There was a Harris poll in the Daily Mail yesterday. Voting intention figures are incomprehensible. To quote from the Mail “The Tories are down from 36 per cent at the election to just 29 per cent, while Lib Dem support has collapsed from 23 per cent to just 12. Labour are on 28 per cent, down from 29 at the election. But a huge 17 per cent of people said they were undecided.”

Where to start? Firstly the Harris poll was of Great Britain, not the United Kingdom, so they should be comparing it to the GB result (CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 24%). Secondly, 17% for don’t know isn’t huge, it’s comparable to other polls. Most importantly, they haven’t repercentaged to exclude don’t knows, so obviously all the parties are down. It is unclear whether or not they have also excluded won’t votes, so it’s not even possible to repercentage yourself. If they have excluded won’t votes, it implies 17% support for other parties, which seems unfeasible (though the newer online pollsters did tend to produce some very high scores for others before the election). If they didn’t exclude won’t votes either then it implies shares somewhere in the region of CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 15%, but we can’t be sure.

On other questions, Harris found 26% thought Cameron had done better than they expected, 22% worse. 42% said he had been in line with expectations, though obviously we don’t know if those people’s expectations were positive or negative! For Osborne 12% thought he had exceeded expectations, 20% that he had done worse, Clegg was 19% and 29% respectively and Cable 13% better and 21% worse.

On opinions of the government, Harris asked people which words they’d use to describe it, with particularly unenlightning answers! All the words quoted in the paper were agreed with by about 52%-59% of people, included positive and negative ones – so 59% thought they were honest, 52% effective, 59% united… but 57% thought they are disappointing, 59% unpopular and 52% unbalanced. At least, I suppose there is an answer that everyone liked.

The only poll I’m aware of from the Sunday Papers is YouGov’s regular tracker survey – voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%.

UPDATE: Tabs for the Harris poll are here now. Had the poll been repercentaged it would have shown voting intentions of CON 38%, LAB 36%, LDEM 16%, Others 10%.

261 Responses to “Harris/Daily Mail poll”

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  1. Holy Guacamole! At least during the campaign they maintained the semblence of respectability. You would think the Daily Mail would no better. Our Indian friends and one Poll do a better job.

  2. There is a Quantum Research poll in Today’s Irish Independant. We are due a Dáil election probably in the next 18 months. Fianna Fáil are in the polling doldrums at the moment. Their minor coalition partner the Greens are also suffering.

    see the link below..

    h ttp://

  3. The Harris poll is just ridiculous for all parties. The YouGov one as usual is probably closer to the reality.

  4. Even making a GB vs UK comparison, it’s still a big drop for the Conservative vote share. I don’t recall NI often being significantly polled in any other poll either, so I think it might be a spurious attack. However, Harris were a bit higher on error than the mean in their past polling.

    Personally, and based on past performance of online polling, I’d say that they’re underestimating across the board, and over-estimating Others.

    And of course “A single poll does not make a trend”.

  5. Incidentally, Haris do publish their cross-tabs, but with a great lag between when they are first published in the newspaper. So many of these questions will be answerable eventually.

  6. CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 15%

    Barking mad or closer to spot-point than YG?

    We’ll be closer to an answer wth the next ICM/ MORI and ComRes polls.

    But of course this one will be out of date by then !

    But a nice pressie for a Sunday :-)

  7. @Eoin Clarke

    “You would think the Daily Mail would know better”

    I rarely see evidence of this in that particular rag.

    As for the polls, I expect them to be all over the place until the government properly finds its feet and the public get used to them. It might be interesting to see what they say after the comming party conference season.

  8. I trust YouGov polls much more than a Harris polls. The Cons 29%, Lab 28%, Lib 12% just looks totally wrong to me.

  9. Certainly the last 2 local by-elections have been pretty good for the Tories & quite bad for Labour. I’d be surprised if Labour has come as close to catching the Tories as this rather odd poll suggests; I still tend to trust YouGov more. I do get the feeling however that the Tory lead is shrinking slightly.

