This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%. The regular tracker on today’s poll was best party on issues, which showed the parties’ normal strengths and weaknesses – Labour lead the Conservatives on the NHS (by 12 points), education (by 4 points) and unemployment (by 4 points), the Conservatives were ahead on immigration (by 11 points), law and order (by 10 points) and the economy in general (by 5 points). The two parties were virtually neck-and-neck on Europe (Conservatives 19%, Labour 20%) – and yes, that is typical. I sometimes see the assumption out there that Europe is a strong issue for the Conservatives or a weakness for Labour, it is really not the case.

Meanwhile the twice weekly poll for Populus, out yesterday, had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 9%. Full tabs are here.

347 Responses to “Latest YouGov and Populus polls”

1 4 5 6 7
    “Poor Mr Flowers” and the poor lamb had to struggle by on £132K (from the Co-op anyway)…..

    Compared to most the bankers that salary is hardly even an annual bonus….it’s about what a qualified lawyer might to earn in a medium sized London practice….

    And at rest the issue might be – not what he earned but what he chose unwisely to spend it on…if all is true the man clearly has had personal issues for sometime…..

    The other question I guess is what the chairman of the Co-Op Bank actually was expected to do – I guess not much in the way of practical decision making as he was preaching for half of his time.

  2. Some modest improvement in the borrowing figures today, down from £8.2 to £8.1B, but again, the press reaction seems to be somewhat ahead of the figures.

    While welcome (and particularly as tax receipts are up) this is a 1.2% drop – a drop, but little more than that.

    I think there is a sense that the media are engaged in another round of groupthink, this time possibly being somewhat overoptimistic, compared to the actual numbers.

  3. howard

    Roger M
    As I understand it, Ashcroft’s poll exists and tables of it have been published. The one you to which are drawing comparisons is a newspaper rumour.

    Is it worth the discussion?

    Well obviously the original Dan Hodges report could be dismissed in two words “Dan” and “Hodges” and Anthony and others have already pointed out the uselessness of such vapourpolls. But I though it was worth going back to Ashcroft’s figures because they seem to suggest how low the ‘incumbency bonus’ that the Conservatives are hoping will save them actually was.

    Now the may be good reasons why the IB is low in such seats – the MPs are new and they may also be parachuted in A-listers with little prior time in the constituency to build up a reputation. And it may be that using the actual names could make a difference. But there certainly doesn’t seem to be the dramatic effect of Tory dreams. As Ashcroft say, it’s comfort polling.

    But the situation in the eight Con-LD marginals[1] that were polled at the same time was very different. Though there may be some dispute over how representative they are[2] and so how the combined figures could be applied. But it certainly shows a different picture of IB.

    When the second question is asked here, the Conservatives only gained a handful of votes, presumably from the squeeze effect. But the overall effect is to change the combined VI from Con 31, Lab 24, LD 17 to Con 31, Lab 19, LD 28[3], putting the allegedly down-and-out Lib Dems in reach of gaining such seats. Their extra votes come from non-voters of course but also other Parties – Labour, the Greens[4], even UKIP.

    Now recently we had much comment on here, with various Labour supporters claiming that they and everyone they knew would never vote Lib Dem again, no matter if it meant letting a Conservative. But we’re not the most representative section of the community, and the 99% of the population who are less interested in politics and aware of its mechanics may feel differently. Certainly one in six of Labour voters moved over with the gentle prompt and that’s before the first “It’s a two-horse race” leaflet hits the letterbox.

    So Anyone But Tory still seems to be alive and may even include UKIP voters switching to a Party that seems to be its opposite[5]. UKIP seems to be primarily an anti-Conservative Party at the moment and most of its voters unlikely to go there without massive, probably impossible change. There may be a double problem for the Tories with most ex-Conservatives sticking with UKIP, while ex-supporters of other Parties pick the best ABT candidate.

    The paradox with these seats seems to be that the incumbency bonus doesn’t go to the incumbent. This is partly explained by six of them effectively being Lib Dem before 2010, though only in NA and R&C is the ex-MP standing again. Where there is still a big local government presence that will help too (Watford has an LD Mayor for example). And it may be that not having an existing LD MP is an actual help – no one can say “Look what they voted for” for example[6].

