We could have several polls tonight, given most of last month’s polls ended up being conducted over the same weekend. The first one out is ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian. Last month’s Guardian poll had shown a Tory lead of five points, this month it slips back to a rather more typical figure – CON 36%(-4), LAB 37%(+2), LDEM 14%(-2), Others 13%(+4). Certainly that others figures looks like something of a reversion to the mean – 9% really was unusually low.

There is also an interesting question on trust in the NHS, repeated from 2006 early in David Cameron’s leadership. Back then 14% said they trusted the Tories a lot on the NHS, 47% trusted them a little and 31% didn’t trust them at all. The figures now at 13% who trust the Tories a lot (down 1), 42% who trust them a little (down 5), 40% do not trust them at all (up 9). This suggests a drop in the proportion of people who trust the Tories a little on the NHS, though the hardcore of people who trusted them a lot was minimal to begin with.

On the same question for Labour 23% trust them a lot(up 4), 46% trust them a little (up 2), 25% do not trust them at all (down 7).

We’ve certainly got the daily YouGov poll for the Sun to come tonight, I don’t know if Populus and Ipsos MORI’s monthly polls will also turn up today or tomorrow, or whether they’ll be done next weekend.

UPDATE: The monthly Populus poll for the Times has now been released, topline figures are CON 37%(nc), LAB 39%(+1), LDEM 11%(-2). Putting aside the usual variation we get between different companies Liberal Democrat scores we are actually getting quite a consistent picture on the Con vs Lab horse race – YouGov’s daily polls have been averaging a Labour lead of about 1.5 points, ICM tonight are showing a 1 point Labour lead and the Populus are showing a 2 point Labour lead.

UPDATE2: And finally (assuming MORI don’t pop out of the woodwork), the Sun politics team have tweeted the YouGov figures for tonight. Topline figures are CON 39%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, so while the lead is bouncing back and forth (much as we’d expect from normal variation within the margin of error), it’s still very much in line with YouGov’s average position of a small Labour lead (and the 7 point figure for the Lib Dems yesterday does appear to have been an outlier).

130 Responses to “New ICM, Populus and YouGov polls”

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  1. Every time the NHS becomes the hot topic, one or more poster’s discuss private medical problems and conditions, whilst declaring their loyalty to the health service. I do not think these statements contribute anything of value. I could say “my treatment at zxtrq Hospital was rubbish and I feel sure Mr Lansley’s proposals would have made everything just great”. What value has that added?

  2. On Leaders’ ratings.

    In March 1977, Mori’s poll on leader satisfaction had the following result.

    Callaghan: Satisfied 46%. Dissatisfied 45%
    Thatcher: Satisfied 36%. Dissatisfied 51%

    So, 6 months after the UK being humiliated before the IMF, and three years into a Govt that has become a byword for failure, the new LoO was still well behind the PM in the popularity stakes.

    Just before the Winter of Discontent, the figures were even more stark. In an Mori poll in Nov 78 we get:

    Callaghan: Satisfied 54%. Dissatisfied 40%
    Thatcher: Satisfied 38%. Dissatisfied 51%

    So, within 6 months of the 79 GE, Thatcher’s personal popularity compared to the PM’s was scarcely better than Miliband’s now.


    Draw your own.

  3. Actually, that Mori poll form Nov 78 is quite fascinating. Look at these gems:

    Q4 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?
    (If undecided or refused at Q4) Q5 Which party are you most inclined to support?

    Con: 47
    Lab: 46

    Q6 If Mr Heath were leader of the Conservative Party instead of Mrs Thatcher, how would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?
    Con: 53
    Lab: 40

    Q7 If the Conservative Party were to win the next election, who do you think would make the better Prime Minister, Mr Heath or Mrs Thatcher?

    Thatcher: 33
    Heath: 55


    Leaders’ ratings eh? Bloody hell.

  4. It’s pretty simple, and what I’ve said for a while… In parliamentary democracies, people vote for parties not leaders. The personality of the constituent’s own MP is more likely to sway their vote than that of the PM. The only place that a PM’s own personal popularity matters is in their own seat.

  5. @ Colin & Ozwald

    49% of income from private patients could actually allow more than 49% of resources to be given over to private patients.

    How? By charging private users less than they charge the NHS for the same procedure! And the point of ‘going private’ is that you get your medical attention at the time which you schedule.