  10. @Barnaby Marder,

    I totally agree with your poll summary.

  11. Wow, talk about butchering an opinion poll… I just hope we can eventually get hold of the real figures.

  12. I would guess that the Tories are, in all probability, currently about 5% ahead of Labour. This is down slightly on the 6 or 7% lead of a week or so ago.

  13. @Eoin Clarke
    Thanks for the Irish poll. What I find very interesting about it is that it spells the end of the “Irish exception”. By this I mean that up to the last election, Ireland was the only country in the “old EU” (of 15 members) where the socialists where third. Now they seem to have secured the second place and even fight for the first. Now the “exception” seems to have moved to the East: Poland and Estonia are the two countries where neither of the two major parties is socialist, nor will it be in the foreseeable future.
    Greetings to everybody from hot-as-hell lazier-than-ever but always beautiful and exotic-like Greece!!!

  14. It does appear that the Mail have fluffed reporting, by failing to use the common practice of publishing a normalised result excluding non-vote response.

    I’ve made some assumptions, and worked out what the normalised result is approximately on my own blog.

  15. Even by the standards of the Mail, this is spectacularly incoherent. When we have the detailed figures I suspect it may not be too far from the YouGov figures, but with Lib Dems taking a little from Tories. As I’ve said before there may be a few percent of a “Coalition vote” that swings between the two, depending on how the question is asked.

    The uncertainty on many of the topics is exactly what you would expect, given we’re only talking about recently announced policies. Even most of the support or oppose will probably turn out to be Party loyalists automatically siding as per usual.

    The most interesting thing about this coverage is probably that it shows that the Mail is continuing to be antagonistic towards Cameron and the coalition.

    Are Harris a member of any of the trade bodies? If not that might explain why there’s no sampling size or details (their website is unhelpful and looks neglected as far as the UK goes).

  16. Harris are a member of the British Polling Council, but a relatively newcomer to British polling. As I mentioned before, they do publish cross-tabs, but with some lag.

    I assume at the moment they simply provided the Mail with figures that included an American style “undecided voters” allocation. Rather than the British “discard non-votes and renormalise” style. And the Mail reporter just published the figures without understanding the difference.

  17. @ Eoin

    Thanks for the Irish figures. I don’t follow as closely as I would like but it seems like Fine Gael need a more popular leader than Kenny. Interesting that they seem to be moving leftwards in some areas like Healthcare as support for Labour rises.


    Labour’s voting record in LA by-elections since the GE has been pretty good. What is interesting is that Labour is doing so well without a leader.

    As Polly T wrote in the Guardian on Sat (07/08/10) the new Labour leader should have a clear run for a while – he will have built in recognition from recent ministerial experience (obviously I don’t think DA stands an earhly) many,many oportunities to attack the coalition and many,many opportunities to offer alternative policies.

  19. Hi, I’ve been following your site with some interest since before the GE, but never actually posted anything until now!

    I was wondering if this poll was a sign of an increasing number of ‘shy coalition’ voters? Also could these figures represent the current ‘core’ support for each of the 3 main parties – with so many undecided!

  20. I was a bit bored on a long flight recently so I built my own, regionalised, seat calculator. I used the average of the last 4 YG polls to enlarge the regional samples.

    The result is:
    CON 316
    LAB 301
    DEM 10
    NATS 5
    (excludes N Ireland because YG excludes).

    The coalition scrape a majority of just one seat without help from the Irish.

    I built this seat calculator using the current no. of MPs to make sure it didn’t come out with something stupid.
    I think the above passes a sanity check – although I’m sure somebody will be along to tell me I’m in cloud cuckoo land. ;-)

    Next, I will build in the reduction in seats with push from lost seats into the new ones recalculated whenever the ave regional voting % is updated. This should be relatively easy.

    I’ve considered building an AV calculator. It’d be a ‘what-if’ for running scenarios because everybody is simply making assumptions until we get more polling on second choices. AV is quite a challenging model to build so it may take a few weeks unless I have a very quiet period at work. 8-)

  21. I was a bit bored on a long flight recently so I built my own, regionalised, seat calculator. I used the average of the last 4 YG polls to enlarge the regional samples.