    So there are lots of interesting indications that while the IB may not help the Conservatives in such seats, an historical one, combined with ABT, may help other Parties.

    [1] In my previous comment I said that the were 40 Con-Lab marginals in Ashcroft’s poll, there were only 32. But the combined sample size in those 32 (9607) was substantial and the tables show where the votes are switching.

    [2] Ashcroft chose the eight seats with the smallest Con lead over LD. But one of these (Watford) is a 3-way marginal and two others (St Albans, Camborne & Redruth) have been held by Labour, at least in part, in the last decade. Total sample size was 3202. The other five are Oxford West & Abingdon, Harrogate & Knaresborough, Truro & Falmouth, Newton Abbot and Montgomeryshire.

    [3] Again before turnout weighting, but it makes little difference.

    [4] Both parts of Ashcroft’s August mega-poll show Greens at about 5% which adds to the indications that YouGov may be underestimating them a bit.

    [5] UKIP’s vote went down a few point in these seats with the squeeze too, but still remains at national levels. The absolute rise in Conservative votes was so small that it can’t have all gone there.

    [6] This may not apply in R&C where Julia Goldsworty is currently a SpAd for Danny Alexander.

  4. Guymonde
    Thanks for your research into Co-op management (and JL). As there was (is?) this huge board, I can’t see how one man could be responsible for major decisions like buying another bank. Rather I imagine someone with no other talent (perhaps) than being an avuncular type who might chair a meeting well, sitting there comfortably on his unexpectedly enormous emolument and contemplating the evening’s pleasures to come.

    Could this not describe just about every non-executive director who ever existed?

    (It does rather, in my experience, and I have some, in this area).

  5. Amber Star and Colin – thanks for info.


    A bit of a furore developing over claim that DC’s comment about ‘green crap’.

    An amusing issue is that if you mix blue and yellow….

  6. I don’t think Cameron was looking for long-term advantage in linking Labour to the CoOp issue. I just think he was trying to tab the two together in the public mind, in the hope that it would take the edge of any future attacks from the left about links between the Tories and the bankers.

    I guess it will be pretty hard to tell whether he’s been successful in that, as it is just one issue amongst many. Perhaps it may show up in party standing polling in particular issues (Which party is best placed to reform the financial system type stuff).

    I can certainly see how Tory strategists might anticipate a greater reluctance amongst Labour strategists to hammer on the banking issue. “If Labour is elected, we will reform and clean up the banking system”. “What, by installing more of your pervy placemen?”

    Not saying I agree with that linkage, but I can see the potential value in it to the Tories.

  7. Neil A
    A spoiling tactic eh? Maybe it was, clever fellow you are..

    Roger Mexico
    As always, most grateful. I just could not understand his choices of Con /Lib Dem marginals, apart from what you noted.

    To me it is the LD /Con marginals with Lab in a current poor place that hold the chief fascination. Surely it is in these where we expect the LizHs to wreak their revenge and ‘never mind the consequences’?

    Surely the eight he chose are toast anyway?

    Yes I note the ‘sure to vote’ in ‘your constituency’ percentages that you pointed out, but I am still reeling that some voters answer differently from the generalised question. Do they think there are two elections, one to choose the government and one to choose their local representative? Did they not remember getting only one ballot paper?

    Some analysis of that syndrome would be interesting.

  8. I tend to go with @Neil A’s explanation of Attack Co Op, but the other explanation is perhaps less thoughtful. We tend to assume politicos are clever, nuanced, highly strategic, and do everything in a planned and deviously calculated manner. In reality (and I’m talking about all of them here) they are little more than big children – some slightly cleverer than others, but essentially somewhat blinkered kids playing a big game.

    I’m sure sometimes they just wade in with both feet as they see a chance to get one up on their opponents, and they don’t necessarily see it as a great tactical masterpiece.

  9. @Roger Mexico

    I’m with Howard on this one. Of those 8 supposed Lib Dem battleground seats, I’d be surprised to see the LDs gain any in practice. Watford is a key Con/Lab marginal albeit one where Lab is starting from third, and currently has bookies odds of Lab 5/6, Con 2/1, LD 10/3. Labour would hope to come a competitive 2nd in both the St Albans and Camborne and Redruth seats, to put them into a good position to take the seats in the subsequent election.

