With under a week to go till the by-election tomorrow’s Times has a Populus poll of Eastleigh (£). Voting intention now stands at CON 28%, LAB 11%, LDEM 33%, UKIP 21%.

If one assumes that the Ashcroft poll earlier this month was conducted by Populus using the same methodology, then this suggests that the Conservatives and Labour have both gone significantly backwards during the by-election campaign, while UKIP have advanced into a solid third place.

I’m hoping we may have more Eastleigh polling over the coming days so I’ll update once it arrives or once we’ve seen the Populus tables.

UPDATE: Rick Nye has kindly sent me over the detailed tables for the Populus poll so here are a couple more things worth noting:

First, there is a very high level of don’t knows or refusals. Populus interviewed 1001 people, but a quarter said don’t know and a further 12% refused to give a voting intention. In a close race that high proportion of don’t knows obviously have the potential to change things.

Secondly, Populus don’t just ignore those don’t knows. Like ICM they assume that a proportion of them will end up voting for the party they did in 2010. This adjustment made no difference to the Lib Dem lead, but reduced the reported level of UKIP support (as they didn’t have many former 2010 voters to reallocate).

Without the reallocation of don’t knows the topline figures would have been CON 26%, LAB 12%, LD 31%, UKIP 25%. The reallocation of don’t knows has worked very well for ICM and Populus at general elections, improving their accuracy, but I remain uncertain about how well it works at by-elections. Without it the position between UKIP and the Conservatives is very tight.

Thirdly, everyone assumes that the UKIP support comes mainly from the Conservatives. It isn’t quite the case. 17% of 2010 Tory voters are saying they would vote UKIP, but so are 11% of 2010 Lib Dem voters and 10% of 2010 Lab voters.

194 Responses to “Populus give the Lib Dems a 5 point lead in Eastleigh”

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  1. LEFTY

    @”. Given Osborne’s commitment to the spellbindingly stupid notion of expansionary contraction, I’m far from sure that he has any grasp of macroeconomics whatsoever.”

    I am sure he will be shattered to hear that from such an expert source.

    @”He left himself no room for Plan B when expansionary contraction proved to be contractionary contraction.”

    I disagree-he allowed timescale to take the strain of undershoot, rather than ramp up the fiscal contraction. I think IMF recommended this.

    @”The most politically damaging part of Moody’s report is that they have downgraded us because the prospects for growth are so dire.”

    ……………..”due to the anticipated slow growth of the global economy and the drag on the UK economy from the ongoing domestic public- and private-sector deleveraging process.”


    Presumably your prescription is to tell the rest of the world to start growing forthwith-and to instruct the British Public to stop de-leveraging. ?

  2. One thing that does seem to have changed since the Ashcroft poll is that the campaign has firmed up the Lib Dem vote from a average certainty to vote (ACTV) of 7.52 to 8.75. The Conservatives have only gone from 8.55 to 8.85. So the move to the Lib Dems is not as impressive as it might be – indeed the raw number of those saying they would vote Lib Dem has actually fallen from 17% to 15% over the two weeks.

    The change though does show what the effects of intensive campaigning are. What it doesn’t show is its ability to enthuse the electorate. In fact the total number of ‘non-voters’ has increased from 49% to 52% of ‘Will not vote’ (Will not vote 12% to 15%; Refused 8% to 12%; Don’t know 29% to 25%). This compares with 44% in the last Ashcroft Corby poll, which was a month rather than a week before polling day, presumably showing the greater enthusiasm of Labour voters rather than those leaning towards the coalition. (Both constituencies had near identical turnout – 69.2% and 69.3% – in 2010)

    The latest Eastleigh UKIP ACTV figure[1] is 9.18, higher than the other Parties. A little of this may be due to the usual age profile of UKIP supporters being older, but the UKIP age differential in the Populus poll seems less extreme than we normally see. Both of which are signs that UKIP should do very well indeed, though whether they could win is still only an outside chance. If the winning post is only around 30% on a low turnout however, there is a possibility that the natural ceiling to their vote might being above that and they could win[2].

    However if you look where their vote is coming from in terms of 2010 voters (34% Con, 25% L/D, 5% Lab[3]) it means over a third is coming from elsewhere. Some will be from ‘Others’ including UKIP but there just weren’t enough of those (25 in total) so they will be relying on people to vote in the by-election who didn’t in 2010. It’s a little unlikely.