    So, any private provider worth the candle will insist on either blocked out time periods which are theirs to allocate or a specific waiting time that is shorter than the NHS waiting time. If they don’t, they don’t have a viable business, do they?

    Therefore, the private patients will be given priority & they may well get cheaper pricing & therefore they could be using more than 49% of the resources.

  6. Borrowing down siginificantly…Good news for Osborne as other economic indicators showed an upward trend in January

  7. @Amber Star
    Thanks :) , you make the point much more clearly than I managed to.

    I am always wary of asking questions like “how many apples?” only to get a reply along the lines of “umpteen bananas or so many pomegranates”

  8. @Lefty L

    “Leaders’ ratings eh? Bloody hell.”

    The MORI 1977/78 polling data on the leaders personal approval ratings is fascinating stuff indeed and while there are always unique features that apply to the dynamics between particular party leaders (i.e. Thatcher v Callaghan, Thatcher v Foot, Blair v Hague etc), it does remind us of the dangers of reading too much into the Leader of the Opposition’s ratings at any given time. Sure, there will be personal factors at play, but a good deal of the responses will be vicarious opinions on the party he or she leads and the political circumstances that apply at the time. One of Miliband’s saving graces amidst his poor personal ratings is that he’s up against a PM who is not particularly popular himself, certainly when compared to previous PMs like Thatcher and Blair and, in fairness, Major and Callaghan for significant periods too. He also has the advantage of co-existing with a Lib Dem leader who is plumbing almost unprecedented depths of disapproval for a third party leader. If Miliband was net -42 at a time when the Tories had a Thatcher or the Lib Dems had a Kennedy, then he’d be almost complete toast by now, as would his party. But it ain’t so, not by a long way, and that’s why the leaders ratings always need to be looked at in the context of their relative positions vis-vis each other.

    If we take your Nov 1978 MORI poll (satisfied/dissatisfied) as a benchmark then the gap between Callaghan (+14)and Thatcher (-13) was 27 points. The current gap in the latest YouGov (doing well/doing badly) between Cameron (-10) and Miliband (-42) is 32 points. Ratings very different, for both leaders, but the gap very similar.


    “It’s pretty simple, and what I’ve said for a while… In parliamentary democracies, people vote for parties not leaders”

    You forgot to put “most” between democracies and people and it is the key point. In a two party system with FPTP the minority who are stuck between two parties will often ask who will make the best PM?

    It’s like F1… There will never be a lot between the too fastest cars, often team mates in the same car… But one driver only has to be a little faster to win most of the races.

    Last year the big difference that turned a narrow possible win into a majority under a PR system in Scotland wasn’t Labour v the SNP but who should be FM….. Alex Salmond or Iain Gray?

    Leaders don’t win parties elections on their own, but they can make the difference between winning and losing.

    Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP).

  10. @BILLY BOB

    “Was always told eveything in the US is bigger. Bigger heads means for more cost per head, surely?”

    Don’t know about bigger heads, but they are are getting shorter and have bigger bums. Some friends of ours visited Disneyland, and though they told us nothing about the activities there, they told us three times about the people who were too fat to walk around and were given wheelchairs.

    In Holland, hotels are buying longer beds and raising lintels in all the doorways.

    I’d love to see the calculation how the superbowl decided it was worthwhile to take out thousands of seats, replacing them with larger ones.

  11. Apologies to my billions of fans for my recent absence from this blog. I want you to know that I am thoroughly ashamed of the way I have been cruelly depriving you all of my unsurpassed psephological acumen.

    Is it too late for me to post a few thoughts about Anthony’s recent article entitled “Should Labour be doing better”?

    He’ll be chuffed to know that I do actually agree with most of what he writes (especially his remarks about how, for example, the early stages of the 1959-64 parliament did not give much of a clue as to the result of the subsequent general election).

    A look through Mark Pack’s historical polling data (which Anthony recently posted a link to) illustrates perfectly how unexpected events can significantly impact on the fortunes of the parties at any given point during a parliamentary term. Obvious examples of this include The Profumo Affair and The Falklands Crisis.

    For this reason it is true that you cannot construct a wholly reliable model to determine the likely pattern of party support throughout the rest of this or any future parliament.

    That said, the current party configuration – whereby Labour and the Conservatives are roughly level-pegging – is now in a well-worn groove, and dates back to the summer of 2010. Something in the future will need to happen to decisively change this in Labour’s favour. There is, of course, still a lot that can happen, not least (God forbid) a major economic downturn: yet even this may not necessarily tilt the scales against the Tories, especially if they can continue to successfully promote their highly implausible narrative that it is all Labour’s fault.

