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. First.

    Is anyone aware of other UKIP targets?

  2. Since this thread has a Saltire, I hope it’s OK to repost this from the end of the previous thread.

    Referendum 2014

    This report from the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Taxation Group is interesting (and from my quick perusal of it) thankfully free from the posturing which so often makes documents on this topic unreadable!

    http://www.appgtaxation.org/APPTG_Achieving_Autonomy_2013.pdf

    it looks at LIKELY arrangements resulting from different referendum outcomes –

    Yes : Less than 40% (really disastrous for Scotland! – £4bn out of our budget)
    Yes : Greater than 40%, Less than 50% (Significantly greater devolution)
    Yes : Greater than 50%, Less than 60% (Sovereignty for Scotland but practical arrangements not dissimilar to Devo Max)
    Yes Greater than 60% (Even I think that’s somewhat unlikely!)

  3. Oldnat – I did ponder whether to include those Scottish figures given it would make it a Saltire thread, but given yesterday’s wasn’t actually one I thought I better ;)

  4. Anthony

    On yesterday’s thread, I was determined not to raise the White Paper – unless someone else did first.

    Thanks ALEC!

  5. Thanks Anthony for the explanation of the methodology of the Thanet poll. It would be interesting to see an analysis of how the results would have been different under the different methodologies and if the chosen methodology favours those who commissioned the poll, whether intentional or not. I also noted they ask likelihood to vote, but don’t seem to use that in the published figures, and UKIP voters were also down in the likelihood to vote figures.

    Regardless, the poll may have the impact of changing the result in that seat – see this article. Prior to this poll that seat was not in the list of Labour targets for 2015. This article is now calling for that strategy to change.

    http://labourlist.org/2013/11/why-labour-needs-a-kent-strategy/

  6. Mr Nameless
    Boston & Skegness, Lincs (East Midlands) is a seat that has been mentioned, because of the racial tension there. The area was featured on R4 World at One today, and has hosted TV Question Time.

    In 2010 UKIP came 4th with 9.5%, Cons first with over 49% of votes cast. Described as a safe Cons seat on this site, though also pointed out on here that Labour have come close to winning in good years, and in fact still polled around 20% in 2010.

    In 2011 UKIP gained control of the town of Ramsey, Cambs in the Huntingdonshire District of Cambs. UKIP are in third position in both Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, closely behind the LDs who are in second place.

  7. @OldNat

    That is exactly what I am worried about and tried to explain yesterday. If enough of us don’t vote Yes: The budget wil be cut, the parliament undermined and other bad things. Maybe it is an irrational fear but your post suggests it is a valid point.

  8. Anthony

    On yesterday’s thread you warned about polls commissioned by political parties or their proxies.

    Did you mean that YouGov polls commissioned by political parties or their proxies are dodgy?

  9. COUPER2802

    I’m an unashamed gradualist, so have never had a problem with going through a Devo-Max phase first.

    Mrs Nat is a Devo-Maxer and not convinced by the independence argument (though not scared of that happening). She decided a good time back to vote Yes, on the basis that Yes was unlikely to win, but that a low Yes vote would result in the worst scenario for Scotland.

    Anecdotal, I know, but her assumptions seem to be confirmed by the AAPG analysis.

  10. @OldNat

    I am with Mrs Nat on this I don’t want to risk a low Yes vote.

  11. Oldnat – I meant what I said, not that any polls are dodgy (the pollster themselves should protect against that), but you should be very sceptical about what polls commissioned by political parties supposedly say – look that extra bit carefully at what the actual questions were.

  12. Anthony

    Ta. That makes sense.

    Exactly the same logic, though, applies to polls commissioned by media who may have a political agenda.

    So the message is “Be sceptical about the question phraseology, order etc in virtually every poll”. :-)

  13. Oldnat – in my experience its actually the opposite, media polls are often the best, most rounded ones (obviously there are stinkers sometimes too, but there goes) for various reasons.

