Most of the time on UK Polling Report I write about what the polls tell us about public opinion. Only when elections come along do we get to do it the other way around, and see what public opinion tells us about the accuracy of the polls.

As regular readers will know I have deep reservations about naive comparisons of eve-of-election polls and results and pollster “league tables”. They are often used in an extremely simplicistic fashion, with people balancing absurd conclusions upon one pollster being one point closer in a poll with a three point margin of error. One can get a slightly better idea in a well polled election race when consistent trends can be identified (as Rob Ford, Will Jennings et al did at the last election, producing a very different league table) but ultimately all a pollster can really hope for is to be within the margin of error of the result. All else is luck.

Five companies produced polls for the London mayoral election (TNS-BMRB also did one poll, but it was early in the campaign so can’t really be compared). Their final results are below.

First round . Second Round
Pollster Johnson Livingstone Jones Paddick Benita Webb Cortiglia Johnson Livingstone
ACTUAL 44 40 4 4 4 2 1 52 48
YouGov (30th Apr-2nd May) 43 38 3 7 4 4 1 53 47
Opinium (24th-30th Apr) 43 37 6 7 3 3 1 52 48
ComRes (23rd-25th Apr) 44 37 5 6 3 3 1 54 46
Populus (27th-29th Apr) 46 34 6 5 5 3 1 56 44
Survation (18th-24th Apr) 42 31 4 10 3 5 4 55 45

YouGov, Opinium and ComRes were all within 3% of all the candidates’ actual support, with YouGov slightly overestimating Brian Paddick’s support, and Opinium and ComRes slightly underestimating Ken’s. On the final round Opinium got the 52-48 split right, with YouGov calling 53-47 and ComRes 54-46. Well done to all three of them.

I’m unsure why Populus – who are normally one of the most accurate and reliable pollsters – ended up so out, showing a 12 point lead in the second round and significantly underestimating Livingstone in the first round. One thing that springs to mind is ethnicity. Since 2008 YouGov have weighted by ethnicity in London polls and it does makes a significant difference to results (Labour support ends up too low without it). There is no mention of ethnicity on Populus’s tables… but then again, neither is there on ComRes’s tabs. Perhaps Populus were just unlucky enough to get a dud sample. They also finished their fieldwork 4 days before the election, so perhaps there was movement towards Ken in those final days (the same applies even more to Survation, whose fieldwork ended 10 days before the election, so there was plenty of time for a swing).

Note that everyone overestimated UKIP’s support… although part of that could be their decision not to put UKIP in their description on the ballot paper (though they still used the UKIP logo, which says UKIP in it.)

Survation and YouGov also produced figures for the London Assembly, figures below.

London Assembly List vote
Pollster LAB CON Green LDEM UKIP BNP Others
ACTUAL 41 32 9 7 5 2 5
YouGov (30th Apr-2nd May) 42 32 7 9 8 1 2
Survation (18th-24th Apr) 33 28 8 10 7 3 11

126 Responses to “London polling post-mortem”

1 2 3
    `It seems silly to not go ahead with the reforms – especially if the Cons and Libs are looking at coalition post-2015 in the event of a hung parliament.`

    Turkeys don`t vote for christmas and Lib Dems and a few Tory marginal MP`s may be reluctant to vote for boundary changes.

  2. Anthony:

    Genuine thanks for you work on these figures and on so much else

  3. @Max OTFCOK

    You said “…One thing I find interesting is he threatened EU wide taxes, and the financial transaction tax. I’m not up to date with EU treaties and what not, but I don’t think the EU has tax setting powers does it??? So is this threat an empty threat or is there an actual way this can happen without our consent?…”

    Don’t quote me, but I *think* it goes like this…

    The EU can do anything that is allowed for in the treaties and is funded in its budget. And there is a precedent: part of VAT (I think) goes straight to the EU, for example. But the EU has no powers to impose a tax in a state against the consent of that state’s government (How would it collect it? How would it enforce it?). So strictly speaking, the answer to your question is “this can’t happen without our consent”.

    But as ever, it’s complicated. Consider the following:

    * The new French government appointed by Hollande can impose a FTT within its own borders. The UK’s recourse to law would revolve around whether this is compatible with France’s membership of the EU. I don’t know whether that action (a France-only FTT) is legal or not (I suspect it is, but I’m not a lawyer).

