This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 11%. Put alongside the YouGov polls this week that showed Labour leads of two, three, three and ten points this doesn’t really tell us much – it would be in line with a reduced Labour lead of three or four points, or would be in line with not much having changed at all and the lead still being five or six points.

We do however, also have an Opinium poll in the Observer and that had topline figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 17%(nc). Changes are from a fortnight ago and obviously don’t show any sgn of Labour’s lead narrowing. Populus’s poll on Friday also had no signs of movement, with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10%.

The rest of YouGov’s poll concentrated mainly on Labour, the economy and expectations of what an incoming Labour government would do, along with a grab-bag of questions on other various topics which I’ll leave you to explore yourselves.

32% of people think George Osborne would make the best Chancellor, 23% think Ed Balls would. Osborne maintains a lead of about ten points, the same as YouGov have shown for the last year. It suggests that the recent announcements by Ed Balls really haven’t made much difference to how he personally is seen. You can say the same about George Osborne – his figure on best Chancellor has been at 31-32% since December 2012 now. People may think the economy is getting better, but it doesn’t mean they are warming to Osborne.

There is, however, significantly more confidence in the government as a whole to sort the economy out. 41% of people now say they have confidence in the Cameron led coalition government to steer the country out of economic crisis (up from 29% last March), 52% do not (down from 66% last year). In comparison only 25% say they would have confidence in a Miliband led Labour government.

YouGov also re-asked some questions they first asked back in March 2013 on how well people think Labour would perform if they won the next election, showing people are getting rather more negative about how Labour would perform in government. A year ago 32% thought Labour would take the right decisions to help Britain’s economy, that’s now fallen to 26%. 34% think they’d ensure public services provided good value for money, down 7 from last year. 50% think they wouldn’t have a team of minister up to running the country (up 7), 51% think they wouldn’t avoid mistakes from the past (up 5).

Compared to last year these are significant drops in how well people think people seem to be having more and more doubts about how Labour would perform in government. The drop comes over the period of time that Labour’s lead has fallen from around ten points to around six points. Of course, right now people’s worries about Labour in office are not enough to prevent Labour having a lead in voting intentions. Their worry should be if those negative trends continue.

There were also two Scottish polls in the Sunday papers, which I’ll return to later…


163 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 39, LD 8, UKIP 11”

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  1. @AW,

    Didn’t Labour get 39% with populus?

    [Yes! Corrected – AW]

  2. By this time next week we MIGHT have some idea what’s going on…

  3. The ‘best chancellor’ question is surely interesting not for the people plumping for Balls or Osborne, but that nearly half don’t know.

    It’s consistent with Pointless, the BBC One quiz show that polls 100 people – whenever there’s a question about Chancellors, a significant portion of people turn out not to know who the current chancellor is. (This week, they showed a photo of George Osborne to people and only 57% of respondents knew who he was.)

    Obviously, Pointless isn’t a significant poll, and certainly not scientific – but it does point to a weakness in this question: most politicians barely have their faces recognised by voters; asking people if they think they’re any good at their jobs is somewhat pointless. If they can’t pick them out of a line-up, how can they hope to weigh their talents?

  4. Sunday Politics – a disgrace!

  5. Labour’s woes coincide with Labour starting to be scrutinised by the media.

    They had a few years where many of their ridiculous claims went unchallenged by news media as they were more interested in coalition squabbles. Now the Liberal Democrats have been rendered irrelevant again, the media are focusing on the real fight between Labour and Tories again, and duly, Labour are being scrutinised again.

    Labour are in serious trouble as the election draws near. The scrutiny will intensify, and because they breezed through the first few years without scrutiny, they won’t be prepared for the election onslaught. Labour are a good 10-15 points behind where they need to be at this stage of the cycle.

  6. @AW

    Apart from the very latest ones, there are a couple of earlier polls missing from the YouGov VI tracker pdf on the main site:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/2x7mls2n97/YG-Archives-Pol-Trackers-Voting-Trends-with-UKIP-300114.pdf

    19-20 Jan Lab lead 8%
    26-27 Jan Lab lead 2%

  7. Looks like we are back to normal – whenever there’s nothing much going on, this is the situation we get.

  8. Even though the good economic news keeps being peddled out by the Tory friendly media . labour still have a solid lead in the polls. It very hard for labour to push there own economic agenda in the media when it never really gets mentioned as a whole a part from the 50p tax rate which is popular amongst the general population but was attacked by Tory friendly people yet again.

