Polling of local elections is very rare – presumably because they only cover part of the country, and it is hard to actually get any meaning out of the figures. What exactly does a four point Labour lead in local elections in the areas where there happens to be local elections that year mean? Still, we’ve had a go!

The YouGov local election poll in the Sun today is based on just repondents in those areas that actually have local elections in May – that is, excluding London, Scotland, Wales and the 13 or so councils who do not have elections this year (primarily Cornwall, Durham, the Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire, with a handful of district councils with unusual electoral cycles).

Topline figures, with comparisons to how people voted in 2007 when these council seats were last contested, are:

CON 34%(-4), LAB 38%(+16), LDEM 13%(-11), Others 15%

Note that these figures are NOT compable to the Equivalent National Vote shares that are calculated by the BBC, and later by Rallings & Thrasher, on local election night. The NEV is a notional projection of what the local election shares of the vote would be if every single part of the country had had local elections, these figures are just people in areas that actually do have local elections. They are, of course, still not perfect – there will be some wards in councils with elections by thirds that don’t have an election this time round, and many people in three member wards will end up splitting their votes between parties… but it’s the best I think can be reasonably done.

More importantly, how would these figures actually translate into seats? Now, there is no easy formula or calculation for this, but the Sun have got Colin Rallings to do a projection based on these shares of the vote. Prof Ralling’s calculations are that this would lead to the Conservatives losing 1000 council seats (about a fifth of those they are defending), and the Liberal Democrats will lose 700 (well over a third of the 1850 seats they are defending). The Liberal Democrats would lose control of 11 councils out of the 25 they currently control.


126 Responses to “YouGov local election poll”

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  1. I wonder what differential turnout there will be in this year’s elections. It is more than possible that in the current climate Labour supporters will be more motivated to go out & vote in a local election in some areas. Of course there will also be large regional differences as has often been discussed here. It is hard to see Labour doing as well in Kent as in Greater Manchester for example, or the Lib Dems doing as badly in Sussex as they do in Sheffield (maybe not such a good example as Sheffield Park is in Sussex!).

  2. Anthony,

    Are these results derived from the “how would you vote if there was a general election tomorrow?” question or was there a local election question too? The difference can be quite marked. For instance, in my local constituency of Edgbaston, we have a Labour MP and 11 Conservative councillors out of 12. Asked how they would vote in a general election or a local election, a large number of people will give a different answer.

  3. Anthony,

    Do you think there is any transferability in terms of the AV referendum on the same day?

    Does the specific areas contesting council elections on that day give the yes or no campaign a slight advantage do you think? I am working on the premise that the areas contesting council elections ‘might’ have a higher turnout than other English areas.

    I know you won’t like this question because it is not like for like. So rather than an answer, I’d appreciate your hunch if at all you have one?

    I don’t know the answer. My hunch is that any difference is negligible. And that it firms up the closeness of the AV contest.

  4. Colin Green – no, it’s from a separate local election question.

    “And thinking about the candidates who are likely
    to stand in local council elections in your area,
    who would you vote for in a local council
    election in your area on the 5th May?”

    The bit at the start is to encourage people to take into an account that, for example, the Labour party may not normally put up candidates in their ward, or they may always vote for Bob from round the corner, or whatever.

    Eoin – the overwhelming majority of England outside London has local elections, so I doubt those counties that don’t will make a big difference.

    It’s more plausible that Scotland and Wales could have a higher turnout, or London could have a much lower one. The only poll really big enough to flag up any regional differences though was the big ICM one for the YES campaign last year, which didn’t really show any massive regional differences.

  5. Extremely good article in the FT today regarding the failure of left and right with regards to deficit reduction and the devastation being wrought by the super rich on a global scale;

    h ttp://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8836f284-592a-11e0-b9f6-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1Hz4k9JeF

    It’s well worth a read and provides the clearest understanding of our current problems that I have read in a long time.

    Interestingly it fits well with claims on an earlier thread by someone (Billy Bob? – I can’t remember) that the budget measures were more favoured to big business rather than small and micro scale enterprises.

