On poll movements

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun again showed a Labour lead of seven points – CON 32%, LAB 39, LDEM 11%, UKIP 13% (that’s Tuesday MORNING’S poll, btw, Tuesday evening’s isn’t out yet!). Five of YouGov’s last six polls have shown single figure Labour leads, whereas previously the average Labour had been consistently around 10 or 11 points. Put in the context of the falling Labour leads from ICM, MORI and Opinium it is pretty undeniable that something is afoot.

YouGov’s average figures in the first half of April were CON 31%, LAB 41%, LD 11%, UKIP 11%
The average over those last six polls is CON 32%, LAB 40%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%

So roughly speaking we appear to have had a small increase for the Tories, a slight knock for Labour. At this point we can normally expect lots of speculation about what has caused it… or more typically, lots of people claiming that the thing they personally care deeply about has caused it, the thing they think their party shouldn’t be doing has damaged them, or the thing they think their party should be doing has helped them. Normally such claims don’t bother with evidence.

The harsh truth is that we usually can’t really tell what has caused a movement in the polls. Sometimes there is an obvious event that coincides with a big shift in the polls which, while it doesn’t prove anything, does strongly imply a connection (after all, we can’t be sure that the big drop in Tory support in March last year was definitely due to the budget, but it would be a remarkable co-incidence if it wasn’t!). Other times there are all sorts of plausible explanations.

The most obvious explanations for the current narrowing relate to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. That could impact the polls in terms of lots of positive retrospectives about Thatcher in the media… or could have an indirect effect in the sense that it interupted the normal flow of politics. David Cameron got to spend a week or two looking statesmanlike without the normal dirty business of politics and governing. However one could equally look at other underlying factors, the welfare debate for example, perhaps a generally more focused presentation by the government since Lynton Crosby returned, some figures from the Blair era apparently criticising Ed Miliband. All these things add up.

My own working assumption is still that is it is a Thatcher effect of one sort or another that will fade away, but it really is impossible to know. We shall have to wait and see if it lasts.

UPDATE: The Sun Politics team have tweeted tonight’s results – CON 33%, LAB 40%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%

482 Responses to “On poll movements”

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  1. @PETER BELL………Your son is a warrior, we need more like him, he will obviously deal with the future family responsibilities in the way that we all did, hard work, long hours, eventually he will be rewarded. Too many people want something for nothing, and they want it now.
    I really don’t know what the answer is to the polarisation of Britain, but I do know that it will take leaders of a far higher calibre than those currently peddling their wares, both Left and Right, to change things for the better, long term.

  2. Winter Is Coming..

  3. @Couper2802

    Second CatmanJeff’s belief we in the North would be better served alligning ourselves with Independent Scots.


    Indeed, like your greedy bankers and landlords.

    @Neil A

  4. Latest YouGov / The Sun results 25th April – CON 32%, LAB 40%, LD 11%, UKIP 12%; APP -30

  5. @Couper2802 et al.

    If you want a name for your new country uniting the north of England and Scotland the obvious one is “Northumbria”. The old kingdom included a large part of Scotland.

    If the Picts hadn’t won the the Battle of Nichtansmere (20 May 685) Scotland/Northumbria (capital city Edinburgh) could have become the major power in Britain, and London the provincial capital of a subordinate kingdom. Perhaps not a victory for the Scots to celebrate.

  6. So Mark was guessing. Still, he might be pleased that he put the seal on an annoying evening for a Labour supporter……….

  7. The Financial Times is good today, excellent measured articles on the GDP figures and things like Spain and France unemployment levels.

  8. Today’s Scottish crossbreak might be an outlier:

    Con: 29
    Lab: 30
    Lib: 7
    SNP: 28


  9. @PostageIncluded,

    I’m not sure the Scots would have appreciated being absorbed into the northernmost region of what would have been a larger Anglo-Saxon England…


    It’s King IN The North.

    (Yeah, yeah, I know, get a life Neil…)

  10. Some interesting figures/polling floating about on levels of unsatisfaction in Europe with the Federal structures etc. I guess it’s driven by unemployment, lack of growth etc, but I wonder if this shift is more permanent and might help UKIP?

