The Independent this morning carries a new TNS-BMRB poll on the AV referendum. It shows a much tighter race compared to the recent polling by ICM and YouGov, with YES on 32%, NO on 34%, 21% don’t kmow and 13% won’t vote.

Leaving aside their Scottish polling, I think this is the first TNS GB polling we’ve seen since the election, though notably this poll was conducted online, rather than the face-to-face methodology TNS was using for political polls before the election.

There are no tables available yet, so I can’t really speculate on the difference between what ICM and YouGov are finding and the TNS findings. Note that the fieldwork was conducted between the 14th and 18th April, so covering the same period as ICM (15th-17th), and slightly earlier than YouGov’s fieldwork (18th-19th), so the differences are likely to be methodological or due to the question, rather than timing.

The Independent’s headline for the poll – “Voting referendum neck-and-neck as Yes campaign gains support”, incidentally, wins our coveted “crap media reporting of polls” award by claiming this shows the YES campaign gaining support. It does not – there is no earlier TNS poll to compare it too, and it predates one of the polls showing a bigger lead (Andrew Grice’s actual article does not make the same error!).

UPDATE: Tables for the poll are here, all appears to be above board and shipshape. The topline figures aren’t adjusted by likehood to vote, but that doesn’t make a massive difference anyway, so no obvious explanation as to why it is showing a different picture.

141 Responses to “TNS show narrow NO lead in AV race”

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  1. That headline does make me laugh.

    I do wonder if polls on referendums are unreliable as we’re in unchartered territory – these polls seem all over the place!

  2. “All over the place” perhaps, but the overall direction of traffic is clear.

  3. There’s a definitely a trend towards no.

    But, in the last week we’ve had, unless I’m wrong, four polls, one showing a 1-point no lead, one showing a 2-point no lead and two showing a 16-point no lead!

  4. I have been working hard over the last week to identify the voters who left Nuu Labour 1997-2010. And three main categories stand out.

    1. By far the most votes lost between 2005-2010 were among C1&C2 in the NRS Social Grade. Labour actually retained its ABs

    2. Those renting private accommodation were twice as likely to desert Labour as those in social housing. Those renting privately were 1.5times more likely to desert Labour as those owning their homes. The average rent in the UK costs £687p.m. And almost 1/2 of private rented homes are deemed ‘dangerous’ to live in.

    3. Church of Anglican goers a) vote in very high numbers. Between 2001-2010, there was a net 39% collapse in those voting Labour, switching to Tory.

    So, that’s the research. It took bloody ages.

    any conclusions from this data are naturally more tentative, so I won’t take away from the research by offering them. I hope you find it useful/interesting.

  5. Clear example of a headline written by a silly subeditor, rather than the article’s writer

  6. @Benches

    This does seem to support the targeting of the ‘squeezed middle’ by Ed.

    It also suggests the next step is to make sure any mistakes in housing policy are tied firmly around Cameron’s ankles.

  7. @ Éoin

    Anglican vote – 39% collapse. That’s what Tony coming out as a Catholic did for us ;-)

    Anglican Church claims a congregation of about 4M so it’s 2/3rds the size of the Unions. Although, one assumes, there will be folk who are members of both.

    The Church was quite excited about the Big Society before the election. Now not so much; they’ve realised that the BS is for businesses & business-like charities.

  8. Amber,

    Catholics also dropped form 60% to 39% [although they still retained a net 10% lead over Tory]

    I have some very useful data that you would find interesting..

  9. @ Anthony

    Forgive me if this has already been covered but the Scottish media is full of a YouGov poll for the Scotsman showing 65% support for some form of graduate contribution, which flies in the face of other polls showing free tuition as one of the top 3 concerns of voters. Can’t find any link to the poll on the YouGov site or elsewhere.

    Any thoughts on this?

  10. Question-
    If AV loses, which seems likely, anybody know if any companies will be polling the no vote to see how many are pro-FPTP, pro-STV etc?

  11. @Tinged Fringe

    Very likely none, or if any a small sample on behalf of an election reform campaign. The result is likely to simply be taken as support for FPTP.

  12. @jayblanc

    Yep- EdM’s ‘squeezed middle’ strategy is definitely the correct approach and has contributed to the sustained UK leads since the turn of the year.

  13. @eoin – “I have been working hard over the last week to identify the voters who left Nuu Labour 1997-2010”

    Me too. There’s Brian down my street – didn’t like Gordon – and his wife (who didn’t like Gordon’s hair). Then there’s the bloke at the chippy – don’t know his name, but apparently his daughter Serena switched from Tory to Labour, so that’s a bit odd.

    There are a couple of mates at work and the landlord of my local, although he’s an alcoholic, but that’s as far as I’ve got so far. Overall, there seems to be a trend, but exactly what it is I’m still working on.


