This morning’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline voting intention figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%. It also asked how people across Britain as a whole would vote if they could vote in the Scottish referendum – 22% would vote for Scottish independence, 55% would vote against, so more opposed to independence than Scotland itself (obviously the poll included a Scottish cross-break, but I’d caution against reading too much into that – stick to proper, bespoke Scottish polls for that, I suspect there will be plenty along in the aftermath of the white paper). Full tabs for the YouGov poll are here.

There is also a new Survation poll of Thanet South (tabs here), the first of a series of constituency polls commissioned by Alan Bown, a major UKIP donor, presumably of seats they see at potentially good for UKIP. The rest are likely to come out in December, but this one is out early because of Laura Sandys announcement that she’s too retire (though the poll itself was mostly done before that).

Topline voting intention figures in the seat are CON 28%(-20), LAB 35%(+4), LDEM 5%(-10), UKIP 30%(+24). Thanet, of course, was one of the areas where UKIP did particularly well in the local elections and is seen as a seat where Nigel Farage might stand at the next election. Note that there are some methodological changes from Survation’s past constituency polls. Previously they’ve weighted constituency polls by 2010 past vote and reallocated don’t knows based on past vote, in the same way they do for their national polls (though for practical reasons they do national polls online, but local polls by phone). For the latest polls they’ve changed method – no longer using political weighting, and not reallocating don’t knows. This is apparently part of a general review of how they do constituency polling, rather than something for this poll in particular.

Regular readers will be familiar with the debate over past vote weighting. Most companies (the primary exceptions being MORI and Opinium) weight their samples by both demographics, and by a political variable, normally how people voted at the last election, to ensure the sample is properly politically representative. While straightforward in theory, in practice this is complicated by the fact that poll respondents are not always very good at actually recalling how they voted at the last election (a phenomenon known as “false recall”). Companies that weight by past vote like ICM and ComRes therefore use a formula to estimate the level of “false recall” and account for that in their weighting schemes. Other companies, like MORI, take the view that false recall is so difficult to estimate and so potentially volatile that it renders past vote as unsuitable for weighting and risks cancelling out genuine volatility amongst the electorate, and therefore reject it completely.

In the case of the Survation poll of Thanet South, of the respondents who said they voted in 2010, about 41% said they voted Conservative, 38% Labour, 10% Lib Dem and 11% UKIP – so a three percent Conservative majority, when actually Laura Sandys had a seventeen percent majority. It underlines both the potential risk from not using political weighting, and the difficult choices that companies that do use it face – some of that difference will be false recall, but I suspect much of it is a sample that too Labour. Dividing one from the other is the challenge.

278 Responses to “Wednesday polling round-up”

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  1. Yes indeed, Couper2802, indeed I would forget that.

  2. Another typo. I was going to list the SNP target seats, but got sidetracked with the rest of the post. I got as far as Ochil and South Perthshire and Falkirk, then it got more complicated. Funnily enough, those two were the NAT gains, so my first choices were good.

    A by-election in Falkirk would be interesting.

  3. There is considerable speculation about how the UK – & other coalitions of states (EU, NATO etc.) would treat an independent Scotland. IMO, They’d all be keen to help; it’s the nature of collectives to resist losing a member.

    With only a few notable exceptions, the rest of the UK has been unfailingly considerate, even generous, towards Scotland & I do not think that would change. And that’s why it would be extremely rude to judge our partners by a few, mean-spirited, individuals instead of in the round.

    It wasn’t the oil which fuelled nationalism in Scotland; it was Thatcherism. But the lady has gone; & it could be that, come referendum day, Scottish nationalism will follow in her wake.

  4. @Jayblanc

    You confuse the referendum support with the support for the SNP. They are not one and the same. As a woman said on QT last night (or words to this effect),

    “You don’t have to be a nationalist to vote Yes”

  5. @ Jayblanc

    I think OldNat’s position is that a Scottish government can sign up to a treaty joining the EU in which it promises to meet the convergence criterea and join the euro, while promising its public that it has no intention of doing so.