    At the beginning of this month I used Mark Pack’s data to conduct an analysis of each party’s polling performance at the equivalent stage of each of the eight post-war Conservative parliaments (i.e. 1951-55, 1955-59, 1959-64, 1970-74, 1979-83, 1983-87, 1987-92 and 1992-97). I then compared this with the actual result at the subsequent general election.

    As at February 6th 2012, we were exactly 35% of the way through this parliament. In no fewer than seven of the eight previous post-war Conservative parliaments, the Tories were registering a LOWER opinion poll rating at this stage than the share-of-vote they went on to achieve at the subsequent general election. Conversely, for Labour it was the other way round in seven of the eight. In each case, the particular opinion poll I used was whichever one was closest, in terms of the mid-point of its fieldwork dates, to the precise 35% point (although in practice it makes little difference).

    On average the Tories went on to do 2.9% better, and Labour 4.8% worse. However much we may like to ignore historical precedent, over eight separate parliaments this amounts to quite a pronounced trend and if repeated at the next general election would probably give the Tories an overall majority on the new boundaries. However, it should be said that it would be very close, and that is why it is all to play for – thus underlining the importance of party members and MPs showing loyalty to the leadership.

    One genuine difficulty that does arise is when we try to assess the prospects for the Lib Dems. On average, they went on to do only 2.1% better than their poll rating at this stage of the parliament. However, they did not contest every seat until the 1983 general election (for example, in 1955 they stood in only 110 of the 630) which means that in earlier years some mid-term respondents may have given ‘Liberal’ as their voting intention but been able to vote for them in their particular constituency.

    If we assess only those four Conservative parliaments in which the centre party or parties ended up contesting every seat, they yield a more substantial average rise of 4.25%. My sense is that this increase is much nearer to what is likely to happen to the Lib Dems at the next general election, and that they will probably finish in the mid-teens. If, as seems likely, their vote holds up better in the Tory/Lib Dem marginals, then they may well retain the majority of their current seats.

    Another problem with assessing the Lib Dems is this: in the past their improved performance has been due to the greater amount of broadcasting coverage which they have received during the short campaign compared to the pre-election campaign. Of course, now that they are one of the coalition partners they are already getting bags of coverage (much of it unfavourable). It is possible, therefore, that they may still get a pre-election increase in support, but this time as a result of the traditional swing-back to the governing parties.

    In response to popular demand, I have decided that I will endeavour to repeat this exciting exercise at future stages of this parliament, and report the findings here for the delectation of readers of this blog.

    (Apologies for the length).

  12. @JAY BLANC
    You persist in this “head in the sand ” view vis a vis Milibands popularity or lack of it. Fair enough, we will see who has the most egg on his face after the next GE, you or the likes of Rob Sheffield. People like me will vote Tory even if they think Cameron is a complete patrician silver spoon twerp. People like you and Rob, will vote Labour even if they think Miliband is a gormless dork, who could not run a chip shop. But millions of people vote on purely superficial evidence that is based on liking or not liking a party leader. EG, Cleggmania. One has seen them on the TV and met them on 1000 doorsteps. Plus the fact, a certain Mr Wells has stated on this board a few times, that an unpopular leader is very bad news. Sunny Jim, avuncular old buffer that he was, had so much bad news around him in 1979, that even the arch harridan from the heart of darkness beat him.

  13. Amber.


    …alternatively , there is the view of the 53 Foundation Trusts who wrote to The Times recently about the importance of raising the cap.

    They included ten medical directors in London-such as Professor Martin Elliott from Great Ormond Street, Mike Marrinan from King’s College Hospital, Martin Gore from the Royal Marsden and Dr Mike Anderson from Chelsea and Westminster.

  14. @ Colin

    Yes, a few may well be in favour of raising the cap. But I’d say they are a minority given that most of the medical profession are not in favour of the Bill.

  15. Amber

    If what you say is true , then they presumably will decide not to take advantage of the raised cap.

    Perhaps it will tend to be used by specialist hospitals in London.

    Who knows?

  16. Roland, Peter –

    The analysis of British Election Study data has repeatedly found that perceptions of the party leaders is an important driver of voting behaviour.

