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. AW

    That intercourse of yours with Boulton.

    I’ve done my damnedest tonight to try to see it from his side. But I keep getting the same interpretation going through my mind.

    What he said, in essence, was, “By giving us a pile of information, you are presenting us with the opportunity to show how incapable we are of a) sifting through lots of evidence to find the truth within or b) presenting information in an impartial manner.”

    I honestly cannot see any alternative interpretation.

  2. ac

    “No but Labour aren’t trying very hard over emigration”

    I dunno…. I’ve heard they bringing back the old £10 fares for Tories to bugger off – I mean emigrate – to Australia.

    Or somewhere.

    Well, anywhere really.

  3. “likely to cost ordinary people their jobs as businesses locate abroad”

    Did they all bugger off in 2010 then ?

    How many left & where will I find the proof of this ?

  4. Rich

    “This narrowing is down to the improving picture around the economy, employment and growth.”

    And categorically, unquestionably, indubitably nowt to do with MoE.

  5. There’s a couple of things that could explain the Lab to UKIP movement, even if they are a bit unlikely.
    1) Many Lab voters are anti-EU, and could it be that enough of them are aware of the wrecking of the referendum bill to explain the movement? Unlikely, but possible.
    2) Some voters are pleased about recent economic statistics and may even be feeling the effects themselves. However they are the sort who would never vote Tory, so say they support UKIP because they see them as a sort of surrogate Tory party that they are allowed to vote for?

    That’s all I can think of. It’s certainly true that UKIP do attract quite a lot of Labour voters, but we’ll have to wait and see whether these two polls are outliers of course.

  6. @LeftyLampton – Literally being the devil’s advocate, wasn’t Boulton saying that having lots of polls made it a) easy for other, unethical journalists to intentionally misrepresent them, and b) easy for all journalists without a statistics background to misunderstand them?

    I think he’s wrong in the particular and an idiot in general, but I think there is a charitable interpretation.

  7. RogerH
    “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.”

    You are correct in stating only 1% of the working population will be directly affected (They pay nearly 30% of the income tax take incidentally) but you are wrong to say 99% wont be affected. They will be when they lose their jobs as companies relocate to more business friendly jurisdictions. Imagine the disaster if one of the major car builders relocated elsewhere?

    You need to look at the issue in the round.

  8. @Rich: “This narrowing is down to the improving picture around the economy, employment and growth”

    How would that account for UKIP being the main beneficiaries with the Tories going nowhere?

  9. Bill Patrick

    “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.”

    Interesting to see how that UKIP group voted in 2011 –

    37% (13) of the 35 identified UKIP voters (weighted by turnout) voted Tory in 2011 : 23% (8) voted SNP : 20% (7) voted Labour : 9% (3) voted for another party : 3% (1) Did not vote : 6% (2) were probably too young to have voted in 2011, so weren’t included.

    Please tell me we aren’t seriously discussing numbers like this!

  10. Chordata

    Hmm. That’d be the 2010 when we saw GDP rise by 2.odd% despite the Contraction of Osborne’s Winter. That growth was way above the Treasury predictions of Budget 2009 which expected 1.7% growth in 2010 and seen their predictions called “fantasy economics” by the gurus of Big Business.

  11. @RogerH – The key announcements were in the Sun on Sunday and on Sunday’s Andrew Marr. There was a little bit of advance trailing in the nerdy pages of the broadsheets. But I think we’re agreed in general :)

  12. @Rich – “This narrowing is down to the improving picture around the economy, employment and growth.”

    Hmmm. That assumes there has been a narrowing. In fact, I think you’ll find that January has seen a marginal widening of the lead (I say think, as I recall @Statgeek showed this a day or so back, but I could be wrong).

  13. DAISIE

    “I dunno…. I’ve heard they bringing back the old £10 fares for Tories to bugger off – I mean emigrate – to Australia.

    Or somewhere.

    Well, anywhere really”
    ____

    I might join them down in Ozz, better weather.

    Btw the weather down south is just as bad as Scotland. Might pop in and see you on my way back up.

