Saturday round up

Yesterday saw a cracking example of poor newspaper reporting of polls and a worthy recipient of the much sought after “UKPR crap media reporting of polls award”. Regular readers will recall Ipsos MORI’s monthly poll for the Standard, which showed topline figures of CON 29%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%. This was a nine point Labour lead and if repeated at a general election then a uniform swing would give Labour an overall majority of 94 seats.

While in the context of all the other polling we’ve seen lately it wasn’t a fantastic poll for Labour (the lead was pretty typical and there were some less than positive finding on whether people thought Miliband was ready to be PM), on the whole it was still a poll showing the Labour party with a steady lead over the Conservatives which if maintained would give them very substantial gains and put them back in government with a healthy majority.

And how did the Daily Star report this poll? As “Ed Miliband Facing Election Wipeout“. The Star went on to say “The latest Ipsos MORI survey said just 40% [sic] of voters now supported Labour, the party’s lowest ratings in a year. Only a quarter of people think he is ready to lead the country.”

Now, I do try to be charitable to journalists – it’s a hard job with tight deadlines. They are not responsible for the headlines put above their work, and often I’ve seen a sensible and nuanced poll write up with a wrong-headed and simplistic headline. The rest of the article suggests that the “warnings of wipeout” at the next election was probably referring to the apparent criticism that Miliband had faced from Tony Blair and David Blunkett, not the poll. Nevertheless, the overall impression the article leaves, and the failure to point out that while Labour had dropped in the polls, they were still leader by a substantial and potentially election winning amount really does create the false impression that the polls are showing Labour heading for defeat.

Meanwhil the YouGov poll on Friday morning had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%. I’ve been very wary over the last week or so about claims that the YouGov poll was showing Labour’s lead falling, but this is now the third single digit lead in a week, so perhaps there is something there. Keep an eye out for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll later on tonight or tomorrow morning to see if the trend continues. We should also be due the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer.

Finally Lord Ashcroft released some new polling of ethnic minority voters on Friday. Most of the poll doesn’t tell us much new, merely underlining the difficulties the Conservatives face with ethnic minority voters, but that these difficulties are not the same across the board (Hindu voters in particular seem to be far more well disposed towards the Conservatives than voters from other ethnic minority groups).

There was an interesting question towards the end though. A question and problem for the Conservatives to tackle is why they do so badly amongst ethnic minority voters. One the strongest predictors of NOT voting Conservative is to be a member of an ethnic minority. Some of this is due to socio-economic factors, or due to ethnic minority voters being more likely to work in the public sector, but even accounting for these factors ethnic minority voters are less likely to vote Tory. The obvious explanation for this is that the Conservatives are still associated with anti-immigrant language and policies and that ethnic minority voters assume that the Tories are “not for them”. I was being interviewed about this by the BBC a few months back and menioned Enoch Powell when talking about that historical legacy and the interviewer asked, reasonably enough, whether people really did still remember and were influenced by a speech given 40 years ago. Well, Lord Ashcroft asked that – 58% of voters said they had heard of Enoch Powell and knew what he said, rising to 64% of the black carribean community.

30 Responses to “Saturday round up”

  1. I’ve been very wary over the last week or so about claims that the YouGov poll was showing Labour’s lead falling, but this is now the third single digit lead in a week, so perhaps there is something there.
    Being pedantic, I don’t see it as Labour’s lead falling – I see it as the Tory deficit shrinking a little.

  2. I agree this is crap reporting, but IF this is a sign of a ‘slow puncture’, or ‘the tide turning’ or the ‘tipping point’ or whatever cliche one can choose, it could still be bad news for Labour.

    Of course it doesn’t mean Ed is facing electoral wipeout, but it may transpire to be a significant moment which, as in football, is only obvious when the pundits review the game afterwards for the ‘turning point’.


  3. I enjoy those headlines, very amusing post. 40% and a chunky majority is now a wipeout, says it all really. Maybe they’d better get back to reporting x factor & suchlike.

