It is over a year since we had an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph, but there is one tomorrow and it shows something almost (but not quite) as rare: a Conservative lead. Topline figures with changes from the last ICM poll in the Guardian just under a fortnight ago are CON 38%(+2), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 14%(nc), Others 12%.

UPDATE: This will, no doubt, cause great and largely unwarrented excitement. Whenever a poll shows an unusual result I offer the same caveat – sure, it could be the start of some new trend, but more often than not it turns out to be a blip caused by normal sample error.

Pollsters’ different methodologies have impacts upon their topline figures, and ICM tends to show some of the most positive figures for the Conservatives. Of the five polls in 2011 that have shown Conservative leads, four of them have been from ICM. At least part of the reason for this is that ICM (and to a lesser extent Populus) estimate how people who say “don’t know” would actually vote, reallocating 50% of them to the party they voted for in 2010. This tends to help the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives and harm Labour, in recent months quite dramatically (though of course, we won’t know how much difference it made in this poll till the tabs appear)

Looking across the wider polling landscape YouGov’s daily polling is showing an average lead of 4 or 5 points for Labour, the last two polls from Populus (whose methodology is extremely similar to ICM’s) have shown a Labour lead of 8 points, MORI’s last few polls have shown Labour leads between 2-7 points, ComRes’s recent polls have shown Labour leads between 2-4 points, ICM’s last poll also had a 2 point Labour lead.

In short, this is a single poll, and the bigger picture continues to be of a small Labour lead. We may see other polls from other companies show a similar pattern to ICM in coming days – time will tell – but until then don’t despair/get too excited* (*delete as applicable)

UPDATE2: In contrast, YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, Others 13%. An eight point lead for Labour is high by YouGov’s standards, but no more inconsistent with their average Labour lead of five points or so than the 2 and 3 point leads they showed during the week.

UPDATE3: There was also a BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday. They had topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, Others 12%


380 Responses to “ICM/Sun Telegraph – CON 38%, LAB 36%, LD 14% YouGov/Sun Times – CON 35%, LAB 43%, LD 9%”

1 2 3 8
  1. First?

  2. Thank goodness if this is an indication of support for the government in their clear disapproval of the very inappropriate strikes that we have just seen.

  3. If this small shift to the Conservatives is confirmed in other polls I will not be surprised. Strikes, even if and when justified, are not popular. Why do ICM always show so many more LDs around than anyone else I wonder?

  4. ICM have been… Far outside of the average trending of other polling companies quite a lot recently. This may of course be because all the other companies are getting something wrong…

  5. FAR EASTERNER…………I think it a realisation of the real politik, Cameron and Osborne are proving to be a formidable executive team, in contrast to the almost non-existent opposition here, and of course the complete lack of leadership in Europe.

  6. @ Tony Dean

    Why do ICM always show so many more LDs around than anyone else I wonder?
    ———————————————-
    Because some of the ‘don’t knows’ are allocated a VI based on how they voted in the 2010 election.

    This, comparatively speaking, tends to benefit LD most, Cons next & Labour least compared to the polls which don’t reallocate DKs.
    8-)

  7. And while this methodology probably serves well for incremental change, or moderate swings… When the political landscape appears to have changed substantially since the last election, it will feed in false bias. And I think we can certainly say the political landscape has drastically changed because of coalition politics.

    For instance, there’s a high level of confidence that the Lib Dems have lost substantial amounts of voters, either to staying at home or other parties. But ICM’s reallocation of Previous LibDem Don’t Knows is going to be hugely misleading if they are really saying “Don’t know, but anyone other than the Lib Dems”.

    It’s my take that here Don’t Know reallocation is artificially depressing Labour numbers and increasing Lib Dem ones. While I think the Conservative number is probably more in line with reality, but results in ‘conservative leads’ due to the Labour depression.

