As you might imagine, a year out from a general election the one question I get asked more than any other is “well, who is going win then?”. It’s a question I try to avoid answering like the plague. The simple answer is we don’t know – polls measure public opinion now, not a year ahead. Assuming no change from the polls now (which would imply a Labour majority) is a naive approach that would have served you poorly in past Parliaments. Assuming public opinion will change in the same way as it has towards the end of previous elections gives you a prediction (hung Parliament, Tories the biggest party), but also gives you huge confidence margins that stretch from a Tory landslide to a comfortable Labour majority.

My answer, therefore, tends to be to give the five questions (and one observation) that I think will decide the next election one way or another…

1) How will the growing economy effect the polls?

The economy has universally been the issue that voters see as most important in polls since the economic crisis began, and as such has been a major influence on voting intention. Economic confidence amongst the general public started rising sharply early in 2013 in all the major trackers, and has continued on a broadly positive trend. This has coincided with movement in public attitudes towards the government’s economic policies. From being neck-and-neck with Labour on the economy last year the Conservatives now have a consistent lead. Last year YouGov’s cuts trackers consistently showed that people thought that their cuts to public spending, while necessary, were actually bad for the economy, now they show more people think the cuts were good for the economy. It is impossible to draw a causal link, but over the same period the average Labour lead has dropped from about 10 points to around about 5 or 6 points.

Whether or not the facts back them up (that is a discussion for some economic blog elsewhere), the recovering economy seems to be having the effect of convincing some the public that the government’s economy policy was right and that the Conservatives can be trusted more on the economy. I am not an economist and this is not an economics blog, so I have no educated view on if the economy will continue to grow, which seems to be what commentators expect. Assuming it does, will that lead to continuing increases in government approval and a bigger lead for them on the economy, and will that translate into increased support? More specifically, while polls show people are more optimistic about the economy as a whole, they are still downbeat about their own personal finances. Will people themselves start to feel better off in the next 14 months, and would that translate into more government support?

A final thing to watch there is how important people say the economy is. There are examples of government’s losing elections despite being ahead on the economy – the classic is 1997. The reason becomes apparent if you look at what issues people told pollsters were important in 1997 – it wasn’t the economy (where the Tories were still holding their own), it was public services like the NHS and education where Labour were a mile ahead. I don’t think 14 months is long enough for this to happen, but if the economy really starts getting better keep an eye on whether people stop telling pollsters it is such an important issue.

2) Will Ed Miliband’s unpopularity matter anymore than it does now?

I find the contrast between Ed Miliband’s ratings and Labour’s support a puzzle. There really is a gulf between them. The basic facts are straightfoward – for an opposition leader whose party has been consistently ahead in the polls for years Ed Miliband’s ratings are horrible. His approval ratings are horrid, down at IDS, Howard and Hague levels; best Prime Minister ratings normally track voting intention pretty closely but Ed Miliband trails behind David Cameron by around 15 points. Polls consistently find that people think Ed Miliband is weak and not up to the job of Prime Minister. This is not just a case of opposition leaders always polling poorly compared to incumbent Prime Ministers – if you compare Ed Miliband’s ratings now to David Cameron’s in opposition Miliband is doing far worse. For example, in 2008 49% thought David Cameron looked like a PM in waiting, only 19% think the same about Ed Miliband now. To claim that Miliband’s ratings are not dire is simply denial. Yet Labour consistently lead in the polls.

Pause for a second, and imagine that we didn’t ask voting intention in polls. Imagine all you had to go on was all the other figures – the polls asking who people would trust more on the economy, who would make the better Prime Minister, who people trust on the issues they currently think are most important. Based on those figures alone the next election looks as if it should be a Conservative walkover…and yet Labour consistently lead in the polls.

The paradox between the underlying figures, which in most areas are increasingly favourable to the Conservatives, and the headline figures, consistently favourable to Labour, are fascinating. They are something I’ve returned to time and again without apology, as I’m sure there’s a key message here. Whatever the result of the next election, it’ll tell the loser something very important. If the Conservatives win, Labour will need to learn about using the goodwill an opposition gets to actually build up the foundations to, well, support their support (I suspect they’d also have to accept that getting a leader who people take seriously as a potential PM really is a prerequisite). If Labour win, the Conservatives should take home the message that leadership, economic competence and being preferred on policies really isn’t enough, that they have a serious issue with how people perceive their party and its values that needs to be addressed (I doubt they would learn that lesson, but there goes).