    I imagine any party leader would take a OM of 94 after missing out on one of just over 100 without crying that much. Usually 30+ would do for 5 years.

  4. There’s a point to that beyond pedantry- Labour’s VI has held pretty constant at 40%. It’s a slight Tory recovery that’s shrinking the lead rather than a Labour decline.

  5. Oo Arr Daily Star

    You need to buy a calculat(ar)

  6. Well even if the UK pollsters are doing a better job of it than the US ones did before the presidential election it’s clear that our press and pundits are trying to be just as wrong as their US counterparts. Perhaps they too can feel the momentum, or know that the polls are wrong because “that’s not how it feels on the ground”.

    But will we ever have someone as brilliantly insane as Karl Rove?

  7. To repeat my comment from the previous post, ever thread seems to be being taken over with a rather tired economic back-and-forth that has little or nothing to do with polling or public opinion. I’ve moved all the comments over to the previous thread so they don’t infect and destroy yet another one.

    I try to judge when to let a topic run, and when it is inevitably going to get to partisan nah-nah-nah rubbish. Economics is a tricky one – many people contribute thoughtful posts about the principles of how debt works and what might or might not be good, but there are equal amounts of silly “Ah but would you support that then!”, “Ah, but what would Ed Balls do then!” guff, or worse, the careful cherry picking of one-sided evidence to try and score political points rather than actually get anywhere near the truth. Even that is sometimes quite hard to pare away from discussion of what public opinion might be towards pledges to spend more, or stick to spending pledges or whatever… discussion which is obviously exactly what the site is for.

    So I’m not saying stop discussion it, but can you please try to stick to what public opinion and polling shows about the economy, and not get into arguments about whether the governments approach or Labour’s approach are “right” or “wrong”.

  8. I noticed a few days ago that turnout in Scotland fell to 50% in the 2011 elections (meaning that the SNP “landslide” represented the support of less than 25% of the electorate!) and even in 2010, which was a close and much-covered election with the new stimulus of debates, turnout in Scotland didn’t even reach 64%.

    Are there any advanced polls that can tell us something about turnout in 2015 e.g. a rolling average of voting likelihood responses?

  9. Bill – basic answer is no. People’s responses on how likely they are to vote are notoriously unreliable, and change massively in the run up to an actual election. Don’t touch them with a bargepole.

  10. So if the next two polls over the weekend show yet another narrowing of the Labour Lead to say anything from 5 – 9% I suppose we arrive at a possible trend!
    Looking back at sections of your wonderful site AW at Polls during the 1970s it shows opposition leads of 10 – 30% – now I know times a bit different but shouldn’t Labour really be much further ahead and nudging 15 – 20% leads?
    Sensible comments please!

  11. Whether there is a sea change in opinion could be perhaps indicated by this from the Ipsos Mori poll.

    “The public’s economic optimism is at its highest point in 2013, around one in five (22%) expect the state of the country’s economy to improve in the next year while 41% believe it will get worse. A third (35%) think it will stay the same. ”

    I don’t know whether that counts as a ‘sea change’ (it still sounds a pretty miserable FGF result to me) but a week or two of Con 33 – 34% would perhaps underline it.

  12. Having a single diget lead or low double diget lead is reassuring for the party that enjoys it midterm, but as the GE approaches that lead nearly always changes to within a couple of percent points for one party or another.

    It’s no good saying this party has a 9% lead with two years to go, will go on to get 80 seat lead in the next GE you could possibly say that a month before the next GE but you could end up with a Kinnock moment and still lose going into a GE with a single diget lead.

    I’m not saying the Tories will win but it’s no more certain they will lose I think the polls will remain close, given some unforseen event, until the next GE I would be very suprised to see one party or another polling consistantly above a 20% as we’ve seen in previous elections, of course if that did happen the certainty of saying a particular party will win would be justified but not with the sort of figures we’ve seen so far.

  13. Mark
    I think most here think that the lead (or rather the total share) of Labour should be higher at this stage. However, as things stand, that would be the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself. I highlighted the ‘Debates’ dangers and of course there are other possible events.