    Given that the original poll results, before the prompt, were Con 31%, Lab 24%, LD 17%, including those in the 5 seats where Labour isn’t competitive, I’d say it would be neck and neck in the 3 where it is. So my advice to Labour would be to commission some local opinion polls in Watford, St Albans and Camborne, and make them available to the local newspaper to publish, learning from what happened in Hastings and Rye in 1997.

    As for those “it’s a two horse race” graphs, they have all of the integrity of a Phil Woolas election leaflet. The LDs published one in a local election here in 2012, only to end up coming third with 15% of the vote.

  10. Phil – “So my advice to Labour would be to commission some local opinion polls in Watford, St Albans and Camborne, and make them available to the local newspaper to publish”

    They can’t. Or at least, they can’t once the long campaign spending limit kicks in. Constituency polls are *expensive*, and would take their local candidate over the spending limit.

  11. @AW
    Based on some of Lord Ashcroft’s polling, a local poll conducted and paid for in November 2014 (just before the deadline) but published in April 2015 would be positively timely.

    And shame if the Electoral Commission outlaws more timely real polls yet takes no action against parties which essentially make the numbers up to suit them.

  12. @AW
    Seriously, about how much would a constituency online poll with a sample size of say 500 people cost?

  13. Phil – whether expenditure is declarable depends on when it is *used* not when it is incurred, so parties can’t cheat on expenditure by, for example, buying loads of leaflets in November 2014 but not giving them out till April 2015.

    And you can’t do a constituency poll online, you can only do them by telephone, and obviously they are all bespoke, there is no “Watford Omnibus” poll you can buy onto. My understanding is you’d be looking at well into 5 figures.

    (And there would not necessarily be anything stopping the media commissioning such polls, but a political party effectively couldn’t)

  14. Phil H
    He isn’t going to tell you Phil! Perhaps AW wants to enter politics.

  15. @ Anthony,

    Lord Ashcroft or any other politics wonk with deep pockets could commission one independently though, right?

    Maybe UKPR should have a whip-round. ;)

  16. Also, can I take this moment to commend Roger, Howard and Phil for launching an intelligent conversation about marginals off the back of Dan Hodges’ poll-that-may-or-may-not-exist? The deepest manure grows the best roses, I guess.

    In that spirit, here’s an interesting graph from Mike Smithson about the incumbency bonus in the last election:

    Not quite on the order of 16 percentage points…

  17. Phil

    I can do one for about twenty quid-ish.

    Just tell me the sort of result yer looking for and I’ll do the figures.


  18. Phil & Howard

    Well I’m only going on what the only poll we’ve had says! But of course if despite those aggregate figure, Labour is still ahead in, say, Watford and maybe St Albans (and that’s not unlikely) it would imply that, after the gentle squeeze administered by Lord A, then Lib Dems should actually be ahead in the other six.

    I don’t think that voters “think there are two elections, one to choose the government and one to choose their local representative” but I think they do answer polls differently when their local constituency is mentioned – we’ve seen that from other pollsters including YouGov. Many voters tend to treat the bare question as a sort of “state of the nation” rather than how they would actually vote – at least until the election campaign actually focuses their mind on their personal choice.

    So it’s perfectly possible that the Lib Dems could gain some of those seats (and similar ones) despite their vote drop nationally. After all they lost those six seats last time despite an increase in the total vote. What seems to happening is a continuation of ABT voting by many people (despite the cries of eternal vengeance by much of Labour) plus, more vitally, the rise of UKIP in reducing the Conservative vote and (at least at the moment) hanging on to it. Lib Dems are getting fewer votes but the Tories are hit even harder and so they edge ahead.

    Now I expect this sort of movement to be patchy as far as the ABT component goes and all sort of local factors – strength of local Parties, local government, MP’s engagement, how national issues play locally for example on the NHS – will play a big part. There may also be a movement against sitting MPs who are particularly associated with government that outweighs the ABT factor. But the ABT does have the advantage this time that there will be no boundary changes which makes tactical voting much easier.

    But the rise of UKIP is amazingly uniform, which is bad for them in winning seats, but just as bad for the Tories. Despite all 40 seats being marginals, UKIP polled at national level evenly across all seat types and that level wasn’t much reduced by the squeeze question. So all those Conservative MPs will start off with a handicap providing UKIP stay solid.