  8. Tony Dean,
    Re – Boundary Changes
    It might be worth bearing in mind that estimates relating to the effects of proposed boundary changes relate to what would have happened in 2010 had the new boundaries then been in force.Population changes over time tend to make a given boundary distribution more helpful to Labour – less helpful to the Tories – until the boundaries are redrawn yet again.This should mean that the proposed changes – if approved – will be less advantageous to the Conservatives in 2015 than they would have been in 2010!

  9. It’s consistent with a couple of tighter YG polls we’ve had recently, but it looks and smells like an outlier. It would take an outlier from the most “pro-Tory” company (in terms of methodology – I’m not alleging bias!) in the business.

  10. If we are seeing a general rise in the number of ‘Don’t Knows’ – and there is evidence we are – then ICM’s redistribution should help the Conservatives and Lib Dems, especially if most of the dks are coming from them. WE won’t really know till we see the tables.

  11. Tony,
    As Amber says, it’s largely the reallocation (though even without that, they’d show slightly higher LD than YouGov). To illustrate, here are the last two ICM/Guardian polls before and after don’t knows were reallocated:

    October

    CON 34% => 35%
    LAB 42% => 39%
    LDEM 10% => 13%

    November

    CON 35% => 36%
    LAB 41% => 38%
    LDEM 11% => 14%

    In both cases it reduced the Labour lead by 4 points. That said, in both cases the reallocation had a higher impact than usual, when the tabs for this poll come out we may yet find that the reallocation had a relatively small effect and that the Tory lead is due to something different. We need to wait for the tabs.

  12. … to show the Tories ahead at this stage (I meant to finish).

  13. Hooray! Anthony has added to his original ATL post & it concurs with what I said earlier. Which goes to show, Amber Grasshopper does pay some attention to what Grand Master Anthony has written in previous articles. :-)

    And now we will, of course, be even more interested in the YG poll which will be released tonight. You’ve got to love the YG dailies for showing trends rather than somewhat blurry snapshots.
    8-)

  14. Jayblanc
    That analysis seems very sensible. Whether this poll is an outlier or not, they mostly seem to show Tory support holding up well. I think many people are resigned to austerity for a few years. When they look at the news about the rest of the world they can see that there are no magic answers, so there is no massive swing against the tories.

  15. I just posted this on the last thread

    @Neil

    When I qualified in 1985 and joined the profession as a childcare social worker, my EWO colleagues were indeed social work trained. I know there has been ‘dumbing down’ but I was bit taken aback by the idea that you might just toddle off and become one when you retire.

    Now I’m retired, with 25 years experience of working with children and families, maybe I could become a police inspector and sit in on child protection case conferences. It always seemed to us front line staff to be an administrative role. But what did we know?

  16. Anthony and Amber

    Thank you for the explanation. But as for ICM, what a bizarre thing to be still doing when everyone knows there has been a massive alteration in relative support between LD and Lab since 2010. Their methodology seems woefully out of date, since it does not seem to factor in the effects of a third party taking an “in office” unpopularity hit as part of a coalition? The decision to continue to re-allocate DKs in this way must give them pause for thought, surely?

  17. Wow, tonight’s YG completely different story!

  18. @Anthony

    Quick, get another thread going. Labour surge to 8% lead in tonight’s YouGov!! lol

  19. I always suspected the strikes might have this effect on the polls. Maybe Ed Miliband was right to refuse to lend his support to them.

  20. Of course according Rob Sheffield’s law, we should be spotting lots more blues about the place.

    Yup. That figures..

  21. @Valerie,

    Ha! In all my years of attending Child Protection Conferences I’ve never yet seen a police inspector at one of them!

    We’ve come a very long way from my original point. But let me reassure you that retired police officers have been working as EWOs for many, many years. Part of the reason for that is that with the very low salary involved, having someone who is already taking home a police pension allows you a higher calibre of candidate.

    Whether EWOs should have masters degrees and be paid £50k pa, and whether that would make them better at their job, isn’t really my problem.