    It’s still the Lib Dems election to lose in my opinion, but this poll shows that there is still all to play for. If the Lib Dems do retain the seat, it may be as much due to organisation as deep-felt political support.

    [1] Thanks by the way for Populus now providing a UKIP cross-break after previous bizarre omissions on various Ashcroft polls.

    [2] In which case, given Mr Farage’s luck with the ladies, Diane James will soon defect to another Party. Farage does have form on this, the only other women MEP elected in 2009, Nikki Sinclaire, left UKIP in 2010 making similar complaints

    [3] Those believing that Labour voters will switch to UKIP as a cunning plan should be aware that the 10% quoted by Anthony only represents 5 people. In truth there aren’t an awful lot of Labour voters to start with and those by definition will tend to be the diehards – otherwise they would already have been squeezed by the Lib Dems in the past.

  3. “If they can’t take the LD-Tory marginals, and they won’t take any Lab-Tory marginals, and Lab clean up the LD-Lab marginals, that gives Labour enough I think.”

    That is correct at the moment, but ii doesn’t have to be correct at the next General Election. Labour in in the same position now that the Conservatives were in this time in 2008: riding high on the government’s mistakes. The Conservatives spent too long saying what Labour was doing wrong, and not enough time say what they’d do instead, and consequently blew their chance of a majority government. Labour could still make the same mistake.

    That is the only way the conservatives have a chance of winning the next election. The idea that the Tories are going to win this on dissatisfaction with the Lib Dems for cosying up to … err … the Tories, is a foolish notion. This is why I think it is a mistake for the Tories to go all guns blazing into Eastleigh. Either the Tories win the argument against Labour some time in the next two years or they lose. There’s no way around that.

  4. @John Pilgrim

    ” Hyperbole”

    I always understood the Hyperbole to be like the Superbowl but on steroids.

    Did I miss something?

  5. LEFTY

    I don’t know about you, but I find that these Credit agency reports always have something for everyone in them .

    I think they must be written by lawyers of the “one the one hand.on the other hand” school.

    So I quite like these bits from Moody’s review of UK :-

    “The stable outlook on the UK’s Aa1 sovereign rating reflects Moody’s expectation that a combination of political will and medium-term fundamental underlying economic strengths will, in time, allow the government to implement its fiscal consolidation plan and reverse the UK’s debt trajectory.”

    “Moody’s could also downgrade the UK’s government debt rating further in the event of an additional material deterioration in the country’s economic prospects or reduced political commitment to fiscal consolidation.”

    “political commitment to fiscal consolidation” is of course a reference to policy statements of UK political parties who might conceivably be in Government.

  6. “At some point an event will come along – which may or may not be a sovereign downgrade – that could spark the beginning of a loss of sentiment and a downward spiral in the key market factors. ”

    You may think that. The markets do not agree. If the markets think – as you are firmly predicting – that an event WILL cause markets to lose confidence in Britain (that’s not might, but will), then that equate to the markets having lost confidence now. And if they’d lost confidence now, believe me, they would be letting us know big time. Otherwise, it requires argument that the markets have confidence now but predict they will lose confidence later – and that doesn’t make any sense at all.

    I am afraid you are confusing what the markets think with what you think they ought to think. There is of course always room for unexpected events. But unexpected events can be good as well as bad.

  7. Is it wise to view Eastleigh as a Lib Dem marginal ?

    Obviously their majority in 2010 fits that description but their share of the vote was almost 47 % despite the Conservatives throwing their considerable resources at it and it being in a region of England which swung comfortably to the Conservatives .

    If they can hold it in those circumstances , it’s only a matter of how much they win by next week .

    Extrapolating from the result and forecasting how more typical marginals will go is very risky .

    A by election fought in the glare of media attention is a very unique result . A combination of voters’ weariness with the endless canvassing and general invasion of their privacy often switches people off or produces a protest vote . The figure for voters refusing to say how they will vote and the high UKIP vote seems to indicate all of these will be a factor in the Eastleigh result .

  8. I have one final comment before I go back to my play writing: I personally find the reasoning behind the rating changes far more interesting than the rating itself. If I was thinking of buying a large government bond, I might not taking the rating too seriously, but I would be more interested in reading the rating agencies’ reasoning and making up my own mind.

