Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. It’s the first time a poll has shown Labour back in the lead since the Conservatives moved ahead in the polls after the veto. Usual caveats apply – it could be that the brief Conservative boost in the polls has now started to recede… or it could be an outlier. Certainly today’s ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph (see post below) showing a six point Tory lead doesn’t suggest that the veto bounce is subsiding. We’ll have a better idea next week when we see both the YouGov daily polls for the Sun, plus the monthly Populus poll for the Times (and possibly the ICM/Guardian poll, assuming they aren’t going to do it over Christmas weekend!).

While I am here, I expect less frequent visitors will be asking why there is such a difference between ICM and YouGov’s figures, or more specifically, why there is such a difference between their Labour figures, as their figures for Conservatives support are almost identical. While some of this is probably normal random variation, and either an outlier against Labour from ICM or an outlier in favour of Labour from YouGov (or both!), part of this is also due to methodological differences. The most important of these are that ICM weights people by their likelihood to vote while YouGov does not, and YouGov ignores people who say they don’t know how they will vote while ICM reallocates a proportion of them based on how their voted at the 2010 election. There may also be less quantifiable differences in their weighting and sampling, but the upshot is that ICM tend to show some of the worst scores for Labour of all the polling companies, while YouGov tend to show some of their better scores (and the opposite with the Lib Dems – ICM invariably give the Lib Dems their best scores, YouGov tend to give them their worst).

I’ll do a full report on rest of the questions in the YouGov/Sunday Times poll tomorrow.


127 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 39, LAB 42, LD 9”

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  1. That rather proves my earlier point.

    Incumbent Governments in the UK (especially after the first couple of years) do not improve their share of the vote, the best they can hope is to retain it.

    Of course if Con do get 40%+ next time out, I will have to change that view.

  2. JOE. Good Morning.

    Absolutely correct.

    Labour are in an awful state. The by election swing was low if Labour was to have shown progress since the General Election.

    I think Ed is doing less well than Foot was in 1980 and Kinnock was in 1983. But ‘we have got our Party back’ so that is ok then.

    1966 was the last time Labour won a GE properly excluding Tony Blair, (we can exclude the paranthesis of 1974, owing to the peculiar concatenation of circumstances then- miners, oil shock and the ulster men deserting Heath after his refusal to back down over civil rights for northern ireland catholics- like voting rights etc)

  3. @Nick P

    I think it’s fairly likely the tories could improve their vote but not by more than 2% to 39%.

  4. Tories are in a great place as 2011 finished.

    The blame for the huge deficit and the necessity for the cuts has been successfully pinned on the last Lab government. Opinion on this will not move significantly now.

    Further public opinion has rejected the 2 Ed’s solution on borrow more and spend more.

    Cameron, whether by luck or judgement, has tapped into the huge feeling of concern about the European project, and the French, bless em have completely played into his hands. Its he bribing Sarko et al to insult us?

    As the Euro zone crisis bites he will be judged to have done a good job on the economy if our growth and employment levels stay higher than the Euro zone, which seems highly likely.

    Mean while Lab and LD with every pronouncement distance themselves more and more from main stream public opinion.

    I have always said DC is lucky. I am more convinced than ever after last week.

  5. CHRISLANE1945
    Bad polls for one week and the knives are out…If these post-veto poll leads are as short-lived as they seem to be,then it is Cameron who has a problem…The inability to convince large swathes of voters into voting for him again..(.Libya din`t even create a Tory lead)…And from real elections there is no indication that Tory voters are turning up in droves to vote,leading to large swings back to Labour in by-elections

  6. Judging companies by performance in eve-of-election polls is a rather simplicistic method (though much loved in certain other venues, or in places where it gives the result people would like). All us pollsters like to gloat about it when we come top of the league at general elections – looks good in publicity material! – but really it doesn’t tell us much. At recent elections most companies have been within the margin of error of the actual result, so who gets *closest* is pretty much random.

    For example, in 2005 all the main five pollsters were very accurate. Populus’s final poll in the Times was the least accurate of the main five pollsters, with an average error of 2 points. However, at the same time they did a unpublished private poll for Lord Ashcroft using the same methodology and were almost spot on, with an average error of less than 1 point. Had Populus got the sample they got for the Times for Ashcroft and vice-versa they’d have been heralded as the second most accurate pollster. Such is life.