  22. Post updated to include figures from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll:
    CON 35%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, Others 13%

    Tony – in the past ICM’s method has made their figures more accurate, and it is based on good evidence from past elections. It was first used in 1997, and clearly there were massive switches of support between 1992 and 1997, so it isn’t a method only for stable times.

  23. ICM Con +2
    YG Lab +8

    Somewhere in the middle sounds about right to me – in other words – no change!

    @ Anthony
    re-ICM DKs re-allocation methodology – thank you for the additional information. That is extremely interesting.

  24. I’m all giddy now, first I thought that the voters were approving of the blue realism in the absence of a real alternative and now you gov show a 8 point labour lead!!! What to make of it

  25. @ Graham

    Thanks for that re-boundary changes. Has anyone ever worked out the annual drift from Con to Lab advantage within FPTP I wonder?

  26. @Anthony

    “Tony – in the past ICM’s method has made their figures more accurate, and it is based on good evidence from past elections. It was first used in 1997, and clearly there were massive switches of support between 1992 and 1997, so it isn’t a method only for stable times.”

    But you’ve got to think that YouGov is the more accurate poll, haven’t you, or are you going to do a Ratner and rubbish your own product in comparison to a competitor’s? (At this stage, I’d do one of those slightly irritating little winking faces if I could find the means to do so!)

  27. RiN –

    There are generally two approaches. One is to convince yourself that the poll you most like the results of is the gospel truth and that all others are incorrigible reprobates and their results worthless chaff.

    The alternative is to embrace the inevitable results of differing methodologies and random sample error :)

    Essentially, I suspect both of these are outliers in opposite directions. YouGov’s methodology is normally showing a Labour lead of about 5 points, with this a bit of a pro-Lab outlier.

    I expect ICM’s is a bit of an pro-Con outlier, and if they had a poll everyday it would be averaging around neck and neck or a 1 point Lab lead, with the difference between YG and ICM down mainly to the reallocation of don’t knows.

  28. Crossbat1 – well, if I wanted YouGov do be doing their voting intention polls differently they probably would be! It’s normally a pretty safe assumption that the way Anthony thinks things should be done is the way YouGov are doing them.

    I don’t write the blog as a YouGov cheerleader though, so I try to explain the reasons other companies do things their way and let you make your own decisions.

  29. Valerie

    “Of course according Rob Sheffield’s law, we should be spotting lots more blues about the place. ”

    A LOT less than I would have expected: but then maybe the merriment came to a screeching halt with the YG for ST LOL!

    I go along with AW- both equally possible MOE or outlier.

  30. Was there a YouGov tonight then ? :-)

  31. Labour on 43% two weekends in a row on YouGov…. their first with the new methodology. With the old methodology the last 43 was in September, though they were a regular feature over the Summer.

    The first 43% for Labour was on Dec 12th 2010 when Tories were regularly pollong 40%+.

    As opposed to what the Labour lead is atm, the polling companies vary as to where the VI percentages are… Tories 33-36%, Lab 38-41%, LD 9-14%

  32. Of course tonight’s YG still shows a Lab lead of 5+/-MoE, but it’s interesting that the Con VI has gone down by 1% in each of the polls since Tuesday’s Statement, from 38 to 35.

    Now, that may well still reflect a rock steady Con VI of 36.5%. +/-MoE and of course a monotonically decreasing set of figures within the MoE is no less likely than any other random set.

    Still, it does seem interesting that this particular trend emerges precisely after the sort of event that we tend to look on historically as a turning point.

    Of course, even severely bad news rarely results in a shock, step change in VI figures. It often takes several weeks for workplace conversations and the drip-drip of news commentary to result in a major shift in VI. For example, immediately prior to Darling’s 09 Budget, Labour was in the range 26-30 in the polls. Immediately after the horrifically bad news, there was no off-a-cliff drop. But over the next 3-4 weeks, Lab VI average dropped steadily by 7-8 points.