Given Labour are ahead now, I think the question is whether perceptions of the opposition and the choice of Prime Minister increase in importance as the election approaches and voting intention becomes less of a way of people indicating their opinion of the government, and more a choice between two alternatives. The reason Labour poll badly on so many of these underlying questions is not because Labour voters say they prefer Cameron and the Tories, it’s because many Labour voters simply say don’t know (or none of them). They aren’t convinced Miliband would be a good PM or Labour would run the economy well. Will those people overcome those doubts? Vote Labour regardless? Or do something else?

3) What level of support will UKIP get at the general election

Looking back over UKIP’s performance in the Parliament so far their support has mostly followed a pattern of election successes leading to boosts in the polls, followed by a decline to a new, higher plateau. I think UKIP can fairly comfortably expect a strong performance European elections (personally I would still expect them to come top, but whatever happens it’s going to be a strong showing). This will in turn be followed by another publicity boost and another boost in the Westminster polls. It will vary between different pollsters, as ever, but I think we can expect UKIP in the mid to high teens with the telephone polls and up in the low-twenties with the more favourable online companies.

From then on, it’s probably a case of a decline as we head towards the general election as the focus moves more towards the Con-v-Lab battle. The question is how quickly that support fades and to what extent. Here we are very much in unknown territory. UKIP got up to around 8% in the Westminster polls following the 2009 European elections, but declined to around 3% by the 2010 election; the Greens got up to 8% in the polls following the 1989 European election, but declines to 0.5% of the vote by the 1992 election. This time round is clearly different in terms of the size and scale of UKIP’s support and history provides no good guide. Neither does present polling – people are notoriously bad at answering questions on whether they’ll change their mind or what might make them change their mind. We are flying blind – but given that UKIP support has thus far disproportionately come from people who supported the Conservatives at the last election it is something that would have implications for the level of Tory support come the general election.

4) How resilient will Liberal Democrat incumbents be?

The three points so far have been about levels of overall support at the next election. The fourth is instead about distribution of the vote and therefore the outcome in numbers of MPs. On a uniform swing the Liberal Democrats will face severe losses in the election. It obviously depends just how badly they do, whether they are still in the coalition, whether they recover towards the election and so on, but projections of them losing half their seats are not unusual. However, there is also an expectation that Liberal Democrats will do better than this because of their incumbent MPs’ personal vote. Analysis from past elections and from studies like the PoliticsHome and Lord Ashcroft polls of marginal seats are pretty consistent in showing that Liberal Democrat MPs benefit more from personal votes than politicians from other parties, they handily won the Eastleigh by-election and have managed to hold on to councillors in some (but not all) of the areas where they have MPs. This would point to the Liberal Democrats actually doing better in terms of MPs than the raw numbers would suggest, although don’t expect magic… Lib Dem MPs might outperform the national trend, but it doesn’t render them immune to it. If you’ve lost a third to a half of your support, it has to come from somewhere and would be naive to expect it all to come from places you don’t need it.

As a caveat to this Lib Dem optimism though, look at the Scottish Parliament election in 2011. In that case Lib Dem incumbents didn’t seem to do any better, if anything the Liberal Democrats lost more support in areas where they had the most support to begin with, the very opposite pattern. The cause of this is probably a floor effect (the Lib Dems lost 8% of the vote in the election, but started off with less than 8% in many seats, so by definition more of their lost support had to come in their stronger seats). If the Lib Dems do really badly we may see the same effect at Westminster, if the Lib Dems lose enough support it’s impossible for it all to come from seats where they have hardly any support to begin with! The question is to what degree, if any, Lib Dem MPs can outperform the swing against them.

5) Will Scotland be voting?