    Here’s a graph of polls. What the current trend really depends how you choose to periodise the campaign.

    You could say FPTP has been opening up a lead since the new year.

    I still think its up in the air. There are still a massive number of don’t knows, and we don’t know how turnout will be distributed geographically.

  15. *it’s

  16. A mathematician’s take on AV vs FPTP:-

  17. Anthony

    Tables are now up here:

    Questions in order shown at the end of the pdf

  18. @Haruko

    “Here’s a graph of polls.”

    Interesting. The lead for FPTP is clearly stringly dependent on the proportion of don’t knows. More DKs = lower FPTP vote.

    To me, that suggests that the variation is mainly down to different polling methodologies. The overall trend in the graph suggests a small FPTP lead, but nothing that can’t be overcome if the AV campaign gets its act together.

  19. Interesting research Eoin, you certainly have dedication and patience.
    And interesting because I think it shows clearly the task which Ed has to appeal to a range of groups to get votes back. The question is why were those votes lost to Labour and what do those groups have in common with each other and where they might have supported Labour in the past. Certainly I don’t think there are many bankers and financial advisers in that group.

    I think what it reflects is that the LP are judged to have turned their back on ordinary working families. Perhaps this is why Mrs Duffy was disillusioned with the party.
    I think Ed Miliband is beginning to break through some of the barriers.
    But there’s a long way to go.

  20. DH thanks for this link. Perhaps the only way to allow people to vote on such issues is to make them sit down and then prove in a test that they have understood Gowers’ article.

    An AV referendum electorate of 100,000?

  21. Another way is to only allow people to vote on the AV issue if they fail such a test. Over the months I have noted many potential failures on this list.

    Let’s see if I’m golden again.

  22. To explain my last post, it was depressing that more supported AV when they were not told what it meant.

    Another point is that TNS poll that 13% will not vote. Don’t be silly, over 50% at least don’t vote in local elections. Granted, overal, it will be higher % that are voting this time but not 87%.

  23. @Howard

    I think that even the turnout in the 1945 GE was less that 87%!

  24. I don’t remember the content and style of the last referendum we had, but I am pretty sure it was based on people’s views of Europe, not people’s views of one politician. On a matter so important it is pretty appalling that the No campaign (aided and abetted by the ads on this website) is basing it’s campaign virtually entirely on getting people to say No in order to have a kick at Clegg, whether deserved or not. It seems to me the Lib Dems are generally in favour, the Tories are generally against (well they would be wouldn’t they as they usually run the country on a minority vote), and the balance of power in England at least is held by Labour who were in favour of it until they found it meant being on the same side as Clegg, Now I suspect the majority of Labour voters will vote No for all the wrong reasons (although you’d hope their intelligence might be greater) and the referendum will be a No result condemning the Labour Party to opposition for the vast majority of the next 60 years as they have been for the majority of the last 60. I think it’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  25. @Howard

    I meant the 1950 GE (83.6% turnout).

  26. I am quite confused by the polling. I discern a slight trend towards No – possibly because don’t knows tend to break for No. But it may yet be quite close (or it may break strongly No!!!)

    Just looked briefly at the TNS field work. The over 55 age groups break No strongly – this helps No as more likely they will vote.

    TNS suggest No winning in Scotland. This surprises me as previous info suggests Yes does well in Scotland and SNP are polling well, Labour less so. Not to mention Scotland has a 4 (poss5) party system and already has forms of PR – this feels like a mistake (yes I know regional breakdowns can be unreliable!)

  27. Gavin, I would expect DKs to break for staying home myself.

  28. Hopefully the English local elections which are disproportionately rural and small town will kill this off.

    If the Tories can get their vote out against a weakend LD party and an improved but not improved enough Labour showing, that should off-set the Scotland turnout.

  29. @JoeJamesB

    Am I missing something? Many have commented that a No victory in England on a low turnout, coyld be overcome by Yes wins on higher turnouts in Scotland and Wales.

    However, this appears to be practically impossible. The sheer size of the English electorate, means that even on a low turnout in England, England’s decion is likely to tally with the overall result.

  30. Joe James B,

    That also strengthens the No hand! Though the TNS survey material suggests Yes doing better in the South than the North – this means more shires doesn’t it?

    Any way here’s hoping and Yes can slide in and win on the inside track at the death! :)

  31. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

    The result depends on the turn-out in London. Wales and Scotland will have a turnout of over 50% because they have also git Regionals that day. There are locals around a lot of England, but the turnout for thiose will be low. But London has nothing to vote for but the referendum. I predict that once the ‘Wedding’ is out of the way the Yes campaign will really gear-up big time in London and other densely populated areas in England (Manchester etc).

    This is going to be a lot closer than people think.