  14. Chris M

    Your point b) kinda reinforces my point a), given that AW tells us that Sky are doing a Breaking News job on today’s poll figures. If you’re saying that a charitable interpretation is that his colleagues are as thick as a bucket of pig droppings, and are unable to cope with concepts that AW can explain to bright 14 year olds, I’d hate to see you taking a hard line!

  15. Oldnat,

    My statement was a hypothetical, not a prediction! The samples may be a bit too wee…

  16. @Robert Newark – There’s no evidence that top marginal tax rates have any correlation to migration of businesses. There isn’t even any logical connection between the two: the top tax rate makes no difference at all to the foreign owners of Nissan or Ford.

  17. Oh Lefty, I wish you had used a different term.

    Intercourse with Boulton would be enough to have me screaming……in terror.

  18. Bill Patrick

    “Too wee, too poor and …..” (I’ll avoid AW’s wrath by not completing the aphorism! :-) )

  19. @Chris Martin (10.36)

    I was thinking specifically about the YG poll (as in my opinion it is most relevant) and my understanding is that their polling ends at about 5.00pm on the day of publication – since they started releasing results at 10.00 pm. Thus there should be a fair number of respondents from today. As all the polling would have been done yesterday and today (correct me if I’m wrong Anthony) it would have been done in the knowledge of the 50 p tax.

  20. The best joke on that pun has been done, and done nearly 54 years ago-

    “What are they talking about, Stan?”

    “Commercial intercourse with foreigners.”

    “Ooooh!”

  21. leftylampton

    AW

    That intercourse of yours with Boulton
    __________

    Crickey keep it clean

    Thank you.

  22. In fact, more than 54 years ago, now that I check.

  23. Pete B,

    I think it may have a little to do with immigration.

    When UKIP start picking up on non-WWC Labour voters, I’ll believe that Labour churn to UKIP may be due to Labour voters’ issues with the EU and voting UKIP as a surrogate way of voting Tory.

  24. @LeftyLampton – I do agree, but I can understand how from a stupid person’s perspective it must be difficult when it seems as though us clever statisticians are just making things even more difficult to understand than they were already. And Boulton has made a career out of possessing the right kind of stupidity.

    Also, remember that the skillset of a journalist is definitionally verbal, whereas the skillset of a statistician or psephologist is definitionally numerical – even a very clever journalist wouldn’t necessarily be adept enough /with numbers/ to understand polls properly.

    Communicating statistics clearly and easily to the majority of people who are functionally innumerate is a problem that is only ever intermittently solved.

  25. @Robert Newark: “They pay nearly 30% of the income tax take incidentally”

    Can’t see what relevance that might have to VI but I will point out that they also receive well over 20% of the income (compared with about 7% in the mid 1970s). The average income of the UK’s top one per cent in 2010 was £238,381, increasing by 20% in 2010 and 25% in 2011.

  26. ac

    “I might join them down in Ozz, better weather.”

    That’ll be nice.

    “Btw the weather down south is just as bad as Scotland. Might pop in and see you on my way back up.”

    I think that is when we go out for our walk.

  27. @Peter Bell – Okay, but in that case it’s a single data point, as the “double whammy” aspect is nullified.

  28. It amazes me that anyone can think that if labour VI is down 4% and UKIPs is up 4% then precisely 4% of Labour voters have made a direct switch.

    The pups are wuffinfg and larfing at the idea – and they’re only littul and more interested in Julian Draxler signing for the Arse – or Germany as the Gunners are soon to be called.

  29. Bill Patrick
    I’m guessing that WWC means ‘White Working Class’?

    There are middle-class and non-white (and sometimes both) UKIP activists. How would we know what class or race their supporters are?

    But let’s assume you’re right, and that immigartion is the reason some Lab voters are going to UKIP. What has happened recently in that direction to affect VI?

    Also, if you think that race is an isuue, why would UKIP VI be rising when the main current concern is white Eastern European immigration?

    Of course, if WWC doesn’t mean what I’m guessing, ignore the above remarks.

  30. @Rosie and Daisie – It would be nice to have a proper longitudinal study where we could see indeed precisely who had switched since the last survey. Alas for the expense and the impracticality of such an idea.