    The result is:
    CON 316
    LAB 301
    DEM 10
    NATS 5
    (excludes N Ireland because YG excludes).

    The coalition have a majority of just one seat without help from the Irish.

    I built this seat calculator using the current no. of MPs to make sure it didn’t come out with something stupid.
    I think the above passes a sanity check – although I’m sure somebody will be along to tell me I’m in cloud cuckoo land. ;-)

    Next, I will build in the reduction in seats with push from lost seats into the new ones recalculated whenever the ave regional voting % is updated. This should be relatively easy.

    I’ve considered building an AV calculator. It’d be a ‘what-if’ for running scenarios because everybody is simply making assumptions until we get more polling on second choices. AV is quite a challenging model to build so it may take a few weeks unless I have a very quiet period at work. 8-)

  22. I cant see the Liberals falling quite that low. 15-20 is where they would most likely be at now.

    Always a pleasure to read your fair minded posts Barnaby. I have stated to the point of nausea, that the coalition will wilt before it picks up again. You, as ever are sensible and fair.

  24. @ Amber

    Nice work, and that sort of Election result would be incredibly interesting. We would be living in interesting times (borrowing a phrase from the great wise one Wayne)

  25. Apart from Peter Hitchens’ column, the Daily Mail is a complete waste of time.

  26. Andy JS,

    If Peter Hitchen’s column is a paper’s greatest asset, it must be in trouble…….

  27. It is a dog’s dinner. I have given up on the Daily Mail they are just trying to stir the pot to justify their expenditure. I think we all need to survive the summer’s stories. It is interesting to note that four former Labour Ministers now want to put effort into the coalition. If the coalition manages, as suggested, to denigrate which ever Milliband succeedes then the sky is the limit. The CAMEROON earth quake will change politics beyond all recognition. The Liberals, being on board will benefit and survive as a genuinely central political force. They will be, as they wished, the conscience of the new political reality.

    The Labour Party with the political leader after next will need to reinvent themselves as a centrest party looking to represent the WHOLE of the British Isles.If they do not then there will be another Social Democratic coalition.

  28. I agree with Rob Sheffield, we need more polls to make any sense of this. I hesitate to write it off, simply because I am a Tory and its bad for the Tories, however based on AWs narrative, which is usually a very good guide, the whole thing sounds like a 1970s washing powder advert. Pride Washes Whiter. Whiter than what ? Percil, Daz, Horse Dung ?

  29. For those who don’t read my blog (click on the link in my name) I’ll repost here what I worked out the figures should be if the Mail had properly reported normalised ‘headline’ vote figures, rather than report the bare poll figure of a result including don’t knows and wouldn’t vote.

    38% Conservative, 36% Labour, and 16% Liberal Democrat.

    This is much more in line with other polling.

  30. Glenn,

    While I would never buy a right-wing paper myself, I always thought the Mail and Express to be just unpleasant agitators. I respect the considered criticism of papers like the Times and FT, but the Mail and Express are just garbage in my opinion.

    I don’t think it’s Cameron Earthquake though. I think events in the bigger world leads changes, and someone jumps on top the wave. It doesn’t mean they created movement in anyway, they are just riding on what is already there. That goes for Blair, Thatcher or Atlee too.

    Of the Labour Ministers who are working with the Coalition, Frank Field I always thought was principled, but worked for his own motivation. A bit of a political loner.

    As a life long Labour man, I never liked Alan Milburn, and never really thought he was one of us. I consider him unprincipled, and that combined with the taste of power he had, makes his ‘capture’ entirely unsurprising. The Coalition are very welcome to him. I once worked with one his former Constituency staff, and to be polite, he was not very complimentary about he worked or treated people, and his substantial ego.

    Where the Labour Party goes now,it’s like climbing a mountain – you slog up a ridge to get to the top of it, and find that there are many more you could not see previously before you get to the summit.

