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. Masses of churn in London. Lab down, Lib down, Con up, UKIP up, Respect up.

    Smaller samples than usual, so a definite wait and see.

    @NickP – Other reasons if 50% announcement is cause of some shift:

    – Ed Balls not trusted (previous government and the April 2010 tax hike)
    – Timing of announcement (when economy is performing better than 2-3 years ago).

  2. FLOATING VOTER

    Well-take some of the sectors you mention :-

    Marketing, public relations and advertising
    professional advisory services ( eg-BUsiness PLans/Engineering projects? Design/R&D ….)
    IT services
    Property-related activity

    I think these can all be seen as activities resulting from the intention to expand/invest-but a neccessary precursor to it.

  3. In addition, approval ratings are not significantly improving for Con, so not convinced yet.

  4. @Colin

    Thank you.

  5. Allan Christie

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

    It is the FPTP system that is skewed. In and of itself.

    Imagine 100 seats. And in 51 of them, 1 person voted LAB. And no-one else voted. And in the other 49 seats, 1,000,000 people voted CON (in each seat!)

    That would mean 51 people voted LAB and 49,000,000 voted CON.

    But still LAB would have “won” and would have an overall majority.

    FPTP is a nonsensical system which is inherently flawed.

  6. ROGER MEXICO

    Thanks-yes I agree with you on UKIP being the 3rd significant event-though it shows up more slowly & less dramatically than the other two on AW’s graphs.

    The “rule” I like best is the one CB11 promulgates :-

    “lots of water to flow under many bridges”

  7. “For the sake of an extra £100 million job creators will not invest, people will leave and the UK economy will suffer .”

    —-

    If 100 million is not worth the scrap.. doesn’t that work both ways?

    Why wouldn’t I invest or leave the UK for such a paltry sum?

  8. Why do they call it ‘First Past the Post’ when you don’t even know where the post is until all the votes are counted?

  9. Reading some worrying info about radiation from Fukushima and how this is affecting the waters on the west coast of Canada and US. Apparently there has been very high mortality among Seals and fish have been found with abnormal levels of radiation

    I think there is a possibility that the true scale of the problems relating to Fukushima are being kept secret from the public around the world, for fear of causing panic. When the German government opt to get rid of Nuclear power, perhaps this was informed by what they have been briefed on. I guess the UK government will sit on the info under official secrets and not even release until after 30 years have passed by.

  10. John B

    Why do they call it ‘First Past the Post’ when you don’t even know where the post is until all the votes are counted?

    The “post” is currently 326 seats.

    If you have that many, regardless of how many have voted for you, then you have ‘passed’ the post. You’ve won.

  11. ““lots of water to flow under many bridges”

    Except on the Zumerzet levels where it flows over them.

  12. Allan

    Yes, 35% would do it for Labour, unless the Tories somehow reach 40% – which is unlikely.

    But what happens if, for some reason, Labour were to drop to, say, 32%? At what stage do the ‘marginals’ become so numerous that all predictions are little more than wishful thinking?

  13. DAVID IN FRANCE

    Thanks for your explanation on FPTP system.. I am aware of how it works and as you pointed out it heavily favours Labour .

    The £100 million pound/50p tax is just a gimmick to appeal to people who think by attacking hard working people at the top end will make everything in lala land perfect.

  14. @Allan Christie

    Thanks for your explanation on FPTP system.. I am aware of how it works and as you pointed out it heavily favours Labour .

    No. That isn’t what I said.

    I said the system itself is inherently skewed.

    In practice, in the past, that has given CON the advantage. At the moment in gives LAB the advantage.

    Whomsoever it gives an undeserved advantage too is largely irrelevant.

    The system itself is wrong.

  15. David in France

    Thanks – but that’s not what I meant. The term FPTP makes sense when applied to 326, but it is also applied to individual constituencies. it is there that you have no idea where the post is. The French system, with a run off between the top two (where neither had 50+% in the first round, at least clarifies that issue.

  16. e alternative is very simple.

    There is no empirical evidence otherwise everyone would agree.

    What you quoted was just one opinion.

    I don’t have one but would err on a sense of – what seems to me – greater fairness when the poorest are at risk.

    I certainly wouldn’t be coming back at you with an opposite reading because neither is proven. Its a bit like theorising what someone would be like if they’d had different parents – we will never know.