    There has been considerable criticism of the Start up Britain campaign from the small business sector as it’s abundantly clear that the government’s view of what actually constitutes a ‘small’ business and what start ups are mostly about are a million miles from the reality on the ground, adding further to the view that they are looking to satisfy an altogether bigger scale of enterprise.

    So much of policy seems to concentrate on capturing internationally mobile capital flows in ways that clearly benefit the owners of such capital, whereas a much clearer line on encouraging employment within national boundaries would be far more effective in securing higher and sustainable tax revenues in my view.

  6. Anthony, Thanks.

  7. I suspect this is a pretty reasonable estimate, it should be a good day for Labour: not because they’re doing fantastically nationally, but because they aren’t in Government, and because they did so badly the last time these seats were up.

    COLIN GREEN
    Looking at the last ten years probably won’t be much of a guide for this election. The power of being out of Government is very useful to a local politician. I remember not so long ago when Kings Norton had three Labour Councillors with huge majorities… Not forgetting Bournville, Northfield, Moseley etc… Things can change rapidly.

    Do you think that Paul Tilesley will follow the Clegg doctrine of talking to the largest party first if Labour overtake the Tories in Birmingham?

  8. @Alec – “… claims on an earlier thread… that the budget measures were more favoured to big business rather than small and micro scale enterprises.”

    Eric Goodyer possibly.

  9. We don’t like our governments much, do we? When they’re in Westminster, they get crushed in all the other elections.
    8-)

  10. @The Sheep

    “Do you think that Paul Tilesley will follow the Clegg doctrine of talking to the largest party first if Labour overtake the Tories in Birmingham?”

    Its an interesting question. Labour need to pick up 3 seats from the tories to be the biggest party locally. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take twice that. I’ve never spoken to Paul Tilsley but the general chatter seems to be whether Labour can pick up enough seats in 2012 to get a majority. It suggests that the coalition will stand this time.

    To win a majority, labour need 20 more seats, or 17 if they’re prepared to work with Respect. Given that the councillors are up for election 40 at a time, they’d need 2 consecutive “best case” elections to do it.

  11. Which 11 councils are the Lib Dems likely to lose?

    Any predictions on which will even be gained by the Conservatives and Labour?

  12. Assuming the Rawlings’ prediction is anywhere near accurate and Labour pick up most of the gains, even then the headline figures won’t look that spectacular in terms of councillors elected on the night: Con 4,000, Lab 3,200, LD 1,100.

    That is 5,039 out of 9,392 Con council seats up for election on May 5th… Lab 1,598/4,833 and LD 1,836/3,883.

    Whether these ratios have an effect on turnout and propotionately on the AV referendum result remains to be seen.

  13. AMBER – how are you my dear?
    Basically you’re right but of course there have often been exceptions. Labour did very well indeed in the 1998 local elections and pretty well still in 1999 when authorities as normally iffy as Braintree & Castle Point were successfully held. The Tories in their turn enjoyed very good local election results in 1983, 1987 & 1992 and did fairly well in 1984 and 1988 as well.

  14. Basically, as far as I remember, the Conservatives reached a high point in 1981, got slowly eroded for just over a decade, then beyond 1993 the slaughter began in earnest. Very much like their GE performances for the period.

  15. Anthony,

    I see there’s a new YouGov for the Scottish Greens at http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-scottishgreens-debate-290311.pdf

    Oddly, it just shows figures for the debates question.

    Would you know if the VI questions – they must have been asked because they cross-tab on them – will be published?

  16. @ Robin

    Care to explain why such asinine comments are of relevance to the discussion of polling and polling results?

    ________________________________________
    From previous thread

    The reason I make these comments is to show that the consensus that the cuts are bad but necessary or bad but unnecessary is not an opinion shared by everyone. Hence it relevance to the opinion polls.

    I and a not inconsiderable part of the electorate think the cuts are good for their own sake, I would support cuts regardless of the state of the economy.

