, it will be spin and even occassionally some balanced reporting from broadcasters that’ll decide the political impact.

    Though Cameron did better, BBC was reporting last night it was Brown who leapt by 10 pts compared to the polls after the first debate. But really we must wait on the week-end polls of all voters not just news and political junkies.

    GDP figures just out. Double the initial 0.1% announced for last quarter of 2009. That was eventually uprated to 0.4%. So Brown gets his positive growth figure. However, not so positive the word ‘fragile’ can be removed from UK’s recovery.

  38. I had to miss the last 15 min of debate. Thought GB was better this time and had the most substance overall, but would rate it all as even steven.

    GO on economy was weak this morning. TV is not his medium.

    Just saw LAB press conference. Very strong message.
    Hostile press on leaflets row who thought they had a hare to run with but successful total rebutal on the row by both GB and Mandelson. Strong stuff.

  39. Will,
    There are two interpretaions to put on the “debate result”. On the one hand, I think that objectively Clegg seemed less well prepared this time and did not get across his policy points or even address the audience as well. Meanwhile Cameron and Brown both did better. so in that case the 3-way tie was just an objective response. I have a feeling Clegg may have spent the day worrying about the Mail and the Telegraph rather than going for a calming walk in the Peak District

    The other interpretation is that voting intention is a three way tie at the moment and each party’s supporters thought their man did best for mainly partisan reasons. If you look at angus Reid there is a lot of support for this view. In this interpretation the actual performance of the leaders becomes less significant, and the key thing is that Clegg seems to have held onto the floating voters he won over last time. The view of the leader performance is becoming much more like an opinion poll as people “want” their person to be the winner. I believe this is what happens in the US.

    Clegg is still doing a bit better amongst undecided voters in the Angus Reid data, but most of the rest have made their mind up already


  40. Combining the debate and the economic data we should expect to see a Brown bounce.

    Since the attacks on Clegg and DC’s quite assured performance, it is reasonable to surmise that it will be at Yellows expense.

    The only unknown quantity is whether any publciity is good publicity as far as yellow is concerned. i ethe fact that we are talking about Clegg might be enough to see yellow stay in the fight…

    Quite a mix eh.

    YG tonight should read something like

  41. By the way did anyone catch the comment of the American student on this site earlier? It made be return to a thought that I had watching the debate which was that all three leaders were basically very decent people and we should count ourselves fortunate to have the choice we have.
    In 1987 and 1992 , the Country was a much nastier place and the one hope of the disadvantaged and the poor, Neil Kinnock was being slaughtered in the press, who descended to personal attacks on the colour of his hair, Welsh accent amongst other things..

  42. @BT says

    Weren’t you saying that about Lib Dem policy in international affairs as well?

    I predict a further consolidation to around 33% LD, 34% Cons, 30% Lab.

  43. @ Eoin

    It was also available on three freeview digital channels which are now accessible to the vast majority of the UK (assuming you have a Freeview box or digital TV – I can’t find the figures but with digital switchover now upon us, I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume that 90 percent plus of the population are prepared by now…


    @ MikeP

    As someone who spends a fair bit of time watching ratings on another forum, I should point out that 4 million is actually a very high number for a multichannel program (i.e. outside of the big 5 analogue broadcasters). Despite the ready availability of the other channels these days, people still seem to have an inbuilt reluctance to stray outside of their comfort zone (heck, there are still people who barely touch the “2” and “4” buttons on their remotes! :) ). Figures of between 1 and 2 million are considered outstanding, so 4 million is probably something of a record (though being split across three channels won’t help – I watched on BBC News to avoid the surrounding Murdoch flimflam.

    Having said which, I agree with the comments on the poor and obviously biased production of the debate – I would have thought that cutaways to audience reactions would have been banned in the rules, as surely it’s an obvious way of adding subliminal spin?

    Anyway, glad to see the audience reaction appears to have been unaffected. A Clegg fallback to parity was only to be expected, but it would be interesting to see a “rank” poll rather than a straight “who won?”. The media narrative about the other leaders having changed their style to mimic NC’s probably won’t do him any harm, either!

    As for GDP, I agree with those who reckon it plays well into GB’s “don’t risk Tory cuts” narrative prior to the final debate…

  44. Good morning all.

    To introduce myself: I’m a Lib Dem supporter with Green Party tendencies [so you can spot any unconscious bias] but I’ll try to talk about voter intention rather than argue for or against a party.

    My call on this election is that it’s unlikely the country watched one TV debate and woke up Lib Dem [which isn’t what the polls have said anyway]. I think the electorate have been volatile [in a hidden way] for some years now.

    Go back to a year or so before the last election. Iraq was not just unpopular itself, it blew Blair’s credibility with a lot of the electorate. But in the blue corner was Ian Duncan Smith. IDS’ personal weakness was less of an issue than the fact that a party that, when offered Ken Clarke [by common consent the best thing about the last Tory govt] could choose IDS instead was a party from another planet. There was a huge chance for the Lib Dems which, partly due to Kennedy’s alcoholism, they missed.

