Tonight there will be the usual YouGov/Sunday Times poll and there may be others I don’t know about… but the polls that will be getting the attention are those on the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. I think there are three – Survation, Populus in the Sunday Telegraph (commissioned by Lord Ashcroft) and ICM in the Mail on Sunday.

The first out of the stocks (with changes from the General Election) are the ICM and Populus polls

ICM have CON 18%(-8), LAB 44%(+12), LDEM 27%(-5)
Populus have CON 15%(-11), LAB 46%(+14), LDEM 29(-3)

So both have Labour substantially up on their general election support and the Lib Dems dropping less than the third placed Conservatives. Rumour has it that the third poll, from Survation, has a bigger squeeze on the Conservative vote with them pushed down to single figures. I’ll update ob that later.

There has been some suggestion that the ICM poll did not include the candidates names in the voting intention question. I’ve seen nothing to confirm this, but do know that Populus prompted by party & candidate name and the two polls are showing almost identical pictures anyway. Also note that ICM only had a sample of 500 respondents, while Populus asked 1,500.

UPDATED: There is more data from the Populus poll here on ConHome and especially in an analysis by Lord Ashcroft here in the Sunday Telegraph.

The story of the by-election is basically there – almost a third of people who voted Lib Dem in May 2010 have defected directly to Labour, and those defecting Lib Dems are the most hostile to the coalition in the other questions asked (more so than existing Labour voters!). However, this slump in Liberal Democrat support is partially offset by widespread tactical voting by Conservative supporters, with around a third of people who voted Tory in May 2010 now saying they’ll vote Liberal Democrat.

Populus asked people about levels of campaigning in the by-election. The Labour and Lib Dem campaigns seem broadly equal – just over 70% recall getting leaflets from the two parties, about 20% have been doorstepped by them, about 20% have been phoned by them. In comparison only 57% have had a Conservative leaflet, 7% had them on their doorstep and 5% been phoned by them.

Populus also asked how people would have voted had there been a joint Con-LD candidate – I make the repercentaged figures for that Lab 47%, Con/LD 38% – so it would have been a little closer. 77% of Conservative voters would have voted for the joint candidate, two-thirds of Lib Dem voters would have (of course, these aren’t directly comparable because we don’t know who this imaginary joint candidate would be, what happens to people who were voting because they thought Elwyn Watkins or Kashif Ali were the best candidate?).

97 Responses to “Populus and ICM show Labour ahead in Oldham East & Saddleworth”

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  1. Ashley..pax vobiscum

    We all believe what we believe. I have no gripe with your liberal convictions.

    I’m a Socialist economically, but I really resent ID cards, CCTV cameras all over the shop and unnecessary state nose-poking.

    But just personally, it seems clear to me that your lot are collaborating with that blue lot to make a bad economy far, far worse.

    But what do I know? We are all guessing.

  2. @ Barney Crockett

    “I have just heard tha a Democratic congresswoman has been shot in the head in Arizona

    Her aide is dead”

    I know, I am horrified. I am willing to bet you dollars to donuts that this was the work of a conservative lunatic (although there may be two more suspects). They couldn’t beat her at the ballot box so they tried another method. 19 people were shot and one suspect in custody. Original reports had the Congresswoman dying. But those reports were wrong and she’s apparently survived surgery.

    It’s not clear how many people have been killed. Right now, I’ve heard just one confirmed dead (a ten year old kid) so I’m hoping that her staffer survives.

  3. Ashley
    You are moving the debate from winning to surviving. All sorts of things survive and there is still a Liberal Party but winning seats is another thing
    But even survival will need a set of red lines on policy which can’t happen when Clegg seems to be on the tory side on most critical issues.
    Scotland will move centre stage for Lib Dems now. Being Cameron’s poodles has little attraction here

  4. @ Barney Crockett

    Obama is speaking live on national television. He has said that 5 were killed including a child and a federal judge, John Roll. So that leaves three who might include a staffer. Horrifying.

  5. The American democrat being shot is pretty shocking. But the Pakistani assination by his bodyguard my have even more far reaching consequences.

  6. @Barney Crockett
    It’s Democratic Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords of Tuscon, Arizona. The surgeon who operated on her says she was shot through the brain but should survive.

    A federal judge was also killed in the shooting.

  7. @Ian C

    “An interesting theory – it could be a major headache for Cameron.”

    It already is, read what Tebbit said or Carswell

    why do you think the torygraph and Mail are in full attack mode on the LD’s ?

    What the right expected was a narrow overall Tory majority with them having a major influence on policy

    what they got was a coalition with a Liberal flavour and the right being out on the edge as enough LD ministers to keep it going at the moment

  8. @Socalliberal

    It’s the main running story on SkyNews UK.

