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. “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?”

    Since I get the choice, can I have a 12 point lead, please?

  2. : comres on a sample of 411 unweighted: 47 Tory, 62 Labour, 37 Libdem, 22 UKIP- statistically unreliable sample. 

    [No it wasn’t. These are the figures for the squeeze question to those who said they wouldn’t vote, don’t know, etc – AW]

  3. Nickp if you like who to the Tories?

  4. Green?

  5. Seems many are excited on here today. As AW says much too early to spot any trends yet. The samples from both of the latest polls look a little odd to me.

  6. I suppose the sensational thing about the two polls (if there is one) is that they were a movement in the opposite direction to that which many hoped/feared/expected/ theorised.

    Just goes to show you never can tell.

  7. RogerH
    “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.”

    Well if they weren’t creating jobs and earning like that and by inference, paying tax like that, think about how much extra tax we would have to pay to make up the shortfall and where the jobs would be.

    There are always excesses and to control them I have said previously that there should be a link between what the lowest paid in a business and the highest paid receive in remuneration.
    It’s very popular to knock large bonus’s but let’s remember that 60% of the bonus goes to the Treasury in tax & NI.

    If my next door neighbour can afford to drive a new Aston Martin, then I’m pleased for his success, not envious of him. I’m happy to stick with my 15 year old Range Rover (which I have had for 10 years and can’t afford to change). []

  8. @ Lefty,

    Not an Adam Boulton fan, I take it.

    @ T’Other Howard,

    You are the official winner of today’s “Person talking sense about the polls even though a facile reading would seem to favour their team” award*.

    * Although I realise the Tories aren’t really your team because they aren’t cutting the deficit fast enough.

  9. The average Tory VI really is up on YouGov from the first week in January- 32% to 33%. (Although it’s worth noting that this just brings them back to where they were in December.) The Lib Dems are also consistently down a bit post-Rennard, although the change is so slight that it’s barely noticeable.

    I note with amusement that ComRes’s figures give a grant total of votes for the four main parties 88%. Even allowing for an SNP surge, that doesn’t add up. They do realize people have to vote for someone, right?


    @”UKIP voters are disproportionately working class, ”

    Today’s Times headline is “Wrong kind of people are in UKIP, Farage says”.
    It results from an interview with the paper in which NF says they have to “screen out Walter Mittys seeking a role in politics”

    The papers Leader today is an interesting analysis of what might happen to UKIP if/when it distances itself from its past of free speaking eccentrics & protesters, to centrally controlled discipline , and policy with “mainstream” appeal.

    The analysis reminds me of a remark by Steve Richards , that UKIP could “implode” between a resounding success in the Euros & the GE, under the intense examination of their policies.


    @”Not an Adam Boulton fan, I take it.”

    After his dust up with Campbell, he has my vote.

    Actually I think he is a perceptive & tough interviewer. He has that air of cynicism about his style which communicates the impression that he takes nothing any of them say , at face value.

  12. Hm, I’m not sure Ukip voters are all that interested in the coherence of Ukip’s policies.

    Having the rightwing tabloids turn on them could be a big problem for them, though. And the Sun seems to be turning.

    One thought on the Labour -> Ukip churn: there may be some support for ComRes in the high Labour Populus figures. Because of the way Populus downweigh Ukip, I think we could expect any party suffering a leak to Ukip to fare better with Populus then they do with any other pollster- which in fact is exactly what we’re seeing right now with Labour. Something to keep an eye on.

  13. By rights the headline from this YouGov should be that we’re back to three party politics in London… Con, Lab and Respect.

    UKIP and LD fighting it out for fourth place.

    Plus, Tories draw level with SNP north of the border, but that’s hardly news.

  14. If the “sensational” Comres poll isn’t just due to a statistical blip (even a Tory lead of 1% would fit within MOE of the last two polls they did) then I’m wondering why the Tories are on 32% as they were in the previous two polls? Given most of the polling was done before the 50p announcement, what would cause a sudden collapse in Lab support with no benefit to the Cons? Surely feel good news about the economy, if that’s what caused the movement, should have benefited them, not just hurt Lab?

    The YouGov one I can understand getting more excited about. Yes, it still fits comfortably with an average Lab 39, Con 33, as we should expect semi-regular 2% MOE changes instead of the almost daily 1% variation, but if the base VI is going to shift, it would start with a poll like this one. So could be the start of something new. Or not. We should have a better idea by Friday.