    So we could well see the Lib Dems pick up some new seats even if losses elsewhere reduce their total number substantially.

  19. spearmint

    Lord Ashcroft or any other politics wonk with deep pockets could commission one independently though, right?

    Maybe UKPR should have a whip-round.

    More seriously there would be nothing to stop someone like Lord A commissioning all sorts of polls and only publishing those that suited. Providing those published were done in the neutral way that Lord A does at the moment and the suppressed ones weren’t publicised (and a biased commissioner wouldn’t want to) I can’t see how that could be stopped without very explicit legislation.

    As for website-originated polls – these have already been happening funded by Wings Over Scotland readers with regards to matters there and specifically the referendum. It would be interesting to know what the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill[1], currently delayed a bit in the Lords, would have on such polling, give that WOS is a site very much on one side of the argument.

    [1] For once the title is a dead giveaway isn’t it? No ‘Corporations’ or ‘Expat Peers’ there.

  20. Good Evening All. Very cold on the beach. Year 12 Parents Evening survived, no complaints, I think, so another year’s employment beckons.

    Any council by elections tonight?

    Labour seem to be entrenching a bit-of-a lead.

  21. Chris

    Six according to ALDC


    I see there’s a London by-election coming up next week. Does the 6 month rule no longer apply? (Assuming 2014’s are on 22 May)

  22. Phil,

    Actually did LOL – at least a loudish chuckle

    As for those “it’s a two horse race” graphs, they have all of the integrity of a Phil Woolas election leaflet.

  23. Roger – IIRC 6 month rule is when the seat falls vacant, not when the by-election is held

  24. On comfort polling for the Tories, is it possible it was meant entirely for internal purposes… an antidote to discomfort polling?

    Gaby Hinsliff ran this story in March:

    “Recently, a Tory MP with deep pockets hired a leading pollster to conduct a strictly private bespoke survey on his chances of keeping his seat. The verdict: his 1,500 majority would vanish in a landslide, leaving Labour 7,000 votes ahead.”

    Mike Smithson suggested it could have been Bedford MP Richard Fuller, the pollster Populus, and that the poll was conducted in Autumn last year (on the strength of the fact that he was polled, and he lives in Bedford).

    Con seats with a majority iro 1,500: Bedford 1353 (3%), Brighton Kemptown 1328 (3.1%), Dewsbury 1526 (2.8%), Enfield N 1692 (3.8%) Strood 1299 (2.2%) and Warrington S 1553 (2.8%). Also Watford 1425 (2.6%) the three-way Con/LD/Lab marginal.

    You need to have an incubent to get that bonus.

  25. @Howard Re Non exec directors (or NEDs)

    I’ve either come across or heard about 4 types

    1 NED’s of large public companies – representatitives of the great and the good, who typically have had an executive role in a comparable company. Paid handsomely for their experience and skills
    1a – Take it all very seriously, read the board papers, discuss with colleagues and others, not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, exec directors and chair. Fab but outnumbered by…
    1b – Have a reputation (perhaps a former admiral or secretary of state) but use it to be a ‘cab for hire’, pocketing the dosh in return for not much.

    2 Public sector NED’s or trustees
    Representatives of the great and the good, who usually have or have recently retired from a senior role in a related part of the public service. Typically unpaid or paid modestly
    2a – Fired by public spirit and a real desire to make a difference
    2b – Believe it will look good on their CV and/or enjoy an expenses paid day out in London

    I suppose Petal must be a 1b

  26. @Roger Mexico

    Are the London Council.elections on the same day as the Euro elections?

  27. Does anybody know anything about the mechanism by which this incumbency effect is supposed to operate? I sometimes take part in polls for positions in organisations or groups to which I belong but in which I do not take a lively interest. Generally I discount any literature I am sent, partly because I distrust it and partly because I do not have time to read it. If one of the candidates flags an allegiance that is otherwise important to me ( e.g. X party candidate) I am influenced by that. Otherwise I suspect I just vote for anybody I have heard of.