  11. Morning everyone – my guess was just a bit of fun to liven up a very boring and heavy thread.
    I wasn’t a million miles out though -lol
    At least I got the LD % spot on at 11%
    Labour out by 1% and the only tease was the Conservatives on 34% -lol

  12. @ CRAIG………..The great divide seems to be getting wider, and, in my view, won’t narrow until people start looking forward rather than banging on about old lost battles, Thatcherism, Blairism, been there, done that, now start looking on the bright side of life ! As an ancient, I can advise that life is too short to waste time on, laudator temporis acti. I am inspired by the spirit of those coming here, for whatever reason, and succeeding in making a new life for themselves. I suspect that our new friends would vote Tory…….I could of course be wrong.

  13. I wish I could follow any debate here, but am finding it a little strange. I have not seen any recent non partisan comments, which are not suited to this forum.

    Back to the polling analysis. Looking back over the polls of the last week or so, I am not sure what group of voters have switched their voting intention. There must be some voters out there who have changed their minds for specific reasons and the polling does not give any real clue. It may be the local election campaigning literature, which is affecting the way people view the parties. Therefore once the local elections are out of the way, normal polling may be resumed.

  14. @r huckle,

    Thanks! Very harsh comments on me quoting figures directly from the office for national statistics!


    Lets start again. I do try to be unpartisan, and can support ideas, policies and people from left & right, so your comments are very harsh. I don’t understand the daily mail thing? I read the economist and telegraph, and occasionally the FT. Your last few posts have been quite anti osbourne and Alexander, so they also appear partisan to the layman. Nobody denies its a tough road back to a strong economy. Yesterday’s figures were very moderate, but better than predicted, I think that’s fair. I even said construction needs stimulus and would hugely support this.


  15. I think the Thatcher bounce has levelled out. We will see if it is permanent over the next couple of weeks.

    A few observations: The Cons seem to have cleverly made austerity synonymous with benefit cuts.

    Labour spin and media manipulation is not very good. I know Labour folk mainly did not like Campbell and Mandelson but they could do with them now.

    I am interested in the different electioneering tactics of Cons and Lab, the Cons seem to be going down the traditional route with LC (like the Repubs in the US) with Labour the social media and ground organisation (like the Dems in the US). Maybe we will get some clues as to effectiveness of the Lab technique on Thursday

    My final point is that 39 could be the Lab floor and 33 the Con ceiling.

  16. Hi everyone,
    Some observations from someone who has lurked on this site for some time.
    To be creating yet more jobs in a part of the country where no-one on an ordinary salary can afford to live whilst other parts are crying out for more employment is lunacy.
    Regarding the North of England joining Scotland, I live in Cumbria and here also there is an increasing disconnect with London and the South (and I’m a Londoner originally). We were of course part of Scotland anyway till William Rufus!

  17. @couper

    The Tories have a lot of the press largely sown up and the BBC tend to be quite influenced by the agenda set by the papers. And Labour have issues with getting all their potential vote out. So I guess the ground game makes sense for Labour and they’ve hired that Arnie guy or whatever his name is.

    Blair has lost the plot if he really thinks Labour should stay with the New labour paradigm and Miliband if he has any sense is positioning for the post baby-Boomer era, something which is going to cause real issues for Tories as their policies are rather more babyboomer centric. Like New Labour’s were, but then they were hampered by a split vote.

  18. @ Mark Johnson

    Depends on the viewpoint of the person reading a comment.

    As for floors and ceilings of polling for the parties, I don’t think anyone can know this. Many people think that actually Labour and Tories would be neck and neck, if an election was called today. I think history has shown that polling gaps narrow when an election gets nearers. Focuses peoples minds, on the judgement to make about who they want in government. Also more information becomes available about each parties plans.

    For the Tories to win with a majority, I think some say that they would need to be achieving 40% + of the vote. At the moment, looking ahead to 2015, I would question whether this is possible. At the moment, if you were putting your money on the election outcome, you would probably back a Labour majority or a Lib/Lab coalition.