    The clue is more likely this feel good factor I rabbit on about. You are not going to be determined to get rid of a government (as in 1997 for instance) if you feel generally satisfied with life. My post above gives anything but that picture from the Mori poll.

  14. On the surface , Labour’s estimated vote share , if there was an election tomorrow , will see them home and dry .

    But there won’t be an election tomorrow and the answers to subsequent questions put by pollsters indicate at best , a soft Labour vote with doubts abouts its leadership and its economic competence .

    Under the scrutiny of an election campaign Labour may come to grief over this , again .

  15. Poor press reporting seems to be becoming a normal event, whatever the media are covering they want the noticeable headline even if it’s not completely truthful, that’s my perspective…

    I know we have a press complaints committee but is it enough, I do sigh a lot even on here; we see posters jumping at the slightest movement as though a massive shift had taken place, I may even be guilty myself, (usually regarding welfare).

    Something needs to be done, and eventually it will be, when another press scandal breaks…or new laws come into place…

    As the famous man says… “Calm down dear, it’s only a polling report” smiles


    “Under the scrutiny of an election campaign Labour may come to grief over this.”

    Or their poll rating may improve. Personally, I think the more exposure Ed Miliband gets the better. Whenever he has got some decent coverage such as last year’s party conference or over Leveson his ratings have gone up. He also regularly gets the better of Cameron at PMQs. Bring on the election campaign I say!

  17. Howard

    It’s not surprising that people are becoming more optimistic when they are repeatedly told that the roaring stock market is a sign of investor confidence in the future, indeed that is the point of the various monetary shenanigans of the last few years. The idea as the chairman of the federal reserve explained is to create the wealth effect, where people feel richer and go out and borrow to spend, our own monetary policy maker also agrees that the stock market is both a leading indicater of confidence and inspires confidence and that ramping the market by pumping liquidity into it could restart the borrowing and spending cycle. So economic policy around the world is based on the confidence fairy , and policy makers are quite shamelessly trying to inspire false confidence in the hopes that it will prove to be real, like folk that chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But now it’s really getting silly, the media has come fully on board with this project to the extent that even average economic date is greeted as “strong surprise to the upside” lol, worse bad economic data is often hidden under positive headlines where the headline has little or no relationship with the content of the article. Central bankers freely admit there attempts to raise the zombie of confidence from it’s grave, Ms largarde recently said “I’m deliberately, decisively, desperately optimistic” and of course the famous junker quote “when it gets serious, you lie”

  18. NORBOLD.
    I agree with you about Ed M, even though I could be an admirer of TB.

    Churchill under estimated Attlee: ‘An empty car came, and Attlee got out’ . Much about which to be modest. Maybe Ed will also surprise people.

  19. Are Eastern European immigrants considered part of ethnic minorities, and how do they feel (certainly not remembering bloody rivers) about Conservatives?

    @Chrislane1945, I think you’ll find that quote is a fake.

  20. @norbold,

    ‘He also regulary gets the better of Cameron at PMQs’

    Which part of the earlier none partisan posts did you miss? Who gets the upper hand at pmqs is highly subjective, and claimed victories are nearly always along party partisan lines barring massive blunders.

    I agree we need to keep things impartial now!!!

  21. Looking back at sections of your wonderful site AW at Polls during the 1970s it shows opposition leads of 10 – 30% – now I know times a bit different but shouldn’t Labour really be much further ahead and nudging 15 – 20% leads?
    Sensible comments please!

    -Well in the 1970’s all parties other than Labour and Conservative managed around 8% in VI

    Currently the LD’s UKIP and smaller parties are running at around 25- 30%

    So the situation is rather different

  22. @steve,

    Or you might say that current conditions are perfect for a big labour lead, so circa 8% actually isn’t quite as good as it might be, especially if the economy picks up by late 2014 / early 2015.

  23. Rich
    If you were replying to me I think you missed my point.

    In order to get a 20%+ lead for Labour assuming other parties VI remained about where it is we would have to see Conservative support levels lower than at any time since the formation of the Conservative party.