    Similarly, in 2010 YouGov’s second-to-last poll of the election campaign was by far the most accurate of the late polls, with the Lib Dem surge down to 24. Had YouGov got that sample as their final one rather than the last-but-one poll, they’d have been top of the pile.

    Basically, when all polls randomly vary by up to 3 points one way or the other, using a single data point and ranking them in order when they are within 3 points of each other has what should be extremely obvious flaws!

    Pickup, Matthews, Jennings, Ford & Fisher* did a more complex modelling of house effects and accuracy after the 2010 election with slightly different results, bringing up Ipsos-MORI as the most accurate, followed by Opinium, ComRes, Populus, YouGov, then ICM…. but even then the differences were very small.

    Pickup et al’s method gets away from the ranking relying upon random chance in the final poll, but still suffers from past performance not necessarily being a guide to future returns! Neither does it take into account the changes in methodology from different companies – none of them have changed drastically, but many have made slight tweaks since the election.

    I’d always recommend people try to understand the actual methodological reasons behind the differences, rather than relying on league tables based on single data points.

    (*”Why Did the Polls Overestimate Liberal Democrat Support? Sources of Polling Error in the 2010 British General Election” in the EPOP journal, but sadly not free online)

  7. @SMUKESH

    (.Libya din`t even create a Tory lead)

    ___________________________________________

    No, but it was the low point for the Tories and the high point for Lab. From that point on the Tories started to rise back to where they are today. Despite almost unremitting bad news on the economy roughly 40% are prepared to say they will vote Con. if there was a GE today.

    If you think that puts Lab in a good place at the moment you are deluded.

  8. I also think Clegg is doing a wonderful job of self destruction.

    Since DC came back from Brussels Clegg seems determined to come out with a series of statements about how he “disagrees” with Dave. This may play well with his dwindling support base, but so long as he is prepared to lead his troops through the lobbies with the Cons, it just makes him look weak and irrelevant to the rest of us.

  9. NICK P, SMUKESH, JOHN FLETCHER. A CAIRNS

    Good Morning.
    i. 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 illustrate tory ability to win GE’s successively, despite crises, as in 1951, 1955 and 1959, and further back also under Cecil/Salisbury 1886, 1895 and 1900 (1892: b of p)
    They have a very smart election winning instinct, and DC is not Heath, Ed is not Harold.

    ii. Ed need not worry. Labour never gets rid of losers.

    iii. All this gives me no pleasure to say.

    iv. I suspect the economy (and it is the economy stupid) will be in a better state in 2015 than it is now. Ed moved ‘The Party’ to the left, a touch enough to frighten enough voters in ‘middle england’- and it is true, I think, that voters have shifted to the right in attitudes to welfare.

    On another point, Michael Gove seems to be hinting at a radical shift in policy on selection by ability-meritocracy- by grammar school expansion and by Independent Schools who come back to the State System.

    Denis Healey admits ‘we’ were wrong to pursue Tony Crosland’s vendetta against our schools. He went to Westminster as did Mr W Benn.

    Have a good day now- I am off to Mass, then running 5 miles I hope and then Man United’s bid for the top of the League!!

  10. JOHN FLETCHERd
    ` irrelevant to the rest of us.`
    Tory voters unhappy at the way Cameron is being undermined by Clegg…Well what do you expect when tricks were being played against the man,undermining him

  11. John Fletcher
    ‘Since DC came back from Brussels Clegg seems determined to come out with a series of statements about how he “disagrees” with Dave. This may play well with his dwindling support base, but so long as he is prepared to lead his troops through the lobbies with the Cons, it just makes him look weak and irrelevant to the rest of us.’

    Is there any evidence of a ‘dwindling support base’? In general I think the LDs are holding onto to their vote and support. In fact most polls a little improvement from 7% and 8% of a few weeks ago.

    Or is this just a partisan gesture? We are all allowed a little partisan dig from time to time.