  19. @mark Johnston

    It is based on when I followed polls in 80s and 90s factoring in the Lab over estimation at that time. Events less than MTs funeral would produce large Con swings sometimes over taking Labour. It was my general impression at the time I have not looked back and tried to correlate.

    So after a 10 day period of very good publicity and media manipulation – without and rebuttal from Labour, Cons maximum is 33 I think it is reasonable to suggest that is a ceiling. Lab floor is based on lab-libs seem to stick with Lab through the hard times.

    What I am not sure about is how good Cons media manipulation campaign will be come the election I suspect very good, so Lab will need to counter that.

    BTW : Media manipulation skills is a good characteristic – ‘If you can’t manipulate the media how can you run a country?’

  20. It is a pity our SNP contributors are not around – looks like Scotland need not go it alone if UKPR is a representative sample. Maybe England should have a vote on whether they want to join us. Smile

  21. It looks as though the narrowing polling gap between the top two has become embedded, my view is that this gap will now continue to narrow as people become confused by the messages coming from Labour, and more positive news from the markets, industry, and commerce, will be attributed to Govt policy. As a working class man myself, I feel slightly uncomfortable about another working class man, Len McClusky, being humiliated and insulted by a millionaire, Left wing intellectual, Ed Miliband, surely the way ahead for Labour is to embrace the working class, rather than reflect the arrogant, ‘Champagne Socialist’, attitude, to working class, ‘oiks’ like Len

  22. @ KINMONT WILLIE……Welcome to our haven of non-partisan polling discussion, please abide by the rules.

  23. @ KEN
    Thank you for your welcome, of course I shall abide by the rules.
    I am not sure that rebutting very pointed criticism by the leader of a major union is humiliating a working man; both Miliband and McClusky are powerful political figures and no doubt expect robust comment when they speak out. Miliband is of course the son of a Jewish refugee and did go to a comprehensive school – not quite born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

  24. @ R HUCKLE………..I think you’re right, at the moment, imo, the next election is Labour’s to lose, were I a Tory strategist I would advocate some focus on the,’ Labour’ / ‘working -class’, disconnect. New Labour was cunning enough to front up its connection with the ‘ workers ‘ by having John Prescott and a few hard-liners, in full view, the current Labour image seems a bit brittle to me, a group of intellectual middle-class PPE types, they need to strengthen up their working-class credentials.

  25. @ KINMONT WILLIE………..Ed Miliband went to the same primary school as Boris Johnson, he is not a working class man, his dad was an intellectual, and very middle class in his behaviour……….we are all descended from refugees of one sort or another, I don’t think that antecedent resonates any more.

  26. Re the North Sooth divide, the simple solution is to move Watford Gap [incuding excellent service station] to Berwick.

    Then EVERYTHING is Sahf of Woffurd Gap and Bob’s-Yer-Uncle – prosperity for all and we can all live in the south – and, as an added bonus, enjoy sunnier weather.

    If only I was PM this country would be great.

  27. @ KINMONT WILLIE……….My comment about you abiding by the rules was mischievous, bearing in mind my own behaviour from time to time.

  28. @CARDFEW

    In the last US presidential election once the Exit Polls were released an Obama win was clear as the Ethnic vote had been underestimated by the polling companies by 1-3% depending on company. This descrepancy in the model is why the Repubs thought they were winning. So, you could say the Dems ground game won it for Obama.

    Labour are very sensible to go down this route and coupled with the use of social media could counteract the mainly Tory conventional media.

    On the floor and ceiling issue I should have factored in MOE so Con ceiling 36% Lab floor 36% – All to play for smile.

  29. @ PAULCROFT……..Whilst admiring your obvious ambition, I would question your integrity of purpose, in the light of your previous positions of responsibility on here, as monitor of a variety of challenges you seem to drift. I would point out that some of my best friends are muso’s.

  30. Ken

    I would have to delegate some of my practising and monitoring – and, come to think of it, most of my PM -ing as well as it seems jolly boring to be honest.

    I shall be the ideas man and just tell people to get on with it.

    My first act will be to abolish footy teams from Manchester and managers with purple noses.

  31. New thread.

  32. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF RED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [Amber didn’t do the !!!!!!!!!!!!!! marks proper.]

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