    I wonder whether this week’s YG figures might be pointing to a similar slow shift in Tory fortunes following Osbourne’s admitting that Plan A had gone the way of the Python parrot?

    PS: I’ve written a bit of code that will delete this message and your memory of reading it if the Tories are back to 37% on Tuesday…

  33. @ Neil, Valerie & now Amber.
    “Ha! In all my years of attending Child Protection Conferences I’ve never yet seen a police inspector at one of them!
    Whether EWOs should have masters degrees and be paid £50k pa, and whether that would make them better at their job, isn’t really my problem.
    Let me reassure you that retired police officers have been working as EWOs for many, many years. Part of the reason for that is that with the very low salary involved.”

    1. What rank did you then hold when you attended conferences? Whatever it was, yr triumphant tone seems misplaced.
    2. No one, other than yrself, is arguing that EWOs should be paid £50K; yr debating point is thus an utterly false one. The Director of Social Services in Mancs isnt paid £50K!!
    3. The EWO’s current salary scale is 20K rising to 30K. You may regard this as a v. low salary: but then you earn 50K: for most people these days 20-30K is a pretty good salary. Consult the following link & you may join us on Planet Earth by beginning to grasp the vast gap between yr salary & virtually all other public sector employees. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2067258/Best-paid-jobs-2011-Tables-official-figures-UK-salaries.html
    This link shows that police officers, Inspectors & above, are placed 5th, YES 5th, in a list of 422 occupations in the private & public sector. You can’t seem to grasp that you are the darlings of the public service.

  34. My money is on YouGov-seems logical at present.

  35. Same old, same old. What would be much more interesting would be to check UKIPs impact!

  36. PS @ Neil
    TOP FIVE SALARY EARNERS IN GB. £s.

    1 Directors and chief executives of major organisations: 112,157
    2 Corporate Managers And Senior Officials: 77,679
    3 Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 71,555
    4 Medical practitioners 69,952
    5 Police officers (inspectors & above) 58,746

  37. COLIN………..I know that YouGov dominate the piece on a daily basis, but the Tories are getting so much exposure at the moment that perhaps ICM have tapped in to the zeitgeist, a sort of counter intuitive poll. Incidentally, parts of Oxford St were closed today because of dangerous crowding, what recession ? :-)

  38. I suppose that the Labour hierachy pay closer heed to ICM, and their Tory counterparts to YouGov.

    And no. I haven’t written that by mistake.

  39. It’s fair to say that EM hasn’t sealed the deal with the British public yet, but that shouldn’t be his main concern. Labour’s priority should be on grassroots healing, party expansion, policy reviewing and generally taking advantage of a predictable five-year parliament.

    From Labour’s point of view, polls are mainly relevant insofar as they distract the leadership from what should be their current priorities!

  40. I’m with @Colin on this. ICM’s reallocation method would seem to artificially harm Labour’s support, and a Tory lead just doesn’t feel right.

    @Pete B – “I think many people are resigned to austerity for a few years. When they look at the news about the rest of the world they can see that there are no magic answers, so there is no massive swing against the tories.”

    I guess this could be a reason, but YG pulls in the opposite direction, so who knows?

    In terms of people being resigned to austerity, they might appear to be accepting the situation at present, but at some stage the sense of crisis passes, but the austerity remains. That’s when patience wears thin.

    Today, Charles Satchi launched an amazing attack on the world of modern art. What he said was absolutely spot on, although others have been saying precisely the same thing about him for a long time. All the myth making by Tate Modern pranksters is being laid bare by someone pointing out it’s a self serving, self feeding money go round. Notice any similarities with the world of modern finance?

    I’m getting the feeling that a wind of change is beginning to blow, with established modern orthodoxies being shown for the vacuous rubbish they are. We might accept austerity for now, but if this mood develops, I expect the public will start to demand something in return for their sacrifices, and a mood of change usually benefits oppositions.