    The reports for downgrades from AAA to AA I found to be invariably less alarming that the media and politicians would have us believe.

  9. @Chris Neville Smith – I think you might be misunderstanding how markets think.

    The best way of describing market behaviour I’ve managed to come up with is the economic equivalent of watching a bunch of 8 year olds play football. The key element is to follow the ball around. Everyone heads in one direction, where they expect the ball to end up, and then it goes in a different direction, so they all about turn.

    The key point is that markets suddenly change their minds. This is the basis of every boom and bust we’ve ever had, and demonstrates the fundamental illogicality of the markets.

    That’s the point I’m really making here. On paper, there really isn’t much reason to think that the UK’s deficit pathway is looking strong of optimistic, yet markets are lending us money at historically low rates. The fear is that something jolts them into realising just how precarious the position is, and they’ll all hare off in the other direction without any warning.

  10. Footy forecast:

    My pups apologise.

  11. ALEC
    “Superboie” eh? Don’t worry, I will take care of it.

  12. @grhinports – “many are far more of the Cameron persuasion”

    Your post is interesting. The Populus tables suggest that Con is losing a bit of support to LD, and there have been anecdotal reports that some Eastleigh 2010 Conservatives are put off by Maria Hutchings.

    However, it seems that Cameron’s modernisation project died about the same time as the “Big Society”. The Rose Garden era of “new politics” soured over AV, after Conservatives pressurised their leader to campaign strongly against his coalition partners, and he has been giving ground ever since

    Tory Backbenchers are against him… some commentators paint him as to a large degree a prisoner of the cabinet barons. If Cameron managed to convince some that he could be “heir to Blair” and detoxify the Conservative brand, why would anyone who approved of that now vote Conservative rather than for the Lib Dem party of Laws, Clegg and Alexander?

  13. Richard in Norway

    If what you say about economic experts being wrong is correct then we can disregard what Moody’s have done because they would have almost certainly been advised by economic experts.

  14. @Turk

    I think the idea is to go by the experts who tend to get things right, rather than those who get things wrong more often. ..

  15. Turk

    Absolutely, the rating agencies have both a credibility problem because of extreme conflicts of interest but also they employ conventional economists which are absolutely useless in times like this

  16. COLIN
    I disagree-he allowed timescale to take the strain of undershoot, rather than ramp up the fiscal contraction. I think IMF recommended this.


    Eh? How is that changing tack to Plan B?

    It’s just prolonging the pain and continuing with the failed Plan A, which clearly isn’t working. ..

  17. OZWALD
    If austerity is “the only alternative” then presumably its supporters will be able to name some other instances in modern times when an austerity-driven government has succeeded in cutting its way out of a recession?


    Well it’s easier to get away with if there is a big external stimulus, eg Canada who made cuts with a big booming US eceonomy next door to sell into.

    But we have a situation currently where many of our major trading partners are struggling. ..

  18. As ever, this isn’t a forum for debating if government policy is any good or not, take it elsewhere (and more specifically, calling manifestos “demonstrable tosh” and policies “crass political stupidity” does not sound to me like an attempt to post in the spirit of non-partisanship…)

  19. Anthony:

    Hear, hear! Let’s stick to footy.

  20. @Jayblanc

    The entire quote from HM Treasury Autumn statement reads

    “A further £6.6 billion package of savings from welfare, overseas aid and Departmental spending – funding £5.5 billion of additional infrastructure investment and support for businesses”

    so most of the savings were promptly spend again. As I said the net result was broadly neutral (£1.1 billion being neither here nor there). Osborne had the opportunity to tighten further but did not take it.

  21. It’s what the voters think about it that matters. I noted that there seemed to be an awful lot of ABs in the Populus sample that had to be severely down-weighted.

  22. Re: scandals – I think most voters can see there’s an obvious campaign against the LD’s ATM. You’d have to be bloody stupid not to see that. It’s not surprising as their presence threatens so many institutions.

  23. @ Ashley

    It’s not surprising as their [the LibDems] presence threatens so many institutions.

  24. I’m really intrigued to see how other polls compare over the next week(ish), especially after yesterday’s business.

  25. @ CROSSBATT11
    ‘Any talk of a Labour win was always fantasy since you have to go back to the mid 50s to find the last time they came even a decent runner up in Eastleigh. ‘

    You have gone back too far there – Labour only lost Eastleigh by 700 votes in 1966!