  32. Have had four different leaflets through my door for the no campaign but not one for yes. i think the campaigning for the yes campaign is poor and the arguements flawed. In my view all AV asked is if your preferred candidate is not successful who would you prefer a or b, simple really and a damn good idea but i dont see anyone explaining this.

  33. Epochery
    That is a slightly anecdotal contribution, You may be right about the forgotten argument for AV, that you consider so crucial, but I think that turnout, as Andy Williams mentioned, would be the more significant factor. Actually he reminds us that he has said this several times (although in fact I suspect he meant he wrote it).

  34. Jay,

    Yes I think possibly you’re right.

    My hunch though is that foisting blue Labour upon reds will be Ed Miliband’s Clause IV moment…

    Understanding the intricacies of that are probably a good idea for politicos.

    Your very kind.. thank you.

  35. I agree that turnout is going to be important – not only for the result itself, but also for polling. If we suppose that turnout is going to be fairly much in line with local election turnouts, then the methods used to correct the raw polling data may need to be adjusted quite heavily. For instance, is the balance between ABC1s and C2DEs different for national and local elections?

    If (hypothetically) ABC1s are more likely to turn out, and if they were more likely to vote Yes, incorrect weighting could give a result that is a long way out.

  36. Happy Easter folks!

    It’s a big event in Ireland, so sending my warm wishes to one and all.

    Lots of Love :)

  37. @ Éoin

    Catholics also dropped form 60% to 39%
    Probably Tony’s fault too; why did he wait ’til he wasn’t PM anymore?

  38. ALEC

    You forgot to mention the chap who sold the Evening Standard at the bottom of the steps leading to the main entrance to Waterloo Station who voted Labour in 97 and 01, Lib Dem in 05 and Tory in 10 who has now lost his job and blames the Tories for taking a soft line on millionaire Russian oligarchs resient in Maida Vale.

  39. Really interesting intervention from the Bishop of Oxford regarding admissions to faith schools. In my mind this highlights the key issue currently in education and in future in health if the NHS bill passes. Most ‘good’ schools in both state and private sector tend to manage their intake in some way or other. This seems to be the major driver for many of the reforms within education and is a major factor in the stifling of social mobility.

    We’re looking to import the ability for the service provider to select clients into the health service, with a very good real life knowledge base of what happens when you allow this. Private health schemes for years have passed harder to treat patients and those with more complex needs back to the NHS, but the new bill will allow GPs to decline any treatments to any patients.

    If even the CofE have started to recognise this as a problem its time policy makers woke up to it as well, but I’m not holding my breath.

  40. Don’t forget a lot that a lot of people, including me, postal vote, so they are not affected by whether there are local elections going on in their area.
    Mine arrived today & will be in the post box over the weekend. I’m in the No camp, all respect to NC but he is right, it is a miserable little compromise & anyway |I like the certainty FPTP normally gives.

    PS Eoin Many thanks for taking the trouble to explain the difference between blue & purple Labour on the previous thread. Much appreciated.

    I suppose if we had full proportional representation, then all these factions within Labour & Tories, would break up into separate parties? Then there would be some horsetrading going on after a GE!

  41. @ Robert Newark

    Blue & Purple Labour are not factions within the Labour Party. They are (rather silly, IMO) labels that have been stuck onto different strands of a debate that is ongoing inside the Labour Party. We are discussing how social democracy can best help people to feel valued & to thrive in a post-globalism UK.

  42. Has Cable left it a bit late (perhaps by a year or more) to argue for a progressive alliance on the left capable of keeping Tories away from government?

    My guess is that many LD politicians will continue to seek to score points from right and left – as, when and where they see any electoral advantage.

  43. I don’t think anyone has yet to define exactly what and who a ‘Blue Labour’ or a ‘Purple Labour’ MP is. It seems to be a crude attempt to apply some simplistic left/right colour coding, to something that it really doesn’t apply to. It’s perfectly possible to go after the left wing of the Lib Dems while remaining on the left wing of the Labour party.

    It seems like it’s just new labels on the old attempt to say there’s New-Labour/Old-Labour division amongst Ed’s ranks.

  44. Billy Bob
    “Has Cable left it a bit late (perhaps by a year or more) to argue for a progressive alliance on the left capable of keeping Tories away from government?”

    His struggle with the tension between his principles & his salary / position is becoming increasingly pathetic.

    He seems to resolve it to his satisfaction with ever more frequent private bleating & noises off-usually followed by fervent assurances about his committment to Government policy.

    Now he inserts the wicked Tories into the AV debate

    The LibDems asked for this referendum-if they can’t win it on the voting issues they will have to put up with it.

    And if VC can’t make his mind up where he wants to be, perhaps his boss might think about doing it for him.

