There is normally relatively little polling for local elections for a variety of reasons, not least the uneven pattern of contestation across the the country. However ComRes have done one, with interesting topline figures. Local voting intention in those areas with local elections on Thursday stands at CON 31%, LAB 24%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 22%.

Now, we need to make a number of important caveats in understanding this:

It is NOT comparable with normal voting intention polls. It only covers the areas with local elections on Thursday, which are most rural Conservative shires and doesn’t include any Metropolitan counties… hence the fact the Conservatives are ahead. Neither is it comparable with the shares of the local election vote that the BBC and Rallings and Thrasher will calculate (the “Projected National Share” and “Equivalent National Vote”). These are both projections on what support would be across the whole country, not just where local elections are happening.

To understand the figures we need to know the votes last time round, which including the two councils (Durham and Northumberland) that actually last voted in 2008 were Con 44%, Lab 13%, LDem 25%, UKIP 5% – so the changes are Con down 13, Lab up 11, Lib Dem down 13, UKIP up 17. This suggests considerable bigger swings than Rallings and Thrasher have predicted. By my estimates it would produce getting on for 500 Conservative losses and 250 UKIP gains, if it is giving an accurate picture… and local election predictions are not something that there is much track record for. We shall see

UPDATE: Peter Kellner and I have been pondering the number of UKIP seat gains if they do get 22% (the joys of the YouGov office on a morning before an election!) and how on earth you model gains when they are tripling the number of seats they contest. It’s very difficult, but I suspect I have overestimated it a bit… though even assuming a higher base level of support in the areas they didn’t contest in 2009 (and therefore a lower swing in the seats they did) if they do get 22% they should still be looking at well over 100 seats. Suffice to say, how many seats UKIP will get on Thursday is still incredibly hard to predict.

376 Responses to “ComRes poll on local elections.”

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  1. Re. alphabet discrimination – I read a New Scientist article on this years ago which said it was a significant problem in all manner of fields! They called it ‘lexism’.

  2. Morning everyone – well what an interesting Yougov poll this morning.
    Labour lead narrows to just 6 points – obviously could change back again or swing backwards and forwards over the weeks ahead but still interesting!
    The bulk of the electorate don’t really seem to be that angry with the Government when you consider things.
    I think some people are a little shocked that the Coalition Government is polling 30-33% at this point in the cycle when some would probably expect Labour to be 15 points ahead on say 40-42% and Conservatives on 25-28%.
    I think if this continues Labour will be a bit miffed and the Tories content for now no matter what the result of these County Elections – 2 years is still a long time in Politics.

  3. A bunch of …

    (struggles with comment policy)

    …old Etonians.

    Labour’s not full of public educated then!

  4. Who was the last major party leader who had a surname in the second half of the alphabet? John Smith?

  5. @ STEVE

    “If You haven’t voted yet might I suggest the following excellent reasons”

    11. If you live in Clacton East you can vote for a fellow contributor to this site! That’s got to be worth it.

    @ SHEVII

    “I thought Labour stood everywhere?”

    There’s two seats in Essex we’re not standing.

  6. It’s quite a sad fact that alphabet and having a foreign sounding name almost always has an impact on voting- anything between 50 and 100 votes for locals I would guess.

  7. I will be standing next time as soon as I have changed my name to Aardvark!

  8. The general consensus appears to be that the reduced Labour leads are due to Labour losing a point or two after Eastleigh and a couple of points up for the Tories after the Thatcher funeral/benefits change etc (whichever your favourite theory is!)

    The reason for the post-Eastleigh Labour drop interests me, I can’t see coming 4th would suddenly persuade Labour voters that Labour have it all wrong, so why the drop? The most likely explanation to me is that this damaged the notion that Labour are in contention pretty much everywhere, leading to those anti-Tory voters in seats where Labour are third or fourth to conclude a vote for Labour is once again a waste of time and reconsider their options. Some might have returned to LD (possibly reluctantly), some defect to UKIP as best placed to kick the Tories, or perhaps decide to vote for the minor party closest to their political viewpoint.

