YouGov have released a poll of European Election voting intentions here. This follows the Survation and ComRes European election polls earlier this month, both of which showed the Conservatives and UKIP effectively neck and neck for second place. In contrast, YouGov show UKIP in a strong third place, but still well behind the Conservatives.

YouGov: CON 27%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%

Part, but not all, of the difference will be down to prompting – the Survation and ComRes polls both had a list of all parties for people to choose from, YouGov prompted only for Con, Lab, LD, SNP/PC and Other… though they do preface the question with some bumpf about the European elections being fought on PR under which smaller parties do better.

In parallel to this poll YouGov also carried out a second poll asking all the parties in a single list, and this one put UKIP at 19%, two points higher. This explains some of the difference between the YouGov and ComRes/Survation polls, but not all of it. Another difference was that YouGov did not filter by likelihood to vote, though looking at ComRes’s tabs this doesn’t look like it made a vast difference. Some of the gap probably just boils down to the wider pattern we’ve seen in Westminster polls of YouGov tending to show some of the lower levels of UKIP support amongst online pollsters, probably a sampling factor of some sort.

The YouGov approach is the same one they used in 2009, when they only prompted for the main parties despite UKIP coming second, and overestimated UKIP support by 1.5%, within the margin of error. In other words, the two-stage prompt got UKIP’s level of support right, despite them being up in second place. Compare this with 2004 when YouGov prompted by all the political parties standing and overestimated UKIP support by 5 points. Peter Kellner has written more about their approach here.

As I said after the Survation and ComRes polls were published, it is probably a bit early for these figures to really mean much anyway. It is extremely unlikely that the main parties will get this much support, if only because of the collection of “other” parties that come out of the woodwork at European election and pick up some support. Looking back at the polls from the 2009 election, UKIP also picked up support from increased publicity and coverage as the election approached, though this time round they do have a higher base of support and coverage to begin with.

105 Responses to “YouGov European election polling”

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  1. I’m not sure you can get a reliable answer at this stage.

    If I recall correctly, last time we had a European election, there was a surge in the “Other” voting intention, presumably UKIP – for Westminster elections. It seems that it doesn’t matter how clearly you explain which election is which, respondents never notice the difference.

    If a European election upsets Westminster voting intention, the lack of a European election (when focus is fully on Westminster politics) is just as liable to upset things the other way round.

    I’m still not ruling out the possibility of UKIP winning the popular vote.

  2. Labour getting anything close to 38% in the 2014 EU elections would be absolutely stunning. In 2004, shortly before Blair’s 3rd victory, I believe Labour got just 23% for the EU elections.

  3. If Labour do actually poll over 30% (Their best in Europe for 20 Years) What ever happens with UKIP v Tories it will be easy to portray it as a resounding success.

    For what it’s worth UKIP’s increase (if any) appears to be at the cost of the BNP Which in itself is good news.

    The figures also suggest 80%+ support for parties who have explicitly stated they wish the UK to stay in the EU.
    If the results run this way I wonder if there is the remotest chance that the Faragistas might shut up for a while.

  4. Steve

    “The figures also suggest 80%+ support for parties who have explicitly stated they wish the UK to stay in the EU.”

    Do the Tories have a policy on in/out of Europe, I’m confused cos the only way you get to 80% is by including the Tories.

    BTW the libdems are the only party which embraces the EU enthusiastically so we could say that 90% of the public are sceptical to Europe.

  5. “The figures also suggest 80%+ support for parties who have explicitly stated they wish the UK to stay in the EU. If the results run this way I wonder if there is the remotest chance that the Faragistas might shut up for a while.”

    Well, considering that this 80% does not equate to 80% support for parties whose express wish is for no powers to be repatriated from the EU (as 27% are voting for a party who has expressly said it wants to repatriate powers) and out of the remaining 53% there’s likely to be at least some who like neither the EU nor the right-wing policies of the Conservatives and UKIP, I don’t see that shutting up Nigel Farage. And neither do I see why it should.

    If the EU is so convinced support for political parties equals support for the EU, they should have a referendum on it. They lost all credibility on that front in 2005, and nothing they have done since restores any of that.