  17. Lloyds bank are cutting another 1080 jobs & outsourcing a further 310.

    Hope those employees are revelling in the recovery
    ______

    No they are not and we should all hope they find alternative employment soon and join in the growth feast with the other 1.5 million new private sector jobs.

    hurrah hurrah they shouted when waving their papers.

  18. @Christie, Crossbat

    It’s not the Electoral System that’s tilted against the Conservatives, it’s the demographic distribution that is. The Conservatives pile up votes in support in super safe seats, resulting in fewer seats where they have ‘leaning advantage’. Labour have fewer super safe seats, but lots more with ‘leaning advantage’. What this translates to is that the Conservatives need bigger national vote differentials to gain more seats than Labour.

    The only *true* fix for this would be to have elections that did not depend on geographical Constituencies. Either a portion of or an entire house being elected by regional or national proportionality.

    The Conservatives are of course opposed to this. Their attempt to reduce seat numbers would not really have erased the problem, merely given some small amount of correction to it. However, the concentration of Conservative voters into Conservative areas is a ongoing demographical process. It’s not entirely understood why, but regular and core-identity Conservative voters move into Conservative neighbourhoods.

    It may well be possible that our elections give an advantage to which ever Party has appeal to the most geographically diverse population, instead of giving any extra weight to the ‘local link to the constituency’ that is a supposed benefit of FPTP.

  19. John B

    Yes. Sorry. See what you mean.

    In that respect, that someone has to get 50% or face a head-to-head run off does make “the post” that bit clearer.

  20. JOHN B

    “But what happens if, for some reason, Labour were to drop to, say, 32%? At what stage do the ‘marginals’ become so numerous that all predictions are little more than wishful thinking?”
    __________

    Good question and you could even factor in UKIP so some marginal seats could chuckj up some surprising results.

  21. DAISIE

    I don’t dispute society should look after its poorest and I really do have issues with IDC and his cavalier approach to welfare reforms but back to this 50p tax thing.

    Most of the people who will be hit buy this are not billionaires or even earning a million pounds.

    250K wage is a whopper but it’s not going to buy you a tropical island and a 40 foot Sunseeker in Monaco.

    Yes I was quoting from 1 individual on my 100 million claim but maybe take it u[p with him and tell him to stop warping my soft nut,

    Right wing parrot? Telling my granny.

  22. #by

  23. “The £100 million pound/50p tax is just a gimmick to appeal to people who think by attacking hard working people at the top end will make everything in lala land perfect.”

    Oh, Allen! What have you been eating? “Hard working people at the top!” This plea for sympathy by those who already have more than anyone needs (ever) is a little insulting to those whose needs are (dare I say it?) real.

  24. Jay Blanc

    “It’s not entirely understood why, but regular and core-identity Conservative voters move into Conservative neighbourhoods”

    I would have thought that was obvious and I think it is well understood by all.

  25. allan

    my post in response to your post – both of which we are discussing amicably – have disappeared into cyber-history, presumably deemed unfit for the children.

    Or something.

    Like the different parents theory we shall never know.

  26. @David in France:

    “Imagine 100 seats. And in 51 of them, 1 person voted LAB. And no-one else voted. And in the other 49 seats, 1,000,000 people voted CON (in each seat!) That would mean 51 people voted LAB and 49,000,000 voted CON. But still LAB would have “won” and would have an overall majority. FPTP is a nonsensical system which is inherently flawed.”

    Your example only demonstrates that a constituency-based system is (in your view) flawed, not FPTP. PR would deliver exactly the same result so long as you’re using the same constituencies.

  27. @R Huckle

    Japan’s PM Shinz? Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (right-wing/nationalist) passed draconian secrecy legislation in November last year.

    Wise decision on the part of Frau Merkel to go for nuclear shutdown imo.

  28. @John B,

    I’ve always seen “First past the post” more as a (slightly inaccurate) metaphor for “winner takes all”.

    If two horses run the race in almost identical times, the one that gets past the post first wins the race. Everyone else loses.

    So if the Tory gets 7 votes more than the Liberal, for example, he gets his nose in front and wins the whole race.

  29. I actually think that Germany and Japan’s nuclear shutdowns could work in the long term interests of Britain’s nuclear prospects.

    Nuclear power is sometimes seen as “limitedless power” when of course it’s nothing of the sort. It is burning up fuel taken out of the ground, just like coal. The burning is done in a different way, and the raw material is more potent (but rarer).

    The longer the word’s uranium stocks last (and more specifically, the longer we can rely on friendly and reliable stocks from our Australian cousins), the more secure nuclear power is and the more confident we can be in it providing our long term energy needs.

