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. @ Paul Croft


    No: that’s all hot air too.
    Nah, the above was your best post ever; I literally almost fell off my chair laughing at the speed & scope of the above witticism!

  2. Amber Star

    Don’t you know what irony is.

  3. PaulCroft: 09:46: Mike in Gateshead emails: Double dip. Treble dip. Have any of you people ever ventured north of the Watford Gap? Here in the north east we’re still in the first one

    …..Very good from BBC

    Another strong argument for regional devolution.

    A bit silly of them to vote against it.

  4. @Steve2 – “Re the GDP figures, resurrect the floating corpse that is the construction sector and we have very respectable growth.”

    I could say something similarly irrelevant like ‘if the service sector was flat lining we would have -0.5% growth’. It hasn’t, so we don’t, so it’s one of those slightly dafter responses to actual numbers, which we can file in the drawer marked ‘If The Numbers Were Different, They Would Be Different’.

  5. @ RogerRebel

    Don’t you know what irony is.
    No, but I plan to write a song about it & make loads of money when it’s a huge hit!

    Actually, my apologies, I think I get it now. Your point was: Labour may, after a convoluted process, lose some funding if they tack too far to the right; the Conservatives have ALREADY lost a big chunk of theirs, ostensibly for exactly that reason!

  6. @ Alec

    ‘If The Numbers Were Different, They Would Be Different’.
    LOL! As a business analyst, I can confirm the above is a frequent reaction to both actual numbers & forecast trends extrapolated from past actuals.

  7. Alec, what an unnecessarily churlish response.

    The point is obviously that a moribund construction sector, whose performance is well-below everyone elses, is a primary reason for a poor national aggregate.

    Not that I’d expect you to agree with anything that might possibly be even slightly pro current economic policy.

  8. @Steve2 – last quarter, some people were saying the numbers were only bad because of oil. This quarter, oil and gas is healthy, but those same people aren’t saying ‘it’s only good because of oil…’

    Everything is always up and down – it’s the aggregate that matters. You can’t pick and choose.

  9. Why are people assuming disassociating their union from Labour is an idea of McCluskey’s origin, and not one that’s largely coming from the by now fed-up grassroots?


    Likewise, Ed Miliband’s response to Blair, was slightly fawning – “I take Blair very very seriously, but we’re moving on”, whereas McCluskey’s comments were termed “morally reprehensible” and responded much more viciously. That speaks more to which side Miliband’s on, to my mind.


    Yes, it’s always popular to slap down the labour movement – although largely with the media barons that your New Labour courted and were dictated to. Foot never made a ‘mistake’, he just remembered what the party was set up for.

  10. How is a moribund construction sector pro-current economic policy?

  11. Is a struggling manufacturing sector a positive too?

  12. Unless you are saying it could be even worse. I suppose that’s a positive. ..

  13. Another 39% with Yougov – signs of Labour’s support drifting away? They’ve been consistently in the forties since 2011 – mid to low, and then more recently low, and now struggling to stay in there. Certainly seems a trend downwards, in any case.

  14. Craig

    But the lead is up 1% MOE old boy

  15. The latest construction sector data shows what a drag it continues to be on economic growth. Surely it’s time GO and the government invested more (and more quickly) in this sector???

  16. AmbivalentSupporter

    Surely not Lend to Spend

  17. Looking at the latest YOUGOV tables, Lab are level at 60+ and ahead everywhere else.

    They have lost support in the rest of the South…but so have the Tories.

    I wouldn’t be too pleased with this poll if I was a Con. it looks like Lab has slipped in the Tory heartlands but Con haven’t gained there.

  18. @RogelRebel,

    Either by borrowing or by re-balancing the books and taking from elsewhere.

  19. @Roger Rebel

    Used to be that Lab could outweigh or match Con + UKIP to stave off any election unwinding/alliances; your falling support’s ended that. 8% lead is exactly what the UKIP figures grown from 2010 election, funnily enough.