    But the ComRes reinforces my feeling that monthly polls are effectively useless when looked at in isolation. And I’d feel the same if the shift had gone the other way and we had a 10% Lab lead. There are far too many variables over the course of a month which, when added to the MOE, means you really can’t tell what, if anything, has actually happened. Only by looking for similar movement in other polls conducted at the same time can you perhaps draw conclusions. Populous didn’t show anything unusual, and I believe the fieldwork for last night’s YouGov was conducted after the fieldwork for the ComRes one, so should we be comparing it to Sunday’s? Or have I got that wrong? And either way, we won’t know for another couple of days whether YouGov showed any change either.

  15. @Robert Newark – “It’s very popular to knock large bonus’s but let’s remember that 60% of the bonus goes to the Treasury in tax & NI.”

    This is an untruth. NI is only 2% on high incomes.

  16. @Robert Newark:

    Is there any evidence that the top one per cent create proportionately more jobs than anyone else? Or, if so, that they create more jobs now than in the past when they awarded each other smaller salaries?

  17. 2013 Q4 GDP:-

    Year on year % +/-

    Total GDP
    2013 +1.9%
    Q4 2013 +2.8%

    Production component
    2013 -0.1%
    Q4 2013 + 2.7%

    Construction component
    2013 +1.8%
    Q4 2013 +4.5%

    Services component
    2013 +1.8%
    Q4 2013 ?

  18. I think the Comres poll may prove to be out of line with others over a period. Apparently the raw figures for the poll showed Labour 38.9%, Tory 29%.

    We will see. I suspect that in a months time the polls will show not much of a change to the current UKPR polling average Labour 38% and Tories 32%.

    On a different subject, not good news for the Banking sector with RBS continuing to be a mess, expecting an annual loss of about £8 billion. No chance of RBS being sold any time soon. I think the government may be tempted to break RBS up into smaller banks. With RBS and Natwest separated, a new investment bank. They may then have more chance of getting to a point, where parts can be sold off, to at least get taxpayers their money back.

  19. @Robert Newark

    Persisting with the envy tag isn’t gonna help. Even if it were universally the case, it would be a straw man, because the other concerns people have expressed remain.

    Your argument that the rich create jobs… well some of them do. Some of them, however cost jobs, like the folk who bought the toxic debt and took out 7% of the economy.

    Some do create jobs… But it’s for people messing with Libor, or misselling PPI or pressure sales tactics for the elderly and otherwise vulnerable.

    Some rich folk reinvest the money to create worthwhile jobs, some hoover up assets instead and push up house prices.

    Some pay a notable amount of tax, some not so much.

    There is a disconnect between what people earn, and the value of what they do, and often that boils down to reproduceability. So, a top surgeon, may earn a fair bit, but there is a ceiling because his skills are not easily mass-produced. The more complex something is, quite often the harder to reproduce.

    But Wossy can coin it because modern digital tech can beam him into our living rooms. He didn’t invent the tech, and without it he might be just some guy in a music hall or something.

    However, if you or someone you care about is dying, you’ll soon realise who is really worth the money, ‘cos forced to choose, you’d probably give your last pennies to the surgeon, rather than Wossy.

    Other problems with wealth concentration include:

    – Stacking the deck. Even if the wealth was fairly earned, once you have it you can preferentially stack the deck in your favour in future, inhibiting others in the process
    – The wealthy are more able to take the money out of the economy
    – it affords greater opportunity to buy favour, push policy to suit yourself

    (This is without considering things like providing more for the disadvantaged, or Spirit Level arguments etc…)

  20. Further to what Colin wrote

    UK GDP grew by 0.7% in Q4 2013

    Pretty good, I note Markit said it would by 1.5%

    increase comprised of

    0.1 manufacturing
    0.1 distribution, hotel and restaurants (esp motor trade + wholesale)
    0.4 business services and finance ( admin and professional services)
    0.1 government and other services ( health and social work)

    Will it change voting intentions, not sure. I think rising living standards are much more likely to, and we are still waiting for that.

  21. A lot depends on whether the growth is in the marginals…

  22. I’m not sure whether Sine N has already suggested that certain posters might have been keeping their heads down last night/this morning given the polling news.

    Well if he has, in my case he was right.

    One thing though. If Labour had any gumption this morning, they’d use the economic news as an opportunity to challenge the “Labour’s mess”
    narrative. The annual GDP growth rate over 2014 is no more than the growth rate left to the present government by Labour in 2010. It’s taken them four years to get back to that level.

