The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 32% (nc), LAB 33%(-4), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 14%(+4). The one point Labour lead is the lowest ComRes have shown in their phone polls since January 2012, and its the lowest level of Labour support they’ve shown since the government’s honeymoon in the summer of 2010. Meanwhile the Sun politics team have tweeted the daily YouGov poll. That too shows the Labour lead down, in this case to two points: CON 35%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 13%. That’s the lowest YouGov lead since December.

As ever, unusual results demand particular caution. Sure, it could be the sign of a narrowing of Labour’s lead, but just as likely it could the random variation that affects all polls. There is a temptation to assume that a movement in the polls after an event – in this case Labour’s 50p tax pledge – is a response to that effect. Labour announce a policy, the next few polls show their lead collapsing – cause and effect. I would urge restraint. At first glance this looks like an obvious and appealing narrative, but it’s a human weakness to look for patterns of this type even when they aren’t there.

Firstly, while ComRes and YouGov happened to both be published at 10pm and show a similar pattern, they aren’t the only polls published today. Populus’s Monday poll was also conducted after the 50p pledge, at roughly the same time as ComRes, and they show Labour’s lead still at seven points. Even without that, we know polls jump about from day to day, YouGov have already shown a couple of 3 point leads this month that turned out to just be normal sample variation.

Equally initial polling showed that the 50p pledge was popular. Now, the reality is rather more complicated than that – a popular policy may play to a party’s wider weaknesses, could risk making Labour look anti-business, or the consequential criticisms from business leaders could have damaged their support. Nevertheless, I’d be surprised if the announcement of a broadly popular policy had backfired that badly.

We’ll have more polls in the coming days – not least we’ll know if YouGov’s daily polls are really showing the lead dropping or if today’s is just a blip. Of course, it could be that other polling does echo these findings and we do conclude that the 50p pledge went horribly wrong, it could be these are just part of a more gentle decline in Labour’s lead that has no link to the 50p pledge at all, it could be that tomorrow’s polls show things back to normal and today was merely a couple of freak results. Wait a couple of days before making a fuss about what could just be a co-incidence.

350 Responses to “New YouGov and ComRes polls”

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  1. Not one person in Sheffield Labour Students opposes it, if that’s any kind of representative sample (it isn’t). In fact, I’m considered on the right for not wanting it higher than that.

  2. Just out of interest, do any of the less overtly partisan Labour voters or lefties sniff any danger for labour now with the way the economy and (arguably) polls are moving. Reading the thread last night, most people seem quite bullish still, but I am interested to know if any of you think the Conservatives can overtake Lab in the polls and get back in? Would be interested to hear any views?

  3. @TOH

    As a democrat, I’m sure you would approve of the will of the vast majority of the membership of a party over-ruling the views of a tiny minority of party apparatchiks?

    Crikey, if that happened more often, political parties might be more appealing to join!

  4. Alex F – cos we pay respondents! (And equally, you need to have a panel large enough to sustain the amount of polling you’re doing, so if you suddenly doubled sample size you’d need to recruit a much larger panel)

  5. The Labour Party is not remotely divided over this. The only people you’ve heard whinging on the jokebox have been a few bit-part players who have no clout in the party whatsoever.


    I remember YouGov did a survey of Labour members during the 2010 leadership election, and found about 80% of members wanted the rate to be 60p. As for myself, I’d just support whichever rate maximised revenue. It that rate were to be considerably more than 50 I’d happily go along with it.

    The main priority for a Labour government however should be to simply re-staff HMRC, and replace the senior management with people who actually, horror of horrors, philosophically support the State’s right to levy substantial taxation. Perhaps set up a special ‘Affluence Unit’ combined with a proper General Anti-Avoidance Principle to really bear down on making making big money but paying a suspiciously low % in tax. The kind of people I have in mind typified by some bloke from another site I post on who is self-employed and says he made about £80,000 but was boasting about how he only paid about 20% tax through some fairly simple and totally legal shifting around of money.

    Anyway, your university society is of course only one of many across the country, however if it’s even halfway typical then I’m very encouraged by the refreshing lack of Blairism on offer.

