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. First.
    Good night for the Blues, I think at first glance.

  2. Was that it? What an anti-climax!!!!!!

  3. I’m off to bed (now I know it’s not a swingers’ site)

  4. Isn’t that a one point Labour lead, or are those figures not correct?

    [Yes, it is – sorry, was writing about the two polls at the same time!]

  5. First poll in 20 to show a lead as small as 2. But we *expect* 1 in 20 to be at the limits of moe. Average lead over the last week is still 5. Yawn.

  6. I am not yawning.

  7. ComRes tables are here:

    weighting looks a little odd to me

  8. The ComRes tables show the Greens on 5%. Does anyone think that that will actually happen? Seems unlikely to me. They got 0.9% last time and don’t seem to be particularly larger in the public consciousness than they were.

  9. I’m sure it’ll generate some headlines for a day or so but I’ll wait to see a trend before I get interested.

  10. Hmm. A 3% lead, then a 7% lead (disputing a lead narrowing), then a 2% lead. That’s a 4% average, I suppose.

    ‘Sensational’ would have been level pegging, or a Con lead, or one of the others mentioned earlier. That could be the 5% outlier from the 95% confidence.

    @AW – Any cross-break info that suggests it’s an outlier?

  11. I think the polls may show a Labour reduction for awhile, as people worry about them being a bit too left of centre e.g 50% tax rate. Most people would not be affected by this, but perhaps they might think that Labour would increase other taxes after May 2015.

  12. “Wait a couple of days before making a fuss about what could just be a co-incidence.”

    Please tell that to Sky news who currently have the ComRes poll as ‘breaking news’ !

    Media understanding of polling & MOE is diabolical. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

  13. Still no Conservative movement: 32, 33, 35. I don’t think that Downing Street will be popping any champagne corks tonight. They’ve not seen 37 since October, and it’s almost a year since they saw 38 or higher.

  14. It seems to me that Lab are at the bottom end of recent MOE and Con at the top end. As others have said, we need to wait for a couple more YG polls before getting excited or in my case despondent. Like some others on here, I would have thought the 50p tax issue and the pictures today from Somerset combined with the anti-government comments would have increased Lab VI and reduced Con VI respectively.

    One might have expected this result a week or two ago when the “quoted” economic and employment figures were looking good and as far as I recollect there was no negative government news but it seems very strange tonight.

    Surprisingly the Rennard/Hancock situation does not seem to have had a great effect (1%, if that) on the LD VI.

  15. @Chordata – Sky News understand polling and MOE just fine, but they have a partisan incentive for trumpeting results like this. It was ever thus.

  16. That 35% for the Tories in YouGov could be a straw in the wind. No rise in Tory VI on ComRes but some upward drift starting to be detected by YouGov now.

    Need some more polls, obviously, to confirm any definite trends, but we need to keep an eye on the Tory VI. If that starts to respond to the better political and economic weather for them, then the game may indeed be about to change.

    That Populus appears a bit odd, doesn’t it, or is that the only one marching in step now?

    Things could be getting interesting after a long period of stasis in the polls.

  17. @Peter Bell – The fieldwork was carried out from Friday to Sunday, which in practice means on Friday and Saturday with a few difficult quota groups topped up yesterday.

    So nobody answering will have seen any pictures from today, and relatively few will even have heard about the 50p pledge.

  18. Chordata –

    Adam Boulton and I had quite a heated exchange of opinions over daily polling at a conference back in 2010 or so, Adam saying that by doing 20 polls a month it just increased the changes of a rogue poll that the media would misreport. I can’t recall my response, but I suspect it was something along the lines of don’t bloody misreport them. Newspapers will always give more prominence to their own polls and I suppose one can’t criticise them too much – after all, if they didn’t commission them in the first place we’d have no trends to look at, but there is nothing actually preventing broadcast media from reporting the average trends of polls rather than getting overexcited about outliers.

  19. It’s worth noting that one consistent thing in both polls is a good result for UKIP.

    I still think that we will see the parties roughly level peg in the election, with Labour winning a majority that is small but sufficient to see them through 5 tetchy years.

  20. Very encouraging for the Conservatives, which seems to go hand in hand with the improving economy and employment figures.

  21. Rather than the scores, I think the switch from LAB>UKIP is the most interesting part. Can’t think why it would be and the obvious answer is natural churn.