  20. @ Craig

    Used to be that Lab could outweigh or match Con + UKIP to stave off any election unwinding/alliances; your falling support’s ended that.
    It hasn’t ended under 1st past the post. UKIP’s rise possibly helps Labour, electorally speaking.

  21. @ Craig

    Where are you getting the “morally” from? I think “reprehensible” was used on its own & was almost an acceptable response. The “disloyal” went too far, IMO.

  22. Amber

    Is it possible to literally “nearly” do something?

    Actually I love the regular mis-use of “literally”.


    I was literally dead on my feet…… etc etc

  23. @Amber

    That’s what I meant by staving off unwinding – if the UKIP momentum unwinds back to the Conservatives on mass, or Tories go into the election with an alliance with UKIP, knowing they’d be massacred by FPTP if they didn’t, then FPTP is no help.

    You’re right – I misremembered the ‘morally’, but ‘reprehensible’ is enough to demonstrate the difference between the two responses – the day that’s used to respond to the Blairite comments…

    Actually, having gone back and re-read it – it also accuses him of dividing the party (lord knows there’s none of that when Blairites repeatedly pressure Labour to be ‘brave’ and tackle/ignore their own supporters – funnily enough the only time you’ll ever see New Labour being ‘brave’) and repeating divisiveness that lost Labour the elections in the 80’s (there’s definitely been no divisiveness since Blair in Labour, and this isn’t just a crude attempt to again associate criticism from the Left with electoral failure of the 80’s).

    Many of the Blairite commentators I’ve talked about above would’ve give exactly the same response as that ‘spokesperson’.

  24. In 1997 Labour inherited a deficit of 3.9% of GDP (not a balanced budget) and by 2008 it had fallen to 2.1%. UK debt was actually the lowest in the G7 major economies. During this period debt fell t from 42% in 1997 to 35% at the start of the banking crisis.

    Only mentioning it because I am getting heartily sick and tired of hearing Osborne or Alexander or any of an assorted bunch of MP’s constantly going on about the debt they inherited.

  25. @ Paul Croft

    Interesting; I think it is possible to almost literally fall off my chair because I had to rebalance myself to avoid doing so. Had I almost fallen off my chair, figuratively speaking, at no time would I have had to make a physical adjustment to avoid falling to the actual floor.

    I agree with you about ‘other people’ misusing “literally” though. ;-)

  26. @ Steve



    should put things in a decent light. Be sure to see the “Debt including financial sector intervention” and “UK Budget Deficit” sections, and the graphs.

  27. @ Craig

    That’s what I meant by staving off unwinding…
    Sorry, I appear to be having difficulty with double negatives (& irony) today!

  28. @Amber

    Not to worry, feeling really groggy myself!

  29. Big relief for the Government on the GDP figures. Not that +0.3 is so much better than -0.3, but if there had been a triple dip the headlines coming into the local elections would have been brutal. They have a bit of space to maneuver now.


    “My understanding is that Lord Ashcroft has cut his donations considerably since the Party has ‘tacked right’”

    That’s a slight mischaracterisation of his position- basically he’s cut his donations since the Party tacked toward 30% VI. Ashcroft has been a vehement critic of most of their more lefty, detoxifying policies like gay marriage. It’s not the rightward lurch that’s putting him off (although he wasn’t put off by the hoodie hugging before 2010 either). As far as I can make out, he just doesn’t want to throw away money backing a loser.


    “Foot never made a ‘mistake’, he just remembered what the party was set up for.”

    The party was set up to guarantee the labour movement representation in Parliament, and by that metric I wouldn’t exactly call 27.6% of the vote a triumph.

  30. Good figures today, I think it’s churlish to look for the negative. I heard on the radio economists were generally predicting between -0.2 and +0.1, so whilst +0.3 isn’t boom time, it’s better than we all thought, so lets at least take it at that.