  6. I must admit that I think Vin Cable’s behaviour is interesting and I should imagine Cameron, Osborne and Crosby must be seething about his somewhat downbeat assessment of the economic recovery, just when they want to sing from the rooftops about the success of their economic policy. His critique, although seasoned with some fairly ritualistic criticism of Labour’s alternative, isn’t a million miles away from what Balls has been saying. He says that “”the shape of the recovery has not been all that we might have hoped for,” and is worried that it might prove to be a “short term bounce” if based on a housing boom.

    I wonder if he’s distancing himself, inch by inch, from the Coalition’s economic policy as we creep towards the election next year. There are whispers in Labour circles that he’s kept communication channels open with Balls and Miliband throughout his time in the Cabinet and it is intriguing that he’s chosen this time to rain on Osborne’s parade. I know he’s in a coalition, but it’s extraordinary nonetheless to see a Cabinet minister so manifestly off message.

    Is he an example, using LBJ’s wonderful camping metaphor, of somebody inside the tent pissing in! lol

  7. @Rich

    “I am interested to know if any of you think the Conservatives can overtake Lab in the polls and get back in?”

    Yes, there is a possibility of that. With the caveat that I still can’t see a navigable route to the Conservatives getting an outright majority. So their getting back in really depends on the Lib Dems surviving the election in a sufficiently strong position in terms of seats for Clegg to feel vindicated in continuing in coalition with them. Which, again, is in the melting pot.

  8. I mentioned last night about the ComRes weightings being odd and number of other people have pointed to the big differences between the raw figures and those used in the final VI as reported[1]:

    Con 32% (28%)

    Lab 33% (37%)

    Lib Dem 9% (8%)

    UKIP 14% (13%)

    Green 5% (6%)

    SNP 2% (2%)

    PC *% (*%)

    BNP 1% (1%)

    Others 3% (3%)

    Raw figures are in brackets

    This adjustment isn’t necessarily wrong – telephone polls often seem to be biased towards Labour voters and if possible this could be corrected. It might be argued that this confirmed by the sample’s original breakdown for how they voted in 2010 which is Con 26%, Lab 29%, Lib Dem 15%. In proportion to the GE result you should get Con 30%, Lab 24%, Lib Dem 19% plus 35% who didn’t vote. So it may be that ComRes found too many Labour voters and they certainly have adjusted these 2010 percentages to Con 30%, Lab 24%, Lib Dem 16%, weighting the current voting preferences of people in these groups accordingly. THis explains the changes in VI above.

    There is a potential problem though – false recall. People may have forgotten or be unwilling to admit who they voted for in 2010 and to make it worse there are the very people who are most likely to change their mind and therefore decide who wins the election. If you don’t make some sort of allowance for this, you can end up thinking there are ‘missing’ people from your sample when they are there but telling you the wrong info and you overcompensate.

    For example, if say 50% of the people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 now say they voted for another Party or didn’t vote[3], then the votes of those who still say they did vote Lib Dem will count double because even though the sample is a true one, it doesn’t look like it. As this remaining 50% is more likely to be still voting Lib Dem than average, this means that the overall VI will be adjusted to be higher than it really is.

    Pollsters are aware of this and have various ways of adjusting the targets that they are weighting their data towards. Hence the Lib Dem target above is 16% not 19% because Lib Dems have been doing worse in the polls for a long time[4]. But I suspect the current ways of dealing with this are not working very well because of the rise of UKIP.

    [More after the break]

    [1] This is based on ComRes’s final figures after adjusting for turnout and their squeeze questions (Table 6) in their tables:

    [2] If giving the figures for the smaller Parties as someone asked for them before. ComRes always seem to produce good figures for the Greens, though nearly half of these come from 2010 Lib Dems who may return (or have to if there’s no Green candidate).

    [3] Obviously it wouldn’t be as high as 50%, but could well be 20-25%. And the further from the date of the General Election, the more likely people will have forgotten or got confused.

    [4] Detailed descriptions of exactly what each pollster does to deal with this, should be found in the Methodology section on their website.