    As the left keep saying, the tories are making the cuts for ideological not economic reason. Hence cutting state expenditure is a political idelology.

    It is an ideology you do not agree with, but it is no more an asinine an ideology the socialism.

  17. @AW

    “The bit at the start is to encourage people to take into an account that, for example, the Labour party may not normally put up candidates in their ward, or they may always vote for Bob from round the corner, or whatever.”

    That bit may come unstuck if a different pattern of candidates stands. Our area often has a shortage of Labour candidates, but this year there is a particular effort to make sure Labour voters have a Labour candidate to support.

  18. @JF

    “The reason I make these comments is to show that the consensus that the cuts are bad but necessary or bad but unnecessary is not an opinion shared by everyone.”

    You don’t need to state your own opinions in an inflammatory manner in order to say that. The polls do that on their own.

  19. I fear the ultimate AV nightmare result.

    A differential turnout caused by Scottish and Welsh parliament elections sees a 56 – 44 vote in favour. with a 55% turnout. I think the turnout in Holyrood elections will be higher than the last three: the election is both tight and highly polarised motivating people to vote. ( This AV share is plausible, we are used to alternative voting systems in Scotland and they hold no fear and are generally supported) Elsewhere across England it is rejected 51 – 49. on a 38% turnout. Had turnout been equal then AV would have been defeated but instead, if my maths is right ,it squeaks through.
    I think the shires might just revolt in protest, especially if similar distortions, but to a lesser degree occur in areas where there are local government elections in England. Now that would put one or two strains possibly on the coalition.

    It is clearly an asymmetric process having a referendum at the same time as some parts of the country are voting on other matters and others are not. It may become unfair and undemocratic in particular peculiar, but not unforeseeable, circumstances,

    Seems odd they didn’t just hold the AV referendum first Thursday in June. Could be a major hostage to fortune.

    As regards Holyrood, I still think 40 – 40 will be closer to the mark as Libs, Tories and Greens are squeezed by a two party power struggle. My gut says 42 Lab – 40 SNP but with machinations of system – sweeping NATs in across all of non-central Scotland – and the backing of the few remaining Tories – Salmond will squeeze back in – possibly as leader of the second biggest party .

  20. 700 LibDems losing their council seats could make that party VERY disgruntled – I would expect _that_ to have a far bigger impact over the period one-week-to-four-years after polling day than anything else in the local elections. Clegg is doubless hoping that the coalition will stick together for the full term and the tories let his party have credit in the event of economic recovery: but such a demoralising loss could add significantly to the strain within his party, I think.

  21. 700 LibDems losing their council seats could make that party VERY disgruntled – I would expect _that_ to have a far bigger impact over the period one-week-to-four-years after polling day than anything else in the local elections. Clegg is doubless hoping that the coalition will stick together for the full term and the tories let his party have credit in the event of economic recovery: but such a demoralising loss could add significantly to the strain within his party, I think, which might make it even less likely.

  22. COLIN GREEN

    I do know Paul, I was on the other side of the Council chamber from him, but he is a decent guy. I think you’re right in terms of Labour becoming the biggest party… I think they could do a bit better than you think too.

    However if Paul doesn’t offer talks with Labour it will give Sir Albert a big stick to beat them with, and if there’s one group Sir A sees as the real enemy it’s the Lib Dems. It would probably be wiser for Paul to offer talks but do so in a way that ensures no deal comes about…

    It always bothered me that in Birmingham no one outside the Council chamber has ever had a vote on the coalition – no joint candidates have ever stood – and it’s this that has pushed me against AV. Any democratic advantage in not having your vote “wasted” is overruled by the increased likelihood of Government being chosen by a small coterie in an undemocratic fashion.

  23. Sorry: I thought I had successfully avoided sending it before I had finished…

  24. It is clear that having lots of councillors and therefore lots of councils can be a springboard to general election success (ie, we are running all these councils and doing okay, now let us run the country too). I imagine the reverse must be true.