    Part of it is that journalists don’t have the time to quibble with question wording, and are much more likely to trust pollsters judgement, especially when they have a long standing working relationship. They are also more likely to want to look at both sides of the story and ask something well rounded, whereas campaigning organisations will often only want to ask about their side of the argument.

    Think tanks also often commission good and interesting polls. The least interesting are normally campaigning groups (though again, many exceptions to that) and political parties.

  14. “On yesterday’s thread, I was determined not to raise the White Paper – unless someone else did first.”
    —————-
    I was determined to raise it… but there was nothing new in it to discuss.

  15. Anthony

    I’ll go with your judgement.

  16. Amber

    “there was nothing new in it to discuss”

    That’s never stopped you before! :-)

  17. LOL!

  18. @ Old Nat

    Actually, LOL doesn’t cover it; that was a cracking riposte.

  19. @oldnat It seems to me, I am glad to say, that you are not very far from Mrs Nat in your attitudes to Devomax. Yesterday you were saying that no nation is totally independent, which is surely true. So we are always to some extent at the mercy of the decisions of others. The question is what decisions should be taken at what level by whom and subject to what kind of (presumably) democratic control.

    Personally I think that a currency union without some kind of loose political union would be an odd way to solve this particular political conundrum and so I hope for a low yes vote. But I am appalled to hear that this would apparently result in a condign financial punishment. Who on earth thought that one up?

  20. @MrNameless

    “Is anyone aware of other UKIP targets?”

    I’ll take a stab at Buckingham (John Bercow).

  21. OLDNAT

    “Yes : Greater than 40%, Less than 50% (Significantly greater devolution)”

    Yes : Greater than 50%, Less than 60% (Sovereignty for Scotland but practical arrangements not dissimilar to Devo Max”
    _______

    It’s going to be one of the above and I think we could be looking at a federal UK.

  22. CHARLES

    “I am appalled to hear that this would apparently result in a condign financial punishment. Who on earth thought that one up?”

    According to the AAPG report (I hope I’m summarising it accurately) the Barnett Formula was designed to recompense Scots for their share of the oil revenues. (Created at the time of the run-up to the 1979 devolution referendum).

    If fewer than 40% of Scots vote Yes, then Scots are effectively voting for full incorporation into the UK, and the Barnett formula enhancement of enhanced identifiable public expenditure in Scotland would be politically unacceptable in rUK. Hence it would have to go.

    Even I can see that that it’s no longer necessary to “bribe” Scots with such cash, if there is no longer any threat of Scotland leaving the Union. Indeed, there’s probably a moral duty to Wales and many English regions to do reverse that position.

    Amber, and others in Scotland who are pro-Union would probably agree (though I’ll let them speak for themselves as to whether their “best of both worlds” argument is moral).

  23. Ah, seems I’ve found one of the automod words. Fine:

    Statgeek,

    Didn’t UKIP crash and burn in Buckingham last time? *smirking*

  24. On Thanet.

    “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”
    ___________

    This could be one genuine seat where UKIP win but I really do think when disgruntled Tory voter realise that a vote for UKIP is nothing more than a free ticket to Number 10 for Ed then they will snub UKIP.

    It happened to the Libs, all through the election campaign they were above Labour then the exit poll came out and all went flat.

  25. Oldnat

    I said it was obvious a long time ago, but I would disagree with the numbers, anything less than 45% would result in penalties for scotland, much less than 40% could see the formula turned on its head, at least its what I would do if I was a dodgy politician

  26. @Anthony Wells
    “….but you should be very sceptical about what polls commissioned by political parties supposedly say – look that extra bit carefully at what the actual questions were.”
    _______________________

    Is there any requirement for polls commissioned by political parties to be published?

    If not, what (apart from cash) is to stop a political party such as UKIP commissioning several polls in the same constituency and continuing until they get a result that they want, and only then publishing the result of the one they like?

  27. mrnameless

    Is anyone aware of other UKIP targets?
    _______

    After Jan 1st, Romania and Bulgaria EU accession date I would expect them to target every UK sea port and Airport. ;-)

  28. “I’ll take a stab at Buckingham”

    Treason!