  9. “Just out of interest, do any of the less overtly partisan Labour voters or lefties sniff any danger for labour now with the way the economy and (arguably) polls are moving.”

    To my mind, a Tory majority has moved from “near impossible” to “improbable”. However, I do warn against complacency on Labour’s part, because that’s how they lose.

    There are certainly dangers for Labour if they fall apart in the face of decent economic news and start panicking. However, this parliament has seen remarkably little of the factional in-fighting that typifies a Labour Party after losing power (cf. 1970-74 and 1979-1985) so the party’s nerve seems to be holding.

    Remember too that a big chunk of Labour supporters are pessimistic to the last. A good deal were convinced the polls were wrong and they were about to lose in 1997.

  10. I defer to the far greater expertise on this website re polling but some of the sub samples on todays’ YouGov poll look bizarre.
    39 people in the 18-24 category ( 8 men, 30 women!), Labour ahead in the over 60s but behind in the 25 to 59 category?
    The Tories level with the SNP in Scotland!!!!!
    Maybe all these anomalies cancel each other out and we end up with an accurate overall result but something seems a bit dodgy to me.

  11. @Drunken Scouser, @Mr Nameless et al

    I can’t conceive of an issue on which the Labour Party is more united.

    More fool the BBC for (yet again) parroting the line of the Daily Mail that Labour is divided. It’s what passes for BBC investigative journalism nowadays.

  12. AW,

    Can’t see what’s put my post in moderation, please release!


    Short answer, yes there are potential dangers. See full post if released.

  13. CB11

    @”Is he an example, using LBJ’s wonderful camping metaphor, of somebody inside the tent pissing in! lol”

    Yes-his office at BiS must have been damp since day 1.

    He is also an example of :-
    * A politician in the wrong Party.
    * A LibDem not knowing which way to jump.
    * A miserable old git.

  14. @RICH

    “Just out of interest, do any of the less overtly partisan Labour voters or lefties sniff any danger for labour now with the way the economy and (arguably) polls are moving. Reading the thread last night, most people seem quite bullish still, but I am interested to know if any of you think the Conservatives can overtake Lab in the polls and get back in? Would be interested to hear any views?”


    Well I’m not a Labour supporter Rich, but I’ve said all along that I think the Tories can, in principle, win. Events, or Labour screwing up majorly, both could assist Tories greatly (just as the Falklands war, split left vote and price of oil were favourable developments for Thatch in ’83, before we get to the Labour manifesto).

    Even without that, while it’s worth noting that since both Labour and Lib Dems are possibly close to core vote so tricky to pick up votes there, there is the Ukip vote plus all the don’t knows etc.

  15. If you want to talk about politicians in the wrong party, I offer Frank Field, Tim Farron and Charles Kennedy!

  16. @ Rich “I am interested to know if any of you think the Conservatives can overtake Lab in the polls and get back in?”

    Well, yes, it is certainly possible for Conservatives to overtake Labour in votes if 3% or so of voters switch directly. The fact that there have been few such switchers over the last n months does not mean it will not happen in future.

    Apart from ‘events’ other causes could be the economy being seen to improve, nationalism to rise in Scotland at the expense of Labour, or a big change either way in UKIP’s support. (i.e. either their support reverting to the the Cons, or increasing and drawing some Labour supporters into their orbit) .

    There have been hints of several of these trends, but none has come to pass so far. Whether they are likely to is a matter of intelligent guesswork which many posters on this site can do as well or better than me.

    There is the other factual element, though, and that is that even if Cons draw even with Labour in percentages, they will be behind in seats, as often discussed on here.

    I would add that with the rise of UKIP and the position of the SNP many seats are three-way contests, and prediction is even harder than usual.

  17. the Conservatives


    @If you want to talk about politicians in the wrong party, I offer Frank Field, Tim Farron and Charles Kennedy!”

    I rather thought the last one of those was usually AT the wrong party.