    Somehow, I think that opportunity will yet again be missed.

    Anyway, feeling rather down to say the least, so bye for now.

  23. nickp

    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.

    The tables are available here:

    but for some reason don’t seem to have made it onto the archive. And they look like a complete mess. For one age group to be out of its normal range happens occasionally[1]; for all four to be way outside their normal parameters would send Lady Bracknell’s eyebrows into orbit. This looks more like carelessness than just a rogue poll – could something be wrong with the tables or with the balance of the invitations that went out? We only rarely see Labour ahead in the over-60s, but usually when there is a big lead. And I can’t remember when the Conservatives last lead in either 25-39 or 40-59, never mind both.

    [1] Usually the under-25s for technical reasons. As it happens this one is far too anti-Tory with only 12% and manages to be based on only 39 respondents only 9 of which were male which means the votes of each of them got multiplied by about ten times.

  24. I think reacting day by day, poll by poll is a pretty pointless activity.

    It’s like judging the weather next week by looking out your window every five minutes.

  25. “I think reacting day by day, poll by poll is a pretty pointless activity.”

    True, however like Phil H I found it a bit disheartening to have 2 polls with miserable results on the same day :-(

  26. @ catmanjeff

    “I think reacting day by day, poll by poll is a pretty pointless activity.”

    Which is more or less what AW warns us about every time a new poll is published…but no-one ever takes any notice!

  27. Colin

    GDP figures more or less as predicted. Nice to see production as one of the drivers now.

    What I want to see is investment picking up. I know it is a lagging indicator but it need to be rising soon if the recovery is to be sustained.

  28. @Guymonde

    “…two miserable results in one day”

    I support Leeds United. I know the feeling….

  29. Guymonde

    “True, however like Phil H I found it a bit disheartening to have 2 polls with miserable results on the same day :-(”

    It depends on what side of the political fence you sit I suppose. Those on the right probably feel cheered by the figures. As I said above it is not sensible to read anything like a trend yet so why feel miserable?

  30. I don’t see the reason for thrills on here at all. The only figure that’s is remarkably different to the run of polls is the Comres Labour figure of 33. Con is 32 and 33 on Comres and YG while Lab is 32 and 37 rspectively.

    Clearly, thus, (note not that h….e word), the Comres is an outlier result, – with Others on 12! YG has others on 6. That should tell you all you need to know.

    At least, it is, unless we had a Comres every night for the next 2 nights that shewed the same result. We would then have to start wondering who was wrong, Comres or the others (the ‘only one in step’ syndrome).

    The probability (combined Lab and Con on 65, usually low 70s on other pollsters) that we have here an unfortunate outlier. It will be Comres who are worried, not the parties.

  31. TOH

    Yes I agree. I think the way “Business Services” is now motoring at + 3%pa is a leading indicator-and we are still in that phase I think.

    I am sure Business Investment will start to rise significantly.
    I hope too that Exports will do better-though the re-appraisal of Emerging Markets going on right now doesn’t look encouraging, with the EZ still in some difficulty.

    But politically it must be employment & pay which actually affect individuals. The former seems to have a head of steam now & there are signs of the latter starting to rise-I hope Vince wrote a convincing case for a rise in Min Wage-that surely must pay political dividend if it goes up ?

  32. By the way, the Comres result leads to a shortfall of 2 seats for Labour OM on AW’s calculator.

    Lab / Plaid Cymru / Lib Dem Coalition anyone? :-)

  33. Rather weird construction data suggests that the GDP figure will be revised upwards (shock!) over time.

  34. Colin

    Yes, agree with your points. Like you I have some concerns about emerging economies and indeed China. We certainly need to see more exports, our balance of payments is still naff.

  35. The ComRes poll, on a UNS and with Scottish independence, would mean that Tories and Labour would be level pegging in seats after 2016.

  36. HOWARD

    @”I don’t see the reason for thrills on here at all. ”

    I don’t think anyone else here did either-if you discount the few Labour supporters who expressed concern.

    The few Con supporters have shown manifest constraint.

    For me, posts from anoraks like Roger Mexico’s 10.53am just add to my distrust & lack of understanding of opinion polls.

    I shall wait for OGH to pronounce that something significant has occurred-if indeed he ever does.

    Meantime UKPR graphs since the GE show only two incidents of significance-the Lib Dem defections to Labour-and the Omnishambles Budget.