Or perhaps more accurately, will the Scottish MPs be sticking around afterwards! All the polls on the Scottish referendum so far have shown the NO campaign in the lead. There has been a slight trend in the direction of yes, but nothing more than that. Personally I would expect the NO campaign to win, but there is obviously a chance they won’t and if so it would massively change our predictions for the next election. Exactly how and when Scottish MPs cease to be members of the House of Commons would need to be decided, but it would obviously disproportionately affect Labour – the Conservatives have only one Scottish MP to lose. More important though would be the wider effect on politics, thus far the Scottish independence referendum is something that has had minimal effect upon politics south of the border. Until January the London based media barely even mentioned it, it’s still something that’s very much a sideshow. If Scotland were to vote yes then then the negotiations in the following 18 months would suddenly become an issue of paramount importance, David Cameron’s position would presumably come under some pressure but either way, nothing would be the same anymore. I don’t expect it to happen, but it would be remiss of me not to include it here.

So, five things that I think will decide the election. I said there was an observation too – remember the impact of the electoral system. This one isn’t a question, we know that the system is more helpful to Labour than the Conservatives and, given the government’s failure to get the boundary review through, will remain that way. Getting ahead in the polls is not enough for the Conservatives – it would probably leave Labour as still the largest party. To get an overall majority the Conservatives need a lead of somewhere in the region of 7 points. We can’t be certain of the exact figures (the double incumbency bonus of MPs newly elected last time round will shift things a bit), but we can be confident that just being ahead isn’t enough for the Tories – they need to be well ahead.


319 Responses to “Five things that will decide the next election”

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  1. “As you might imagine, a year out from a general election the one question I get asked more than any other is “well, who is going win then?””

    I wasn’t aware standards of grammar had dropped so low!

  2. Round here they’ve never been that high to begin with.

  3. Re Lib Dems

    I take it we have no idea to what extent their incumbency or strength or lack of it in their target seats is already incorporated into the current national polls?

    I’m becoming increasingly convinced they won’t increase their vote to more than 10-11% because I cannot see a reason in any but the 60 seats they will be going after why there would be a swing back to them. That is only 1/10th of the electorate and even then could already be factored in to the current national polling.

    One strange thing I noticed on Electoral calculus site of predicted LD seats (19) was that they have Ed Davey holding his seat on their prediction of votes but a probability of Tories winning higher than LD’s winning- very odd.

  4. @ANTHONY WELLS

    “…Round here they’ve never been that high to begin with…”

    BOOM BOOM! We’re here all week folks!

  5. Good Luck to the 9 MP’s (5 Labour 4 Tories) all running for Charity in Todays London Marathon including 4 Labour Shadow Cabinet Members.

    Being Much the same Shape as Ed Balls I admire the fact that this will be His Third Time Round!

    I ran in the 1984 Race and Finished in the Same Year!

  6. Pete B (fpt but relevant to points 2 & 3)

    Or perhaps the papers are waking up to the fact that there is a large group of voters who feel that they are not represented by any of the other parties? (in England in particular)

    Except that the papers haven’t changed their political line for a long time and the rise of UKIP only really dates to the last few years. UKIP always did well in Euro elections (and increasingly so), but apart from the occasional blip afterwards, never went above 5%. In part this was because they were seen as a one-policy Party and the importance of EU withdrawal wasn’t great enough to direct many people’s voting habits.

    And of course, as far as I know, none of the papers are explicitly backing UKIP, certainly not in a General Election. It’s not really UKIP that the papers have created but a mindset that they have possibly created and certainly constantly reinforced in many of their readers. This was mainly directed against Labour and the Lib Dems.

    The problem arose when the past beneficiaries of this, the Conservatives, got into power. The agenda that the papers had been setting out simply couldn’t be delivered[1] and those who had been promised it became disillusioned and decided to take their votes elsewhere. Of course the Press hopes that these people can be persuaded or scared back into the blue fold, while the smaller number who came from will stay with UKIP, but it’s not an easy task.

    [1] This could of course be blamed on the need for a Coalition (itself a failing of the strategy) and having to placate the Lib Dems. Unfortunately when you’ve spent a lot of time painting Clegg and co as completely ineffectual it’s a bit difficult to convince people that he’s pulling the strings. Consistency rarely bothers the Press, but its readers aren’t quite as gullible as they would like.