  31. As Glenn Otto says, four former Labour “senior figures”
    are queuing up for employment, albeit voluntary employment. I am not sure I approve of this personally. Surely there are enough talented people in the two parties of government, without recourse to New Labour has beens. I would have thought Ashdown and Major have something to offer rather than Blunkett for example. Like it or lump it, it does prove these “class traitors” see something in the social policies of the coalition, if they are keen to serve.

  32. @GARYK
    Allow me to point out the FT and Times are not “right wing papers” The Times is certainly not left wing, but over the years it has been no friend to the Tory party.
    The FT is slightly left of centre and always has been in my lifetime. I quite agree with your sentiments regarding the Express and Mail. Trash. It will surprise no one, that I am a Telegraph reader, however, I think it is losing its way badly at present. I will probably switch to the Times.

  33. ROLAND – thank you very much for your kind words. I see no point in getting overexcited about one rather amateurishly presented, and perhaps sampled, poll. The other polls paint much the same picture, a Tory lead of roughly 4-5% and even as a Labour supporter I don’t want to be believe the “good” polls & disbelieve the ones which inconveniently suggest something different; it’s a recipe for future disappointment. Davidb, I take a great interest in local by-elections, and what you say is true, it is just the last 2 results which have been poor for Labour. I do however tend to agree with those who suggest it may not be long before Labour do go into the lead. Especially when the new leader is elected, whoever it is. (I got a phone call from the David Miliband campaing today & gave them a polite No.)

  34. Harris are about as transparent as Highland Porridge… Only one difference and that is that I like highland porridge

  35. I think it is inconceivable that Labour won’t have pulled into first place by the time of next year’s budget. Cuts on the scale envisaged can’t help but cause a decline in government popularity eventually.

    That doesn’t by any means indicate that Labour will keep the advantage in the long run.

  36. Virgilio/Michael V,

    Fine Gael’s unpopulairty has been confirmed since its inception. As the pro-treaty party (1921) it is inherently statist and conservative (google blueshirts and Eoin O’Duffy for some background). the Special place of the Catholic Church in Irish politics has halted the rise of Labour since the early 1900s. (google redscare and irish Catholic church for background)

    the churches influence is slowly waning… The child abuse scandal rocked people.. Labour will never be the largest party but they have a chance of establishing agenuine three party system. They are in many ways in a dilemma since to defeat the “natural party” of gov. ie Fianna Fáil they are obliged to deal with fine Gael which involves a bit of dilution of policy…

    In Ireland we (on the left) long for a Green Party/Sinn Féin and Labour coalition in the south…

    It is a long way off…

  37. In my regional seat calculator:

    Ming Campbell, Danny Alexander, Charlie Kennedy & Nick Clegg all keep their seats (plus 6 others, who I’ll name if anybody wants to know).

    Vince Cable & David Laws narrowly lose their seats to the Conservatives.

    10 seats for the Dems does seem low but many seats the Dems won were by a narrow margin & thanks to Labour voters trying to keep the Conservatives out (oh, the irony). 8-)

  38. @NEIL A
    Your 6.24 post puts flesh on the bones of my refrain.
    Its 48 to 50 months away that matter, not today or next month.

  39. Sewell,


    I agree the will be a lot of Libs going quiet at the mo… I have chatted to quite a few young professionals since the election and i also have the benefit of the gossip from my sisters manchester office… Trend following Libs tend to fall into to categories now which makes it very hard to be clear about the significance of it..

    1.. I was gonna vote Lib but in the end i did not manage to get to the polls but hey thank god I did not…

    2.. that Clegg fooled me we voted to keep the Tories out, he neednt think I am voting for them next time.

    These people will await to see what emerges from the Ed and Dave Miliband tete a tete… if they like what they see they’ll either a) confirm their switch to red or b) then jump to red…

    Of course this is just 2010.. where they’ll be in 2015 I have no freekin idea…

  40. Amber,

    Where do you see the biggest dip for yellow? can the lose a lot of the votes they clocked up in daft seats and still retain their MPs?