  19. Does the Sun tweeteth this eve?

  20. CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 12%

  21. ouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead up one point to three: CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 12%

  22. Rich,
    In response to your question you could do worse than read Peter Kellners
    Article in the guardian today.It depressed me so I guess you might find it

  23. Labour recovering-relax folks .

  24. Colin :-)
    Actually Cable is not always miserable. He became quite jovial while entertaining the attractive ladies from the Telegraph.

  25. Hmm. If they are outliers, they are persistent.

  26. HOWARD

    That is true-a now long forgotten example of how the Ladies can so inspire and uplift a LibDem’s spirit.

  27. @Statgeek

    Two 37s in a row is perfectly compatible with an underlying average of 38.5, as is Labour’s Populus score of 40.

  28. Good Evening all from a wet Bournemouth beach, after a run, and hearing about triumphs for AFCB and MUFC.

    ANN in CYMRU.
    I read PK’s article for You Gov, which may have been the same as the one for the former Labour paper.

    Heading for near dead heat, I tink in 2015, like on Feb 28th 1974

  29. Alister1948

    ” nationalism to rise in Scotland at the expense of Labour”

    Or, more probably, Labour voters voting Yes in the referendum, in order to get “their” Labour Party back again!

  30. Chris,
    Better than that for the Tories I felt!

  31. Thanks Ann, read the article, it cheered me up immensely. Actually, I am slightly more downbeat than that, but I didn’t really know about things like incumbent benefits for first time MPs in seats. Interesting. I wonder if we are heading for a hung parliament at this rate.

  32. ComRes’s problem is best illustrated if you look to see how their current UKIP voters say they voted in 2010 (p 3 of tables above). Only 22% say they supported the Conservatives then, but we know that the figure should be much higher than that. For example YouGov’s Sunday Times showed 45% of UKIP’s vote came from the Tories and that is a fairly typical figure[1]. And YouGov’s figure will tend to be more accurate because they are based on asking people in 2010 how they actually voted in 2010 rather than more recently[2].

    In fact in some YouGov polls, especially with high UKIP VI, the percentage can be even higher – up to 55% or more. So there are clearly 2010 Conservatives in this sample who are now saying they didn’t vote for them. If these people were now voting Labour and saying they had in 2010, it wouldn’t matter as much because the adjustment in targets would cope with that. But because they are now voting UKIP and I presume that ComRes do not weight UKIP or other smaller Parties to past vote[3], this means that ComRes think they don’t have enough 2010 Conservatives in their sample and so weight up the votes of those they do have.

    This isn’t a new problem for ComRes. The equivalent percentages to that 22% in the previous four polls are 35%, 33%, 36% and 21%. Both online and phone polls show the effect, though phone polls may be even lower below the percentage you would expect. I also suspect that you may find the same thing among other pollsters who use recalled past vote. I’m sure Cameron would be delighted to find that such a small percentage of UKIP’s vote was coming from the Conservatives, but it seems unlikely.

    [1] ComRes’s other figures are Labour 14%, Lib Dem 12%, Other 22%, Did Not Vote/Forgot/Refused 31%. YouGov’s Labour 10%, Lib Dem 15%, Other/Non-voters 30%. I suspect that many UKIP votes who voted conservative are now saying they voted UKIP or were Non-voters, though you would also expect N-Vs to be higher in a telephone poll even among UKIP supporters who have a high likelihood to vote.

    [2] Obviously those who joined the panel more recently that 2010 will have been asked when they joined. But even that will be more reliable than asking now.

    [3] Because the percentage who voted for them in 2010 was too small, so even a normal random alteration could would distort the numbers wildly.

  33. @ Colin,


    Which makes this a perfect time to answer Rich’s question. And the answer is no. Because:

    1. The fundamental fact of the current political landscape- Nick Clegg took a party that most of its supporters believed to be a leftwing party into coalition with the Conservatives- has not changed and will not change even if there’s a solid economic recovery.

    2. The fundamental problem for the Tories- their toxicity- is very difficult for them to fix, and after trying the traditional “Change the party logo to a plant” wheeze in opposition Cameron seems to have given up on the project entirely. A reputation for economic competence helps, but barely.