  9. anthony

    Your post is litany of wishful thinking (and also happens to be the Tory election strategy)

  10. Anthony

    Oh here is the old canard ‘Labour are 10-15 points behind where they need to be’

    I would say they have had more scrutiny and criticism than the Tories since 2010 – it happens like that when all the major media organisations are Tory supporting

  11. Does anyone know the main parties’ net gains/losses in council seats since the GE or where to find out? I read some posts about how well UKIP seem to be doing, especially in relation to the Tories, but it would be interesting to see the actual figures. And overall percentages if poss. Just a thought . . .

  12. “Labour are a good 10-15 points behind where they need to be at this stage of the cycle.”

    Well that’s settled that then. Let’s all go home.

  13. Anthony.

    The truth is that the Tories are showing no signs of the revival they need versus UKIP to defeat Labour.

    The referendum promise has not done the trick and there remains a schism in the Tories over the European issue.

    With 16 months to go, the Tories have to win battles on multiple fronts to even be in with a shout of continuing coalition with the LDs.

    Remember 2010? Cameron couldn’t secure a majority in those very favourable circumstances.

    With the collapse of the LD vote (and showing no signs at all of revival in the polls or in real elections), it is really very difficult to see the Conservatives winning in 2015. Those voters tend to be thoughtful middle class voters, like myself, who can’t be swayed by Murdoch or Dacre.

  14. Alec all the key marginals labour are 10 points a head and women voters are the real key here ..local polls need to be looked at more leading up to the general election.

  15. No change at all then. The Tories can rise and fall like bobbing ducks, but Labour’s average stays stubbornly on just over 38 – and averaging makes sense intuitively, in view of the fact that the different polls use different methods and cover different time spans.

    I’m interested, nonetheless, in a point AW made in this thread’s preamble. There has been a fall in the number of those saying they trust Labour to make the right economic decisions, and this ties in with the fall in the average Labour lead (which also happens to follow ever so shortly after Labour’s 40+ VI began to fall in the Spring.)

    This interests me because that fall corresponds not to an increase in the Tory VI, but to an extra spurt in the UKIP monthly averages. So, whether there was a direct transfer of VI, or whether the pot churned a bit, the beneficiaries of this trend were UKIP.

    Now UKIP taking some VI from Labour is one thing. We have all seen that happening. But if AW detects a possible tie-in between a Labour slippage in the Spring and lowered confidence in Labour’s ability to make the right economic decisions, can that really mean there’s an increased confidence in UKIP’s ability to make the right decisions? On the surface unlikely, surely? No one has the faintest clue what a UKIP economic policy would look like – unless, of course, a lot of people are linking ‘the right economic decisions’ with getting out of the EU and tightening immigration.

    My immediate thought is that people DO understand the living standards issue, and they know there’s little sign of an improvement there, and maybe even a slippage. People DON’T understand the macro-economics one little bit, whereas they are perfectly capable of saying, “Well, those are just numbers, and anyone – especially politicians – can fix numbers.” At the very same time they have strong feelings about the EU and immigration issues – and those issues vie with their own personal circumstances as the VI-definers of the day.

    Polling as to who the public feel can run an economy best might well, therefore, seem to be saying one thing, whilst in fact it’s saying quite another.

  16. I see nothing in the latest YouGov to give Con any reason for optimism. The best that can be said is that their vote (hugely weighted in the over 60s and Rest of the South region) is probably most likely to vote, but piling up votes in Surrey won’t help them gain any seats.

    Do they are relying on the grey vote everybody else and that depends at least partly on ground troops…who are getting on a bit now too!

    I can’t see how the Tories can realistically expect to to gain any seats from Lab that they didn’t get in 2010 but they are in danger of losing loads. Just how many are they likely to wrest off the LDs?

    I would suggest they have no chance of gaining more seats than they lose.

    Unless Lab fall back to 2010 levels (not likely) and Con gets above 2010 levels (unlikely) which both seem less likely the longer they fail to do that and the less time they have till 2015.

  17. @Simon Hayes Budgen – “most politicians barely have their faces recognised by voters; asking people if they think they’re any good at their jobs is somewhat pointless. If they can’t pick them out of a line-up, how can they hope to weigh their talents?”

    Precisely. Not a lot of use in such questions, especially when they’re asked so infrequently.

  18. (moderated…read through…)

    I see nothing in the latest YouGov to give Con any reason for optimism. The best that can be said is that their vote (hugely weighted in the over 60s and Rest of the South region) is probably most likely to vote, but piling up votes in Surrey won’t help them gain any seats.
    Do they are rely*ng on the grey vote everybody else and that depends at least partly on ground troops…who are getting on a bit now too!
    I can’t see how the Tories can realistically expect to to gain any seats from Lab that they didn’t get in 2010 but they are in danger of losing loads. Just how many are they likely to wrest off the LDs?
    I would suggest they have no chance of gaining more seats than they lose.
    Unless Lab fall back to 2010 levels (not likely) and Con gets above 2010 levels (unlikely) which both seem less likely the longer they fail to do that and the less time they have till 2015.