  29. @Allan Christie

    “….but I really do think when disgruntled Tory voter realise that a vote for UKIP is nothing more than a free ticket to Number 10 for Ed then they will snub UKIP.”
    ______

    Except that the Thanet poll doesn’t show that UKIP are just taking votes from the Conservatives. In the absence of a UKIP candidate Labour would be 7% ahead of the Conservatives (48% to 41%), the same margin as Labour is ahead of the Cons with a UKIP candidate. That means that Labour is losing potential supporters to UKIP almost as much as are the Conservatives, according to the Thanet South poll.

    All of which serves to call into question the idea that, if UKIP support collapses, the Labour lead will largely disappear as most of that support goes back to the Conservatives.

  30. BILL PATRICK

    That earns you a double LOL !

  31. @RiN

    “anything less than 45% would result in penalties for scotland, much less than 40% could see the formula turned on its head, at least its what I would do if I was a dodgy politician”

    Why? What possible good would come of it?

    @BP

    “Treason!”

    As one who has taken the oath of allegiance, I find that statement hurtful and offensive. I now declare myself a minority group and will seek reparations via the EU.

    Humour aside, I foresee an increasing number of big name politicians being targeted, if the political discontent of the past few GEs continues. Why not? Unseat the leadership of the main parties and things must change. Legal anarchy, and fun to boot.

  32. I tried re-weighting the Survation poll by past vote (I am a beginner, so be patient with me if I got this wrong!)

    So a re-weighted sample gives the following weighted totals:

    Cons 141
    Lab 91
    LD 43
    Oth 14
    Did not vote in 2010 145 (this is where I got stuck, do you weight the did not vote in 2010 figure, I haven’t)

    Then allocating those totals by new VI vs 2010 voting intention gives:

    Con 76
    LD 16
    UKIP 55
    Other 5
    Undecided 65
    Lab 73

    Add the did not vote in 2010 figures to those totals gives:

    Cons 96
    LD 18
    UKIP 82
    Other 9
    Lab 100

    Which gives a headline VI without adjusting for turnout or don’t knows/refused of:

    Cons 32% (-16)
    LD 6% (-9)
    UKIP 27% (+21)
    Other 3% (+3)
    Lab 33% (+2)

    And that puts UKIP in 3rd place rather than second.

    If I then adjusted for don’t know/refused based on 2010 votes that would put the Cons into first place rather than second.

    And if I then did the 10/10 likely to vote adjustment that would increase the Conservative lead further (Cons are 70% 10/10 likely to vote, UKIP only 61%)

    So if I got those calculations correct, as a pollster I could choose
    – if UKIP was my client and they wanted a good result, I could decide not to weight my sample by past vote, I could adjust likely to vote only by the 0/10.
    – If Labour was my client, as above.
    – If conservatives were my client, I would weight by past vote, only include 10/10 likely to vote

    All would be valid methods, but all could result in very different headlines the next day. Moral of the story is be wary of methodology changes and look at who commissioned the poll and the tables, and don’t take polls at face value if the person commissioning the poll is not independent?

  33. PHIL HAINES

    Okay on the basis of the Thanet poll you make a good point but say a similar poll was conducted in what was a safe Labour seat then do you really expect to see UKIP taking lumps of the incumbent Labour MP as in the case of the Tories in Thanet?

  34. BTW where is Reg from the BNP? I’m still waiting for an answer on what the BNP would do about declining Gaelic speakers on Mull.

  35. @Statgeek,

    Witney was held by Labour for a time, although they’ll never actually win it at a GE. Getting David Cameron to defect, now that would be a coup.

    Clegg is unquestionably being targeted, and Labour seriously reckon they can do it.

    Ed Miliband’s not really under threat in Doncaster, even with a certain Mr. Clarkson making noises a while ago.

    In Thanet or Skegness or Folkestone or wherever Nige decides to stand, all three parties have a major vested interest in keeping him out, so expect a Martin Bell style grubby backroom deal for the Lib Dems and Tories to keep rather quiet.