    Is that a viable negotiating strategy? It is surely going to upset the European Commission.

  6. Colin
    Oddly enough in some respects I agree with you. Boris’s speech was more nuanced in full than the headlines suggest, but who reads a speech in full, present company excluded.

    What I did find deeply offensive was His reference to the Intelligence of People, of course peoples individual intelligence differs but there are plenty of examples of Clever Idiots in Parliament and City Hall and Successful fools in Business.

    On face value what Boris appeared to be saying was rich people are cleverer than poor people the truth as we all know is that for the majority of the wealthiest they are rich because they were born into wealthy families, not exactly a sign of intelligence.

    Boris’s comments might have been OK if discussing the relative intelligence of breeds of dogs but were completely inappropriate when talking about people.

  7. @LordAshcroft: Populus poll: CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 7%

  8. @HAL

    The EU are very very unlikely to accept such a situation, and would require public acceptance of the Accession criteria.

    This would be to avoid getting into the same situation they have with Sweden, which was signed onto an earlier form of the EZ Accession that gave them an exploitable loophole that they could commit to joining the EZ, but also commit to staying out of ERM II. Since ERM II is a requirement of EZ membership, it’s allowed them to be an EU member while being opposed to the Eurozone for it’s domestic politics.

    This is a strong reason why all new entrants have to sign up to a clear EZ accession plan. There is no reason to think Scotland would not have the same applied.

  9. @ Cooper2802

    I blame Guymonde! Also took them a long time to get the poll out as they probably had to create several more columns on their spreadshhet.

    Still political betting reporting a new NickP private poll from last night which Mike Smithson says is “very good news for Labour”.

  10. @Amber Star

    As I said previously, Spain is not being very friendly to anyone else right now, even before you bring into account it’s opinion of territories that want to claim independence. So why do you think it’s going to go easy on Scotland?

    As for the UK ‘gifting’ Scotland with part of it’s rebate, a currency union where they have a say in fiscal policy, and other trimmings… Sorry, but if Independence is wanted, then the cooperation will be just the same amount of cooperation given to, say, France. No more, no less.

  11. Couper2802 has reminded me about my getting old. Having just read about ‘Black Friday’ shopping violence at Bristol’s out of town shopping mall (Asda, really Walmart of course) and having endured Halloween (Mrs H felt it necessary to buy sweeties) this year has brought home how subjugated we now are to US cr*p. I know it was ever so but I find it especially painful this year.

    I just wonder what our voters really want -a life of drive-in Krispy Kreme or cycling to John Major’s tea shoppe.

    Yes, I know the answer, sadly.

  12. Sorry Howard

    I am just more and more convinced that social media will be a very important factor in the next GE. So the usual rules don’t apply – something that gets a lot of prominence on social media will be disseminated to the public at large. Twitter will be where opinions are formed not by the Sun or Daily Mail.

  13. @ Jay Blanc

    Yes, our opinions differ regarding the attitude which Scotland would face. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that other states would not be mean spirited or drive a particularly hard bargain. I will still be voting ‘No’, of course. Because I believe that the partnerships, deals & agreements which Scotland have at the moment are extremely good & I see no reason to test them.

  14. UKIP vote half of YG on the Populus poll.

  15. @Statgeek

    “So while 2010 was:

    Lab 41
    Lib 11
    SNP 6
    Con 1

    2015 might have [in Scotland after GE2015]:

    Lab 41
    SNP 12
    Lib 3
    Con 3

    If Labour have a net loss of seats at all, I doubt it will be more than three…”

    Just come back and saw your post. Yes, the LDs could be the real losers, and seem likely from your working out to lose around 8/11 seats, and then face either soldiering on as joint third party with the Scottish Conservatives for five? years, or if the electorate has gone for independence losing even those Westminster seats.

    By the way I think the “defence” pages of this site are simply arranged by % majority (Anthony will correct me if I am wrong) but plenty of useful info there.


  16. 12 seats for the SNP would be their best result ever, I believe.