    10 does seem mighty low.. Id envisage a 1997 performance from yellow next time…

    Of course, anything is possible

    the regional breaks i normally wouldnt pay any heed to but if you say it passes the sanity check- we’ll you’re the financier…

  41. I have two comments to make on the appointments of frank field and alan milburn

    1 to reds 1 to blues & yellows.

    Blues and Yellows- They are two competent individuals who have the best interests in the country at heart. It follows the americansiation of our politics that when you are asked to do a service for your country that you put party affiliation aside (Colin Powell esque).

    Red- It is no coincidence that two arch-blairites both bitter opponents of Brown jump ship.. Reds need to ask themselves if on policy terms we should select a leader from the Blair wing of the party, given that on ideologicla terms they appear so cosy at jumping ship.. Where would it leave the future of social democracy.

  42. I wonder if there was some method to the Mail’s madness? (I know, I know, it’d be a first…..) I wonder if reporting the figures this way somehow suited their twisted view of the world better?
    YouGov do overscore Con a little though so Jay’s 38. 36 might be pretty close I suppose.

  43. Eoin – tut tut. Still haven’t read the Keir Hardy speech as though you don’t know who wrote it then?

  44. Sue,

    It is good to see you posting. I put principle over pragmatism, to my detriment I accept. I will be voting Andy Burnham. If DM is elected then so be it. I have read hardie’s speech twice it is quite a poor speech.

  45. The principle over pragmatism thing again!
    I suppose I will be no more able to affect such a burning certainty than I would be to persuade Colin to vote Labour, but boy do I think you are in for a shock.

  46. @Sue

    My opinion is that Harris, institutionally used to the US style poll reporting gave the mail a cross-tab with an undecided voter count.

    The Mail, institutionally used to just parroting what they’re told to print, just copy pasted the figures.

  47. Sue,

    I say to every propsective D Miliband supporter…. what policy (not idea not personality characteristic)… but what policy is it that he has, which appeals to you?

    Graduate Tax? 50% Top Rate? anti Turkey entrance to the EU? Income Tax rise? end to PFI? No more Iraq/Afghan? Living wage?

    I have some charasmatic friends… nice fellas at that.. but their politics stink. hence they have been told if they run for council or the NI assmebly they need not expect my vote…

  48. After all, it is not about where a man comes from but the distance he travels n’est pas? Or can we only accept the epiphany of Tory weather vanes? The distance from Blair to Brown an un-crossable gulf?
    How strangely willing you are to see the good in Cameron yet so convinced you know who DM really is.

  49. Sue,

    I saw little good in Cameron prior to May-2010. Since May 2010 I have saw nothing from cameron to even warrant a yellow card… I’m watching him though!

    I have saw several things from DM to warrant a yellow card…

    What distance has DM travelled? From where I am sat he was privileged from day one.. and ideologically speaking has not moved much.. unless of course he was once a Tory? or a Lib?

  50. @ Éoin

    I took 4 YG’s to enlarge the regional samples. Because the polling is daily, it should be the almost the same as 4x the sample.

    In Scotland, I get 2 Tories instead of 1; they narrowly take Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine from the Dems. Labour at 46 because they are just massive in Scotland just now, as all polling has shown. Dems keep 6 seats in Scotland thanks to solid support for Ming, Charlie, Danny A etc. The Nats are on 5.

    In London the Dems lose all 7 seats & Labour lose 2; Conservatives pick up 9.

    The Dems lose all their Midlands seats but keep 1 seat in Wales (Ceredigion).

    In the North, the Dems are in trouble too. They keep only 2 seats. Clegg’s is one of them – he is still 5,000 votes ahead – so no Portillo moment for him :-(

    In the South, Labour are killing the Dems. Labour on 25% compared to 17% at the GE translates into a huge gain in seats for Labour at the Dem’s expense.

    Keep in mind how big the potential Labour vote is. 1997 anybody? It is amazing how many seats Labour lost because the Center Left vote was split in 2010 – it was like Michael Foot’s time when the SDP/ Alliance split the vote & waved the Tories into office. :-(

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