    My guess is that most people who bother to vote at elections have actually thought about it a bit, or alternatively have a tribal loyalty or an immediate grudge that will be uninfluenced by who is an incumbent. However, there may be a few in my kind of position in that they don’t know much or care much about the issues and will tend to vote for anyone they have vaguely heard of in anything other than a negative way. In general this is more likely to be the sitting MP than a challenger. Hence perhaps the incumbency effect.

    But this as I say is just introspection on my part. It is, however, an example of two things. First, polling without understanding can guide action (e.g. it can tell you something about the size of an incumbency effect and therefore how important it is not to switch your MP). Second, it might be even more useful if one understood what may lie underneath the figures (e.g. may be it is not because of the factors I mention but because of the actual diligence of the MP on behalf of constituents). And although one can get at these things quantitatively, the quickest and easiest way may well be to use qualitative methods.

  28. @Raf

    Everyone assumes so. I don’t know if it has been set in stone (the Lords approved it in August) but I read somewhere that the deadline was 31st October:


  29. @Roger M
    I think that there is a general tendency to invest too much importance in a secondary question which all but prompts for a change in the first answer. It’s not for nothing that polling companies always put the VI question as the first question in any poll.

    I think the Holyrood elections of 2011 might prove a better guide to what happens to Lib Dems in constituencies where they start from second place. There was an incumbency effect for sitting MSPs, but where they started from second they suffered proportional swings against larger than was suggested by the overall UNS. No local factors to the rescue there.

    OK, a local poll has to be conducted and published before Nov 2014 then, so that it’s been “used” prior to the deadline. The fact that the headline results became widely known and were subsequently kept in the public spotlight for the next six months would be entirely incidental.

    Regarding the logistics, I was under the impression that YouGov’s online panel was large enough and could identify the location of a respondent, such that a poll for a specific parliamentary constituency was feasible.

  30. YouGov/Sun poll tonight: Labour with a 7 point lead. CON 32%, LAB 39%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%

  31. @ Ian,

    This is all speculation, but MPs do address local issues and deal with constituency casework, which some of them attend to more diligently than others. Voters who have been done a good turn by their MP or fought beside them on some local campaign may be less inclined to throw them out than they are to throw out the Government as a whole. (Of course, the flip side is that voters who feel their constituency cases have been ignored may be more inclined to show their MP the door…)

    And then of course there are the small fraction of voters, probably over-represented on this forum, who actually follow their MP’s parliamentary record and may prefer them to a generic candidate from their party.

  32. NickP

    Is – 7% the new level pegging then, for them to get it out early?

  33. @ Pups,

    Wondering about that too. Labour is below 40%, but I wouldn’t have thought that was unusual enough to merit a Sun tweet.

  34. @Roger Mexico

    Thanks for your detailed postings, I have found them very interesting.

    On the incumbency question in general, I only have a personal anecdote. Mrs R takes absolutely no interest in politics. However, a few years ago we had the misfortune of dealing with the home office to get her indefinite leave to remain and then again when applying for her citizenship. Despite the hundreds of pounds we paid for these documents, the home office was absolute chaos, you have to hand in your passport and you were then a prisoner in the UK unable to go on holiday while they failed to deal with it. On both occasions, a letter to our MP resulted in an instant improvement in service. And for that she voted for him in every election until he fell foul of the expenses scandal. He was an excellent MP despite that, and unfortunately he was replaced by someone who has no clue – he just sends out form letters every time your write to him and doesn’t seem to even read your letter. “Ah its a health question – send out the health boilerplate letter.”

    So I can see a case for a good MP to gain many votes despite their party if they make the effort to help people when our public services fail them. That would be anyone who has to deal with the home office for a start. Of course if they are like my new MP that incumbency works to their disadvantage.

  35. @Tony Dean

    Great anecdotes. More please!

    Also interesting to hear from someone who, contrary to popular opinion, has moved left as they age. May you live to receive the Royal Telegram (though by then you will probably be so radical you’ll send it back)

  36. Right, I’m posting from a night out after an awful week, so this will be probably incomprehensible by morning, but it’s very significant for Labour if they can keep themselves at around 40. From the Tory point of view, they need to be able to top that and I just can’t see a way they can.

    At the Sheffield Labour Students meeting tonight, we heard that the Politics Society wants us to join with the Tories and Lib Dem Students to campaign on something. We were wondering whether there’s anything we all agree on. Scottish Independence? Oldnat would think so. Any suggestions? (Obviously we wouldn’t actually campaign with them)

  37. @Mrnameless

    Too easy – why Russell Brand is wrong and why it is important for young people to vote.