  7. Grammar…?

    Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

  8. A very fair and interesting piece.

    But I don’t think this is correct:

    “Whether or not the facts back them up (that is a discussion for some economic blog elsewhere), the recovering economy seems to be having the effect of convincing some the public that the government’s economy policy was right and that the Conservatives can be trusted more on the economy.”

    As the economy has improved, there has been increase in the support for the Conservatives. They are flatlining in the low 30s (or even a bit below).

    But there has been some trend narrowing in Labour’s lead, which has arisen as its votes share has declined from high towards mid-30s.

    Therefore, it is more accurate to say that as the economy has improved, voters are less convinced by Labour’s alternative (or perhaps whether it has one).

  9. should be

    “….there has been *no* increase in support for the Conservatives….”

  10. I usually reply “Probly not the Lib Dems”.

    Seems safe enough.

  11. @Shevii & generallly,

    I’d be pretty surprised if the Lib-Dems didn’t plan to do _something_ disruptive to the cons towards the end of parliament. Most people (I think) have been thinking they’ve no reason to not keep parliament going right to the 7th…hope that an improving economy makes people think they were right to team up with tories…..but it’s not entirely impossible IMO that they could be planning some kinda shock move to make them look more like kingmikers & less like batches again. Not betting on it, but it could happen.

    @Standards of grammar.
    From a programming perspective oldy whomy grammar being high standard and newer actually-how-people-talk grammar being a low standard seems apt.

  12. Re: LD floor
    Andy JS posted the following in Political Betting yesterday:

    “The LDs on 7% represents a drop since GE2010 of 16.6 percentage points.

    The LD share was below 16.6% in 191 constituencies in 2010.”

    http://politicalbetting.vanillaforums.com/discussion/comment/261362/#Comment_261362

  13. AW – very good piece.

    Perhaps to what extent 2010 LDs the switched to Lab early in the parliament stay with Labour would be another crucial factor.

  14. Regarding the ‘paradox’ of Labour’s lead despite Miliband’s poor stats, it must be stressed that a core element of the Labour support is simply founded on the perceived toxicity of the governing parties. It’s fairly clear that a large segment of the LibDems poll rating essentially switched to Labour as soon as they made a deal with the Tories.

    The 37-38% or so of Labour’s share is not a high score, especially (albeit big enough to win) – but the impact of a popular leader would possibly push the figures into the mid-40s.

    Now, personally, I like Miliband – but the public perception of him is only a liability to the party if a) it actually ends up in a failed election campaign or b) it forces him to make promises he can’t keep just to make an impact.

    The former is conjecture at this point – especially with Labour retaining a lead for over two years now. The second he has, as of yet, not needed to do so, which gives him a potential of credibility boosting when he gets into office. Notably, the main thing is he hasn’t felt the need to grab the populist vote by calling for a Euro-refererendum, which would have lead to a tricky term of office if elected. If he does win, and can effect policies that grow the economy while he is office, his popularity figures will quite probably rise.

  15. “The LDs on 7% represents a drop since GE2010 of 16.6 percentage points.

    The LD share was below 16.6% in 191 constituencies in 2010.”

    Ergo, the ole Demsters will be receiving minus votes in 191 constituencies in 2015.

    That hasn’t happened for ages.

  16. Does the drop in support of 16.6% make more sense if we think of it as a two-thirds drop in vote share rather than a numerical figure?

    So a constituency which had a 15% LD share last time would have a 5% LD share now, for instance, and one where they got 30% would give them 10%.

    Still not properly accurate but probably better than assuming they’ll get negative votes!

  17. AW

    The 2015 election will be totally different to any other election for these reasons.

    1) Coalition government – Polling is spoiled a little by Tories/Lib Dems giving each other some support. Milibands ratings are harmed by having more people who are likely to be anti (LD, Tory, UKIP) , plus Labour supporters are in opposition mood. If Labour were in government, I think Labour support would be more positive about Miliband.

    2) Recession/Economic recovery – Following the 2008 financial crash, the UK has experienced the slowest recovery from recession. There is also concern that the recovery is restricted to the south east of England. If people around the country are worse off than they were in 2008 and they don’t feel part of the economic recovery, they may not back a government who claim they have delivered a successful economy. Then there is the issue of Tories being in coalition, with the Lib Dems possibly saying something slightly different at election time.