    Fast forward. Blair, IDS [and Kennedy] out; Brown, Cameron [and Clegg] in. Brown’s shtick, whether true or not, is that he’s a proper socialist. Labour gets a quick boost as Labour supporters gasp with relief at having a socialist in charge of the socialist party. They forget that for many people – notably the Murdoch and Associated Press, but also a chunk of the electorate – Blair’s schtick is that he [and thus New Labour] aren’t socialist. Cue a hostile press campaign against Brown, which he cannot counteract through other media because, unlike Blair, he’s hopeless on TV. Cameron, meanwhile looks both human and, as far as we can tell, competent. Everyone ignores Clegg, ‘cos he’s the Lib Dem. Result: big poll leads for Cameron, but a lot of it is [I’m guessing] soft because it’s antI-GB, bored/disillusioned with New Labour, rather than true believer Conservatism.

    Fast forward to 2009. 2 big events:-
    1. Financial crisis. Bad for Labour because they’re in charge: but not so good for Cameron because it is identified with City financiers and we all know who they vote for. Only guy smelling of roses is Vince Cable; people start regretting that he can’t be Chancellor because the system will only give us Tory or Labour

    2. Expenses scandal. Hits all parties [altho’ , at risk of partisanship, Lib Dems potentially have a good story here because, irrespective of individual behaviour, they alone proposed systemic changes that might have improved matters before the story broke and were blocked by the other parties.] Main result is increase in disenchanted voters, even compared to a 2005 election in which 39% of the electorate did not vote [and that was an improvement on the one before]

    Up to date: the first TV debate allows Clegg a platform to appeal to [a] disillusioned New Labourites – both those unenthusiastically sticking with Brown and those who can’t abide Brown and have been intending to vote Tory and [b] disenchanted voters and non-voters. The secodn debate doesn’t really change this ewiether way.

    The fact that Clegg or Lib Dem policies may not appeal to traditional Tory voters doesn’t matter if he can hoover up those two constituencies.

    The key poll this morning seems to be the one allegedly censored by the Sun showing that if people thought the Lib Dems could win they would get a massive boost. Traditionally Lib Dems suffer from a Catch 22 whereby people won’t vote for them because the voters think they can win, and they can’t win because people won’t vote for them. There is an outside possibility of this going into reverse if voters currently planning to vote Tory or Labour “to keep the other lot out” start to see the Lib Dems as equally capable of beating Brown/Cameron [insert hate figure of your choice]

  45. Eoin,

    I accept that the Lib Dems have dropped off slightly from their peak, but I would argue that their highest ratings on YouGov, and their lowest, were both just as likely to be slight outliers. There aren’t enough data points to really assert a trend, particularly claiming a 9% drop, just from a week of daily polls, I think. Taking in the other polls that have been coming out it looks like they’ve gone from around 31/32 to around 29/30.

    I’d agree with others that the second debate was a consolidation moment, and he’ll hold on to most of the floating voters he’s taken and stay roughly where he is.

    Just a prediction, of course.

  46. If you believe the Mail and the Telegraph you’ll believe anything. Whatever happens now the victors are Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Well done nick!

  47. The longer LDs are the news the greater their chances of doing well as the other parties cant set the agenda. This makes LDs seem to be the force for change. I cant see their momentum totally dropping so will hold all their SW seats at least, so denying a tory voictory…

  48. Andy,

    On this we can be certain.

    1. ICM, Populus etc. etc. do not have 2 comparable polls.

    2. Only comRes (for all their faults) and YG are comparable.

    This is not my opinion. It is fact. At this late stage in the campaign, treat the opiniums, harris’ and TNS’ of the world as a piece of historica data, more relevant to historians than politicla analysts.

    Now when you analyse ComR and YG one point stands above all others.

    Blue have recovered at Yellow expense.

    As a supporter of neithr I hope you will take my view as objective.

  49. @ Eoin

    “How do you see the final result out of curiousity?”

    On the debates, Clegg will have won overall.
    On 6th May my money would be on Conservatives with most seats (just) but may have to stand by a day or two while Brown tries to stitch up a deal first as the incumbent which I believe he’s allowed to do? Then I reckon a Con/Lib pact of some sort may be what the voters are expecting and will get.
    As for percentages, not really my strong suit but I think Cameron has a few points of gas in the tank yet at the expense of both reds and yellows

  50. Whatever happens on May 6th, the Tories and Labour will thereafter patronise Nick Clegg and the LibDems at their peril. There are clearly an awful lot of people in this country who favour consensus politics. I predict a very successful local election for the LibDems as millions of people cast in their favour what is in effect a second preference vote.

    But I also suspect we’ll have to dig deep into nerdy websites to actually find this out, as the media will ignore the local results completely.

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