  38. @ Mr Nameless

    At the Sheffield Labour Students meeting tonight, we heard that the Politics Society wants us to join with the Tories and Lib Dem Students to campaign on something. We were wondering whether there’s anything we all agree on.
    Nick Clegg should resign? The LibDem students might prefer a different leader, the Tories think he blocks all their good (ahem) policies & Labour students just loathe him for… too many reasons to type.

  39. Phil

    I don’t think that the second question is any less valid that the first and I don’t think people change just because they want to say something different. What a second question (any question) does do is to make some of the Don’t knows (or similar) think a bit harder and make a choice[1]. Of course many pollsters also ask one or more squeeze questions to do exactly that in their normal VI polls.

    If people are also given extra information or requirements (such as being asked to think about their own constituency) then some of those who gave a Party the first time may switch to another. The interesting thing with the Ashcroft figures is that in one group of constituencies (Con-LD) this happened a lot, in the other (Con-Lab) barely at all.

    The Scottish 2011 elections are completely irrelevant, except of course with respect to Scotland where they probably foretell a Lib Dem near-wipeout (especially as the polls have if anything got worse since then). The political landscape, Parties, voting system are all so completely different that there’s no comparison.

    With regard to constituency surveys, none of the pollster have panels big enough to be able to provide a decent sample. If you think about it, to get a 1,000 responses for a particular constituency you’d need a perfectly geographically spread panel of 650,000 every single one of whom could be relied on to reply on time for every survey. In practice it would have to be 2-3 million to make sure you got a decent sample in a reasonable time frame and even that would probably need weighting. And you’d have to have complete up to date information on where people would be voting. The fact that SNP/PC were on 3% in London one day recently suggests this may not be the case.

    In reality none of the on-line panels are anywhere near that figure. YouGov’s is over 400,000, but that may include NI and non-qualified nationals. The only way to get enough people is telephone dialing within the relevant area codes and that must give enough problems

    [1] I think of this as the Mrs Doyle Effect – the equivalent of the pollster going go-on-go-on-go-on-go-on-go-on-go-on-go-on.

  40. You offer some pretty good options. We settled for the more satisfying but less communal paintballing day…

    We had some pretty interesting votes actually, and I discovered I’m very slightly on the right of the party (although that’s a student party so probably the centre-left overall).

    One on Trident (basically a unilateral disarmament resolution) which won 11-10 with 2 abstained. I voted against, but mainly because they’d stopped amendments by that point so I couldn’t add my moderate position).

    Second one was on boycotting campaigning for Labour MPs who voted against equal marriage. I was opposed, largely because they’re our MPs, they’re for social justice and we’re a broad church. It passed 15-4 with 4 abstained.

    But yeah, I voted to affiliate to LGBT Labour so my votes look slightly contradictory.

    Sorry, AW. I hope you’ll accept the influence of Arthur Bell as justification for this post.

  41. My MP benefited in a similar way to Richard’s. She received appalling service at Heathrow being forced to get up from her wheelchair and walk when disabled, and ending up unable to talk and corralled with a lot of other disabled people in a kind of ghetto while they tried to work out what to do with her. Letters to the airline and the airport authority produced no response, but a letter to the MP produced an almost instant apology. To tell the truth she would have voted for him anyway but she did so after that with genuine enthusiasm. So it may be that good deeds in this respect are rewarded.

  42. so your joint campaign based on paintballing…???
    Will you get the local Ukipper or Nat and paintball them to smithereens?

  43. There is a Young Independence group at Sheffield – no such luck with the Nats.

  44. @Roger M
    “I don’t think that the second question is any less valid that the first”.
    I’ll grant you that, if you’re also saying that you don’t think that the first question is any more valid than the second. However, many other comments on the Ashcroft poll that I’ve seen previously have been along the lines that the second question is the one that is likely to matter more, and I’d take issue with that.

    Regarding Mrs Doyle, my impression of Father Ted was that he consistently expressed support for the “No Cup of Tea” party as opposed to the “Can’t Make Up My Mind About the Cup of Tea” party but was often persuaded to switch sides to the “Lovely Cup of Tea” party as the question was repeatedly repeated, usually with a begrudging “oh go on then”. The pattern in that 2nd question isn’t just down to “don’t knows” expressing a preference.