    * Many EU countries may simultaneously impose a FTT within their own borders. The UK’s recourse to law would revolve around whether this is compatible with those countries’s membership of the EU. I suspect that that action (a multi-country FTT) constitutes a defacto transnational internal capital border and hence not EU-legal (this is the kind of thing the EU is designed to prevent). The countries would plead innocence (“it’s just a cowincidence, guvnor”) but if the UK government has a good lawyer, it should win.

    * Many EU countries may simultaneously impose a FTT within their own borders and invoke “enhanced cooperation” to bring it under the EU umbrella. The UK’s recourse to law would revolve around whether this is compatible with the character of the EU. It is not and, again, the UK should win.

    I’m surprised Hollande is bringing this up again: the reason why Merkel was so emollient towards UK earlier in the year was because she needed UK consent for the FTT and Cameron (quite rightly) wasn’t budging. So Hollande should know this already. It would seem that Europhiles are just as misinformed as Eurosceptics of the strength and capabilities of the EU.

    (As ever, I caveat. I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, please bear in mind I might be just plain wrong)

    Regards, Martyn

  4. @Anthony wells

    Dude! Awesome!


    Dude! Awesome!

    Regards, Martyn


    @”But it will also disadvantage the Lib Dems”


    @”The Tories seem reluctant to consider Lord`s reform which is seen as quid pro-quo for boundary changes by Lib Dems”

    Lords reform should be kicked into the long grass-not as part of any deal with LDS-but for the very good reason that this Government needs to demonstrate relevance to peoples lives ( amongst other things) if it is to retrieve support. Spending months of legislative
    effort in yet another too & fro shindig with HoL, on a matter which does not impinge on the average voter’s battle with inflation & squeezed income is utterly without point.

    @”If Tory unity is affected by boundary changes,then the party leadership is damaged so as to make an election victory even more difficult anyway.So far,they haven`t managed to effectively combat Nadine Dorries.The feeling is she speaks for many backbenchers.”

    She may well do-the answer is to address those of her concerns which have wide resonance.

  6. Apert from the fact that the boundary changes aren’t fairer, they chnage things to favour the Tories and adversely affect Lab and LD, if you change to an elected HoL the Government can’t reward those Tory MPs who lose their seats with a place in the lords.

    If the polls reamin as they are, there could be quite a few losses.

    FPTP is fundamentally unfair, and reducing the numer of MPs reduces representaion.

    It would help Lab if the seat reduction didn’t happenm certainly, but if enough MPs vote against it, it won’t happen.

  7. @COLIN

    I find it strange that you feel Lord`s reform should be kicked into the long grass as not connected to the lives of ordinary people,yet Boundary changes which lessen the number of MP`s and hence reducing people`s connections with politics is seen as a priority.

    Lib Dems have lost hundreds of councillors…Tories may expect them to lose dozens of MP`s too,but am not sure they would agree and willingly vote for it…The may choose to go their own way which is why this notion of abandoning boundary changes has come to the fore.

  8. Smukesh,
    Since Sinn Fein don’t attend parliament and have 5 MPs, you effectively need 323 votes maximum to have a majority.
    Lib + Con is 363 seats. So they can afford to have 40 rebels and still get the boundary changes through.

    Even if the Libs rebelled, in revenge for some other policy (i.e Lords Reform, as has been threatened, but dismissed by Clegg), Cameron only has to threaten a general election.
    The public would utterly punish the LibDems over the breakup of the coalition due to seat reduction (something in their manifesto) – with potential ‘national liberals’ voting Conservative, so they know it isn’t worth the risk.

    So that leaves still finding 41 rebels (assuming Lab, SNP, Green, etc turn up to vote against the boundaries), broadly from the Conservatives.
    Could the Conservatives find that many rebels, who equally would want to risk the government’s standing over lords reform/boundaries?


    Let`s not ignore the conservative leadership is unable deliver Lord`s reform,that`s why it is being kicked into the long grass.
    Besides,without boundary changes on current polling numbers, am not sure Cameron wants to call an election

  10. I see that the LibDem VI for both Paddick and for the assembly have been overestimated in ALL the polls above.
    Perhaps the LibDem VI in national polls has also been too high.
    Has anyone suggested this might be the case?

  11. I must confess I would be amazed if the Tories did give up on the boundary changes this parliament. They might be ensuring they don’t get another chance for a very long time.

  12. okay tonight’s YouGov

    Taking into account the BH effect, the local election boost, the Boris effect, the weather, and the prevailing zeitgeist, here is my educated worked out and calculated forecast for tonight:

    Con 30
    Lab 46
    LD 8

    Might not see really BIG gaps just yet.