  6. @Amberstar

    Not only did Labour get 35% of the vote in 1994, but this was under the leadership of Margaret Beckett :)

  7. Sorry, I meant 44%…..

  8. ‘If the EU is so convinced support for political parties equals support for the EU, they should have a referendum on it’

    The EU does not have the power to hold referendums…

  9. Jack
    I too was puzzled at C N-S ‘s posting. Perhaps he would be so kind as to have another go. This is kettle requesting from the pot I know – king of the typos, I am.

  10. Correction: if the EU is so convinced that it has the support of the people of Europe to have the powers it does, it should be openly encouraging all member states to hold referenda on important matters like the Lisbon Treaty, and certainly not try to use the excuse that support of a National Parliament equals support of the people.

    If national governments refuse, fair enough. But to imply that the absence of referenda for the Lisbon Treaty was entirely down to the decisions of member states and absolutely no suggestion whatsoever of the EU leaning on them? Come on.

  11. Amber
    “Labour getting anything close to 38% in the 2014 EU elections would be absolutely stunning. In 2004, shortly before Blair’s 3rd victory, I believe Labour got just 23% for the EU elections.”

    I think a lot of people use the European elections either as a protest vote against whoever is the current government, or deliberately vote differently in UK and EU elections hoping to make life more difficult for our rulers.

  12. Personally, I would like to see a sensible attempt at drafting an EU constitution and we can then nail down the continent as a formal Confederation. No social guarantees and no bill of rights (these can be left for another day), merely a framework for the EU’s/states’ executive powers and the legislative process.

    The EU’s branches of ‘government’ are all-but confederal, so let’s just dot the i’s, ratify it with an EU-wide referendum, put this tedius debate to bed once and for all and move on like grown-ups in the 21st Century.

  13. …Yes, I find this endless huffing and puffing over the EU quite tedious.

    We’re in and we’d be biblically foolish/petulant to leave, so let’s settle in for the journey.

  14. …and no, I should not have used ‘tedious’ twice.

  15. @Chris Neville-Smith

    You said “…If national governments refuse, fair enough. But to imply that the absence of referenda for the Lisbon Treaty was entirely down to the decisions of member states and absolutely no suggestion whatsoever of the EU leaning on them? Come on…”

    Er, this is exactly the case. The ability of the EU to pressure the member states to approve Lisbon without referenda is exactly the same as the ability of Miss Piggy to pressure Frank Oz to buy her a new nose.

    You may be using the phrase “EU” to mean “the other countries of the EU”, i.e. the EU27, in which case you are arguably correct: I think the UK did come under pressure from other countries to do so (’twas before my time).

    But to imagine the EU instititions (Commission et al) exerted pressure is to overestimate their heft and misunderstand the power balance. If the member states wanted to make the EU fly Barroso’s underpants from the Justus Lipsius building, then after ratification the Brussels sky would behold the exact magnitude and length of the skidmark. The EU cannot dictate its own development any more than you can rewrite your own DNA.


  16. Might as well compare the 8th January 2009 YouGov/TPA EU poll (to the actual result on 4th June 2009):

    Con 35% (27.7%), Lab 29% (15.7%), UKIP 7% (16.5%), LD 15% (13.7%), Others 15% (26.4%).

    And the Westminster VI from YouGov for those two dates:

    Con 41% (37%), Lab 34% (22%), LD 15% (19%), Others 7% (15%)

  17. I thought states deciding to hold referendums was an example of the independence of decision so dearly desired by EU sceptics? Still puzzled (but grateful C N-S).

  18. European election polling doesn’t tend to be very accurate until a few weeks before the election is held. There was a YouGov poll a few weeks before the 2009 election putting UKIP on 7% which obviously wasn’t very close to the result: they got 16.5%.

  19. Combined UK Tory/UKIP vote 44%. Scottish Tory/UKIP vote 25%.
    Labour and the LibDems not far off the same percentage as in the UK.

    That suggests that on the EU it is the SNP that is picking up the protest vote as much as Labour, with UKIP Having little impact.

    I have for some time taken the line that Scots vote differently in Westminster and Holyrood elections. Labour do far better for Westminster where in terms of forming a government it is them or the Tories.

    In Holyrood they (currently) prefer the SNP to Labour.

    As for the Euros it looks like it is closer to Westminster than Holyrood without UKIP.


  20. Andy,

    I don’t think YouGov prompted for UKIP at the time where as those that did got far closer. This time YouGov will because evidence shows that it gets more accurate results.