    The link to AW’s article on the 2011 Scottish elections is here.

    What is striking to me is that in seats where the Lib Dems came 2nd but in a competitive position (the blue dots starting with 20%+ of the vote) their performance was far worse than any other. I do not share your view that something of this scale can be dismissed. The main joker in the pack in a UK GE is that residual tactical voting against the Conservatives could come into play in Con-Lib Dem seats, but it is still a huge ask to expect that to obviate trends of the scale that we saw in Scotland.

    A second interesting finding of that Scottish poll is that the proportional effect in the loss of the Lib Dem vote was so great that, where there was a Lib Dem incumbent, the incumbency bonus was not sufficient to stop a reduction in the Lib Dem vote share GREATER THAN THE UNS SWING across Scotland in all but one of the seats that the Lib Dems held. Not particularly relevant to the Ashcroft poll, but it does show the limits of incumbency.

  45. Try again. Should be…..

    @Roger M
    “I don’t think that the second question is any less valid that the first”.
    I’ll grant you that, if you’re also saying that you don’t think that the second question is any more valid than the first.

  46. So I wanted to share this story with you guys. Mainly cause as you look across the Atlantic and see the ridiculous levels of campaign spending and worry about the impact of wealthy contributors in the UK like Lord Ashcroft and others, I think I finally found a story that expresses my concerns as to what’s wrong with the system.

    h ttp://

    This story actually demonstrates the need for campaign finance reform and does so effectively because this isn’t a partisan one.

    Basically, a California representative, Pete Stark, was defeated for reelection unexpectedly last year. He’s a centa-millionaire (I don’t don’t know if he still owns it but back in the late 1960’s……he was first elected in 1972…..he owned his own bank). He’s now going to spend up to 15 million dollars of his own money to defeat his successor in the next election, who btw is from the same party and has the exact same ideology. And no, he’s not running again. Nor are any of his family members (he’s got 7 kids and a wife who is 36 years younger than him). He’s doing it for one sole reason: revenge.

    And what would $15 million buy? A whole lot of attack mailers that would swamp voters in this district. And of course, a near constant barrage of negative attack ads around the election. That won’t just be for the voters in this district but for pretty much, everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area media market.

    IMHO, it’s kinda sad.

  47. Roger/Phil

    Good stuff all round.

    What I conclude from the discussion is that only in LD/Con marginal is the incumbency factor highly significant.

    In other seats namely Lab/Con there may be an impact but Ashcroft himself there will be an unwinding effect from some of his’ Millions’ in the run up to 2010 – it wont work twice idea.

    I am struck by Richards anecdote which we know is not data but still very interesting.

    Cynically – if I was a MP sitting on a large majority I reckon I would be more likely to get myself on ‘sexy’ committees and join all party groups etc.
    Sitting on a modest majority I would probably open more school fates and help more constituents with their problems personally rather than using staff.

    FWIW, I would be surprised therefore if most of the 2010 new Tory MPs in Lab targets for 2015 have not worked the constituency assiduously and as a result will reap some incumbency bonus.
    Also where the Lab candidate in 2010 was a long standing MP there may well have been a personal vote in their total which could unwind if the new candidate has no personal vote.

  48. From the most recent YG poll…

    It seems to appeal to one section of society rather than to the whole country
    C 50
    L 21
    LD 8

    I imagine it’s safe to assume that half of those expressing an opinion think that the Cons are the party for the rich. Would there be any other inference?

    Surely this is a massive problem for the Cons?

  49. Mike – probably similar numbers in the Thatcher/Major years but perceived economic competence compensated for sufficient voters until Black Wednesday.
    Omni-shambles budget not as big as negative as Black Wednesday of course but it can’t have helped.
    Hence my speculation about if some voters even when they feel there is growth will not give the Government credit’ guess we will find out.

  50. @ Phil

    Re Watford opinion poll- why don’t you get Mr Nameless to badger his student lecturer. Get Anthony up there to give a talk about polling and then make it their project for the year for anyone doing a stats based course- Universities always like to get their name in the paper!

1 4 5 6 7