  9. Socal Liberal
    The aide may be a mistake We are all very sorry for the US people
    I think both are pregnant with danger

  10. @Ashley – “… claptrap from Labour”

    This boils down to a perception that it was an error of judgement on the part of Nick Clegg (albeit consistent with his Orange Book tendencies) to go all out for coalition as opposed to confidence/supply.

    Conservatives may be quicker to act upon any definitive realisation that however convenient it may have seemed at the time, coalition politics is having a corrosive effect.

  11. I don’t think that Labour voters will be complacent now and stay at home.

    I think that most Labour supporters can’t wait to give the Coalition a kicking (Electorally speaking) and will be queuing up to give big support for Labour.

  12. @ Amber Star

    “I take your point – these polls may encourage Labour activists to flood the area on polling day & get ‘our’ voters to the polls; it could be a great win for Labour.”

    I think that negative polls can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophrecy where voters hear about the polls and then decide not to vote because they feel that their vote would make little difference.

    The Lib Dems did win this seat in a by-election in the mid 1990’s so I can understand your sense of nervousness. I particularly don’t like like by-elections(or special elections) as they have low turnout and can produce very wacky results.

  13. @Amber

    You said “…Leaving 48% for LD [your re-allocating the 24% DK Dems pro-rata] then the Dems would lose all their seats…”

    Then followed it up with a question “…So, following on from my previous comment, the Tories would win more seats than Labour from the collapse of the Dem vote…Why would the Tories muddy the waters by asking their own support to TV for the Dems?…”

    A couple of points:
    a) You’ve got a Yellow GE vote of ~12% (48% of ~24%) but a Yellow seatage of zero. My guesstimate is that Yellow don’t hit zero seats until the vote hits ~5% or less.
    b) Welcome to FPTP (I know, irony… :-) ) and indirectly-elected Governments. A Blue voter can vote Blue in seats where Blue is first, or second to Red, and vote Yellow in seats where Yellow is first, or second to Red. By doing so, Blue maximises his/her chance of a Blue PM. Of course, if we had AV, tactical voting would be unnecessary… :-)

    Regards, Martyn

  14. @Garry K – spot on mate

    all the council by-elections have shown that the Labour voters are so much more motivated

  15. These polls would have to be very, very wrong for Labour to do badly, even more wrong than the ones in 1970 and 1992. I can’t see it changing much in the next 5 days,

  16. @ Ashley

    Totally 100% behind you when you talk about unfair press coverage. The Lib Dems have had more press attention in the past nine months than in the previous nine years. Apart from the brief period between the election debates, almost all of it has been highly negative and destructive, with particularly vicious personal attacks on all leading figures. Recently even the Independent has been jumping on the negative bandwagon. That is why our polling has been artificially depressed and some of our voters have even split rightwards to the Tories. With the 4-5% that has cost us, we would be at 15-17% i.e. well within the comfort zone post election.

    We can recover and will recover, simply because we still represent a wide slice of the population who don’t sign up to the Conservatives’ craven worship of market forces and the Labour party’s firm belief that spending more state money on favoured interest groups – even when there’s none left – is always the best solution to any problem.

    I would be interested to see whether the 40% plus Labour polling actually turns into votes at the ballot box in Old & Sad. I think that at the moment, asking people whether they would vote Labour is akin to asking them whether they are pissed off with life and the world in general. Of course, lots of people say yes. But much of it is based on what Labour and its media supporters SAY will happen (“Benefits claimants COULD be forced to eat their own children”, “Cutting government spending will cause the outbreak of Bubonic plague”) rather than what actually has happened. In the absence of actual current major impacts on people’s standards of living, will the pissed off public actually be that determined to turn out to vote?

  17. from another forum

    Survation poll appears to be

    Lab 31 LD 30 Con 6 Others 8 Undecideds 25
    equivalent to 41/40/8/11

    this company has no history I believe

  18. @ Raf

    “It’s the main running story on SkyNews UK.”

    It’s not an every day occurence. I fear this won’t be the last attack of this kind though.

    When MPs have been attacked in surgeries (the equivalent to what Giffords was doing today), it usually isn’t international news.

    @ Barney Crockett

    “The aide may be a mistake We are all very sorry for the US people”

    Thank you. I know a friend of hers who served with her in the Arizona State Senate and he really liked her at a personal level. We were comiserating with him over all the losses the Dems took in Arizona. Giffords winning reelection was one of the few saving graces. She is apparently one those elected officials who is eminently likeable in person.

  19. Nothing has happened yet, polling-wise. It could all end up very different.

    But really, Robert C. Explain to me how the press could have been more positive about the lib dems?