    Re -Tactical voting by Labour voters.I believe it is a mistake to focus on how many 2010 Labour voters are likely to switch to UKIP – simply because in 2010 most traditional Labour voters in this constituency did not vote Labour – they switched to the LibDems.. Of the 47% LibDem vote probably as much as 15% -ie almost one third of the LD vote – were ‘really’ Labour. – and I suggest that very many of that 15% are likely to vote UKIP next week. Indeed a better question might be ‘How much of the 2005 Labour vote is likely to switch to UKIP in the byelection?’

  26. Amber

    I think Ashley is referring to such things as voting reform, lords reform, libel law reform, banking reform…………..

  27. Big Note: I have the predictive power of a blind frog.
    Stan J-
    I predict very little shift if at all but the budget will shift perceptions (for better or worse).
    Osborne should have learnt his ‘pasty tax’ lesson, will not leak any of the budget and have some nice surprises for the public.

  28. Colin

    I wonder if Marta Andreasen can be deployed in Eastleigh with any real effect by DC?

    Probably not, except among small groups such as accountants and people who actually know about the EU (like you I think she is a Good Thing). UKIP are always losing/gaining MEPs by defection (almost as often as they get arrested) and it’s not something that will have much effect on the public.

    I suspect the the internal ructions in UKIP will considerable though and no doubt if they don’t win the by-election it will be blamed on her going. In some ways she was always an odd choice for UKIP as she strikes me more as a (radical) reformer of the EU rather than an abolisher.


    I doubt whether this AAA stuff cuts much ice with voters, any more than being ‘anti-EU’ cuts much ice with UKIP voters (see recent polls).

    The Budget will cut ice, were Osborne / Alexander to stick to the same mantra, namely more austerity in government expenditure and / or more taxes and / or higher taxes.

    That’s if Osborne and Alexander still are of the Faith

    The trouble is that they can’t raise taxes because they cut the top rate to 45% and any increases elsewhere will be seen as robbing the middle classes to give to the rich. Benefit cuts are already becoming counter-productive in economic terms (and some are having to be deferred such as the benefit cut in London).

  29. What polls can we expect tonight? Or tomorrow morning? And will these polls have been conducted after news of the Triple A rating loss? Or will we have to wait for Monday before that is factored in?

  30. ROGER


    I agree with you-and also , as AW keeps reminding us , UKIPers are as concerned about immigration as EU matters.

    Interested that you share my admiration for what she did.

    Yes , she seems like a better fit with a post DC speech Conservative party-though DC has received warnings that she could be “difficult”.

  31. @ RiN

    I think Ashley is referring to such things as voting reform, lords reform, libel law reform, banking reform…
    Voting reform – done over by their Coalition partners
    Lords reform – ditto
    Libel Law reform – ditto
    Banking reform – rolled over for their Coalition partners.

    Hence my: Eh?

    The only institution which they’ve ‘threatened’, as far as I can see, is the NHS. They could join Labour, the SNP & a handful of Tory rebels in blocking the secondary legislation but there’s no indication yet that they will do so.

  32. Rumours are circulating that another Eastleigh poll will be published tonight from Survation for the Mail on Sunday.

  33. According to the Guardian:

    Ahead of Thursday’s crucial byelection in Eastleigh, Hampshire, Labour is up 2% nationally, on 41%, compared with a fortnight ago, while the Tories remain unchanged on 29%.

    Ukip have taken a firm hold on third place, although they are down 1% on 13%, while Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems, who are expected to hold on to their Eastleigh stronghold because of their strong local presence, remain unchanged on 8%

    They also claim the Labour is gradually cutting the Tory lead on economic questions.

  34. GRHINPORTS – you certainly won’t get anything with fieldwork conducted after the credit rating until Monday (though I would be very surprised if it had any noticeable effect on the polls anyway)

  35. Amber

    Yes indeed, but having killed these things once in govt some would like to kill them permanently

  36. Thanks Anthony!

    I never quite get the hang of when fieldwork for polls is actually done and how it picks up on the news of the day.

    Of course you may well be right about no effect but it seems that cannot be confirmed until Monday for certain.

  37. New Eastleigh poll, (Survation for the Mail on Sunday):

    Con 33%
    LD 29%
    UKIP 21%
    Lab 13%

  38. @Graham

    “You have gone back too far there – Labour only lost Eastleigh by 700 votes in 1966!”