  13. @Cloud Spotter
    “Perhaps the LibDem VI in national polls has also been too high.
    Has anyone suggested this might be the case?”

    Has Chris Lane ever suggested that this might not be the case?


    @”Boundary changes which lessen the number of MP`s and hence reducing people`s connections with politics is seen as a priority.”

    The people’s “connection” with politics is nearing vanishing point.

    Reducing the cost of HoC came out of the expenses scandal. It was the correct comittment then & it still is.

  15. @Martyn

    On an EU FTT, how does other countries imposing a finacial transaction tax effect us??? Maybe I’ve read it wrong, but I thought it was a tax on banks actions within the country. So if paris did indeed impose its own tax, if all the other 26 members imposed a tax on their own? Surely that would benefit the UK not harm it as it means all those companies would instead choose to do business in London than Paris or Frankfurt?

    Say I run a bank called, Le Bank du Francais and I do my business in Paris, Mr Hollande comes along and starts taxing me for financial transactions I make, I don’t like this, so instead, I’m going to move my business to London, as its banking, I’m not limited geographically I can set up anywhere in the world, but it means when I do my trading I will do it in London, and pay UK corporation tax, obviously to do it I will need to hire people there in the UK (although I could possibly move my french workers to london if they agree to it, even then they will be paying UK income tax)

    So unless, there’s something about the FTT I’m not aware of, let Mr Hollande impose it on France, and maybe most of the EU barring the UK, let him put his tax rates up to 75% and watch the money flood our way. This is why he wants Tax Harmonisation (he called for that today) because he knews under the EU’s 4 core principles, it is easy for anyone to flee his high taxes and run to London.

  16. Colin

    I totally disagree with your last comment about reducing the number of MPs – such statements add no value to this forum as you can just get into a yo-yo discussion

  17. BAZSC

    @”I totally disagree with your last comment about reducing the number of MPs ”

    I expect you do.

    You probably didn’t vote for it.

    I did……… did quite a lot of people.

    And that seems to me, to be relevant to this forum.

  18. @BAZ

    I agree, obviously I can’t speak for my entire party, but I’m sure most don’t have this kamikaze attitude of we must destroy Labour at all costs.

    Sure Boundary Changes will deal a blow to Labour (not as big a blow as predicted mind you) but if the price of that is suffering two blows (gay marriage and house of lords reform) to me it sounds like a pretty bad deal personally. Hit Labour, but get hit twice as hard back? Also, many MP’s losing their seats due to boundary changes, in both Libs and Cons, will have another reason to vote against it.

  19. Max

    You are quite an old fashioned Tory, for a young man.

    Old fashioned in your views I mean.

    Most of the Tory membership have changed their views and are more liberal than you would think.

    Go back 20 years when you were in nappies and you would have seen a Tory conference, where the average age of attendees was probably about 70. In the week running up to it, hairdressers must have had a rush for ‘blue rinses’. But now the Tory conference is far more representative of the country. You now see a lot of younger people, who have got into politics, probably while Labour were in office.

    Join your universities Conservative club and you never know, we might see you at the next conference making a speech.

  20. “Join your universities Conservative club and you never know, we might see you at the next conference making a speech.”

    I tried, but I didn’t have my membership card on the day so I couldn’t join, then when I went home at Xmas, I decided not to join as I’d still have to pay full price but had already missed 1/2 the events and social groups would always have formed.

    Sure the party has moved to the left, but I think the vast majority, dont want to reform the Lords, and I’d hazard a guess that a majority, although not as big, of tory members at least in the commons are also opposed to gay marriage.

    p.s I dont think DC would let me make a speach, he’d give Nadine air time before me lol,, if he were wise that is. “Arrogant posh boy” I can think of a lot more than that to say. :P

  21. NickP

    “okay tonight’s YouGov

    Taking into account the BH effect, the local election boost, the Boris effect, the weather, and the prevailing zeitgeist, here is my educated worked out and calculated forecast for tonight:

    Con 30
    Lab 46
    LD 8

    Might not see really BIG gaps just yet.”

    IMO more like

    Con 32
    Lab 41
    LD 10

  22. Also, the guys at the desk seemed like the typical tory snob, not working class tories like me.

  23. Colin

    I voted LD so indeed did not vote for it, although the LD spinners say something different

  24. @Rob “Taking into account the BH effect”

    What is the BH effect??? Bosnia and Hercegovina?