  22. The big question, is whether and in which direction the 50p tax rate will move the polls. Are left of centre policies going to go down well against the back drop of an improving economy?, that’s a legitimate question I think?

  23. @Anthony Wells

    “…Adam Boulton and I had quite a heated exchange of opinions…”

    You can tell a man by the quality of his enemies. Well done, Anthony…:-))

  24. @Crossbat11 – A single Tory 35% in January vs an average of more than three a month in October-December 2013? That does NOT suggest an upwards trend!

  25. The two polls together just about meet my undemanding definition of ‘sensational’ particularly as it seemed reasonable to expect movement in Labour’s direction in response to EB’ s policy statement.

    As ever, though ,there is inconsistency with one showing a hefty swing Lab-UKIP (which I can’t believe), the other a more plausible swing Lab-Con.More similar YouGov polls this week would confirm something’s happening but for what it’s worth I think we’ll see the apparent movement reverse to something like a 5% Labour lead.

  26. Given that polling – across ALL parties – shows support way in excess of the typical Labour VI it can’t have anything to do with that specifically.

    BUT….. it is very hard to withstand the media barrage “informing” the public how orful and socialist and backward a party is, without some of that sticking, in a very general way.

    As I wrote in the last thread the Tories are currently showing off a range of low tops, 35 and 32%.

    Well done to them for that.

  27. Sometimes it’s the effect of the polls, rather than the effect on the polls, that matters. I think Labour will be disquieted over these numbers, largely due to the timing along with the tax announcement, and despite a contrary poll giving them a very healthy 40%. Twas ever thus.

    The biggest worry will be that this offers the media a chance to change the narrative, which many are gleefully seizing. I saw no comments on twitter this morning, when Tories were wallowing miles behind Labour, but of course tonights polls provide a change, and a change is a story in itself.

    As all sensible people know, we need to wait and watch, but I’m intrigued that a policy that appeared to create significant polling damage to the government, is now being treated by some as creating significant polling damage to the opposition once they propose to reverse it. Is this a first?

  28. MrNameless,

    I would imagine that UKIP is picking up on erstwhile CDE Labour supporters. They’ve got the immigration issue by the particulars now, and Labour may have to find some way of dealing with the tension between being a socially liberal party with a lot of socially illiberal supporters.

    In fact, UKIP have some pretty powerful narratives against all the main UK parties: disgruntled traditional Tory? UKIP don’t like gay marriage, the EU, immigration or taxes. Disgruntled WWC Labour supporter? UKIP are serious on immigration, unlike the LibLabCon. Disgruntled person who voted Lib Dem because they’re different? Well, just look at how the other parties shun UKIP- they’ve definitely different!

    Those narratives are almost entirely just the kinds of things that repel me, but I have to acknowledge the fact that UKIP are drawing support from all the UK parties, that this phenomenon requires explanation, and that none of them have worked out a way of dealing with UKIP’s attack lines. The fact that the past 7 years of economic misery have lowered the standing of all the parties on the economy doesn’t help their cases either.

  29. @roisie&daisie,

    Presumably by media barrage, you are excluding the mirror, independent and guardian that are routinely anti-Tory, even on days with good news such as last weeks employment figures.

    I really don’t get this conspiracy about the media being all right wing. To me, even the been seems rather left wing. Plus the left easily have the upper hand on social media.

  30. The beeb I mean!!

  31. That Labour to UKIP swing is very odd, although the Yougov poll could well just be natural Cons at top of range, rather than confirming the picture of Labour lead dropping sharply. Fascinating to see UKIP apparently hoovering up votes from both main parties.

    Is it really all about that 50% tax thing? It could be the case that voters want the 50% tax rate, but don’t really want Ed Balls to do it in case he gets into the habit of raising taxes. But perhaps they also they suspect Osbourne would be very reluctant to do any of that.

  32. Shifts in voting TRENDS require explanations. An unusual poll (and only the ComRes poll shows a dramatic change) doesn’t require a special explanation.

    Therefore I don’t see any reason to try and explain these polls on the basis of the 50p tax policy.

  33. @Chris Martin

    Tomorrow’s poll makes it two @35% in three days. Agreed, no trend as yet.

  34. Encouraging but we need to see more with similar results to confirm a step change as others have said.

    Perhaps I’m not the only ordinary bloke who views Balls’s tax announcement as vindictive and likely to cost ordinary people their jobs as businesses locate abroad, plus of course it reminds people that Labour has previous on tax increases and they might not stop at 50p, or at high paid workers.