    As such, the drop in Labour support is probably not much of an issue electorally – they are losing support in seats they had no chance of winning anyway. Of course it remains important politically, feeding into a narrative of the Labour lead falling, boosting Tory morale and damaging that of Labour.

    The converse would also be true – should the local elections be as good for Labour as some are predicting, left leaning voters in difficult seats for Labour might see them as competitive again and change their VI back to Labour leading to a boost. But since the seats are still beyond Labour, the boost will also be unimportant electorally, but still important politically in terms of narrative and morale.

    We could do with a marginal constituency poll to see if Labour VI has held up there, suggesting the drop is in seats they have no chance of winning – is anyone aware of such a poll post Eastleigh?

  9. I have seen 2 lib dems and 1 labour with the same name standing against one another, they all got virtually the same votes, but in the end 1 labour and 1 lib dem got elected. Bet people just ticked two next to each other

  10. @ thegreeny – Ashcroft did marginal polling towards the end of March. You can find the data on his website under the marginals tab.
    I don’t think the Eastleigh result a Labour drop as much as Labour tactical voting. If I recall, their VI did not drop much thereafter. The more recent drop is, I consider, due to a number of factors.
    It will be very interesting to see what happens in South Shields today. There is rumour of a UKIP surge.

  11. Should anything be read into the fact that this poll showing a big surge in support for the anti-gay-marriage UKIP was conducted for the anti-gay-marriage group C4M? Or is that a coincidence?

  12. Expect massive UKIP gains today.

    I am out to vote later….will probably vote UKIP (as a protest vote)….will not vote for them in 2015, I don’t expect….but what better way to send out a message to the three main parties!

  13. AS
    Depends what message you want to send!

  14. @AS – I agree with Steve – just what message are you sending to the three main parties and in particular the one you normally support?

  15. AmbivalentSupporter

    It will be very interesting to see what happens in South Shields today. There is rumour of a UKIP surge.

    Is it one you started?

  16. AmbivalentSupporter

    It will be very interesting to see what happens in Clacton East today. There is rumour of a Labour surge.

    Do you know anything about this?

  17. Agree south shields will be very interesting.

    I will vote Ind. As im sick to death of the main 3 parties(only 4 standing) Haven’t heard a peep from my MP since she was elected, she isn’t even from my region! They should use local candidates

  18. “It will be very interesting to see what happens in South Shields today. There is rumour of a UKIP surge.

    Is it one you started?”

    Nope, sadly not. I live in East Herts, you see. The Tory councillor yesterday did say that the council is in danger of turning Lib/NOC, but sounds very unlikely IMO.

  19. A handy check list from Con Home.

    Don’t know haw objective/subjective it is ??

    “On this election day, here’s an encapsulation of Harry Phibbs’s guide to how measure success or failure for the main parties.


    Very good result: Retaining even one of the four counties they gained last time – Staffordshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

    Good result: Losing those four, but nothing else.

    Bad result: Losing control of Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire, Suffolk, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.

    Very good result: Gaining overall control in Cumbria and Warwickshire. Or becoming the largest party in Northamptonshire. Winning enough seats in Gloucestershire or Oxfordshire to deny the Conservatives overall control.

    Good result: Gaining Staffordshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire abd Nottinghamshire. Emerging as the largest party in Cumbria and Warwickshire. Winning the contests for directly elected Mayor in Doncaster and North Tyneside.

    Bad result: Not winning any of the above.

    Liberal Democrats

    Very good result: Winning a single one of the 37 councils and mayoralties up for election: their best bet is Cornwall.

    Good result: Holding their own in terms of numbers of councillors after heavy losses last year and the year before.

    Bad result: The Rallings and Thrasher projections from council by-elections imply a loss of 130 seats. If they do much worse – say lose half their seats and/or come in behind UKIP then that really will be a pretty dismal night for them.