    3) Lib Dems in coalition with Tories – If the Lib Dems do lose a third of their 2010 votes to Labour as polls indicate, this could have a major impact in some seats. Then there are the people who did not vote in 2010, who are would vote for a left of centre party. These people may not see the Lib Dems as an option and if they vote they could well back Labour.

    4) Immigrants backing Labour ? – Some immigrants may not like some of the policies discussed by Tories or UKIP. Labour may be seen as the party who are friendlier to immigrants and as a result Labour may benefit. Of course Labour will lose some support from people who do not like immigratation effects on the UK. There are potentially hundreds of thousands of extra votes available to the parties, as I think the numbers registered to vote have increased since 2010. Looking at the ONS data, this seems to indicate in excess of 500k extra voters.

  18. “Still not properly accurate but probably better than assuming they’ll get negative votes!”

    Spoilsport.

  19. With the economy it’s not just whether or not people think it’s improving as whether they think it’s thanks to the government. Certainly the LibDems don’t appear to be getting any credit.

    Carville’s list for the Clinton campaign still seems as relevant now:

    1) Change vs. more of the same;
    2) The economy, stupid;
    3) Don’t forget health care.

  20. Serious point about the LDs negative vote is that the proportionate method is much more accurate in looking at individual seats.

    So if they achieved 11,5% for example they are losing on average half their vote in every seat.

    As Mr N reminds us sometimes the split in favour of Lab effectively gives Lab a notional starting position lead in Tory/Lab seats with even 2000 Tory Majorities if the third place LD score is 10000 or so.

    Hence my question above about 2010 LD-Lab switchers which should be net of 2010 LD-Tory switchers of course to be accurate.

  21. UKIP’s support ‘overwhelmingly comes’ from the NOTA/CBA voters who have been ignored by the vanilla politics and politicians of the last 20 years: when there’s no perceived difference between the parties, and Westminster has less power each year (as Brussels dictates more terms of EU living) then why bother voting?

    If the politicians are clearly devoid of principles and arguments, relying on polling and polemic to persuade the perfidious public to vote for them – then why both voting at all?

    If we had one, just ONE Party leader who was clearly standing passionately for what they believed in and used powerful arguments to press their policies – even against the entrenched incumbents and beneficiaries of the current system – THEN people would be motivated.

    Motivated to vote for them – and motivated to vote against them, too. And if they had enough powerful arguments, the Party Leader with the best arguments would win – see countless examples throughout history.

    But Putin has recognised that we have gutless, spineless useless unprincipled politicians in the West, so he can walk all over Ukraine and no-one will lift a finger to help.

    Similarly, Brussels can seize ever-more power as the Presidents and PMs of the EU’s vassals lack the guts to stand up for their peoples.

  22. It all looks ‘several in a row’ now does it not? I hope Nigel Farage is on Ed Miliband’s Xmas card list. A box of cigars and a barrel of 9say) Theakstons would be a modest thank you too.

  23. “Still not properly accurate but probably better than assuming they’ll get negative votes!”

    Spoilsport.

    Maybe we need a new voting system.

    One where you get one vote only, and it could be for or against.

    That would allow a negative vote, and the winner is the one with the highest net (for votes – against votes).

  24. @Mr Nameless
    The Uniform National Swing vs LDs Are Sticky debate.

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/10942/how-did-uniform-national-swing-do-in-2010/

    This year’s EU Parliament and local elections should give us a lead.

  25. Jim Jam

    I think the problem with national polling in an FPTP environment is that voters are not asked ‘who will you vote for where you live?’ (although Ashcroft does I believe) so you never know whether the erstwhile LD voter (say) is expressing his tactical choice or his preference under (say) AV. It depends whether he knows where he lives (constituency and situation in that constituency).

  26. CMJ

    Was that yer cat’s idea? It’s a guddun.

  27. @ROSIEANDDAISIE
    “…“The LDs on 7% represents a drop since GE2010 of 16.6 percentage points. The LD share was below 16.6% in 191 constituencies in 2010.” Ergo, the ole Demsters will be receiving minus votes in 191 constituencies in 2015….”