  31. @Pete B – Crosstabs suggest that the core of UKIP voters are lower middle class, aka the traditional petty bourgeois heartland of European fascist parties. In France they would be voting for Front National, but in England they vote for a bumbling bloke with a pint who kicks racists out of his party. Even non-UKIP voters must find that reflection on English political culture a little endearing.

  32. Pete B,

    Actually it means “Warwickshire Water Closet”, but White Working Class works even better.

    Who said anything about racism? The point is about UKIP’s most powerful selling point with Labour voters being immigration, and the people who tend to worry most about immigration are the white working class, particularly in England and especially in parts of England that have had to deal with high levels of immigration.

    “How would we know what class or race their supporters are?”

    You get some sense of the former from the crossbreaks. The latter would require specific polling to go beyond a working supposition.

  33. Chris Martin,

    If UKIP do nothing else than drive the BNP to extinction by providing an alternative outlet for concern over immigration and Europe, then they will have done a good service.

  34. I’ve just heard that I’ve got inflammation of the patella and a defective patella lining.

    This is good as I now know why my knee is giving me ole gyp.

    I shall keep you informed of my progress.

    Who knows….. I may play for Scotland after all.

    Like Dudley Moore’s one-legged Tarzan I was in with quite a good chance when I could just hop a bit

  35. Rich earlier mentioned the Graun as a Labour paper.

    Tomorrow’s political headlines are Cameron saying stuff about “Labour learning nothing” etc.

    Most TV news I watch headline stuff like the 50% tax rate, doesn’t tell viewers how much someone attracting that rate will already have earned in cash terms and then goes to some business leader who says its a disaster and bangs on for ages.

    Its probably not hugely significant either way but I am quite sure that Britain is a great place to live in, regardless of whether you get an extra £50,000 or an extra £55,000 a year, if you earn a quarter of a mill per annum instead of a measly 150 K.

  36. @ Paul (or pups)

    “I now know why my knee is giving me ole gyp…Who knows….. I may play for Scotland after all”

    As someone said recently on radio 5: “as much use as a one-legged man in an a*se-kicking contest” ;)

  37. 3 legged dogs OK though
    Come to think of it 3 legs might help Scotland

  38. Where do you fit in>

    “When you think about your income, do you feel rich, poor, or just plain average? Many of us probably have no idea – or the wrong idea – how we compare with the rest of the population. But here, just by answering a few short questions, you can find out where you lie in the UK income distribution, and how many people are better or worse off than you.”

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/wheredoyoufitin

  39. Chris Martin

    Crosstabs suggest that the core of UKIP voters are lower middle class, aka the traditional petty bourgeois heartland of European fascist parties.

    No they don’t. If you look at the cross-tabs they show that UKIP voters are disproportionately working class, more so than any other Party, including Labour. If you look at the percentages of C2DE voters in a Party’s support in the most recent YouGov for example you get:

    Con 29%

    Lab 48%

    Lib Dem 36%

    UKIP 54%

    Where pollsters give more detailed breakdown by SEG, the UKIP vote seem to be strongest in the C2 group – usually describes as skilled working class. There is probably some distortion here due to UKIP’s age profile (older people are more likely the have/have had working class jobs), but there’s certainly not a majority there that’s “traditional petty bourgeois”. We’ll leave the discussion of the roots of fascism for another day.

    People tend to make this mistake with UKIP (we even once caught our Dear Leader saying it on television) they mistake the leadership and image of a Party for its support. But if that was the case most of the population of the country would be made up of posh policy wonks with Oxbridge degrees.

  40. Tomorrow’s YouGov will be eagerly awaited.

    It would be a blow for Labour if the 50% tax rate announcement did lead to a drop of support. It would mean either (or both) of:

    Voters don’t like such redistributive policies (or don’t think they work); or

    Opinion (and Voting) can be directly influenced quickly and easily by the rich and powerful hitting all the media

  41. Looking at the YouGov crossbreaks we do have some “sensational” movement.

    Con now lead at 25-39 and 40-59 age breaks but Lab has crept ahead at 60+

    Level in London, Con has HUGE lead in ros but Lab still lead elsewhere.

    Is it possible that retired people like the tax on high earners (cos it’s not them or likely to be them) but younger people (and it applies more the younger you get) still think they are going to earn that sort of money sometime soon?