  41. @ Ken
    …….but the Tories are getting so much exposure at the moment that perhaps ICM have tapped in to the zeitgeist, a sort of counter intuitive poll.
    Incidentally, parts of Oxford St were closed today because of dangerous crowding, what recession ?
    ————————————————-
    :-) Perhaps you are getting too excited. Clutching at straws now!

    It’s Christmas and Westminster City Council have made the pavements narrower due to on-going construction work.

  42. @Robbie Alive

    I thought Neil was a police inspector! Clearly my mistake.

  43. Interesting to see the consensus emerging that the Euro is broken. It’s taken them fifteen years to realise, but that’s Europe for you I guess. I think we’re now seeing the foundations of the next big European political crisis being laid. No idea when it will happen, but imagine what’s going to happen when a big country – say France, or even Germany – has to obey strict rules that it’s voters don’t support as laid out under a new fiscal unity agreement.

    As ever with Europe, the answer to any problem is more structure.

  44. Alec,
    You’re quite right. I posted just before the Yougov results came out. That’ll teach me!

    “We might accept austerity for now, but if this mood develops, I expect the public will start to demand something in return for their sacrifices, and a mood of change usually benefits oppositions.”

    I can’t prove this by figures, but there does seem to be an increasing bitterness amongst those who do not yet accept austerity. e.g. public sector strikes by those who have never struck before (eg Headmasters), resentment of that by those in the private sector; demands for stronger measures and higher taxes for high earners, etc. There is a chance that as the cake gets smaller, the fight over what remains could get more vicious. Let us all hope that it doesn’t get out of control.

  45. Valerie and Neil A (and Robbiealive).

    I thought I’d chime into this conversation- which I’ve just caught up on- because my Mum’s an EWO. She has a degree in sociology, not social work and came into the job via a rather circuitous route, after a long career break when my sister and I were younger, and then a series of part time and temporary jobs. By all accounts she’s highly effective at her job, both in her present role in a relatively well-off authority and in her previous position in an authority with a lot of social deprivation, and with one of the lowest performing state education systems in the country.

    Just going from what I’ve heard from her over the years, it’s a job that would suit a former Police Officer, certainly one with the experience that Neil A describes in the previous thread. It seems that a lot of the work is investigatory (one area she specialised in was tracking down children who were missing from education), and also requires not taking any nonsense.

    She’s always been very impressed with the police when she’s worked with them in multi agency situations such as case conferences, precisely because they don’t take any nonsense and are more demanding of the parents. I always got the impression that she often found the Social Workers a bit hand wring-y and credulous- having very low expectations of the families they worked with and taking what they’re told at face value when it’s not warranted.

  46. PAUL BRISTOL……The work has been going on for months, this is the first time the road has been closed, just a thought. :-)

  47. @ Alec

    No idea when it will happen, but imagine what’s going to happen when a big country – say France, or even Germany – has to obey strict rules that it’s voters don’t support as laid out under a new fiscal unity agreement.
    ————————————————
    Imagine what’s going to happen, if all the countries in Europe begin to level up to Germany’s standards of tax rates & collection efficiency thereby allowing debt reduction, investment in productive assets, education & increased welfare support for the temporarily unemployed etc.

    Really, I think the European glass is half-full, not half empty. And soon, it could be Europe’s turn to smugly lecture China about its poor quality output, low wages & lack of food, health & welfare for its people. Then all will be right with the world again. Good capitalism triumphs over communism & the band plays on… ;-)

  48. Yawn.

    If we discount changes at around the time the methodology changed…

    Labour unchanged in 3 months
    Tories unchanged in 5 months (but with some UKIP wobble)
    LDs unchanged in 7 months

  49. I was rung up on Wednesday evening to take part in this poll. Other than the “who would you vote for?” question, which was asked first, the rest of the survey was brief, apolitical and mundane. The one time my voice was actually part of a national snapshot, and it was all a bit of a letdown.

  50. @Hannah

    So presumably you think EWO’s should be paid more than Social Workers, not less?

1 2 3 8