    I think this[2] is the disadvantage of swing (somebody correct me if I’m wrong). I tend to use proportional swings, thus:

    If the LD poll was 24% and the vote in 2010 was x, then[1] if the poll is now 7%, then the vote now would be x*7/24.

    This prevents negative numbers.

    Notes
    =====
    [1] assuming a uniform proportional swing
    [2] the possibility of negative votes

  28. 1) How will the growing economy effect the polls?
    It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the ‘feel good factor’.

    2) Will Ed Miliband’s unpopularity matter anymore than it does now?
    Nobody dislikes him; they just don’t actively like him. And shoving his photo in a lightbulb or similar won’t have the impact of yesteryear. Politicians are mocked on social media – & even mainstream media – all the time now which reduces the impact of such stunts.

    3) What level of support will UKIP get at the general election?
    It likely won’t make much difference. In the safe seats of all the major Parties, voters are thinking they’ll have a wee protest by picking UKIP. They’ve not caused any actual by-election upsets yet & that’ll hold true in the GE too, I’d think.

    4) How resilient will Liberal Democrat incumbents be?
    In the North of England & Scotland, they’re toast. They’ll hang on in their Southern heartlands.

    5) Will Scotland be voting?
    Of course; No is going to win handsomely. Only Panelbase even hints at it being otherwise & they’re still showing a lead for No.

  29. I’ve long favoured a system similar to CMJ’s, except you get two votes, one positive, one negative.

    It allows serious partisans to vote for their favoured party and against their main challenger.

    It allows the disillusioned to vote for who they prefer while still helping to keep out the ones they see as the real baddies.

    It allows similarly-aligned parties (left LDs/Labour/Greens or Con/UKIP/right LDs) so advocate the same “against” vote to stop their opponents slipping through on 30%-ish.

  30. Given how many referendums we have already had about the EU why do people think that the Scottish referendum, if lost, will not return in the following parliament?

    It will return, if lost in 2014, as the referendum is the key issue for the SNP. And it will win the 2nd time around as the UK will be in the dire mess caused by withdrawing from the EU. (Scotland has a long pro-European view).

    A vote for UKIP is a vote for Scottish independence.

  31. Anthony,
    You make a couple of references to 14 months whereas, in point of fact , less than 13 months now remain until polling day!
    More seriously, re- Miliband’s lack of popular appeal – would not Ted Heath’s poor ratings in the years prior to the 1970 election be quite a close parallel? Heath always trailed way behind Harold Wilson even when the Tories were 20% ahead in the polls.

  32. Something to note about the increasing GDP figures.

    GDP per person is not actually increasing and is stagnant, due to large population growth. It is still 13% below 2007 levels according to the Financial Times this week.

  33. @Amber Star

    Re Lib Dems in Scotland. I can’t see them being toast in the Northern Isles and probably not in my part of the world W Aberdeenshire? Danny Alexander possibly? Charlie Kennedy, doubtful? May be more problems for them where strong incumbents such as Campbell and Bruce are standing down.

  34. Because I’m a student, I’m registered as an elector in two constituencies and two European regions. I know in local elections I can vote in both, but in European elections I have to pick which one to vote in. Is there any rule or is it simply down to which one I prefer?

  35. @Mr Nameless
    I believe the accepted practice is to tick the box next to the UKIP candidates name.

  36. @Ed

    it comes originally from the ONS here

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_358832.pdf – worth a read for understanding how uneven the recovery is and why people are not very happy financially.

    i always look at the ‘how do you see the finacial situation of your household will change over ithe next 12 months’ on Sunday yougov, or the ‘feel good’ factor as Amber notes

    The percentage of people saying it will improve has crept up from high single figures to high teens, but it is still amazingly low

    Until that changes, I cannot see the coalition parties increasing their vote share much IMO

    Also how come the LD’s never get any benefit from improving economic headlines?

  37. I think most people have not made up their minds yet about the next general election . i do feel people will vote with there packets next time with the average person 900 pound down it wont be the economy that will win the tories the next election i feel..

