Usual caveats apply

Survation have put out a new poll, the topline voting intention figures are CON 24%(-5), LAB 35%(-1), LD 11%(-1), UKIP 22%(+6). The 22% for UKIP is the first poll to show them breaking the twenty percent mark.

In many ways the high UKIP score here shouldn’t come as a surprise, for methodological reasons Survation tend to show the highest levels of UKIP support so if ICM have them at 18% and ComRes at 19% I would have expected Survation to have them in the low twenties. Striking it may be, but the increase in UKIP support is actually in line with what weve seen elsewhere, just using a method that is kinder to UKIP.

More interesting is the drop in Tory support, down five points on Survation’s poll in April. The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday so at least partially after the “swivel eyed loon” story broke (it came out in Saturday’s papers, so broke about 10pm on Friday night). All the usual caveats I apply to any poll showing sharp or unusual results apply. Sure, it might indicate a shift in support, but just as likely its a blip – wait to see if it is reflected in any other polling. As Twyman’s Law of market research says “anything surprising or interesting is probably wrong”.

Two further comments, I’ve written before about people making the error of looking at the changes in a poll over a month and assuming that events in the last few days are the cause. Survation’s last poll was at the end of April before the local elections, so changes are just as likely to be down to the local elections and the Conservative infighting over Europe as anything more recent.

Secondly there is a tendency for the media and the denizens of Twitter to get all excited about unusual polls that give newsworthy stories when this is, of course, the exact opposite of what you should do if you actually want to understand public opinion. The correct approach is to look at the broad underlying trend and ignore the odd looking polls, the media normally do the opposite. The trend is that UKIP support has jumped substantially following their local election success, and that the Labour lead has been narrowing. The Conservative figure here may yet suggest a new direction, but let’s wait and see.


277 Responses to “Usual caveats apply”

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  1. @KeithP,

    Coming a few days after the Ipsos Mori poll, I am not all that scared for the Tories.

    This is an exceptional set of figures, as what that poll.

    Exceptional + Bad For Tories = Very Important
    Exceptional + Bad For Labour = Clearly a freak poll with methodological deficiencies.

    Today’s YG is about “normal”, suggestion nothing all that significant is going on.

    It seems however many caveats AW employs, and however much experience of polling we have, the same prism reflects our interpretation of the numbers.

    “New highs” and “new lows” are of course in themselves newsworthy, as moving the edges of MOE suggests there has been a change. But they are still the edges of MOE, not the gospel truth.

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  2. The story is that they were thinking about clegg being pushed out but I think it shows how much some Tories would like to goven alone and it strikes me that it was a meeting of wolves and one sheep, the sheep being DC

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  3. @ Howard,

    Oh, I agree with you the Tory speculation is daft- looks like a classic case of projection to me. It’s suicide for anyone to break the coalition agreement before autumn 2014 at the earliest, but only one party has backbenchers mad enough not to understand that.

    Do you think Clegg will lead the Lib Dems into the next election? A deposition in late 2014 doesn’t seem totally out of the question to me. It’s no good doing it earlier because his successor would get tainted too, but his personal ratings are so abysmal, he’s got to be a drag on the party to some extent. And unlike the Tories you do have viable replacements.

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  4. Who would you suggest could lead the Liberal Democrats?

    Charles Kennedy was good at it but he’s now too tainted by controversy, Danny Alexander are not well-liked by the voters for being Orange Bookers and Simon Hughes is often a subject of fun.

    The Liberals/Liberal Democrats have often done well on the back of a very charismatic or memorable leader – Kennedy, Ashdown, Steel and Thorpe all helped their party’s popularity, but now that Clegg is toxic it seems it’ll be difficult to replace him.

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  5. Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, that is.

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  6. Spearmint

    It could be that at least one Tory cabinet minister is mad enough but I agree that to break things up now would be suicide

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  7. Mr nameless

    Tim farron

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  8. I like Tim Farron for it. Vince strikes me as too old and too tainted/discredited by the coalition, although I know he’s pretty popular within the party.

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  9. Or Ed Davey, maybe? He’s a bit Orange Book but then half the SLF people have left the party by now.

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  10. The Telegraph piece is interesting because of what it reveals not about the Lib Dems but about the Cameroons. They are clearly floating this piece of complete nonsense to try to tell us “Look it’s other people with a leadership crisis, not us. Honest”. There may also be the hidden insinuation that if Cameron goes, Clegg and co will bale out and lots of Tory MPs will find themselves looking for work.

    It’s the Lobby equivalent of running around shouting “Don’t panic!”.

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  11. Spearmint

    What do I know? (While paying tribute to Ken’s hunches, just because he and I can make money does not say that we can predict political ‘events’).

    My hunch is that Clegg will not be dumped. If LD is facing a Labour landslide (and it is) the brave ‘we kept to the Agreement, we can be trusted in Coalition, and lessened the income tax taken from the poor’ is just about the only election tactic feasible, as I see it, and Clegg is the personification of that ‘backbone’ selling posture. His support for belt-tightening will actually appeal in the rural seats.

    Despite his poll ratings, I actually think he will do well in the Debates (again). This is going to be another X Factor GE. I suppose he could be very noble, stand down and let Farron lay on the charm and of course the latter carries no baggage (yet).