  31. Spearmint – “Ashcroft has been a vehement critic of most of their more lefty, detoxifying policies like gay marriage.”

    He really hasn’t, in fact, he’s attempted to be resolutely neutral on it:


    And more generally, he’s argued in favour of detoxifying the party (his study of the 2005 election, Smell the Coffee, was “key text” for it, as it were). An awful of lot of stuff gets written about what Lord Ashcroft thinks, and as far as I can tell an awful lot of it is complete and total nonsense.

  32. Amber

    Glad you didn’t fall off: you might have sued me for being so witty. I think turk has allready taken legal advice on this actually.

  33. Rich

    Good figures today, I think it’s churlish to look for the negative.

    And I think it’s opportunistic to look for the positive.

  34. @Spearmint

    It wasn’t, but then that was a period of cataclysm and the ever dominant Right of the party couldn’t stand losing*. At least there was some opposition, and some representation – a workers party to vote for under Foot. Now there is neither.

    *Well New Labour shown us exactly what we get when they do: more or less the same as Thatcher, with a few tweaks, and what does it get: Brown’s 29.7% and a legacy of betrayal and failure.

  35. Craig – think you are right about most of the post 2010 UKIP unwinding but they will mosdt probably get more 5% perhaps.

    The remaining 6% will break most for Cons with a 4% gain over lab perhaps so the ‘real’ Labour lead could be said to be 4% ish.

    Postage included re DKs – you are right of course and some analysis by those better able would be good.
    This explaims why ICM and YG tend to converage as the GE gets closer as the WV/DKs that ICM reallocate do as they predict; for Lab or Cons more so than for LDs.

    Linking the 2 some UKIP will be people who never voted last time with respondents choosing the flavour of the month like they did after the first debate and ‘Cleggmmania. The apparent turnout increase suppresses of course the others 3s VI when in reality many of these won’t vote in the end.

    Again ICM adjust more for this than YG I think.

  36. Political strategies at the moment?

    Labour: 35% + hope something better will happen to the economy after the election.
    Tories: 35% + Point & laugh at Labour’s hope that something better will turn up after the election.
    LibDem: 15% + fingers crossed that Labour don’t get more than that 35% so there’ll be another coalition involving the LD.
    UKIP: We don’t believe in targets or strategies (that’s too New Labour, thank you so very much). We’re all just in it because we’ve been activists in the Tory Party for donkey’s years & we never got selected to be candidates for anything until we moved to UKIP!

  37. SNP Amber?

  38. Amber Star

    UKIP: We don’t believe in targets or strategies (that’s too New Labour, thank you so very much). We’re all just in it because we’ve been activists in the Tory Party for donkey’s years & we never got selected to be candidates for anything until we moved to UKIP!

    Spot on

  39. @ JimJam

    SNP strategy – more than 6 MPs in Westminster but tell nobody!!! because we’re pretending that Scotland will have voted for independence in 2014. ;-)

  40. Paulcroft

    I make it a policy never to sue the feeble minded, no money in it..

  41. @ Turk


  42. Turk
    I don’t get your logic. Surely a feeble minded rich person is far better a writ target than an impecunious clever dick?

  43. Did someone steal their toys?

  44. Amber
    Miaow surely? (spelling monitor).

    IS there a guide to average real disposable income stats.

    I opined earlier that it’s not much good having a supposedly greater income if one’s basket of purchases increase in cost more than the supposed increase.

    Is Mr and Mrs Average genuinely better off now than in June 2010?

  45. Howard,

    I think Turk is assuming that most people who are feeble-minded are unlikely to be asset-rich. Mind you, I can think of a few cases where this is far from true…..

  46. Meow is a variant spelling of miaow. Both are acceptable.

  47. @ Howard

    It’s an American cat?

  48. @ Ambivalent

    Quick, hide… or Paul will make you spelling monitor :-)

  49. Amber,


  50. @Amberstar – you forgot the Greens;

    Have a puff on this and [email protected] the percentages

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