  36. I have to agree with Charles that having your own currency is sine qua non for an independent nation (as is having an army).

    One of the biggest problems for the Nats is that the current arrangement that the UK has in the EU, namely a member of the EU but not a member of the euro, is a historic arrangement that is no longer available for new members.

    Getting an independent Scotland accepted as a new member of the EU is probably just about doable diplomatically but in fact tricky (due to objections from other states that have would-be separatists); getting an opt-out from the euro: not a cat in hell’s chance.

    So it looks like independence brings a choice between leaving the EU, or the euro and ever-closer union with Brussels. Neither look attractive.

  37. HAL

    I’d suggest having a look at the EU treaty arrangements for membership.

    While a commitment to eventually joining the euro is mandatory, actually being allowed to join the euro is contingent on being a member of the EMS for 2 years.

    Joining the EMS is a voluntary decision for the member state (new or otherwise).

    Cats do rather well in Europe! :-)

  38. HAL

    The AAPG report looks at the different ideas of what “independence” can mean.

    That some people insist that their definition of “independence” – eg you must have your own currency and army – must apply to every country, seems a rather egotistical concept.

    None of the Eurozone countries have their own currency. all US states have their own army in their National Guard.

    Sovereignty can be shared, pooled etc in a variety ow ways.

  39. @oldnat – I never realised it was a bribe. But if it is, it is crazy to threaten to withdraw it at the very moment when you need it to be at its most enticing. Should my ancestors (or more correctly cousins) vote no, I would favour adding to the sum a free whisky allowance or all voters and guaranteed left wing rule in the UK for the foreseeable future.

  40. “Clegg is unquestionably being targeted, and Labour seriously reckon they can do it.”

    Yes, anything can happen, but I would only point out that LDs have a 15,000 majority in Sheffield Hallam, and a post this month under this constituency had LDs as odds-on favourites, Labour at 5-1 with the bookies.

    The biggest threat faced by the LDs is a Conservative revival, but of course the future is unknown.

    Still, UKIPs presence still makes prediction very difficult. The individual votes for a party, not for a coalition, but as we can see in Germany, a vote can have a perverse outcome.

    It’s a huge subject, but the demise of LDs might not necessarily have the results some people expect.

  41. CHARLES

    LOL

    There is, however, a serious issue involved. Granted that politically, stating the obvious in their report may not have been the best strategy for the No camp.

    That’s why i said that the AAPG report was refreshingly free from political posturing.

    But if Scots want to continue being part of the UK, why should they demand to get a better deal than those in the North of England, for example?

    Surely anyone suggesting such an arrangement is selfish, hypocritical and anything but egalitarian?

  42. “Clegg is unquestionably being targeted, and Labour seriously reckon they can do it.”

    Yes, anything can happen, but I would only point out that LDs have a 15,000 majority in Sheffield Hallam, and a post this month under this constituency had LDs as odds-on favourites, Labour at 5-1 with the bookies.

    Oh I didn’t say I thought it was likely – but at the same time it’s probably better odds on losing the seat than you’ll find with the other leaders.

    Events, as Harold Macmillan may once have said.

  43. 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

    Interestingly when you take likelihood to vote into account (which are the figures used for the headline),the difference in recalled vote becomes less dramatic:

    Con 43% (48%)

    Lab 36% (31%)

    LD 10% (15%)

    UKIP(Other) 11% (5%)

    Actual result in brackets. Only these four Parties stood though of course people may have voted for others elsewhere . So some of the difference may be false recall of having voted Labour among those who may not vote next time either. The rest could be down to simple false recall. The higher UKIP may indicate this – or some people may be remembering how they voted last time (in May).

    Telephone polls tend to give lower figures for UKIP for some strange reason – if anything they might favour their older, more working class demographic[1]. So it’s possible that if anything the UKIP vote is underestimated, as it was in Eastleigh (though by-elections are by-elections).