  17. @Couper
    I think you’re believing the Twitter BS. No doubt it will have some influence, particularly around hot issues but only 20% of internet users access Twitter even once a month and this is forecast to be 24% in 2015.
    I’m within that 20% as are many colleagues but I’ve yet to meet anyone whose VI is seriously impacted. People follow what they’ve picked up via other media (or X-factor etc)

  18. Jack R

    UKIP vote half of YG on the Populus poll.

    It’s because of the ridiculous way that Populus weight their figures. If you look at the tables:

    The unweighted figures are:

    Con 33% (35%)

    Lab 35% (38%)

    Lib Dem 8% (12%)

    UKIP 17% (7%)

    Assuming minor Parties unaltered by weighting. The reason for the big difference on UKIP is that to weight politically they ask the question Regardless of which party, if any, you are likely to end up voting for at the next General Election due in May 2015 or are leaning towards at the moment, which political party would you say you have usually most closely? but they use the answer to adjust to fit people’s Party ids as they were in 2010.

    So UKIP whose support has gone up massively since 2010 will have its vote downgraded a lot because it is assumed there should only be the same percentage of ‘core’ UKIP voters as there were in 2010 when only 1% of voters would have answered ‘UKIP’ to that question. Populus’s calculations assume that they must have found far too many UKIP by mistake and down-weight their votes accordingly to the extent that the vote of a UKIP identifier is only given a tenth of the weight of the other people polled.

    It’s actually even worse than that. Because as the UKIP vote solidifies, and more people become more firmly identified with them instead of casual protest voters, then their VI according to Populus’s method will go down rather than stay the same.

  19. @GuyMonde

    It will change a lot faster than forecast. Generally forecasting the speed of technological change underestimates the speed,

    The main point is about opinion formers. In previous times opinion formers tended to be journalists. However now with access to fact checkers, social media and blogs such as this – there are far more opinion formers influencing their friends, relatives etc with the facts or their own spin on the facts.

    To give an example on twitter and also on this site there was some discussion off the bedroom tax vote and the fact that Lab MPs didn’t turn up to vote. I know it was about pairing. I met up with a friend not particularly political but she knew all about the bedroom tax and the fact Labour MPs didn’t vote against from a work colleague who saw it on Twitter. Of course I was annoyed that she hasn’t got the full story but it proved to me that parties need to be on top of what is being said on social media and a lot of the election campaign will be fought there.

  20. Depending which way various elections, referendums and negotiations go, the UK could be leaving the EU at the same time as Scotland joins.

  21. statgeek

    I’d not argue with your VI figures at the moment, but I wonder if their may be other factors to take into account in considering the 2015 election in Scotland. Firstly it may be that ABT works to prevent Conservative gains (as it prevent them getting the new seats they ‘should’ have won in 2011). With ex-Lib Dem votes around for the taking even Mundell’s seat may be danger.

    Secondly with the referendum out of the way, more No voters may be prepared to choose SNP than at present, not out of sympathy but because a vote for them is no longer as ‘dangerous’. They may also see their being at Westminster as a better way to ‘protect’ Scotland.

    Thirdly because of the SNP winning nearly three quarters of the constituency seat in 2011, a majority of the population now have an SNP MSP. This may well affect attitudes at the ballot box.

  22. Alister1948

    Which seats do you think LD will keep and what seats do you think the Tories will gain?

    My guess is:

    Lib Dems – Ross, Skye and Lochaber
    Orkney and Shetland
    North East Fife

    Tory gain- Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine
    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

    Do you think that the Tories might be able to grab Perth and North Perthshire?

  23. Sorry, I forgot to say that I was talking about Scotland in my last post.

  24. @Couper

    “It will change a lot faster than forecast. Generally forecasting the speed of technological change underestimates the speed,”

    Well, yes and no. In 1990 mainframes were going to be dead within 5 years, plus by 2000 we would all have a chip in our head reading brainwaves and doing simultaneous translation (this was serious talk in silicon valley). At the same time nobody predicted the internet or Facebook (The Guardian predicted there could eventually be 100 websites in the UK) so I’d say that generally forecasting tech change is a mug’s game.