    Movement from UKIP to Labour is very interesting.

  35. 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).

    UH OH…..

    YouGov poll. CON 35%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 13%. That’s the lowest YouGov lead since December.

    UH OH….

    European election voting intentions in Scotland. Topline figures were CON 14%, LAB 24%, LDEM 6%, SNP 43%, UKIP 7%, Green 4%.

    UH OH…

    Headlines… Labour in cross border meltdown…. UH OH

  36. 7% for UKIP in any sort of election in Scotland would impressive, especially since it implies that in some areas they are doing much better.

    24% for Labour in Scotland in any sort of election should lead them to look for heads to roll.

  37. And UKIP up 4% and labour down 4%? Is that a UH OH or something else?

    We saw a few polls a couple of days ago which had UKIP on the up and none of it came from the Tories.

    Trends, events UH OH’S, call it what you like I’m getting the popcorn in.

  38. @Statgeek – Precisely. There’s nothing at all to suggest an increase in the Con VI – the frequency and magnitude of their peaks are still going in the wrong direction.

    Trends, events UH OH’S, call it what you like I’m getting the popcorn in.

    That made me smile!, I am off to get some jelly sweets.

    What a great nights polling.

  40. @Everybody – Can we stop imagining that an announcement made on Sunday morning can have had any measurable impact on a survey that was conducted primarily on Friday and Saturday? Thanks in advance!


    “24% for Labour in Scotland in any sort of election should lead them to look for heads to roll”

    Well to be fair I think that showing is slightly up on 2009 but never the less a wee head rolling would be quite amusing.

  42. Since the 50p tax rate won’t affect 99% of voters there’s no reason why it should have a significant effect on VI. At most it may feed into perceptions of economic competence and/or social justice.

  43. @ Chris Martin

    Based on this, you must be leaning towards a 10% ish lead for Labour tomorrow night then?

  44. @RogerH – Since the 50p tax rate wasn’t in the news until after 99% of the polling had been done there’s no reason why it should have a significant effect on VI.

  45. RICH

    ” I am off to get some jelly sweets”

    Chuck the red ones out lol ;-)

  46. I suppose we have to comment so as to prevent silly ‘You all shut up when the polls go against you’ remarks.

    Labour’s monthly average is slap bang in the middle of where it’s always been, as is the Conservative one. Of course there could be sea-changes at any time, but this isn’t evidence for it. The only significant taker from Labour is the UKIP take on Comres anyway.

    If there’s any kind of a change, I doubt it’s anything to do with the 50p tax rate announcement. People are struggling to concoct rather sophisticated reasoning to back that up and announcements which sway polling tend to be much less sophisticated and immediate in their appeal or repel factor (imo).

    If there is any slight movement in the Conservative VI, that must arise from the ‘things are getting better’ narrative – more particularly the ‘your personal circumstances are getting better (whether you know it or not)’ narrative – of a few days before, which will have had time to sink in by now. The right wing media will be hammering at that, and none of us have a clue as to how effective they will be.

    Labour to UKIP? That’s counter-intuitive and has to be margin of error. UKIP aren’t even trying very hard for Labour voters.

  47. Pretty certain this poll has little or no impact from 50p announcement given timing. May be a small impact either way later in the week. This narrowing is down to the improving picture around the economy, employment and growth.

  48. @Bantams – Extremely unlikely: I don’t think that the 50p tax rate will shift many people’s VI – at most it will shift people’s turnout. People who like the policy already tend to vote Labour; people who dislike it already tend to vote Tory.

    But I do think it’s silly to anachronistically credit an announcement made on the 26th for a poll that was carried out primarily on the 24th and 25th!


    Well at least no one can accuse you of trying to put some spin on ;-)

    “Labour to UKIP? That’s counter-intuitive and has to be margin of error. UKIP aren’t even trying very hard for Labour voters”

    No but Labour aren’t trying very hard over emigration so it is quite plausible Labour voters are looking towards UKIP for that narrative.

  50. @CHRIS MARTIN: “Since the 50p tax rate wasn’t in the news until after 99% of the polling had been done there’s no reason why it should have a significant effect on VI.”

    That’s partly true, although the proposal was in the news on Friday so would have been known to some, particularly for today’s YouGov. I just don’t think it’s likely to move votes one way or the other anyway, though.

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