  37. What has actually appeared on the Archive is the response (from the same sample) to questions on their views on the 50p tax proposal.

    And they rather knock the idea on the head that this is the cause of any great switch in voting intention. Even among this ‘unusual’ sample, there is support for the proposal by 61% to 26%.

    Despite (or maybe because of) the media being blanketed with the wingeing rich for the last few days, only 19% think it “Would damage the economy” (45% think it would help, 23% that it would make no difference). When faced with one of YouGov’s long, balanced preambles:

    Some people think that increasing the top rate of tax to 50p would not actually bring in much extra money, as it would hinder growth and some very wealthy people would move abroad to escape tax. Other people think that this is exaggerated, and that a higher tax rate would bring in more money.
    From what you have seen or heard, do you think the 50p tax rate would or would not bring in more money?

    50% say that it would “bring in more money”[1] and even asked Imagine it was the case that a top tax rate of 50p did not bring in any extra money. Which
    of the following would best reflect your view?
    , 40% say it should still be brought in.

    These figures don’t seem much different from those in Survation’s snap poll that appeared in the Mail on Sunday, which suggests there wasn’t much movement in the day or so between them being taken. So even if there has been a movement in VI, this probably isn’t the cause.

    [1] The question may be fairly worded, but the options aren’t really right as there isn’t a ‘would make no/not much difference’ one – something which the previous question’s responses suggests might be popular. These people would probably have chosen “Would not bring in more money” (29%) or Don’t know. Large numbers of people think that a lot of what politicians do doesn’t make any difference. Strangely this perception seems less popular among the political classes and their media friends.

  38. @Howard

    I totally agree with your measured analysis.

  39. The YG result gives a Lab OM of 18. I think EM would seek a Coalition on that basis. Younger as he is, he will remember the Major misery years (I mean miserable for Major).

    Taking FV’s breakdown of growth figures, above, it gives the picture that it is in the ephemeral stuff where it is taking place. It is in the first category where growth is especially required, not the the fluff. I think we should look at the ‘do you feel better off’ answers over the coming periods to see if an early sign of possible VI change can be predicted, especially among Labour voters.

  40. Colin
    I am sorry – my use of English meant that a thrill can be one of dread. Those emotions were certainly displayed here by Labour supporters (of whom, according to AW’s rules, we should be totally in the dark as to their identity :-)! ).

  41. @ Catmanjeff

    “I support Leeds United. I know the feeling….”

    Yes, but with the number of other teams that Leeds hate there is bound to be two miserable results in one day- in fact there is likely to be at least 4 teams Leeds hate who are playing each other :-)

  42. Anthony

    In the Independent, in addition to the figures for Con, Lab, LD and UKIP, there is an Others total of 12%. Do you have the data on how this is split?



  43. Obviously ‘weighting’ affected that Comres poll and whether it’s got anything to tell us or not will depend on how accurate the weighting system is.

    The odd thing, which could indeed be a mere blip, is the UKIP gain of 4% and the Labour fall of the same amount. There’s no reason whatsoever to assume this means a Labour to UKIP switch, but a thought occurred to me when going to bed last night: might the Labour fall (if fall it is) not only have nothing to do with the 50% tax on high earners announcement, but actually be tied to Balls’ stuff about cutting and reducing the deficit? If the Labour 38% in this parliament to date does represent a block of voters who reject neo-liberalism (however the economy behaves,) then it is just possible (isn’t it?) that hints from the shadow chancellor that he too might behave in ways they associate with neo-liberalism, might detach some of that 38% from his camp? The beneficiaries (if that were the case) would certainly not be the Tories.

    Equally (maybe more) likely, it’s a margin of error thing. But who knows?

  44. @Howard

    Business services consists of

    Other financial firms
    Goods rental companies
    Technology companies
    Estate agents

    The BOE agents wrote this for December

    Marketing, public relations and advertising spending was reported to have picked up somewhat against a backdrop of economic recovery.

    Demand for a range of professional advisory services had risen further, alongside increases in the number of corporate finance transactions.

    Recruitment agency and training activity had also picked up
    further as churn in the labour market had risen.

    IT services growth had remained strong.

    Property-related activity had picked up further alongside growth in housing market activity

    It seems to be broad based in the whole category, not sure if it is all fluff Howard, some could be described so, not the technology companies surely

    And Colin why is it a leading indicator?