    Very good result: A very good result would be gains of over 200. If we see this, combined with huge losses for the Lib Dems, we could see more UKIP councillors elected than Lib Dems. If that happened then the cliches would be fair. We will be in a four party system.

    Good result: Gains of over 100 would mean we could dust down cliches about “breaking the mould”. Certainly gains on that scale could be regarded by the Party as a good result.

    Bad result: Given the high expectations I think that fewer than, say, 50 gains would be a disappointing result for them.”

  20. I expect Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP will gain some seats here, though. The Tories currently have 54 of the 77 seats, and Labour just 3 (in Hertfordshire as a whole). I expect this to change. The Tories got over 50% of the vote here at the last GE in 2010 (in East Herts), so it should be interesting to see how much their vote implodes.

  21. @Colin – “A handy check list from Con Home.

    Don’t know haw objective/subjective it is ??”

    I think the answer to that question comes from the bit where you say ‘a handy check list from Con Home’.

  22. ALEC

    So which assessments are overly subjective/biased…….and what would your alternative be?

  23. Labour will do well in the midlands, as UKIP will split the vote. Dib dems will do bad in the midlands too. Which means a good day for labour.

    The south could turn out to be disappointing for Labour. Tory vs lib dems there will be interesting.

    The politicians will all claim the other parties should have done better, whist claiming a “great victory” or ” it could have been worse” “mid term serving party” and all that!

    My guess a bit of a Lab and Con stale mate, lib dems do bad.

  24. Durham might be an interesting one to watch. It’s the only Labour held authority voting today, which says something about local politics up here, but Labour got squeezed a little in 2008, with I recall some minor Tory gains and movement to the Lib Dems in less rural parts of the county.

    I’m aware of some heavy street fighting between Lab and Lib Dems in a number of wards, and I would imagine that Lab will expect some seats to return.

    Greens have also now established a presence in the county for the first time, with a few wards having candidates. Also, this is the first time I’ve seen UKIP candidates in some places, most notably the more Tory area in the west of the county.

    Durham will almost certainly see some Labour gains, and they will certainly retain the council, but the movement below the headlines will be quite interesting.


    The Coalition Government isn’t polling at 30-33%; the Conservative party is. As I said above the absence of any recent bad news or cock-ups and the nice weather probably have an effect. Whether Labour should be further ahead is arguable; it is only 3 years since a disastrous defeat. Comparisons with the Brown and Major governments are misleading as these were exhausted administrations just waiting for the end.

  26. @Colin,

    There is no unbiased assessment, nor any alternative. Each party inevitably will try to manage expectations, including their supporters.

    I just try to use my own judgement. Local elections do not predict future GE results, or necessarily mean too much in themselves, but like AW has said they do have a massive affect on party morale and (potentially) policy direction.

  27. SUE

    @”I will vote Ind. As im sick to death of the main 3 parties”

    THere are an increasing number of Ind. candidates standing I believe.

    I think there is a strong case for removing Party affiliation & influence entirely from Local Politics.

    But I suppose you would never stop covert affiliation-and the local party base for GEs would be compromised.

  28. I wonder what the chances of Hertfordshire turning Lib/NOC is? Next to zero, I would guess – though it was under NOC in the 1990s and at various points in the 1970s and 1980s.

  29. AMBI

    Of course-which is why I asked the question -does anyone have a different check list.

    I don’t , because I don’t have the knowledge or data.

    But just saying-that’s biased because x said it, without suggesting an alternative is merely partisan bias & doesn’t contribute anything.

  30. I am interested to see if Labour’s new strategy will work. That is focussing on ‘the ground game’ and social media. I am assuming they have it in place and are giving it a trial run at these elections.

    If it works then in the seats that Labour win there should be a bigger Labour swing and a higher turnout.

    So tomorrow we wll have actual results to pour over and analyse. yippeee!