  42. NickP,

    I wouldn’t infer much from a single unusual crossbreak. Occasionally one party does better than expected in a particular subsample, but only a trend change is worth examining.

  43. NICKP
    “It would be a blow for Labour if the 50% tax rate announcement did lead to a drop of support.”

    It will be much more interesting, and discernible, to see the reaction to the directly contrasting Lab and CON policies on house construction: Lab 200,000 per year, Con 165,000 over three years.- Housing Minister looking very glum on Sunday politics on the beeb, like a boy whose Mum had taken away his marbles before he came out to play.

  44. john pilgrim

    Problem is, so far Labour hasn’t pledged to build 200,000 homes a year, have they?

    Wish they would.

    I would rather Labour offered an actual alternative to Con!

  45. So UKIP appears to have secured the Gays Cause Storms Pro Gun,***** knows what’s in the Manifesto,Invisible Hordes of Romanians, Vote.

    Regarding the Rest MOE I suspect it just looks like a trend when there are Two at One but 23 out of the around 30 Polls this year have shown Labour at over 37% (Most common number 40%)
    While around 25 have shown the Tories under 34% the most common 32%.

    Let’s see what happens over the next week or two.

    W

  46. NICKP
    Yes – I think they have:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25904807

    “Labour have pledged to build 200,000 affordable houses per year …..”

  47. Okay.

    Mind you, they have my vote anyway! just a tad more enthusiastically.

  48. Well well well.
    hmmmm?

  49. @John Pilgrim

    Regarding the class thing. Soz about the delay: much of the weekend was taken up with buying a new camera. Which I had hoped might be a bit more straightforward than some of my forays, but no, I found myself in a world of anti-aliasing filters, photosites, lens distortion and other such delights. (In the end I bought a Fuji X-Pro1 in an offer with a couple of lenses, in case any camera buffs would like to reassure me of my choice, or inform me of my error…).

    You began by saying that I didn’t take the Marx-Weber dialogue far enough, “particularly in respect of Weber’s analysis of the development of bureaucracy and the routinisation of behavior within institutions.”

    This is true, because the issue at hand was not the role of institutions in class conflict, but simply what determines whether one is middle class or not.

    That said, you may well be right when you say ” Weber thus saw class conflict and corruption as avoided by institutional development and bureaucracy and by the stability and continuity which this provides to social and economic relationships.” But it’s possible you are perhaps a touch more enamoured with the institution thing than I am, given your interests in International Development etc.

    I can see the benefits of institutions, but to me the benefits tend to be more in terms of preservation rather than trying to get things done in timely fashion with the minimum of needless compromise and political bollox. It does depend to some considerable extent on the degree to which there are external pressures on the institution to deliver. External pressures tend to cut through the politics and stuff.

    Regarding your subsequent post talking of Weber and “his work on bureaucracy, which has been influential in informing codes and practice in public and commercial institutions in the West. This relates notably to his teaching on the control of incomes in corporate bureacratic institutions, as requiring salaries to be determined by terms of service and contract, and sees the rule against their being derived rewards from returns or product as basic to the principles of bureaucratic institutions…”

    …Well I have mixed feelings here too. I mean, sure, payment by rewards, targets etc. can be distorted, gamed, be counter-productive. But equally, the absence of such pressures can lead to lacklustre performance and political infighting as folk don’t have sufficient external pressure or focus. On the other hand, there are institutions with a strong vocational ethic where they strive to do a good job regardless of reward.

    Alternatively one might find in practice a cadre within institutions who are keeping things together while others are pursuing other diversions, if not enthusiastically throwing themselves into making things worse. As an adjunct to Weber, if you fancy something lighter for a change, you might like to incorporate some Dilbert into your reading, the creator of which, Scott Adams, once observed that the world turns on the 10% of people who do their job well.

    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/

  50. I just posted a long reply to some of the points on here re the news and realised I had done it in the thread below doh! Springs to mind.

    Long story short if an editor has the opportunity to go with a story of no change or dramatic shift! Both of which can be proved by statistics which do you reckon is more appealing.

    Secondly the polls last five on you gov have been 4,8,3,7,2 it is labours turn tonight for a higher lead how much on a 6 point lead?

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