    Incidentally one reason that Farage[2] is being talked about as standing in the seat, apart from living in (the other end of) Kent, he stood for UKIP there in 2005. Though he didn’t do particularly well (5.5%) it might have helped Labour hold the seat. But Party leaders matter far less that the Westminster Bubble love to imagine. Only 4% in the Thanet poll gave it as their main reason for voting and that was similar across all Parties.

    [1] According to Survation “some targeted lifestyle data for younger demographics was used”. Which gives the impression of Damian wandering around chatting people up in Ramsgate discos.

    [2] mrnameless, you are a very naughty boy – the poor man’s barely out of surgery. It’s worth pointing out though that he didn’t even come second in Buckinghamshire, a local Independent did. It will not be a UKIP target in 2015 – I suspect it’s too posh for them.

  44. @Allan Christie
    “…..say a similar poll was conducted in what was a safe Labour seat then do you really expect to see UKIP taking lumps of the incumbent Labour MP as in the case of the Tories in Thanet?”
    ___________________

    What’s interesting about the Thanet poll is that it’s the first time that I can recall seeing a question asked of UKIP supporters along the lines of “which party would you vote for if there were no UKIP candidate”. But Thanet South is but one poll and we’d have to see the pattern repeated in others before I’d expect anything with confidence. I was responding as I did because your comments were made in the context of Thanet.

    That said, the Thanet poll does FWIW call into question the view that UKIP are damaging Con VI far more than Lab. That view seems to have taken hold because in every YouGov and other polls we where UKIP support is coming from in terms of 2010 voting patterns and people have drawn inferences from the large number of switchers from Con to UKIP. But that overlooks the question of whether people switching from Con to UKIP might have gone to Lab in the absence of UKIP. By asking the question directly, the Thanet poll suggests to me that some would have.

  45. “we where UKIP support is coming from”

    should be

    “we can see where UKIP support is coming from”

  46. The problem with immigrants, if there is one, is that they take jobs, drive down wages, and overload our public services. None of this is likely to be affected by proposals to deprive them of benefits, but some of it is logically addressed by some of the policies of both Labour and Conservatives (e.g. enforcing the minimum wage – Labour), upskilling the workforce (Coalition, though Labour would probably claim this as well) and so on. So why is this particular proposal the one to highlight? I assume because it is thought that the implication that immigrants are not working (and implicitly living off hard-working families) is a vote winner. The same calculation was presumably behind Osborne’s depiction of those claiming benefits and I find it very depressing.

  47. Statgeek

    ‘Why? What possible good would come of it?’

    Scotland has hardly any lab/con marginals, from a political party point of view the money would be better spent ib the area withvthe most marginals, this is true for both main parties, voting overwhelmingly against independence and then voting labour won’t help

  48. Bill Patrick

    “I’ll take a stab at Buckingham”

    Treason!

    Been done

    Actually given that of the five Dukes of Buckingham, two were executed for treason and one other was stabbed, that may have been as tasteless (if more erudite) as mrnameless.

  49. @Mr Nameless
    “Clegg is unquestionably being targeted, and Labour seriously reckon they can do it.”

    It seems a huge ask but who knows? If you think they can do it then I would advise that a better bet than 5/1 on Sheffield Hallam would be the 14/1 on offer with Ladbrokes that the LDs end up with 10 seats or less. Hallam is the LDs third safest in terms of % swing.

    That said, to cheer you up here’s a gem from Patrick Wintour of the “Guardian” a couple of days back, commenting on the decision to privatise some student loans:
    “The plan will do little to endear the Liberal Democrats to students 18 months away from an election. But Nick Clegg may have decided the student vote is largely a lost cause after he felt forced to break his pre-election pledge in 2010 not to increase student tuition fees.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/25/student-loans-sold-off-debt-interest

  50. @Allan Christie

    Reg disavowed the BNP a few months ago. There have been four or five new far-right parties breaking away from the BNP in the last few years… I sort of got the impression he was quiting that whole scene though (joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth), but who knows?

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