  21. Why all these polls all of a sudden on the Euro elections? Is this just to do with the current EU debate- I had to check that it really was 2014 for the elections!

  22. @Martyn

    If you are arguing that the pressure to not hold referenda came entirely from EU governments and not in the slightest bit from the EU, that is at least an opinion that can’t be disproved. I have to say, I sincerely doubt this is truly the case since the EU takes sides in every referendum where its own powers are at stake. If the European Commission truly has no powers to influence these matters, the European Commission clearly doesn’t think so.

    A more plausible scenario is that the pressure to not hold referenda comes from a mixture of EU figures and figures in national governments. But the one thing that is unchanged is that the pressure to not hold referenda comes entirely from people pushing for more powers in Brussels – they tend to be the same who arguing that Parliamentary ratification equals the consent of the people. Since this moves against referenda is a recent thing, one must wonder what result they were expecting if the people they are supposed to serve were given a say.

    The proponents of further integration, if they truly wanted to prove they have the public on their side, could give their support for referenda. If they did, referenda would almost certainly take place (at least in those countries that previously promised one). They didn’t. For them to instead extrapolate support from the EU from election results (especially when opinion polls often don’t back up their arguments) is a poor poor excuse.

  23. Peter Cairns

    So UK Con = UKIP =”The right” and Lab+ LD – the Left, broadly similar in Scotland as UK,

    so if the left is the same

    in Scotland Con+SNP = The right.

    SNP and UKIP are both nationalists, and both want a referendum to get out of a union.

    Therefore SNP are the equivalent to UKIP

    SNP are tartan tories!!!!!!!!

    We are doomed!!!!!

  24. @Chris Neville-Smith

    Oh, I see what you mean. I wasn’t arguing per se that the Commission et al wouldn’t try to exert pressure. My point was that there is little *actual* pressure that they could bring to bear. The best they could do would be “I think you should do this”. I had a think whether they could do something like move an EU institution to the member state or away from it (didn’t they try to do something like this with the Patent Office or the drugs regulatory thingy?) but realistically, the Commission can be knocked over by an asthmatic child when it comes to treaty negotiations


  25. The commission is there to carry out the wishes of the Council of Ministers (CoM).

    Almost universally if the heads of government in the CoM agree something it is only natural that they expect the commission to carry it out and would prefer it implemented rather than put to a vote.

    If one or more member states decides to hold a referendum that would block the collectively agreed way forward the commission has a duty to argue for that collective position.

    If the UK government decides on something it expects the civil service to implement it.. If MP’s change the bill to force a referendum the government would expect the civil service to argue the governments case.

    The same thing applies with Council where officers implement and defend the policies of the ruling group want and if it comes to a vote lay out the current policy position.

    The evil manipulative powerful commission argument comes from people who see what they want to in the shadows. they are suspicious of the EU and it’s motives so they see malice in them.


    Good try but no cake.

    UKIP and the SNP are the “none of the above vote” either nationally or in a particular seat. Much of UKIP’s rise at Westminster comes from disgruntled Tories who wouldn’t vote Labour but want to protest.

    That’s why I think UKIP should target LibDem seatsat Westminster because that’s where A H Other could be a winner there.

    The LibDem claim to not be like “the sad old parties” has taken a beating and there is clearly around a constant 20% of the electorate who want to vote for someone other than the government and opposition.

    UKIP are getting an the lions share of that now in England, the SNP in Scotland.


  26. The 2009 Euro elections in the UK coincided withe expenses scandal which undoubtedly greatly aided UKIP and Others.It also might explain a fair bit of the divergence between polls taken early in 2009 and the actual outcome.. Also whilst all the major parties suffered significant electoral damage from that scandal, Labour – as the governing party of the time – was particularly badly hit..As a result Labour’s 2009 result was really artificially low on account of a special factor unlikely to reoccur next time, and a compensating boost in 2014 should be no great surprise if it comes to pass.

  27. Graham,

    I think Labourbeing an unpopular government in 2009 and the Tories one now creating a mid term protest vote is a more likely explanation than expenses. There is always a protest vote element but it varies from election to election as does the beneficiary.


  28. Peter,
    Labour were indeed a highly unpopular government in 2009 and bound to fare badly in that year’s Euro elections.But there was more to it than that – by mid 2009 all the main parties were being held in disgrace , and voters were looking for a channel of protest. Many responded by voting UKIP – though quite a few disillusioned Labour voters switched to the Greens.
    The expenses scandal not only depressed the Labour vote but also denied the Tories a clearcut decisive win in those elections comparable – say – to Labour’s 1994 success.