  12. @SMUKESH

    Tory voters unhappy at the way Cameron is being undermined by Clegg

    ____________________________________________

    I don’t think he is being undermined any more. The more Clegg talks the more Cameron shows himself to be in touch with the national instinct.

    Clegg has told his MP’s that they cannot pull out of the coalition because they would be destroyed as a party at the ballot box.

    So they are now simply lobby fodder. Clegg can huff and puff but he won’t blow the house down.

    The Tories are now united and have the upper hand in the Coalition.

  13. Chris Lane

    Hope you have taken your morning stroll down the prom.

    ‘1966 was the last time Labour won a GE properly excluding Tony Blair.’

    You have probably fully explained your reasoning on Blair’s exclusion, undoubtedly with sound reasoning. However would it not be the same to say ‘excluding Maggie T the Tories have only won an overall majority once in the last 42 years?

  14. @ Henry

    ‘dwindling support base’

    _________________________________________

    I will happily re-word to “much reduced but now steady support base”. :)

  15. JOHN FLETCHER
    Clegg just called Cameron`s family policy,a return to the 1950`s,If that`s not undermining him I don`t know what is…People will see Cameron as ineffectual and weak if Clegg continues to do this…And if Ed Milliband doesn`t exploit these differences(Labour policy is far more close to Liberal Democrat than Tories),then he deserves to go

  16. John Fletcher
    ‘So they are now simply lobby fodder. Clegg can huff and puff but he won’t blow the house down.’

    I won’t keep challenging you on your assertions about LDs, perhaps they have won a local byelection in your area and got up your nose.

    You must be aware of the massive rebuilding of the social structure in the UK by the Coalition, many of these initiaitves have had a big involvement of the LDs. In addition, the Tories have modeifed their stance on the vulnerable (lower paid public sector pensioners, benefit and state pensioners this year, the lower paid generally with a larger than anticipated basic rate allowance, influenced by the LDs. In due course I expect the reduction of inheritance tax, capital gains and stamp duty, all Tory aims, but ones for the moment they have been willing to forgo to afford the other allowances proposed by LDs.

  17. CHRISLANE1945
    Ed moved ‘The Party’ to the left, a touch enough to frighten enough voters in ‘middle england’- and it is true, I think, that voters have shifted to the right in attitudes to welfare.
    Absolutely agree with you…Ed is banking on the economy failing and if it doesn`t,people won`t want to turn left…He needs to recognise this and pull back to the centre

  18. Unsurprisingly I liked DC’s comment about the church’s potential influence; personally I would have liked to have widened the scope for society agreeing on what it believes to be right and moral and what not, rather than just the C of E. Many people with other religions live very social law abiding lives (and of course so do many with no relgious beliefs). Admittedly JM got a bit unstuck on this agenda; however that is because the ‘odd fling’ was mixed in with things which really matter.

    I have not heard the A of C warn us of our responsibilty (rather than state responsibility) for our kids, our parents, and our neighbours. Even now many of us (including me) put ourselves first even when we are comfortably off. If there are major published stories on such pronouncements then I would be delighted to read and retract.

    It is really an excuse to say that the bankers are a rich bad and rotten lot although I would happily line the up and throw rotten eggs at them. Fred the shred may still be punished.

    But this should not give us an excuse to behave badly to others less fortunate. I have said it before, I know, but I think the A of C has really missed a chance to show what the church really stands.

  19. @AW

    Thanks for post on the performance of different polling companies.

    Good to read it in a sea of political point scoring.

    8-)

  20. SMUKESH

    @”Clegg just called Cameron`s family policy,a return to the 1950`s,If that`s not undermining him I don`t know what is”

    THe purpose is not to undermine DC, but to produce some sort of differentiation for his “supporters” ( whoever, & wherever they are now)

    DC can relax knowing that as NC blows these increasingly desperate dog whistles , NC is strapped to the Coalition .

    THe speech you refer to will alienate a lot of people , who have seen the modern alternatives to the family unit NC so glibly derides:-

    The pampered children of the well off liberal arty/lefty intelligencia -who finish up swinging on The Cenotaph , or smashing up Vodafone shops before returning to their mansions & country estates.

    The parentless offspring of absent fathers & desperate mothers in welfare dependent households, -who finish up trashing stores to steal the consumer bling which apes their “celebrity” role models.