  31. @Colin,

    For what it’s worth, I think that any such checklist may (inevitably) be accused of bias by others, but if it adds to discussion on here and elsewhere, I don’t see a problem with it at all.

    Like yourself, I’m also up for discussion/consideration of any alternatives.

  32. Have been busy elsewhere for a bit and have just returned to see this poll……

    Oh My God…..

    Surely this cannot be true? If so, and it is a big if, all the Conservative nudging-up over the past few weeks will seem as nothing…..

    if UKIP do perform as this poll suggests today will the Conservatives go into meltdown? Or, will they develop a bunker-survivor instinct and behave themselves for fear of a complete meltdown if they don’t?

    We will only know by Friday lunchtime…..

    at last, after months of sameness boredom, something is potentially afoot……

  33. “if UKIP do perform as this poll suggests today will the Conservatives go into meltdown? Or, will they develop a bunker-survivor instinct and behave themselves for fear of a complete meltdown if they don’t?”

    There’s no doubting that it would be a major blow to Tory morale, but I think ‘meltdown’ would be pushing it IMO.

  34. I think it’s important to vote. For nearly 7 years I lived in a Labour controlled council, and in 5 of those years council tax went up by 5%, or well over double the rate of inflation over the entire period. I guess the Labour supporters would say that maybe service improved, I couldn’t say. But having lived in a Conservative controlled council for over 3 years, I think there is something to be said for a tight control of finances and frozen rates in difficult times (granted others would like higher spending & services, so there is a choice).

    I guess this is perhaps the balance people need to weigh up when they vote at a council level. (DC spoke on this very difference in Con/Lab council spending in his speech yesterday with a few very interesting examples)

  35. Rich
    You should stop writing these these hugely pro Labour postings, it’s biased, you see. :-)

  36. Colin

    But just saying-that’s biased because x said it, without suggesting an alternative is merely partisan bias & doesn’t contribute anything.

    It may be because we had Baroness Warsi telling us last year that if Labour did not win 200………no 300…………….no 400 …………no 700 seat then we had failed.

  37. As a Durham resident,I can tell you that the most interesting bit of the election will be who has a majority in the wards of the former City of Durham. Labour will almost certainly keep control of the county, but there’s been a few eyebrows raised over the Durham mayorality. The council leader Simon Henig wants that role merged with his. This has gone down pretty badly in Durham City and I think all the other parties are opposing this idea.

    The Mayor of Durham is elected by the councillors covering the former City of Durham local authority area. If Labour gets a majority, they could, in theory, do this. If they don’t, it won’t happen.

    This is probably of little interest to anyone outside County Durham, but it’s an interesting power struggle for those of us who live here.

    (For the record, I ended up voting Lib Dem on a stop Labour ticket. I’m still likely to vote Labour at the next general election, but I think the ruling Labour group on the city council is getting too big for its boots and needs keeping in check.)

  38. Anyone who votes for a party on the extreme end of a political ideology just so they can be seen to be protesting against the mainstream parties clearly isn’t a student of history.

    Spoil your vote if you must but don’t cast your vote for any party whose policies you don’t agree.

  39. In the Guardian they have a swingometer with..


    Fewer than 310 loses Champagne Night
    310-350 Happy Night
    350+ Middling Night
    500+ Twitching Night
    800+ Nervy Night

    I think this is being kind to the Cons but it is a measure for tomorrow

  40. News from the front: “Voting is steady”. That’s the reply I got from every one of the six polling stations in my division.

    Rogerrebel: “It will be very interesting to see what happens in Clacton East today. There is rumour of a Labour surge.” Absolutely true. The vote is set to go up from 9% last time to 10% this time.