    The ‘backbone’ stance will go down well in holding onto some of the semi rural seats where Con are second. Other seats where Labour were a close second were of course toast for the LDs, long ago, as things stand, clearly.

    Something like that.

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  12. YouGov tonight
    Con 27
    Lab 38
    LD 10
    UKIP 16

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  13. That is a poll btw not a prediction tweeted by sun politics

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  14. Tories at equal low since 2000

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  15. @ Howard,

    You have a yellow background- doesn’t that make you an authority on all things Lib Dem!?

    More seriously though, I always appreciate your insight. And I suspect you have a much better understanding of the party psyche than I do!

    @ Couper2802,

    Yikes. 27% is, um… not a high number. (Not that 38% is so great either, but it’s not immediately following on a Survation poll where Labour were almost tied with Ukip.) I’m sure it’s just MoE but there’s going to be some panic in Number 10 tonight.

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  16. Unusually low for YouGov – given they’ve been muddling around the mid-high twenties in other polls this could indicate an actual shift, but then again probably just MoE.

    Still, not looking tremendously good for the Tories. Electoral Calculus has seat totals on that poll as CON 213, LAB 380, LIB 31, UKIP 0.

    One problem I have with the Electoral Calculus calculator is that it usually predicts an Other gain from CON in Wyre Forest, because Richard Taylor was the MP there – but I was under the impression he was not going to stand again, so maybe we should always add one MP to the CON figure.

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  17. “Europe faces lost decade, says Mark Carney”

    By Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor6:43PM BST 21 May 2013

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10071951/Europe-faces-lost-decade-says-Mark-Carney.html

    “Mark Carney, the incoming Bank of England Governor, has warned that Europe could face a decade of stagnation unless it takes the kind of bold measures seen in Japan.

    In words that will underline his status as a monetary activist and fuel speculation that he will try to relaunch quantitative easing (QE) when he arrives in the UK, Mr Carney applauded Japan’s “bold policy experiment” to boost dramatically its own QE programme.”

    Osborne sees the IMF tomorrow…

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  18. the interest in this poll lies more in its release by the sun thatn the numbers

    previosuly they only released tory favourable or ukip dramatic

    it is serious confir,ation that the right wing press have had enough of cameron

    i actually feel sorry for him in a way – its an impossible job, as the next incumbent will also discover very quickly

    still….. ne’mind ay?

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  19. I predicted 27/28 for the Cons this morning based on 31 being too high given the splits and the loons. Tomorrow it might go lower. We have been here before in the Major years and that did not end well for the Tories.

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  20. Lowest Cons got in 1992-97 was 18.5% from what I can see. Not quite THAT bad for Cameron, but that’s without a fourth party etc.

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  21. I was thinking about the Sun tweets. Newspapers are published the night before so does that mean the Sun has only been reporting Con good news up till now?

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  22. What if they think that 27% is now “good news”?…

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  23. Carfew

    New thread

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  24. C 2802

    Yeah, that’s been the pattern – only post if they’ve cosed the gap or, more recently, if UKIP were startling.

    I really think this – small though it may seem – but following awful criticism of DC in the sun today, marks a decisive shift.

    No idea what they hope to achieve but I think some on the right detest him so much they’re past caring about consequence.

    ………………which is nice.

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  25. I imagine they will end up with a small, but perfecty formed, miniature version of the 1950′s Tory party.

    As someone who isn’t a great Nick Cegg fan I can’t think of much he has done so badly wrong but have such awful poll ratings. They are going to be really hard to turn around and, if the economy doesn’t improve he will get in the neck from one side for allowing unpopular things to happen and from the swivel party for not giving them a clear run.

    Still. n’e'mind about that an all ay?

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  26. @ Billy Bob

    Just got back from the historic and world famous Palladium. We had quite the party tonight. They haven’t projected the race yet but all the indications are, from the exit polls we’ve had today and the actual results that Eric Garcetti has triumphed and will be the 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles. He’s made history as the first Jewish mayor (and here’s something surprising, all three citywide office holders are Jews…..that’s a first).

    My sister suggested to me recently that Wendy Greuel had effectively channeled the late Margaret Thatcher. Or at least the movie version of her in the Iron Lady. (Well if the Iron Lady had Ed Milliband levels of union support an those unions could write unlimited checks to put out all sorts of trash about her opponnents). But here’s the thing. Maggie Thatcher never had to run against Eric Garcetti. :)

    I’m feeling exhausted (I’ve been up since 4:30 am this morning and worked all day long…..and now it’s 2:30 am) but I’m feeling so exhilarated and I want to celebrate some more. Oh what a great night.

    Now, how’s this for a coalition. This mayor is extremely progressive. His life is like an episode of Portlandia (I’ve never seen the show but I’ve heard stories). When I saw the exit poll showing he had won Republicans (who were breaking massively in our direction in the past few weeks) by a 65%-35% margin, I almost started dancing. Old White Republicans vote. They just do. And they did today and handsomely so for a Prius driving liberal.

    I can say that right now, I LOVE Republicans. LOVE them.

    I think too that this is the first time that Bill Clinton’s revenge trick failed. Makes me glad, very glad. Maybe he’ll reconsider (this is SO beneath him).

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  27. @ Billy Bob

    I am almost as happy as Old Nat was the night of the Scottish Parliamentary elections 2 years ago.

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