  38. Excellent post Anthony.

    “We are flying blind” – Would it be possible to ask non-Con/Lab voters if they will change their vote to Con/Lab to support or prevent either of the above? It would give us an idea of how many UKIP / Lib / Green / SNP voters are ‘protesting’ or testing the water, but may shift to one of the big two on May 2015.

  39. mrnameless

    Because I’m a student, I’m registered as an elector in two constituencies and two European regions. I know in local elections I can vote in both, but in European elections I have to pick which one to vote in. Is there any rule or is it simply down to which one I prefer?

    I’m fairly sure it’s entirely up to you (you can check on the Electoral Commission website if you want).

    Though of course as a UKPR commenter you will be poring over regional breakdowns of opinion polls and doing your own d’Hondt calculations to see exactly where your vote will most contribute to producing an MEP.

  40. “The reason Labour poll badly on so many of these underlying questions is not because Labour voters say they prefer Cameron and the Tories, it’s because many Labour voters simply say don’t know (or none of them). They aren’t convinced Miliband would be a good PM or Labour would run the economy well. Will those people overcome those doubts?”

    With respect (AW) – and, yes, this is not a site for economic debate – it a site for getting hypotheses right, and in this case you show no grounds for saying that Lab voters are not convinced that M. would ….etc. Or has YG shown this in polling? There may be a case for saying, rather, that they are not convinced that politics and politicians matter all that much except to think that they prefer politicians who care about people like me, and hope that the economy will continue to pick up and come their way rather than going to bankers and rich toffs. .

  41. Sensible post as ever from Anthony.

    Team Red can take some reassurance from Sunday’s YouGov crossbreaks, although we’ll have to wait to see if they were an outlier or mark a return to pre-budget territory.

  42. Anthony

    Speaking of the Euro elections, what happened to the latest YouGov poll, assuming there was one? We’ve had one the last four Sundays, but there’s nothing with the latest tables. Held back for dramatic headlines tomorrow? Left out by mistake? Not done out of boredom? Not done because of new financial year?

  43. I think @Amber is right – the key issue is the feel good factor.

    Also as AW has said, the reason for Ed’s strongly negative PM numbers is that he does not convince many Lab voters, who nonetheless appear to say they will vote Labour anyway.

  44. From and including all the local elections since 6th March 2014 UKIP have contested no less than 25. Of which 19 were contested for their first time by UKIP. Over this period UKIP’s vote share ranged from 8.2% to 28.8%. The average percentage for UKIP over this period is no less than 19.32% and remember these are actual votes cast they are not subject to weightings or other analysis.
    No doubt about it UKIP will cost the Tories many seats in the GE and they are beginning to realise that fact.

  45. @ Statty,

    Pollsters periodically ask Ukippers “Would you vote Tory to keep Ed Miliband out of Number 10”?

    Anthony’s usual caveats about people’s limited ability to predict their future voting behaviour apply, but IIRC the answers are usually on the order of 50-75% would vote Ukip anyway.

  46. Blimey, that was quick.
    To clarify, if rather Lab voters think that the definition of economy is a system designed to benefit banker and rich toffs, then it would follow that they think Cameron and the tories are better at managing it. Not some geyser who only cares about people’s houses.

  47. @Spearmint

    I wasn’t referring solely to UKIP in regard Con voters, but Lib and Lab voters, SNP and Lab and so on.

    So 25% to 50% (3.5% to 7% nationally) of UKIP might shift to Con?

  48. Roger – Sunday Times would hardly hold it back a whole week! Wasn’t asked. Was never the plan to ask it every week, just asked it a lot lately to see what impact the debates had.

  49. @ Statgeek,

    Yeah. It would be interesting to have the data on all the minor parties, but they only ask for Ukip (I guess because there’s a long history of people throwing away their general election votes on the Liberal Democrats, but Ukip at 15% is a new phenomenon).

    The most recent one was from Populus and the Ukip loyalists numbered around ~66%. The question was asked about changing the general election outcome in general, so some of the people who say they would defect might be planning to vote Labour to get rid of Cameron. (Though not too many, judging by the usual Ukip 6:1:2 Con:Lab:LD ratio.)

  50. martyn

    I did sums at school ta but I still like the concept of a negative vote for the Cleggsters: its no more than they deserve surely?

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