    Even when the SDP Liberal alliance were pushing 50% support in the Early 80’s the conservatives were still registering in the high 20’s

  24. Wood

    I don’t think they can vote, so their feelings are not important, lol

  25. I think it is going to take a few days before we are free of any Thatcher bounce effect. The latest YG poll was done Wed-Thu so right on top of the funeral coverage.

    We will have to wait till next week to see what “normal” looks like.

  26. WOOD.
    Good Afternoon All.
    Another quote: He has much to be modest about’ about Mr Attlee. About ‘Nye’ : He is the Minister of Disease. His about Gandhi are not repeatable,

    Wise words on the Thatcher effect on polling. However falling car fuel and the tax changes may be making people feel happier. Denis Healey, by the way,always argued that Inflation rather than unemployment is the big vote turner.

  27. Ever since the election it has never been, (in my mind) the question of who will form a majority government, but always who will be the majority party, Labour on balance are more likely to be in that position.

    The polls after May the 3rd will be of more interest if the Tories get a hammering, if Labour do not see a substantial increase in their lead then they may have something to worry about, but I still don’t see any of the major parties, (unless there is a dramatic change of fortune caused by some Falklands/ERM type of event) breaking the log jam.

  28. “always argued that Inflation rather than unemployment is the big vote turner.”
    “This coefficient pattern is clearly consistent with the idea that rising unemployment damages right-wing
    governments but does not necessarily harm left-wing ones although Conservative governments are damaged by rising inflation, the equivalent damage inflicted on Labour governments is almost
    three times greater.”

  29. I’ve thought for quite a while that there is a residual feeling amongst voters that the government needs some time to prove itself one way or the other….though again I delve in history which may serve no wisdom beyond anecdotal, I seem to recall that Labour held a pretty steady position from 1964 until devaluation in 1967 when it fell off a cliff as it were….

    This may not be news EM wants to hear but I still get the feeling the government is being cut some slack particularly in the South East. The county council elections will be of interest simply to measure how well Labour polls in these heavily conservative areas.

    Similarly in the 75-79 period though Labour lost votes in the ’79 election – a lot more votes went from Liberal to Conservative. In some ways MT’s victory then was rather more conditional than sweeping….

    I conjecture that if the economy really shows no signs of serious improvement by the autumn & if EM begins to convincingly flesh out an alternative – that will be the time when we may get a sense of public support hemorrhaging from the government.

    I note a student from Amherst has rather overturned some conventional wisdoms. Thomas Herndon is at UMass in Amherst which happens to be an area well known to me for other academic reasons.

    There is an article but most of you probably are much more familiar with this stuff than a stuffy old Tudor historian like me….which reminds me I best get back to the English reformation….

  30. Mark J – this Labour lead should be bigger thing has been done a number of times so apologise if my contribution bores a few.
    First, it depends on what realistic expectations are and imo a Labour OM given 2010 being so bad is highly improbable. Labour imo are not doing well enough to go on to an OM but are probably just about doing enough to be favourites for most seats in 2015 if not most votes.

    Second point is that the Labour VI is the most crucial measure imo. Tory VI will be up and down depending on UKIP; much ending up back home at the GE. (lab will get a little back too) with UKIP perhaps at 5%.
    Some 2010 Tory voters who would never give a Lab or UKIP VI in past mid terms who would have given LD if they became disaffected no longer have that option and will become WV/DK or reluctant Cons. Most would have ended up back with the Tories come the GE so the ‘real’ position is unaffected but Tory VI will not fall as much as usual in polls (some might say SNP in Scotland I guess)

    The main oppositions vote share seems to fall somewhere between 10 and 20% of its’ consistent high point which I think would be 43% on YG for Labour this parliament. Lower on ICM whose adjustments moderate the fall in Governing parties VI with a consequential fall in Lab VI so lower fall occurs for the opositron from their polls.

    In this conext I reckon Labour are on course for between 35 and 37% at the GE and which end of that range they hit wil determine the outcome as well as how well the LDs can hold off the Tories in LD/Tory marginals.