    Perhaps one of DC’s attributes is not just good luck-but an ability to distil the public mood.

    NC is going the right way about missing the public mood completely.

  21. Chrislane1945,
    ‘I think Ed is doing less well than Foot was in 1980 and Kinnock was in 1983. ‘
    You are not being accurate there. Ed Milliband has now been leader for almost 15 months. Foot became leader in November 1980 so that on a like for like basis you would need to look at how Labour was performing in February 1982 – not terribly well ,I suggest, even though just pre-Falklands.
    Kinnock became leader in September 83 – 15 months later in December 1984 Labour was behind in the polls.
    In your later post ,you manage to take us all the way back to Lord Salisbury in the 1880s yet – strangely – ignore Stanley Baldwin from the 1920s! In 1924, The Tories won a majority of nearly 200 – yet at the following 1929 election lost 150 seats and ceased to be the largest party.

  22. @ Oldnat

    GB has been perhaps stable in the last 14 years, or so. 1992 – 1997 certaintly can’t be describe as stable due to big shifts in support, same for 1979 – 1983. As for your latter point, I don’t quite understand that one. The only pollster I know who relocates DKs is ICM and to an extent Populus, and the only thing I know is that it works in any political climate, as proven by ICM’s accuracy record. Populus was pretty good last year, too.

    @ Amberstar

    On your first poll, according to wiki ICM published their last poll results before Yougov, by a couple of days/a day – Yougov were one of the last run-up to the 2010 GE polls before Iposi Mori’s exit poll.

    I can’t find a problem of false recall for YouGov related to missing 2005 GE data. Yougov weigh by party ID to match a 2005 sample is all I know – I can’t actually find anything which states what you’ve stated. I do know false recall has been a problem for all pollsters to a degree, but ICM, Populus, and ComRes deal with this by estimating the amount of false recall, which seems to have minimised the issue if you look at accuracy results. Also phone pollsters like ICM, weighed from 2008 data.

  23. @ Alec
    “I am certain that up against a Blair or Thatcher, Cameron would be toast . .”

    I agree. I think Blair/Brown in their late 90s prime would have made mincemeat of Cameron/Osborne, as they did of their Tory equivalents at the time.

    @ Colin
    You really do dislike DC don’t you Alec? Heven forefend that “the electorate” might not share your view.”

    I share the dislike & I never understand why the Brits are so keen to be ruled by inherited-wealthy, upper-class, public-school boys with their vastly-overdeveloped sense of entitlement to power. [The same crew I grew up under in the 50s.] But what can you expect of a population that reveres the monarchy — that weird assemblage of celebrity & snobbery.
    But my point is Colin is that your posts are as partisan as anyone else’s. Do you approach the Lab. leadership from a neutral stance? — lol indeed.

  24. ROBBIE ALIVE

    @”But my point is Colin is that your posts are as partisan as anyone else’s. ”

    Of course-I don’t remember saying they aren’t.

    @”Do you approach the Lab. leadership from a neutral stance?”

    No-but I don’t pretend that everyone else shares my view.

    Brown-disliked him
    Blair-liked him
    Smith-seemed a decent man.
    Kinnock-couldn’t stand him.

    …..how far back do you want to go?

  25. @ Boo Boo

    On your first poll, according to wiki ICM published their last poll results before Yougov, by a couple of days/a day – Yougov were one of the last run-up to the 2010 GE polls before Iposi Mori’s exit poll.
    ————————————-
    Thanks; I think YG’s poll on the same day had the same result as ICM. Check Anthony’s e-mail earlier today.
    8-)

  26. @Amberstar

    I think they were slightly different – YouGov had the LDs on 28% and ICM 26% the rest were about 1 point differences, so MOE.

    Oh and for other points that I forgot to reply to – I don’t have any issue with your happiness at a poll which you like. I mis-interpreted your post, and your humour, but know I where you’re coming from now!:)

  27. @ROBBIEALIVE:

    ‘I share the dislike & I never understand why the Brits are so keen to be ruled by inherited-wealthy, upper-class…’

    I know it makes me deeply deeply prejudiced to admit it…but I completely agree with you!!!!

    John

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