  45. @Colin – Agree on VC. If you wish to set yourself up as the concience of your party, do so from the back benches.

    Vince is ample illustrating in the individual case the irritatingly pious attitude of the Lib Dems overall.They are past masters at sleazy leaflets with untruths and grossly misleading claims (see ‘no Lib Dem councils have closed Sure Start centres’ for example, when they’ve mothballed or closed several in Hull and elsewhere) but they scream blue murder when other parties adopt similar tactics to them. Their opponents will testify to a breathtaking ability to say completely different things depending on who their main opponent is and now that they are in government we’ve also seen just how solid their manifesto pledges are.

    In terms of being a minister, it’s in or out Vince. Time to grow up.

  46. @ ALEC

    “Vince is ample illustrating in the individual case the irritatingly pious attitude of the Lib Dems overall.”

    I agree .

    As Mathew Parish points out this morning, their problems don’t derive from membership of the coalition-but from themselves.

    A party which relies on the disaffected from all sides, but which can never create a critical mass of support will always have the seeds of discontent within it once it “chooses sides” .

    It should either decide it is a left wing party & join Labour, or resolve to be a protest party …and stay out of government until it grows up.

  47. @Amber Star

    “Blue & Purple Labour are not factions within the Labour Party. They are (rather silly, IMO) labels that have been stuck onto different strands of a debate that is ongoing inside the Labour Party. We are discussing how social democracy can best help people to feel valued & to thrive in a post-globalism UK.”

    Absolutely right, Amber, and the very point I made in a previous thread. I think Rob S said something along similar lines too but, then again, I tend to agree with nearly everything Rob says anyway!


    You really don’t like Vince Cable at all, do you? Can I be a little mischievous here and suggest that this might be something to do with his rather obvious lukewarm regard for the party you support? Conversely, your high opinion of Nick Clegg (courageous, brave, steadfast – the eulogies go on) may be because of his rather surprisingly enthusiastic espousal of the party you so strongly support. I find your contributions to these pages interesting, articulate and well argued, but you are very Conservative-centric at times! Surely the blinkers slip sometimes, don’t they??


    Happy Easter to you too and all those on the Emerald Isle (my second favourite country on the planet). In the spirit of Easter let’s all hope that the Good Friday Agreement holds firm and that the residual republican extremist groups are put back in their boxes very quickly.

    Off now to a sport filled Easter Holiday, with the continued forbearance of my good wife, of course!

    Best wishes to all on this site.

  48. There is quite a bit of misunderstanding going on about Blue & Purple Labour.

    1. The labels are self-ascribed.
    2. Blue Labour have their own website, registered status, and editorial board [very close to the PM]
    3. Purple Labour have announced the are to publish a purple book in Sept.

    They have also both been very very open about their respective ideological leanings.

    Progress are the brains behind Purple LAbour. They held a conference 4 weeks ago where

    Doug Alexander
    Caroline Flint
    Liam Byrne
    Jim Murphy
    Tessa Jowell
    Andrew Adonis

    all delivered papers.

    Blue Labour tend to be less in visible but it is still easy to identify the personnel behind it. They have some links to Compass. Jon Cruddas etc.

    Their two ideologies are fairly easy to grasp. I listed them before but I will do so again if it helps. Blue & Purple architects have seen my definitions are broadly accept them.

    Blue Labour aims to reconnect with working class voters. It understands their frustrations with immigration and would like to retake some of the Tory ground in that area. It also harks back to a day of social responsibility were communities to some extent were self sufficient. This is a mild form of mutualism and in some ways connects with David Cameron’s big society. Another aspect of Blue Labour is that tends to place much greater emphasis on family. This could spell alarm bells for those of you who view the Victorian concept of the family as archaic. Blue Labour also seeks to embrace a mild form of Nationalism or citizenship whichever way you prefer to view it. In short, it is about shoring up the working class vote at a time when they might be prepared to accept that we live in a broken Britain.
    Purple Labour are entirely different. They think that Britain works best when it is racing forward, commercializing, modernizing and embracing marketisation. These three ingredients constantly improve public services and increase consumer happiness that their taxes are being spent well. It is about inviting private companies of all sizes in to take over the functions that the state once did. It generally accepts the state to be cumbersome and too averse to change. They are strongly pro-Europe and strongly Liberal in their equality agenda. When it comes to foreign policy they are fully supportive of the Blair doctrine and are opposed to Ed Miliband’s decision to apologize over Iraq. They also strongly favour a tough approach to Law and Order.

  49. Colin

    Fully agree with comments re LDs. And they remind me that NC completely misunderstood from where the ‘support’ for the LDs came.

    As regards VC (and other LDs) – he (and they) need to do something. And by that I mean either get rid of NC and reclaim their party or leave/split their party.


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