    I would never argue that Twitter (etc) won’t be a factor (your example attests to that), or that politicos shouldn’t worry about it /use it but the fact that it was (allegedly) a big factor for Obama in 2008 doesn’t mean it will decide anything in 2015

  25. @Amber,

    I don’t claim to have anything like your knowledge of Scotland, but I am not sure how you can justify your claim that “It wasn’t the oil which fuelled nationalism in Scotland; it was Thatcherism”.

    Let’s look at the data.

    1959 – No Hydrocarbons yet discovered near Scotland. SNP vote share =0.5%

    1964 – Likely existence of hydrocarbons known. First wells sunk. No hydrocarbons yet extracted. SNP vote share = 2.4%

    1965 – Gas is struck for the first time in Scotland’s waters. Still no commercial extraction.

    1966 – SNP vote share = 5%

    1969 – Montrose oilfield discovered. BP start drilling in earnest.

    1970 – SNP vote share = 11.4 %. Forties oilfield discovered four months after the election.

    1971 – Brent oilfield discovered.

    1973 – Piper oilfield discovered. Oil shock increases oil prices fourfold, increasing the theoretical value of North Sea Oil massively.

    1974 – SNP fight the two general elections on the slogan “It’s Scotland’s Oil”. SNP vote share = 21.9% (Feb) and 30.4% (Oct). That represents their best ever GE showing, and a 5980% increase in their vote over the space of 15 years. One Nation Edward Heath is still Tory leader.

    1975 – Margaret Thatcher becomes Tory leader. There are no significant new finds in the Scottish sector. Oil prices flatten out.

    1976-1979 – Still no significant new finds in the Scottish sector. Oil prices stay flat.

    1979 – Oil prices begin to rise again. Thatcher becomes PM. SNP vote share = 17.3%

    1983 – Oil prices have been falling since late 1980. Thatcher still PM. SNP vote share = 11.7%.

    1987 – Oil prices have stopped falling but are flat. UK at peak production. SNP vote share = 14%

    1992 – Thatcher no longer Tory leader, replaced by more “moderate” John Major. SNP vote share = 21.5%.

    1997 – Tories swept away by the “Red Tide”. SNP vote share = 22.1%

    1999 – First Holyrood GE. SNP vote share 28.74%. UK oil production at a new peak and oil price rising. Thatcher still not PM.

    2000 – Oil price starts to fall again.

    2001 – Oil price still falling. SNP vote share = 20.1%

    2003 – Holyrood GE. SNP vote share falls to 23.8%.

    2003 – Oil prices begin to rise steeply.

    2005 – SNP vote share = 17.7%

    2007 – Holyrood GE. SNP vote share rises to 32.9%

    2008/9 – Oil price falls dramatically, then rises again steeply.

    2010 – SNP vote share = 19.9%

    2011 – Oil price still rising. Holyrood GE. SNP vote share 45.39%.

    So, the birth of the modern SNP seems to coincide very neatly with the advent of North Sea oil, and there is virtually no correlation between SNP support and Thatcher being Tory leader. The best support I can see for your thesis is the big rise in support at Holyrood between 2007 and 2011, which coincides with the return of a Tory Prime Minister, but it was cuddly Mr Cameron, not Thatch.

    In fact the period when Thatcher became Tory leader and then PM saw a significant drop in SNP support which only recovered when Major took over (or more likely, when the 1980s oil glut ended).

  26. @ Neil A

    I didn’t very specifically didn’t say there correlation between SNP & Thatcherism; I said there was a link between nationalism & Thatcherism. But thanks for posting all the data about the SNP & Oil + Gas.

  27. My last comment came out looking a bit odd. I shall try again!

    I very specifically didn’t say there was correlation between SNP support & Thatcherism; I said there was a link between nationalism & Thatcherism. But thanks for posting all the data about the SNP & Oil + Gas.

  28. @Reg

    Sorry not to get back sooner – life intervened.

    It was Statgeek who did the work, and you can find it on the post on this thread timed at 1:13pm

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