    I think Cameron has had an easy ride, but only by dodging the questions.

    The lib dems won’t recover unless the economy does. Do you believe in your (Tory) policies enough to think that will happen?

  20. @Ashley and Robert C.

    I posted the following on a previous thread. It accurately explains just why the Libs are so unpopular and just how difficult it will be for them to get back lost support.

    “ONE of the longest serving councillors in Wales has defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour.
    Neath Port Talbot veteran John Warman says he made the decision because the Lib Dem leadership had betrayed a generation of young people.

    “During the general election campaign I went to Swansea University when Nick Clegg was there, and the support he had from all the students and young people was tremendous,” said Mr Warman, councillor for Cimla since 1972.

    “He was like a hero. We were a party that was going to abolish tuition fees. Then they entered into the coalition with the Conservatives and betrayed a
    generation of young people.

    “I cannot abide hypocrisy in politics and what Clegg and the others in Government have done is unforgivable. They have abandoned a generation that
    looked to them for leadership.

    “People are seeing that the coalition is just a Conservative government by another name.”

  21. I SOOOO hope I’m the first to call

  22. @all

    Latest polls (in Red/Blue/Yellow/Grey/Undecided order)
    * Survation OES poll being reported as 31/06/30/08/25 (I want my Mum… :-) )
    * YG Nat’l poll is 41/38/10/11/00

    Regards, Martyn

  23. @ Ian

    I think you have to take those polls with a grain of salt. Anyone can commission a poll by a company that’s never done them before and twist the results accordingly to get what they want.

  24. @ Martyn

    Per YG, LD 2010 vote is now:
    13% -> CON
    41% -> LAB
    34% -> LD
    11% -> OTH
    24% -> DK

    So I pro-rata’d
    13% x 100%/ 124% for CON = 10% of LD voters will vote CON etc.

    Inexact but good enough, IMO, considering I am using arithmetic to calculate human behaviour.

    I then fed the %s through the actual votes that each Party got in LD held seats at the 2010 GE.

    UNS ignores the fact that Dem seats are often marginals. That’s likely why I get zero seats for the Dems compared to your UNS 5%.

  25. @ SUE

    Yes, for Populus numbers, ATTAD doesn’t do it.

    And ICM would require 100% ATTAD to have a 1% lead – depending on roundings!!!

  26. @Martyn

    Well. Survation significantly out of kilter with the other two. Who is right? I guess we’ll have to wait until Friday morning to find out.

  27. Amber – LMAO when I saw that.
    Was I first?

  28. @ Sue

    You were indeed first. :-)

  29. @Amber

    Thank you


    My usual mantra in these cases is “snog YouGov, marry ICM/Populus, avoid [others]”.So I’d go with ICM/Populus.

    I’m not expecting a Yellow win in OES: we have zero polling evidence to support such a prediction. What I am looking for is Yellow->Red defections in proportion to Yellow->Blue defections, the destruction of Red->Yellow tactical voting, and the emergence of Blue->Yellow tactical voting. The interplay between those four factors will be important in 2015.

    Regards, Martyn

  30. @RobertC “…..the Labour party’s firm belief that spending more state money on favoured interest groups – even when there’s none left”.

    Come on Robert. That really doesn’t make the grade as an intelligent political comment.

    You are clinging onto scraps.

  31. This is no more than an excuse for the public to kick whosoever is in charge just for the fun of it.

    Think about it, if people were really seriously voting for labour, a party which has no policies, only anti-policies & only a blank sheet of paper & is led by someone who most voters in O&S have probably never heard of & that only a minority in his party voted for in the leadership election and who so far has only put his head above the parapet to say ‘boo’ to Messrs. Cameron & Clegg, then imagine what vote they would get if they did have policies & were a credible opposition constantly in the news. They would be on 80%!

    No, this is merely a ‘vote for anyone who is not tory/libdem.’ It’s a labour seat anyway and if EM gets some comfort from retaining it, I’m happy for him.

    Whilst he celebrates, the grown ups can get on with sorting out the mess he helped to make in the 1st place.

    Anthony, I don’t mean to be partisan but there have been so many leftie partisan comments on the last few threads that I just want a rant to help even up.

  32. Nearly 30% is still encouraging for Clegg, he might still have a pool of centrist and centre right voters to draw on at the next election, I am not suggesting he will be able to fully compensate for all these lost left wing voters though, too early to tell.

    ‘ONE of the longest serving councillors in Wales has defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour.
    Neath Port Talbot veteran John Warman says…..
    “I cannot abide hypocrisy in politics”

    Was the Chaytor case not reported in the Welsh papers?

  34. Polls may not be picking up on it yet, but what I looking for is Blue->Red. ;)

  35. @ Robert in France

    Survation is doing more to “even up” than your comment. ;-)

    Hop over to the Survation thread & you’ll feel happier.