  41. Cutting through the usual party political expectation management that always presages the May local elections (“Labour will have failed if……..” etc), I think this year’s round of elections, taking place as they do in mainly Tory electoral heartlands, have the capacity to wound Conservative morale more acutely than any other party. In that sense, this is a big day for UKIP and the perfect opportunity for them to prove that they’re on the way to their stated ambition; to more or less destroy the Conservative Party and then supplant them as the electorate’s go-to centre right party of choice. If, as is possible, they corrode the Tory vote in their heartlands to such an extent that they unseat Tory councillors directly, or let in other party’s candidates, then there will be utter panic in Tory ranks. I’m sensing that the corrosion doesn’t just apply to voters and that ex-Tory foot-soldiers, members and sponsors are seeping UKIP’s way and if that process continues, with high profile defections adding spice and melodrama along the way, then the Tories are in mortal danger. The danger that UKIP poses to Labour and the Lib Dems is not on this level of seriousness at all.

    Clegg has apparently expressed concern that the coalition is being undermined by Cameron’s attempt to head off the UKIP threat by tacking right, and this is where I see the lose/lose situation looming into view for the Tories. How do they win back UKIP voters and not lose some of their salmon-pink converts from 2010?

    A political and electoral circle that can’t be squared, perhaps? The results from today’s elections will provide very interesting data on how this UKIP threat is developing but, as Anthony has pointed out, raw election results are of rather less significance than the potential wounds to self-belief and morale that they can inflict.

  42. Howard

    That’s not biased AW as not moderated it.

  43. @howard,

    My gf has just voted Liberal. :-)


    there are rather a lot of subtle anti conservative posts from the usual suspects. My point was factual, not partisan, I clearly said many people believe in higher taxation and higher spending, it’s a choice.

  44. That Con Home guide is wobbly from the start! Somerset was a Conservative gain from Lib Dem last time.

  45. “there are rather a lot of subtle anti conservative posts from the usual suspects.”

    How dare you accuse me of subtlety. Straightforward anti-Tory, that’s me.

  46. I think this is going to be the hardest local elections in years to translate into general election prospects. We know from experience what projected national share of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dems means in practice for the next Westminster election, but if the story of tomorrow is indeed a UKIP surge at the expense of the Conservatives, that is without precedent. It will be extremely difficult to predict how this might affect the following election.

    Probably the disaster scenario for the Tories tomorrow is not how many seats they lose to UKIP but how stupidly they react to it. The Lib Dems, in my opinion, have done a magnificent job holding their nerve against two years of dire results. The Tories’ over-reaction to UKIP successes so far, however, really concerns we.

    Labour would probably have secured some sort of Labour-led government in 2010 had they not spent most of the previous two years in-fighting to self-destruction. I fear the Conservatives are about to make the same mistake now.

  47. @Norbold

    “News from the front: “Voting is steady”.”

    At my local polling station that usually means they saw a voter about half an hour go!! lol

  48. @ chris Neville,

    This was the point I was making before. People may vote for increased spending, and that’s fine, but they want to see better services, not more perks for those in office. I genuinely believed DC when he said he wants to see this from all councils.

    @nickp, lol. A least you are honest!

  49. C N-S,

    I think you have absolutely hit the nail on the head. Everyone knows that the Cons will lose a shed-load of seats – it would frankly be a bit weird under the circumstances if any party in power didn’t. But they need to be quite a bit more grown up about their reaction to UKIP than they have been in general terms recently.

  50. @Chris Neville Smith

    “The Tories’ over-reaction to UKIP successes so far, however, really concerns we.
    Labour would probably have secured some sort of Labour-led government in 2010 had they not spent most of the previous two years in-fighting to self-destruction. I fear the Conservatives are about to make the same mistake now.”

    If, as you suggested in an earlier post, you’ll probably vote Labour at the next election why are you “concerned” and “fearful” about the Conservatives making mistakes in their reaction to UKIP success? Wouldn’t their “mistakes” make it more likely that Labour would win?

    Of course I’m presuming that your vote for Labour in 2015 will be based on you wanting them to form a Government. It would be strange to cast a vote in a General Election for a party you didn’t want to win.

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