  25. On boundary changes have the Tories factored in a change in the polls to it. What I mean is that if they change the boundaries so that they make more Tory seats (as a proportion) marginal to mop up Labour support, might there not be a bigger tipping point in a smaller swing?

    Might it make things worse in the short term for them?

  26. One upshot of the Local elections is that it seems to have drawn a line under the omnishambles. Things may not be better for them, but the right newspapers no longer seem to be going in for the kill, and even the central ones aren’t listing he various gaffes that happened over the last few weeks in every political story.

  27. Upshot for the Conservatives of course.

  28. IDS and the Tory whips have on various occassions warned Cameron to kick boundary changes into the long grass.

    There are those who will lose their seats outright, and those who may face a fresh selection battle.
    There are those who will see their safeish seats become marginal or changed beyond recognition, those who just don’t like change or think that these particular changes are “mad and insane”.
    There are those who don’t want to see the balance tip further in favour of the government payroll and away from parliament.
    Oh, and there are those who will take the opportunity to rebel whenever an opportunity arises.

  29. YouGov prediction, before I disappear off the internets for the evening –
    Lab 40, Con 34, Lib 9, UKIP 7

  30. Tonight’s Yougov

    Labour 41%

    Coalition 37%

    Ukip 9%

  31. Tonight’s prediction:

    Lab: 42
    LD: 10
    UKIP: 7

  32. @Billybob

    Also, I wanna be an MP someday, so the more seats, the easier it will be to get selected.

    I’m hoping because I’m a local boy, I might get selected for Old Bexley, or Bexleyheath and Crayford. But under boundary changes one of these is abolished, and although erith becomes tory, its only marginal, and obviously Id like a safe seat.

  33. @ Virgilio (from the previous thread)

    “Re Bayrou and UMP
    I agree that Bayrou has a shot in the recomposition of French center-right landscape. The UMP is not a normal political party such as the Conservatives in the UK or the German CDU, that exist independently of who their leader is. The UMP is not even a party in the strict sense of the term, it has been created as a federation of preexisting right and center-right parties, only to serve the presidential ambitions first of Chirac and then of Sarkozy (the original name of UMP was Union pour une Majorité Présidentielle, Union for a Presidential Majority, and not Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, Union for a Popular Movement, as it is now), and now that the right does not hold the presidential power, it risks implosion. If its more-right wing fraction, the so-called “popular right” choses an alliance with FN, then the more moderate, humanist and christian-democrat tendency will turn to Bayrou, and this new formation could attract disappointed left voters that do not wish to go to the FN and its new allies.”

    Interesting. I feel like a lot of the French right is more moderate, humanist, and more of the christian-democrat tendency. I knew this French kid in college who once paid for a stamp for some kid to mail in an absentee ballot for John Kerry and clearly hated Bush and the GOP. I haven’t kept in touch with him but from his Facebook page, he loves Sarkozy and hates the Socialists. I feel like he might very well be representative of many French right wingers. They’re not teabaggers or Neo Nazis and a turn to that is going to turn them away. They’re sophisticated cosmopolitan people who don’t want to see their success taxed away from them. A turn to the lowest common denominator would displace them.

    @ Statgeek (from the previous thread)

    “Methinks it’s sometimes a case of tweedledum or tweedledummer.”

    Yeah, that too. I feel though that Blair probably prevented Dubya from doing worse things. If Dubya and the neocons had had their way, they would have probably invaded Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria. And we probably would have fired off a few nuclear missiles. Having Blair there to say “why don’t you focus on just one war at a time?” probably saved countless lives.

    @ Roger Mexico (from the previous thread)

    “I suppose if you’re a neo-Nazi, political coherence isn’t going to be your main attribute. I’m still surprised though how neo-Nazi they look. You only have to see what their symbol is. Given how dreadfully Greece suffered under the Nazis from 1943 on, you’d think they’d be more circumspect. Still politics is only second to religion as an excuse to behave evilly and feel good about it, so the activists they attract are probably more concerned with indulging themselves than other people’s feelings.”

    Yeah, sometimes trying to decipher what’s going on in the minds of Neo Nazis is an exercise in futility. I mean I might as well spend time with Charles Manson, trying to decipher his twisted political and religious ideologies. Or I could talk to wall instead. It might be a more productive use of my time. Most Neo Nazi types aren’t really those who are typically interested in history.