  25. @ John Fletcher

    The trouble is, those figures you keep mentioning are a figment of your imagination presumably. The people supporting more cuts are entirely negligible (4% the last I seen), and you clearly haven’t been following the polls if you think the people who think the cuts are too fast and too deep are the minority. Sorry, but your type – the people who’d welcome these cuts (and more) in any environment – are the minority.

  26. The Sheep

    Coalition talks with Sir Albert that deliberately go no-where are a bit dishonest. Ed Balls played that role in the Westminster discussions and it was a waste of everyone’s time. I think talks should be genuine or should not be held at all. I’ve no particular love for the Tories or for coalition with them, but if Albert does see the LD as the enemy, would a coalition between the two work?

  27. @colin Green

    Still peddling the Labour weren’t serious line – Clegg went into the coalition talks demanding a cuts agenda that both Labour and Lib-dem had specifically opposed.

    The only ones lacking faith in those discussions were the Lib-dems who had cynically lied to the electorate during the election- they believed that cuts had to happen straight away. I have no problem with that belief – even though I didn’t share it . I have a problem when I elect someone on one prospectus who even as we are voting knows that he is being utterly dishonest for purely electoral gain.

    This betrayal was the worst by the Lib Dems – far worse than the tuition fees which it could quite conceivably argue to be a price of coalition. The immediate programme of cuts insisted upon by the Lib-dems made any negotiations with Labour a non-starter – not Ed Balls.

    It is this lack of honesty coupled with their penchant for denying responsibility and accepting no blame that makes the Lib-dems even in government a lightweight party with no principles, no idea of poilitical responsibility and, ultimately, unelectable.

    Sorry for the rant – but to describe others as having “go nowhere” talks as a Lib-dem is frankly a bit much.

    Many ex voters of Lib-dems – me amongst them – cannot and will not vote for them ever as quite simply they stand for nothing at all – and will tell any lie to get elected.

    As I write this a Local Lib-dem leaflet claims that recycling in out council under Labour was 2% – it was in 1995 – but they imply that this was the case in 2007 when they took over the council. ( the figure was over 30%) They then accuse Labour of “abandoning” recycling when the very recycling centres referred to were all built under the previous Labour administration. The Lib-dems themselves have built no such facilities in their four years in office.

    Lib-dems lie at all levels. That”s their root problem.

  28. Anthony,

    A poster (Johnstone?) on the last thread raised doubts about “changes” to the TNS-BMRB methodology. If you read their post carefully, it sounds like pure speculation, probably from a disappointed Labourite. You however, gave more credence to their “claim”.

    Well, my suspicion is now confirmed. TNS have published the detailed tables:

    http://www.tns-bmrb.co.uk/assets-uploaded/documents/holyrood-voting-intentions-poll-28th-march-2011_1301386940.pdf

    … and the methodology is identical with the last TNS poll:

    ht
    tp://www.tns-bmrb.co.uk/assets-uploaded/documents/holyrood-voting-intentions-poll-7th-march-2011_1299492491.pdf

    Beware sour claims of foul play!

  29. @ Craig & Robin

    The trouble is, those figures you keep mentioning are a figment of your imagination presumably.
    __________________________________________

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/25/voters-cuts-coalition-poll

    March ICM poll for the Guardian found that the public are generally support the cuts. Only 35% think the plans go too far – down 10% since November.

    A total of 28% think the government has got the right balance with 29% saying the cuts are not severe enough. I make that 57 – 35 backing for the cuts programme.

    The majority support the cuts!!!!!!

  30. Err… what on earth is going on? Did STV broadcast incorrect findings yesterday??

    The numbers in the detailed tables do not correspond with the ones we were given yesterday.

    Constituency vote:
    Lab 39% – yesterday 38%
    SNP 35% – yesterday 37%
    Con 14% – yesterday 15%
    LD 8% – yesterday 7%

    Regional vote:
    Lab 36% – yesterday 35%
    SNP 34%- yesterday 35%
    Con 12%- yesterday 14%
    LD 8% – yesterday 8%
    Grn 5%- yesterday 5%

    Am I totally misreading something, or have STV seriously f**ked up here? Punters deserve to know, cos this poll utterly changed the betting markets.