    Knocking out the competition from other big economies should delay the point at which we confront “uranium-insecurity”.

  30. @JAYBLANC: “It’s not the Electoral System that’s tilted against the Conservatives, it’s the demographic distribution that is. The Conservatives pile up votes in support in super safe seats, resulting in fewer seats where they have ‘leaning advantage’.”

    Why, though, do rural areas tend to be Conservative and urban areas Labour? Is it that urban dwellers are more gregarious and tolerant while rural dwellers are less social and more self-reliant?

  31. Good GDP figures, although given the surprise fall in manufacturing and production in November, and the fact that December’s figures are highly provisional at this stage and based more on surveys than data, it will be interesting to see if these remain quite as positive after revisions.

    One very odd feature of this data is construction, which is down by 0.3% in the quarter. That should be a very significant shock to observers, and well illustrates the possibility that confidence is being stretched beyond reasonable bounds.

    The Markit CIPS PMI data for construction throughout Q4 has been the most positive of any sector in each of the three months. The figures were;
    Oct 59.4
    Nov 62.6
    Dec 62.1

    Headlines were consistently focused on a booming construction sector, rapid growth, best growth since 2007 etc.

    The net result appears to be contraction, and the PMI data is miles out of line with the real data from the ONS.

    Recently in manufacturing and services, we’ve seen settling back of the PMI data, and we’re still seeing real household incomes falling. The big question will be whether the air of confidence is sufficient to become self sustaining, or if there are some hidden jolts which could expose an over confident economy.

    I’m with Vince – it’s a recovery, but fragile and unbalanced.

  32. Colin Davis

    I have no desire to get into an economic argument with you, this is not the site for that. However I do think your last post was a bit over the top. Below are three comments which I hope bring some balance.

    “Lord Jones of Birmingham, who was a trade minister under Gordon Brown, said the policy would be popular but constituted another attempt to “kick” wealth creators.”
    Lord Myners, a former Labour city minister said the move would take the party “back to old Labour and the politics of envy”.
    “The economic logic behind Ed Balls’s thinking would not get him a pass at GCSE economics,” he said.
    “A leading centre for independent economic research (IFS) has said the best evidence currently available suggests the 50p tax rate will raise “little revenue” and make a “marginal contribution” to reducing the budget deficit.

  33. Alec

    I agree in part with your comments but contruction is notoriously volatile and the figures may well be revised upwards in the future.

  34. “The £100 million pound/50p tax is just a gimmick to appeal to people who think by attacking hard working people at the top end will make everything in lala land perfect.”

    The average income of the top one per cent is about £250,000 pa so the increase will, assuming they take no tax avoidance measures, cost each an average of £6,500 pa. I doubt most will even notice it.

  35. Alec
    “The net result appears to be contraction, and the PMI data is miles out of line with the real data from the ONS”

    Not for the first time the guesswork has grossly exaggerated the realities. Beats me why so many pay heed to the guesswork instead of waiting for the results.

  36. RogerH

    “Why, though, do rural areas tend to be Conservative and urban areas Labour?”

    Another astonishing question, like that from Jay Blanc.

  37. @ Neil a

    yes, but my point is that in a horse race you know from the start where the post is. In a four way marginal (e.g. Inverness c. 1970s) the winner gets the lot with 28%.

    @ RogerH

    I’m not sure about your analysis of super-safe seats. Labour used to have those in the 60s and 70s (still does), so its nothing new. The real problem for the Conservatives is that they tend to represent places where the population has been growing over the past 20 years, but with no Boundary Commission redistribution in this parliament (due to Con v LD bust-up over Lords reform) the ‘normal’ addition of c. 25 Tory seats for next time didn’t happen.
    This means that Labour are, on the whole, representing smaller electorates than Tories (although Labour are also representing more seats where a smaller proportion of the population is registered to vote, because of greater mobility and temporary accommodation – does that balance out? Who knows? Anyone got any figures on that?)

    The varying size of electorates in different constituencies nothing new, of course. IN the 1970s, Ted Short represented Newcastle Central with a total electorate of c. 25000, whereas the Aylesbury constituency was, I think, four times that size. That’s why the Boundary Commission needs to do its work

  38. COLIN DAVIS

    “Oh, Allen! What have you been eating? “Hard working people at the top!” This plea for sympathy by those who already have more than anyone needs (ever) is a little insulting to those whose needs are (dare I say it?) real”
    _______

    Now now Colin I’m not on about the millionaires or billionaires nor am I attacking those who are less fortunate and on welfare.