  34. @MAX
    Good luck with your goal to be an MP

    But if someone like you in university,who wants to be an MP some day in the future opposes boundary changes because it makes you less likely to get a safe seat,I can only imagine what the response of MP`s who are already in safe seats and marginal seats hoping that incumbency helps them to stay as an MP…Something to think about.

  35. Anyone know how many ballots were spoiled?

  36. Tonight’s prediction:

    Con 32
    Lab 42
    LD 9

  37. Do Local Councillors get paid?

  38. Good Evening All, after a long day at school.
    yes, Lib Dem vote too high possibly.

    With regard to the Coalition, I think that the Lib dems and Cons will stay together until 2014 Party Conferences mark the 12 month election campaign and near-campaign.

    I think the LD’s will accept the postponing of Lords Reform and they will accept the Boundary Commission, and I think that the Lib dem leader will become a European Commisisoner.

  39. @Max

    Yes, they recieve an allowance. How much depends on the authority as they can all set up their own systems.

    Birmingham City Council has a basic allowance of £16000 ish. This assumes a certain level of work. Good Councillors do far more, bad ones far less. On top of this there are a number of special responsibility top ups, so the Leader of the Council gets an additional £55k.

    Birmingham is probably at the top of the scale due to its size.

    I would strongly recommend becoming a Councillor, but don’t expect it to be a direct route to becoming an MP!

  40. The Sheep 16K is not enough to live on especially if you are raising a family.

    And why isnt it a route to becoming an MP? Surely if your a local councilor and are one of the good ones who does a lot of work, during a selection you are best placed to take the spot, unless central office imposes someone from outside.

    Plus, we know incumbents benefit, obviously you won’t be an incumbent MP but if the people in the area know you, and your liked then it’s got to have a similar effect.

  41. Long day at work, hence late comment on the thread.

    As Phil stated earlier, YG’s decision to go with a 10/10 filter on the eve of the Mayoral poll, tuned out to be a faux pas. But otherwise, excellent work by YG. And while Opiniom might have got lucky, they still got it right, so three cheers for them!

    Interesting comments by Survation on the Dismore/Coleman GLA seat contest in Barnet and Camden. There was a huge anti-Coleman vote. I can understand that in Camden, being the upmarket liberal/socialist place it is, but he seems to have had a negative vibe from people in true blue Barnet too. Survation did indeed pick this up.

    I’m not a fan of Dismore’s on many issues, but he has always been seen as a dedicated, hardworking constituency politician. He only.lost his Hendon seat at the last GE by about 100 votes despite the tide against Labour. He was also a tireless campaigner against the Porter administration in Westminster Council in the 1980s. It is of no surprise to me that he has a personal vote. Indeed I believe hos name came up during the expenses scandal but only as he spent so much on stamps and stationery personally responding to constituent’s correspondence!

    As for Survation predicting a GLA win for Lab in Ealing and Hillingdon, that was always a tight racen But kudos for calling it the right way.

  42. When I became a councillor you got £15 per meeting plus petrol or bus fare (this was 1999). Discussing with two newbie colleagues (Tory and Ind) in the tea room, we discovered that none of us knew about the £15. We thought we had to do it for free.

    This reflects well on my two colleagues (and perhaps myself I suppose). When the Labour Government changed it to a salary (of £3600 p.a in our case) I actually felt guilty about being showered with such unexpected riches.

    Councillors do no work, even if they are chairmen of committees. The officers do all the work, and the Members just sit there and nod and occasionally pontificate (to themselves normally).

  43. YG prediction

    Con 32
    Lab 40
    LD 12
    UKIP 6

  44. Howard

    Was that £3,600 as you said or £36,000? 36K seems fair, but 3.6 if true or even £15 pound a meeting is peanuts how are you supposed to live off that and raise a family?

  45. Surely there would be some sense in the government going ahead with the Boundary Review, but delaying the reduction in seats? For me the question of whether there are 500,600 or 700 MPs is fairly unimportant, but equalizing the size of constituencies is the key issue.

  46. YG prediction

    Con 31
    Lab 43
    LD 8
    UKIP 7

  47. @Howard

    “Councillors do no work”

    In urban seats they often do a hell of a lot of casework.

  48. Howard,

    Good to see you back, however briefly, and hope you are well. Always a wise word……..

  49. Latest YouGov/The Sun results 8th May CON 31%, LAB 44%, LD 8%, (UKIP 8%); APP -43

  50. Max,

    Any chance you have of being an MP, even a Tory one, has been greatly diminished by some of the things you have posted here.

    Anonymity or not, the Internet never forgets……


1 2 3