  45. Bill Patrick

    “The ComRes poll, on a UNS and with Scottish independence, would mean that Tories and Labour would be level pegging in seats after 2016”

    That would be a very interesting outcome. Just think about it for a moment…Who or what would the coalition look like?. Would one party rule as a minority?

    The horse trading would be of biblical proportions.

    Who would get into bed with who?

  46. Colin

    […]For me, posts from anoraks like Roger Mexico’s 10.53am just add to my distrust & lack of understanding of opinion polls.

    Um thanks. Actually I don’t think you should have a distrust in opinion polls in general – if there weren’t a lot of good polls around, we wouldn’t be able to spot the odd-looking ones by comparison. The lesson is, as our talking Anthony Wells dolls remind us, not to get too excited over a particular “sensational” poll because it is more likely to be wrong than a dull one that is similar to all the others. Advice you have very sensibly taken, unlike people who are paid a lot of money to know better (or possibly paid a lot of money to do worse).

    Meantime UKPR graphs since the GE show only two incidents of significance-the Lib Dem defections to Labour-and the Omnishambles Budget.

    I would add a third, which is the rise of UKIP, especially in the last year. While we have seen this happen in odd blips before (for example after the 2009 Euros) that failed to be sustained for more than a few weeks. This has kept up for more than a year.

    Of course the omnishambles budget was also the one that dropped the top tax rate to 45%.

  47. I only just last week finally got my head around MOE enough to relax about daily polling variation. For the two biggest parties at least. It seems every single day Lab and Con will randomly vary by up to 1% around the weekly average (last week it was roughly 39-33). So you should expect Lab’s lead to range from 4% (Lab 38 Con 34) to 8% (Lab 40 Con 32), with most leads falling around 5-7%, for an average of 6%. I haven’t worked out exactly how often to expect 2% variation, but feels like about 2-3 times every fortnight may be normal. Which would give us ones like last night’s poll. And very occasionally we should get a 3% one where Lab hits 42 or 36 and/or Con hits 30 or 36. With none of those results, on their own, necessarily meaning there’s been any change at all in VI.

    So seems it really is only when the daily 1% variation starts clustering around new numbers that we’re seeing real movement in the polls. And it would take at least 3, but more likely 5 polls to be able to spot that.

    So well done to the Cons on here who aren’t getting carried away, and not so well done to those Labs getting depressed for no reason (yet!).

  48. I don’t begrudge Conservative sympathisers being pleased with today’s two polls, especially considering that they’ve had to look at a lot of pretty dismal polls for over 2 years now. I rather agree with Colin that, with one or two exceptions, their reactions have been measured and sensible. If I was in their shoes, I’d be encouraged too and good luck to them.

    As for those of us on the centre left, and therefore hanging our hats on Labour in the main, a period of poor polling for the party may snap some out of their complacency. As I’ve said before, unbelievably in my view considering the wreckage of May 2010, the 2015 general election is eminently winnable for Labour, but a gentle sleepwalk to victory isn’t an option. I think, as Phil Haines said, they’re missing a lot of tricks at the moment and they really can’t afford to do so. If they are to win, they’re probably going to have to do so at a time of sustained economic growth, a hellishly difficult thing for any opposition party to do. They’re helped by a historically weak Tory Party and an electoral system skewed in their favour, but I think we may be heading for an election in 16 months time when an opposition has to win it rather than wait for a government to lose it. That requires something a little more visionary than what’s being offered at the moment.

    That said, lots of water to flow under many bridges.

  49. @ Roger in Mexico on You Gov’s ?
    “Some people think that increasing the top rate of tax to 50p would not actually bring in much extra money, as it would hinder growth and some very wealthy people would move abroad to escape tax. Other people think that this is exaggerated, and that a higher tax rate would bring in more money. From what you have seen or heard, do you think the 50p tax rate would or would not bring in more money?”

    I don’t give a damn but as you hint this is NOT a balanced question.
    The first half prompts: i.e., it gives 2 reasons why a 50% rate would have 2 effects: bring in little money & damage the economy; the 2nd half refers to to “other people” & their vague & unexplained “belief” that a higher rate would bring in more money.
    By the end the reader has lost the will to live.

    The ? should be:
    “do you think the 50p tax rate would or would not bring in significantly more money?”

    The “anorak” comment should have been snipped.


    “They’re helped by a historically weak Tory Party and an electoral system skewed in their favour”

    35% would probably do it for Labour if the Tories are on the same or less. Skewed right enough.

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