  29. Yes, Graham has refreshed my memory very convincingly.

    It was indeed the time for a protest vote in an election that otherwise is almost meaningless to voters.

  30. Martyn
    The ability of the EU to pressure the member states to approve Lisbon without referenda is exactly the same as the ability of Miss Piggy to pressure Frank Oz to buy her a new nose.
    But in the EU who is “moi”? We mainly hear from and address ourselves to or about the Commission, but their function is to act as the civil service for the Council of Ministers and the President, look after the Parliament, and to provide information to Member States and their populations.
    It is the latter function which is the best bellwether of what the EU is about and what’s currently on the agenda; so that in 1994 the EU election was primarily focused on the Social Chapter; the work on which in coordinated facilitation legislation and regulation, was of historic importance in the development of working rights, the movement of labour, and rights of women in the work place, including rights related to pregnancy, the results of which are now installed statutorily in the UK and other social systems. It’s also one of the building blocks of the EU, which wouldn’t get demolished with a big iron ball if you exited the EU – which is one of the reasons why most voters wouldn’t vote for an exit in a referendum, and think that, as EM has rightly judged, a referendum would be a destructive attempt to rewrite history

  31. I should have added that Miss Piggy, as Froggy keeps finding out, is a very complicated animal, and not to be messed with.

  32. JP:

    You are aware, I hope, that, like OleNat, Miss Piggy is not a real person??

  33. Paulcroft

    Of course my wife is a real person!!!

  34. RiN

    However, Paul is right that “OleNat” isn’t a real person. Just the fevered imaginings of a duvet shaker.

  35. Richard

    I sit corrected [actually I am lying down.]

  36. in the Telegraph article the Tories seem to want four key things;

    •?The repatriation of all social and employment law, such as the Working Time Directive;

    I can see the EU allowing that but UK drivers would still need to work under it on the continent. I suspect polish trucks in the UK could ignore it, so great for the UK if your not a truck driver.

    Good for business but not workers.

    •?An opt-out from all existing policing and criminal justice measures;

    I can’t see how that will do us any good.

    •?An “emergency brake” on any new legislation that affects financial services;

    We can’t really expect to dictate to Europe what they do with there own financial services industries and it would be interesting to see how we can have free trade without them demanding that our banks play by their rules to protect their people.

    •?An end to the European Parliament’s costly monthly move from Brussels to Strasbourg.

    That’s just in there because they know that after decades or arguing about it they can use it as an excuse.



    “An opt-out from all existing policing and criminal justice measures”.

    Just think of the economic gains from all the criminals relocating to London! Great advantage to their property market. :-)

  38. Paul
    While I appreciate that you are an agnostic, there are those of us whose peace of mind and inspiration for continued struggle depend on believing in Miss Piggy, and Old Nat.

  39. JP

    Miss Piggy I can understand John…….

  40. Update: Labour lead at 12 – Latest YouGov/The Sun results 15th Jan – CON 32%, LAB 44%, LD 10%, UKIP 9%; APP -31

    A run of three 44s for Labour. It seems that the scrounger/shirker division has failed for the Tories. If that is borne out over the next few weeks, I am struggling to see where they go from here.

  41. I mean striver/shirker division !

  42. Latest YouGov/The Sun results 15th Jan – CON 32%, LAB 44%, LD 10%, UKIP 9%; APP -31

    Major shock, horror; Labour lead has declined by 1% to 12%, mainly on the back of a Tory surge to 32%!!

  43. YouGov / The Sun results 15th January – CON 32%, LAB 44%, LD 10%, UKIP 9%; APP -31

    Labour on 44% in 3 polls in a row.

  44. The EU story is quite interesting, and demonstrates the difficulties for the Tory line. The powers that they are seeking to be repatriated include many highly useful things that UK voters can appreciate – paid leave for part timers, working hours limits etc. On the crime and justice side, UK police forces have used the European arrest warrants many times, and losing this ability has already brought a string on senior police onto the TV expressing concern. I also think that defending the City isn’t a particularly big priority in the minds of voters, so overall, the suggested package can potentially give opponents plenty to work on.