    See below for 2005 and 2001 analysis, sadly I can’t find a free online version for 2010:


    Of course, it doesn’t mean a party with a duff leader can’t succeed if they are well ahead in other ways (just that the party would be much better without a duff leader!)

  17. Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP) @ JAYBANC,

    “Last year the big difference that turned a narrow possible win into a majority under a PR system in Scotland wasn’t Labour v the SNP but who should be FM….. Alex Salmond or Iain Gray?”

    What happened wasn’t much to do with the SNP (and certainly not independence) or even Labour.

    The London leadership of the LibDems, whether through ignorance, incompetence or ambition for office at any price took no cognisance of the fact that a very large part of their vote was an anti-Tory vote.

    By going into coalition (or doing so too readily) without making any effort to reassure their Scotish voters, they lost now thosands of votes and they are one MSP short of being a recognised party in the parliament.

    These votes had to go somewhere, and the SNP had demonstrated in four years that they were “competent” so they got two thirds of the votes and broke through the proportionality level in their strongest regions, as well as gaining a toehold in Glsgow.

    The SNP did also gain from Labour where Labour had most votes to lose, but overall the Labour vote held up because of LibDem churn.

    Both of these flows have further to run. Remaining LibDem anti-Cons can see where the others have gone and will follow them, and Labour has continuing problems in Glasgow while the SNP continue to display “competence”.

    I think they will gear up to “vision”, and if they do, it will be Richard Lochhead’s doing.

    It has very little to do with what AS does and more to do with the fact that his span of control is reasonble and he avoids sofa government. Far more important is that the whole party is focused on persuading the voter of the merits of self-determination. No effort is spared to impress he voters with “competence” as the means to that end. Party splits are unthinkable.

    They are all working hard to achieve that. Not to change things for the better because that would be a benefit in itself, but as a subsidiary objective to impressing the voters.

    There is no chance of any doctrinally devised policy imposed in the face of commonsense like the NHS “reforms” in England. Pragmatic solutions to identified problems are the order of the day.

  18. @John B Dick

    Thanks, but the comment you refer to was made by Statgeek, to me.

    Thank you for the stats. Your comments make all the sense in the world as far as I am concerned. In contemporary terms, if Labour were say, 12 points in front, EM’s ratings would hardly be of meaningful comfort to the Tory party.
    However, in this neck and neck situation, or SHOULD the early signs of economic progress, begin to firmly take hold, Milibands personal ratings must be, as your stats prove, a serious problem.

  20. Imo it is very often during the election campaign itself that the focus falls on leadership qualities… illuminated by an unforgiving spotlight of media attention for a few weeks.

  21. Crossbat

    Wise words. For me, the biggest factor in the current leaders’ ratings is the polarisation. Miliband is rated as extremely poor by non-Labour supporters, sure. But in an almost equal measure, so is Cameron by non-Tory supporters. The big difference in their NET figures comes from the fact that Cameron is highly rated by Tories whereas Labour supporters are ambivalent (net) about Miliband. But as I’ve said all along, just because Labour supporters are not gushing about Miliband, that doesn’t automatically mean that they won’t vote Labour.

    All the indications are that we are in an era where political preference is becoming polarised, with little movement of voters between the two main parties. In that case, the perceptions of the leaders’ merits are second order effects. What is much more interesting is the attitudes of the shifting voters, predominantly the lost LDs. Typically, these voters appear to dislike Miliband and Cameron in equal measures. Depressing for the state of politics in general, yes, but again, something that indicates that the leaders’ merits (sic) are not likely to have a major effect on voting decision .

    Finally, I dug another old poll from the late 70s out of the Mori archives. A question was asked on how voters saw top politicians of the day on the issue of honesty. There was not a single politician, from Benn through, Healy, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath and Thatcher to Powell who had a net “dishonest” rating. I doubt we’d see that today. Are our politicians today less honest than the giants of the past? Were 1970s voters hopeless idealists? Or do we live in a corrosively cynical age today?

  22. @ Colin

    If what you say is true , then they presumably will decide not to take advantage of the raised cap.

    Perhaps it will tend to be used by specialist hospitals in London.

    Who knows?
    I’m not sure, if you will return to this thread now a new one has started…. but it is the “Who knows?” – about more than just the 49% – which is causing unease amongst the public, the medical professionals & the politicians who oppose the NHS bill.

  23. Leftylampton
    “There was not a single politician, from Benn through, Healy, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath and Thatcher to Powell who had a net “dishonest” rating. I doubt we’d see that today. Are our politicians today less honest than the giants of the past? Were 1970s voters hopeless idealists? Or do we live in a corrosively cynical age today?”