  36. Wild polls induce wild speculation; wild speculation induces wild profits; wild profits induce wild faith; wild faith induces disbelief.

    My patience runs at least as far as the real voters voting next week.

    But still I can’t help but say how very interesting….

  37. Test

  38. IF labour do win this seat then all credit to the candidate
    but also to Ed Milliband who has gambled his political
    credibility on this.But we are not there yet.

  39. Very simplistic, but minor changes in vote share (O&S) 1997-2001 could be explained by the three main parties losing to BNP and UKIP, with Labour and Tory recovering in 2005, also a dramatically declining turnout.

    In 2010 turnout recovers a bit, Labour lose 11%, Tories gain 9%, UKIP gain 2%.

    LD vote share has remained fairly consistent over a decade-and-a-half.

  40. Robert C – absolutely right. The diatribe of negative coverage against the Lib Dems is a scandal in itself. Yes decisions have been controversial but there’s been little, if any balance, anywhere in the coverage. The narrative has been slanted in a negative rather than factual way. And it’s often what’s not been reported which has influenced people. I mean there are tons of Lib Dem victories in gvmt which have been given little or no mention at all in the media. And the tuition fees story has now resulted in people actually thinking they have to pay upfront fees. There’s been so much misinformation. And i’m still waiting for the Telegraph’s undercover interviews with Tory ministers?? mmmm i guess we’ll be waiting a long time. All this slanted negative publicity in the papers which is then parrotted by pretty weak, inexperienced 24 hour news journalists, means that the Lib Dems poll rating has plummetted. Keep saying something long enough and loud enough and it’ll have a direct effect. And it has..

    As for everyone else saying the Libs have sold their soul. No they’re simply embracing pluralist politics where you have to compromise to get things done. The Tories have also had to compromise but there aint any discussion of their compromises in the mass b’cast media anywhere so that doesn’t get through to the electorate and the perception becomes Libs are Tory poodles…when infact in a number of areas the Libs are winning – penal policy in particular is a big win for the Libs. And despite the VAT rise, there’s been a big win for all of us with the increase in the tax threshold over the next few years. Little mention of this. I wonder if there’ll be a big announcement of it coming into force like there was with the VAT rise, on April 1st…mmmm i wonder. I doubt it.

    Sorry to shoot the messenger but it does have a direct influence on how people respond to polls and elections. And, as a journalist of some 20 years, i really don’t think we are getting much balance at the minute from anywhere.

  41. @ Barney Crockett

    Don’t know if you’re still around but MSNBC just reported that one of Gabby Giffords’s staffers was in fact killed. He was 30 years old. Very sad. And very troubling.

  42. @Ashley

    “As for everyone else saying the Libs have sold their soul. No they’re simply embracing pluralist politics where you have to compromise to get things done.”

    It’s arguable that they would have achieved a lot more with C&S. Not only would they have been able to put pressure on the Tories on every policy, but they would have been able to be open about it, and would ahve been able to block a lot of the worst of it. By allowing Clegg to sell their souls so as to buy himself a place in government, they got the worst of all worlds. And we got a right-wing Tory government protected by a LD human shield.

  43. @ Ashley

    Keep saying something long enough and loud enough and it’ll have a direct effect. And it has..
    Yes, we Labourites had to watch Gordon Brown destroyed by repetitive, unsubstantiated insults.

    Now we have to live with both Parties to the Coalition trying to re-write history about the financial crash & the UK economy.

    It’s just the way it goes.

  44. @ Amber Star

    “Yes, we Labourites had to watch Gordon Brown destroyed by repetitive, unsubstantiated insults.”

    Poor guy. He’s kind of like the Al Gore of UK politics. I just hope Brown does for global economics what Gore did for the environment.

    “Now we have to live with both Parties to the Coalition trying to re-write history about the financial crash & the UK economy.”

    People love to rewrite history. It’s typical in politics.

  45. @Ashley

    “As for everyone else saying the Libs have sold their soul. No they’re simply embracing pluralist politics where you have to compromise to get things done.”

    Surely this is a matter of opinion. A large number of former Lib Dem voters seem to disagree with you.

  46. I found this on Survation’s Facebook page:!/permalink.php?story_fbid=126737947383534&id=132208120135699

    I’m not doubting Survation’s integrity, but if they want people to take them seriously they need to stop making comments like this one and the one reported in the Daily Mail at

  47. This is one of those elections where Labour will easily hold. If the Lib Dems couldn’t win this at the last election, then they have no chance this time around. To be honest, at the last election, the Lib Dem performance against Labour in Lab-Lib marginals was woeful.

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