    If I were to lose my job tomorrow then I would be first to claim unemployment benefit but as someone who is on a less than fantastic wage then I can’t see how imposing a tax on people who earn 250k will benefit me or people who are on benefits.

    I will say it again, most people who would be hit by the 50p tax do not earn millions.

  39. @John B: “I’m not sure about your analysis of super-safe seats.”

    Wasn’t intended as an analysis – just an observation that urban residents lean towards socialism whereas rural dwellers tend to be more conservative (with a small ‘c’). Nature or nurture?

  40. DAISE

    “allan

    my post in response to your post – both of which we are discussing amicably – have disappeared into cyber-history, presumably deemed unfit for the children.

    Or something.

    Like the different parents theory we shall never know”
    ________

    Aye I’m beginning to think the moderator is Kim Jong-un-Wells. ;-)

    It was a joke honest.. before the firing squad comes after me..

  41. Colin and Allen

    I am puzzled by the row over the 50p rate. According to most analysts, I think, the vast majority of new jobs are formed by small and medium companies. A small new start company certainly won’t be able to give a salary of £150k to its owner. So the 50p is no threat to the type of ‘enterprise’ which really makes a difference. Or have I misunderstood?

  42. @THE OTHER HOWARD

    “However I do think your last post was a bit over the top. Below are three comments which I hope bring some balance.”

    ——–

    He wasn’t over tbe top at all. He’s pointing out the contrast, which can seem a bit stark: a concern for those at the top, unleavened by similar concern for those at the other end losing money.

    It’s simply the “we are all in it together” issue, or not, as the case may be…

  43. Come on, TOH, I’m not even making an economic argument. In fact, as you know full well from earlier discussions, I think income tax generally is hugely problematic and does little to re-balance our society.

    I was simply pointing out that it ill behoves the exceedingly comfortable to seek sympathy from the voting populace when asked to contribute a little more to the common weal, and in a way that doesn’t much dent their comfort, when others whose lives are far from comfortable are receiving very little sympathy for their truly serious condition. Did those who seek such sympathy not listen in their history lessons to the story of Sir Philip Sidney, when he declared, “That man’s need is greater than mine”?

    This argument relates directly to the polling issue, if I am correct in saying that a moral distaste for the way such people behave is in large measure responsible for Labour’s 38 per cent throughout this parliament and for the continuing low Tory VI. About which, of course, I could easily be wrong….

  44. @John B

    Also I don’t believe the Boundary Commission changes would normally affect that many seats so much. The Tory proposals introduced two new requirements – to reduce the total number of MPs by 50 and to equalise constituency size regardless of any local factors.

  45. p.s. And if I were making an economic argument, I very much doubt I’d base it on unsubstantiated insults from those who take a different view. Not a word of ‘nuts and bolts’ justification for their arguments, and no evidence whatsoever that they understand the dark arts of economics any better than the average guy in the George and Dragon.

  46. @Allan Christie

    “Now now Colin I’m not on about the millionaires or billionaires nor am I attacking those who are less fortunate and on welfare.”

    But the point is, if one is concerned about the better off losing money, but not those worse off, it indicates a greater concern for the haves than the have-nots.

  47. @RogerH

    Rural areas are not always Conservative (see Dumfries & Galloway) – though in general it’s true. But is this more because the rural poor (of which there are many) are more isolated and have less sense of being a body of opinion which might change things?

  48. p.p.s Or ‘gal’ of course.

  49. John B

    You’re right most of the job creations are by small and medium sized companies but some of the people who run them may earn quite a lot more than the £150k you mentioned and I think this could hamper investment by them to create more jobs if they think they will be hit hard.

    It’s unfortunate but with the dire state of wealth distribution in most Western countries we now find ourselves in the position where we need to keep a few happy in order to create employment.

    My argument is not to hit those who have worked hard and don’t earn millions.

  50. *Sigh*

    The old chestnut about Labour having an advantage with the electoral system simply isn’t true. The *appearance* of an advantage comes from the fact that seats that Labour win tend to have a markedly lower turnout than seats that the Tories win. If you adjust votes to correct for differential turnout, the supposed Labour advantage vanishes.

    This reflects, at least in part, the much greater mobility of the urban population, so that the electoral register tends to be more out of date, so that a greater number of voters end up being unable to vote due to not being on the register.

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