    3. The Tories also have a lot of other problems- their activists are dying, defecting or demoralised, unlike Labour they have to fight a two-fronted war against both Ukip and the parties to their left, FPTP, the constituency system and the current boundaries all disadvantage them, and the collapse of the Liberal Democrats disproportionately benefits Labour. Again, a recovery barely helps with any of this.

    4. The recovery is highly localised, and because of how it’s structured this seems unlikely to change before the election. For public sector workers, there will be no recovery. For the North and most of the Midlands, there probably won’t be one either. We can already see this to some extent in the big gap between the marginal polling and the national polling. I think it’s quite likely Labour will do horribly in the South and not fare especially well against the Tories in London, but Labour doesn’t need the South to win.

    This doesn’t mean the Tories won’t overtake Labour in the polls, of course. I just don’t think they can pull off the big, geographically distributed lead they will need to remain in government.

    TBH, as kids say in text language GCSE studies, I did argue in 2010, much to NICK P’s chagrin, that the Tories would be ahead in 2015.

    IMHO, however, I think the Tories will be neck to neck with Labour- not a pretty thought, as I retire tonight.

  35. @ Roger Mexico,

    Thanks for the in-depth analysis on ComRes. It will be interesting to see how well they do in 2015- they were the least accurate of the telephone polls in 2010* (although they did better than YouGov), and that was before they had to deal with Ukip and the Cleggerdämmerung.

    * Yes, yes, Anthony, I know it’s unfair to look only at the last poll before polling day instead of taking an average.

  36. @Rich

    “but I am interested to know if any of you think the Conservatives can overtake Lab in the polls and get back in?”

    Sure its possible, just probably not likely. It depends largely on whether the Labour vote collapses, than if the Conservative vote increase. From my glance at the recent polls the Con vote tends to not move a great deal around 32, whereas the narrowing and widening has more to do with Labour’s share decreasing or increasing.

    Or another way:

    Is it possible for the Conservatives to get an overall majority? No.

    Be largest party? Could happen

    Have an overall majority in conjunction with the Libs or UKIP? Yes

  37. Spearmint
    I have cheered Rich up,and you have cheered me up,so at least two of us are
    Reasonably content tonight.

  38. Hi TOH,

    Thanks for getting back many hours back, I can’t even find the place now. You’re right, we disagree – and we would both want very different things, economically and politically – but all that apart I’m sure nonetheless that you’d be good fun to chat to in a pub and are a good man too. Basically, it’s how we apply our thinking that counts, and any one point of view unchallenged leads quickly on to error, so it’s good we battle.

  39. @Rich – I’m not a Labour supporter, but you pose a fascinating question. I’ve always said that I suspect a hung parliament is the most likely option, with Labour largest party, but the odds have tipped a little. I still think a Tory majority is a big ask though. This isn’t the 1980’s. Cameron is no Thatcher, and the ground machine is pretty ropey now. It’s also noticable that quite a number of new Tory faces are not standing again, so incumbency may be less of a factor.

    What could turn out to be the other fascinating factor is what Labour does with the recovery. If things really are about to get demonstrably better for people (and that remains a big if) then it’s really going to be hard for Tories to convince voters that we need more heavy cuts.

    People in the south may not be too aware of this, but many northern council are facing awesome cuts this year and next – huge lumps carved off their budgets, and there is bound to be a procession of very painful decisions as a result. We’ve also got problems storing up in the NHS, with the cuts to elderly care budgets shunting masses of demand onto A&E. For each time people say Labour always leave a financial crisis, it would be just as valid to say Tories leave a social crisis.

    Voters tend to shift their priorities accordingly. There are two reasons that Tories have been significantly subdued about the economic news. Firstly, I think everyone is wary that it might not keep looking this good.

    Secondly, and this I think is the big one, if we are to be told for the next 15 months that the economy is lifting off, justifying cuts will become very difficult, and Labour have a way back into the debate.

    Logically, as we’ve increased growth forecasts so much, we can cancel some of the cuts, as the deficit will decline just as quickly with the resulting growth. Instead, Osborne is banking the growth, and going for more cuts, so it’s clear that this is an ideological agenda.