    Ah yes, I’d overlooked that one but remember the 1966 election was a Labour landslide and, a little like Blair in 1997, Wilson was reaching parts of England then that were hitherto untouched by Labour. Still, 1966 is almost half a century ago and the more reliable guide to the innate Conservative nature of the constituency is to look at the majorities the Tories were racking up in the 70s, 80s and early 90s: –

    1970: 8,052
    1974(Feb): 10,110
    1974(Oct): 7,815
    1979: 20,294
    1983: 13,008
    1987: 13,355
    1992: 17,062

    They even polled over 4,000 more than Labour in 1997 when they were being reduced to their 160 MP rump in Blair’s landslide. What changed for them was the meltdown in their vote in the 1994 by-election and while they recovered somewhat in 1997 to almost retake the seat, it was an electoral calamity from which they’ve never recovered. The Lib Dems have burrowed into a former Tory fiefdom, as they have elsewhere in the South and South West of England and, as may be proved again on Thursday, they are capable of bucking national trends and are rather good, as incumbents, at fighting off insipid Tory challenges.

    Eastleigh is a Tory seat in Lib Dem clothing and their failure to recolonise it over the last 20 years speaks volumes to their inherent electoral weakness.

    Changing tack and commenting briefly on the recent credit rating agency downgrade of the UK. Why on earth is anyone taking these economic nincompoops remotely seriously (the credit agencies that is, not the Treasury!)? They are the self-appointed undertakers of the global economy, regularly making the most hilariously wrong calls on both private businesses and national economies. I think it was Moodys, it may have been S&P, but who cares, who gave Lehmann Brothers a resounding endorsement and vote of confidence shortly before the business collapsed and took a good section of the US and the then the economy with it. I don’t know the latest on this, but Congress was thinking seriously of impeaching a few credit agencies for their malign incompetence during the global crash and, while I don’t doubt their capability to influence borrowing and exchange rates, the fact that we still seem to be in both hock and awe to these clowns is a matter that brings me almost to the point of despair.

    Of course, as others have said, the real implications of the downgrade are all political rather than economic and I see Mr Balls is having great fun at Osborne’s expense already.

  39. @AndyJS

    Con 33%
    LD 29%
    UKIP 21%
    Lab 13%

    That Survaton poll on Eastleigh is what I thought might happen when the by election was first called, but it appears that UKIP is doing the Tories bidding rather than Labour.

    That little flutter I had at Ladbrokes on a Tory gain might not have been a wasted fiver after all!

    Mind you, it all depends if Mr Survation is right or Mr Populus and could a narrow Tory poll lead at this stage in the campaign galvanise some late switching and tactical voting to keep the Tory out? We’re heading for a nail-biter on Thursday night, methinks.

  40. It’s true that by-election polls don’t have the best of reputations. For example UKIP were significantly underestimated in the Corby by-election.

  41. This has to be one of the most interesting threads for a long time.Full of valuable insights from all sides of the political spectrum and humour too,thanks
    Paul.The reporting available on Eastleigh has been dire,so well done to everyone on this site.But hey,that latest poll sets the cat among the pigeons!

  42. NEW POLL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Very interesting comments. As a person living in a Lib Dem v Conservative marginal the results of the Eastleigh election are of particular interest. I had thought that our incumbent Lib Dem MP was bound to be deserted by tactical voters but maybe not. UKIP has campaigned heavily here in the past but made no real inroads. Maybe that will be different in 2015 too. Fascinating.

  44. “Thirdly, everyone assumes that the UKIP support comes mainly from the Conservatives. It isn’t quite the case. 17% of 2010 Tory voters are saying they would vote UKIP, but so are 11% of 2010 Lib Dem voters and 10% of 2010 Lab voters.”

    I think those figures actually show that UKIP support does mainly come from Conservatives. That’s 17% of 36%, compared to 10% of 29%.

    Or in other words, of the total vote, 2.53% from Lib Dem to UKIP, 2.9% from Labour to UKIP, and 6.12% from the Conservatives to UKIP. More than twice as many from the Conservatives as from either Lib Dems or Labour.
    Or if you prefer more than half of UKIP’s increase in support comes from the Conservatives.
    I think that’s supports the claim that UKIP’s support comes mainly from conservatives.

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