  31. Ah! I see what they have done! They have suddenly started to copy Ipsos MORI and use only the “Certain to Vote” numbers as their Headline findings.

    So, they HAVE changed their methodology. Previous post duly withdrawn.

    Seems a bit unprofessional to decide to suddenly change your methodology just as an election approaches.

    I think I’ll wait for the next ICM before I get too excited. I just cannot trust TNS: their track record vis a vis actual election results is just too poor.

  32. Stuart,

    What is it with Scottish News outlets reporting polls? disaster.

    Tell me, what channel can I view the debate on later? [I’m in Belfast not in Venezuela]

  33. @John Fletcher.

    Good post, I was about to mention the ICM Poll which clearly shows a majority in favour of the cuts and a large minority in favour of deeper cuts. Like you I would have wanted significant cuts in the Public Sector regardless of the economic position, as I believe that a much smaller State is in the long term interests of the Nation.

  34. Stuart – it’s not just that. Check out the description of the weighting regime in the two polls. Unlike the last one, this one says “Additional weighting was applied based on past voting behaviour at the Scottish parliament election in 2007 (constituency vote).”

  35. These polls are like a roller coaster…up..down…up again!

    The local government poll is interesting because it’s a sort of base to look at the actual results from….accepting all the usual caveats….

    I’m pretty unclear where this AV camapign is really going….into the sand? But I’m a Londoner so maybe outside the adverts in Vauxhall I’m blinded by no other elections going on….

    The Scots poll is deeply confusing…but it doesn’t mean it isn’t correct…Politicians with the name Gray/Grey need to be wary of being seen in the wrong light!…Was it poor Gray Davis who won relection and then got snookered by the ‘Governator’ in a special election in California?

    Big piece in the Times on the government backing off the NHS reforms a bit like Gove’s confusing retreat on Education….

    As for the on-going debate about cuts…asserting this is an ideology….is akin to describing scientology as a religion….

  36. The Other Howard,

    Thank you.

    I guess we are the silent majority ::D

  37. @John Fletcher

    Agreed!!!

  38. @ John Fletcher and The Other Howard

    According to the last You Gov/Sunday Times you are very much in the minority. 4% want deeper cuts. Maybe you should shout a bit louder ;-)

  39. @Woodsman

    Thanks for the advice. Will do!!!!

  40. @ The Other Howard.

    The fightback starts.

    h ttp://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=204678962884261&notif_t=event_wall

  41. @ Woodsman.

    Post crossed so please see my last to The Other Howard.ref Facebook page. :D

  42. THE GREEN BENCHES
    Tell me, what channel can I view the debate on later?

    It’s on STV at 21:00 BST and will be on-line at http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/

    From Belfast, I presume you can get it on analague if you have a tall aerial. On Sky, you can get STV free via the Services/Add Channels option.

  43. PS for STV on Sky:
    Frq 10.906
    Pol V
    Symbol 22.0
    FEC 5/6

  44. Anthony,

    “Additional weighting was applied based on past voting behaviour at the Scottish parliament election in 2007 (constituency vote).”

    Well, b***er me backwards. I didn’t see that bit. I give up on TNS, they lack consistency, which is important with pollsters who conduct a series of polls.

    Still, in my defence, that Johnstone chap was just guessing yesterday that they had changed methodology. Unless he was a TNS employee and was privy to private info?

  45. @ JF

    Good luck with that…

    I expect you’ll all be far too busy doing important things – like earning money! – to attend such a demo

    but shall look forward to your live report on 14 May.

  46. @ Barnaby

    I am fine, thank you. And it is nice to see you are well & keeping me honest when I make sweeping statements. :-)

  47. @Stuart,

    That really is quite a bizarre poll finding isn’t it? Is there a nuance to it, or do Scottish Labour voters really not like their own leader?

  48. Amber,

    click my name

  49. BARBAZENZERO,

    Thanks for that! I only got a telly at xmas so a tall ariel is a long way off :)

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