    But, to what extent does ‘honesty’ (or perceived lack of it) in MPs influence the way people vote? Basically people might ‘like’ the lies they hear more than they they like ‘honestyy and still vote for the lying deceitful candidate(s).

  24. BillyBob, I did not say DM was unpopular with the voters just not particularly popular.
    i.e the idea that if he were to replace EM there would be a sudden lift in the poll in labour direction is wrong imo.
    Some people may feel that an alternative leaders’ inherent qualities, incl leaders debates if they happen, will mean Labour would do better with a new leader which is a fair opinion but just that an opinion with no polling evidence to back it up.

  25. “The analysis of British Election Study data has repeatedly found that perceptions of the party leaders is an important driver of voting behaviour.”

    Indeed- which is why EdM will go if he is still as- or more- unpopular in late 2013 / early 2014 as he is today.

    If he has turned things around by then- especially amongst self defined Labour voters- then he’ll rightfully stay.

    But if he does go anyone hoping for/ expecting it to be DM (or- from the other side of the party- YC) will be very mistaken.

  26. AMBER

    Thanks :-)

  27. @Anthony Wells

    I must correct you. The BES explicitly did not make such findings, they assumed such from previous published papers. (Andersen and Evans et al)

    And I really have to dispute their conclusion, since they have made a rather long leap of correlation to causation. It is trivial to find that on average, popular party leaders become PM. But it is harder to establish if they won because they were popular, or if they were popular because of the reasons they won.

    In fact, as we know that it is quite possible for party leaders who are not more popular than their opponent, to Win, and to win landslides. This suggests that it is a correlation by link to some separate cause, but not a direct causation.

    I fully stand by my assertion, personal popularity of party leaders is not particularly more important than the popularity of the party as a whole.

  28. @LeftyHampton

    and Equally, gallup had Mrs T on minus 10 averaging – quite modest to Miliband minus 32 averaging. Even Mori’s own measurement have Mrs T on minus 15, still quite a modest rating and not actually that different from Gallup’s minus 10 averaging. No one’s said people will modest ratings cannot win elections – indeed in a previous post, I stated such, with Mrs T as an example. The problem, for you and Labour is that MIliband’s ratings are not comparable in any way shape of form with Mrs T, as Peter Kellner illustrated with a article back in January, Back then MIliband averaged minus 32, which starkly worse than not only Mrs T, but William Hague, Neil Kinnock, John Smith etc. Right now he’s in the minus low forties – if he started averaging there, he’d be doing even worse than IDS in his second year. As modern history, and even history far back shows, leaders with dire ratings tend to not win elections, and there has not yet been an example that a leader wth such ratings has won. I see nothing in Mr Miliband which will change that.

    You draw your own conclusions.

    As for Cameron not being particuarly popular, well leaders’ ratings wise he certaintly in a better place than Mrs T was at this stage on the political cycle, and that’s saying something. Miliband does not having the saving grace of being up against Cameron; indeed that’s one of his problems. Cameron can, despite not being that popular, command 30 to 50 point leads ahead of him in the leaders ratings’. If anything since Cameron isn’t that popular, then MIliband should be outpolling him now, on that measurement.

  29. @ Crossbat11

    Oh dear, you don’t sound like you are in a good mood – calm down dear! I don’t mislead/console myself with anything – I make conclusions, on the information I know. Today Progamme, may have 7 million listeners, but since you seem quite sure, could you tell me what figure they peaked when the ICM announcement was on. Then maybe you can even make me cry:)

    As for PMQs, I’ve never made claims that I really care about good PMQs performances from Cameron – or that I think they matter effect votes. That’s your assumption, so I will let you go off on a tangent there. Speaking of the news, it’s shame the last time MiliE was expressing outrage on the NHS he got knocked off the million viewer news by Capello/Redknapp. Such a shame, even when he does get the attention, voters’ are reminded of that benefits cap by backbenchers and the PM – now who said responsibility at the top and bottom of society was ”totally there agenda?


  30. Interesting the way the Sun political team always tweet/leak a yougv poll that shows tories “ahead” (as they have done on 20th Feb with the tories 1% ahead) but are silent when yougov shows Labour ahead (as it was in subsequent polls at 4% and 2% respectively on 21 and 22nd Feb). Clearly showing their bias.

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