    Politically, the British electorate eventually lose patience with governments who place either big or small government as the number one priority for too long, and as they are already starting from a low peak, Tories need to be careful that recovery doesn’t expose them politically.

    That would be entirely perverse, but that’s politics for you.

  40. Interesting, Anarchists Unite. (It would make for some really interesting research to know how people arrive at their ‘pen names’.)

    If, over a few polls (I am not sure whether Comres is any guide at all, but it’s consistent as regards the Tory VI) the Conservatives have shifted up a point – or even two – that’s in line with the concentrated press barrage concerning the economic data recently. Vince has (as someone said) rained on the parade, but is he getting much coverage in comparison?

  41. Alec,
    Indeed.It was interesting to hear Osborne playing down the recovery somewhat on the news.Lots of stress on getting the job done and not there yet

  42. OldNat

    Yes, probably.

    Back tomorrow.

  43. Whilst I see that the danger for the Tories is UKIP , I really cannot see them winning any seats in the GE. I can see them doing very well in the Euros however. The message to any right leaning uKIP voters during the GE campaign must be, vote for uKIP and you will get the exact opposite of what you want, ie Labour. Having said that, I am sure some of them are kamikaze types.

    Like others I agree the Tories have a huge task to get a majority and I think a lot might depend on how those LD defectors to labour are spread. In other words if they are all in Labour safe seats, they will have no effect, other than to increase existing majorities. If they are all in Lib/Con marginals, then the Tories will benefit. Of course if they are in Con/lab marginals, then Labour will gain seats. Lots of unknowns.

    However I was encouraged to read the PK article. Can Cosby work his magic though?


    “Lol, at times one suspects the list of words which don’t trigger automod might be briefer…”

    Dunno I’m pretty much a stranger to auto-mod.

    As I used to say to my daughter “List the things I CAN tell your mother; it must be shorter than the list I can’t!”


    Yes, well automod becomes more likely the greater the length of the post.

  45. … so resist invitations to discuss Weber and Durkheim and stuff and you should be Ok. Coffee seems to be a safe bet too…

  46. Robert Newark

    “I can see them [UKIP} doing very well in the Euros however.”

    I’m not convinced that the Euro election vote has much relevance to elections that will determine the party/parties forming a Government.

    Precisely, because it doesn’t have that effect, it allows voters to vote for a party for entirely different reasons.

    At first sight, that ICM Scottish poll showing Euro VI as SNP 43%, Lab 24%, Con 14%, UKIP 7%, LD 6%, Green 4% seemed highly unlikely – as it would be for electing Holyrood or Westminster Governments.

    The SNP hold on to 85% of their 2011 vote, as opposed to 74% for the 3 Unionist parties. Additionally, the SNP pick up 31% of those who didn’t vote in 2011, 11% of those who voted Labour, and 4% of former Tory voters. They gain none of former Lib-Dem voters, presumably because they captured all potential support from that source in 2011.

    Voting that way in May seems unlikely to be replicated in any other election, on the basis of all other Holyrood Westminster polling. I suspect that a very similar disconnect between Euro and Westminster VI will apply in England as well.

    Only party members/activists (and they are a tiny proportion of the population are likely to give a damn who the MEPs are. For other folk, it’s a way of sending a message to politicians – whatever that message is.

    It does seem likely that different messages are being delivered by Scottish and English voters – but in neither country is that likely to affect the 2015/16 elections.

  47. @ AW

    Thanks for your reply. I can now put that question to bed.

  48. Peter Kellner’s article makes a major point of the ‘sophomore surge’ and this seems to me to be sort of contrary to what the Ashcroft polls suggest.
    Any of you sophisticated psephologists care to comment?

  49. ‘sophomore surge’ – I thought that was hormonal, or something.


    I feel there is a great open goal (pardon the pun) being missed by all political parties. Why doesn’t one of the parties come out tomorrow and say they would introduce a direct levy against football transfer fees?

    If like me you feel it is a great injustice that families struggle to heat and feed themselves whilst millions of pounds is being thrown around like confetti then please visit the link and retweet any of the tweets.

    Thank you

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