    Therein lies the problem with the EU. We don’t really like the idea of it at heart, but it actually does us quite a lot of good, in amongst all the nonsense. It seems that you can’t sort out the duff bits without harming the good stuff, and the nature of politics means there will always be an opposition ready to campaign on small parts of the package to make life uncomfortable.

    Overall however, I can foresee Tories making the same mistake as in the 1990’s. Voters care about whether things work or not – they care little about ‘Europe’ as an issue in itself. By obsessing on our relationship with the EU, Tories again risk being seen as increasingly diverted from the real issues by a pet political bug bear that few really care about or understand. In government, diversion of effort is a real issue.

  45. There is an interesting line of attack being built up against Labour on the bank bail outs. Tories are coming out saying that Brown paid too much and wasted money on the bail out, with attempts underway to tie this together with his sale of gold as another historic blunder. Central to this is the comparison with the US bail outs, which are now in profit, whereas the UK may never make a profit from ours.

    I don’t really know how to judge the competing claims here, so it is quite possible that these attacks are correct. Having said that, I would intuitively have thought that the net cost of bail outs has much to do with what happens in the years that follow, with the value of bank holdings presumably having something to do with the broader economic conditions.

    As the US has shown greater economic growth, and the UK under the coalition has failed to show any sustained growth at all, there could be a case for arguing that the cost of the UK bail outs has something to do with perceived economic mismanagement since 2010.

    I suppose another central question should be what would the Tories have done in 2008? At the time, their policy stance was confused, and was against bail outs in the early stages. If translated into policy, we would arguably have let banks go under and reaped the reward for that.

    However, as with the selling of gold, it’s the snappy headline that counts. It’s likely that mistakes were made on both issues, but claims that these were fundamental generation long errors tend not to stand up to independent scrutiny. Whether this has much traction politically I doubt. Voters are aware that Labour messed up, but I suspect the more relevant judgements will be how the intervening 5 years has gone, what the parties are saying they would do in the future, with only a residual look back at the past to worry about that.

  46. @Steve2
    …….We’re in and we’d be biblically foolish/petulant to leave.
    What arrogant nonsense, there are millions of people in this country who do not agree with you. Many feel like I do, not in the least European, and with more common ties with the USA and the old Commonwealth Nations.

  47. Alec

    Labour has a ready made response for criticisms of the bank bail out. That is that Osborne and Cameron went AWOL when the brown stuff hit the fan. And on the rare occasions that they did surface, they pretty much unequivocally gave support to the Govt in the national interest.

    There are increasingly intricate and fanciful theories being developed by the Austerians to explain our lack of growth. It reminds me of late 19th century physics. As experimental data started to fly in the face of the predictions of theories of the luminiferous ether, the Etherians developed increasingly intricate and far fetched bolt-ons to the theory to explain away the empirical evidence. It required the genius of Einstein to sweep away the bulls*** and produce a theory that fitted the empirical evidence.

    The tragedy of the current times is that we already have such a theory. From the monent that the Austerity obsession took hold, Keynesian analysts were predicting EXACTLY the sort of economic stagnation that we have seen. Labour deserve a good deal of the blame got not having pressed this argument much harder over the last 3 years.

  48. @Leftylampton – that’s my sense of it too, but the messages that become embedded are not always rational or logical.

    On physics, I’m certainly no physicist, and I find the current ideas around the Theory of Everything utterly baffling. However, I often can’t help feeling that the attempts to resolve quantum theory and relativity by way of 11 dimension superstring theory and such like, are all similar approaches to the Etherians you mention.

    Perhaps in due course we’ll find something altogether simpler that explains everything, but for now, I’ll continue to try and understand my uncomplicated existence in just 4 dimensions.

  49. Alec

    I agree on the pathological complexity of modern physics, although I’m only a layman myself. I was struck by something that Stephen Hawkin once said about the Big Bang singularity. He said that if you looked at a globe, there was clearly something very special about the poles. All the lines of longitude converged there in a singular point. But if you physically went to the poles, they would look much like any other spot on the surface of the globe. He hypothesised that, of only physicists could figure out how to look at the problems from a different perspective, the paradoxes and complexities would fall away.

    Of course there’s no fundamental reason why that should happen. Just a quasi-religious belief in underlying simplicity. It’s a belief that I like to share. If the Universe is both without a Maker AND fundamentally complex, it really is a pitiful place.

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