  19. Labour are a good 10-15 points behind where they need to be at this stage of the cycle.

    –Labour were ahead of the Conservative Party in 1978

    That Didn’t work out too well for the Government in 1979!

    To be 20%+ ahead which is what you are suggesting when 26% of the Vote is split between a 3rd and a 4th Party would require the Government to drop to around the 20% mark.

    Utterly unrealistic things have changed.

  20. Colin – “AW detects a possible tie-in between a Labour slippage in the Spring and lowered confidence in Labour’s ability to make the right economic decisions”

    I was very deliberate in how vaguely I worded that! They happened at the same time period.. but the time period is 10 months, so it is quite a big period! They might not have been at the same time at all.

    I deliberately didn’t imply any causality, as it could work either way. If people had been put off Labour for some other reason, it might mean they also give negative answers about them in government. The only reason I really mentioned it was to avoid people saying that it *hadn’t* been reflected in voting intentions as actually in this case it did co-incide with a drop in voting intention!

    As it happens, I think it is plausible enough that one contributor to Labour’s VI drop is if people’s doubts about how they’d do in government have grown… but we don’t really have enough evidence to be confident of it.

  21. Hi AW,

    “I deliberately didn’t imply any causality, as it could work either way. If people had been put off Labour for some other reason, it might mean they also give negative answers about them in government. ”

    Interesting, that! Maybe those people leaned towards UKIP’s causes, went off Labour, and then started to question Labour’s ability to make good economic decisions.

    I wasn’t questioning your logic in any way. I was just musing on what the connection to which you had drawn attention might really imply.

  22. I predict we see at least 3 (more*) polls showing Lab in 40% or more territory by next Sunday.

    *I think we had 3 in the last week.

  23. It does look a little like the “rollercoaster” during the week signified pretty much nothing. On balance that’s bad news for the Tories, because they needed the lead to narrow to 2% much more than Labour needed the lead to widen to 10%.

    I still think the long term trend is gradually improving for the Tories, but the timescales are looking very tight for them to even be in a position to have most seats, never mind a majority.

  24. Anthony

    Labour’s woes coincide with Labour starting to be scrutinised by the media.

    They had a few years where many of their ridiculous claims went unchallenged by news media as they were more interested in coalition squabbles. Now the Liberal Democrats have been rendered irrelevant again, the media are focusing on the real fight between Labour and Tories again, and duly, Labour are being scrutinised again.
    ______________

    Did you get out the blue side of bed this morning? Thought you were meant to be impartial?

    Carry on…;-)

  25. NICKP

    “By this time next week we MIGHT have some idea what’s going on”
    __________

    I think we might be saying the same again next week.

  26. I think the big test – and surely the one we’ve all been waiting for – will be next Thursday in the two council by-elections in Tendring……:-)

  27. So the latest YouGov shows a 5% Labour lead. I suspect there has been a very slight drop in the Labour lead this week probably to about 4% and that the one poll of 10% lead was an outlier. We probably need another week to be sure.
    Thanks for your analysis of the questions about Labour and the economy AW, I thought this section was particulary revealing. If I was Ed M I would be really worried about this. Politically his proposals on the 50% top rate and the freeze on Energy prices seem very popular, but we can now see that many voters can also see that they do not make up for not having a coherent economic strategy and probably on tax may not work anyway. What’s more the public seem to have even less faith in Labour running a sound economic strategy than they had ten months ago. In fact Labour score less on all economic questions were there is a comparison with last year. Rightly or wrongly the Government have won the argument on the economy.
    When these figures first appeared (see last thread) I saw comments to the effect that the Tories who post here are complacent if they think the election is in the bag, and I would certainly agree with that. However the question for Labour is “why would the electorate vote you into power if they think you will make a much worse job of the economy and are much less likely to take us out of the current economic crisis than the present Government?”
    With only a year and a bit to go to the election I think the Labour party have real problems and I don’t see how they turn it round unless the economy collapses. Government strategy is much easier.
    1. Try and ensure with sensible measures that economy continues to expand.
    2. Use the two budjects to help those at the bottom and in the middle.
    3. Support a rise in the minimum wage (through gritted teeth if necessary).
    It is well known that I expect a small conservative majority at the election. This poll certainly has made me even more comfortable with that forecast.

  28. Being serious for a moment, the big test is going to be the aftermath of the Euro elections. It’s quite plain that UKIP will do very well, and the Tories badly, and a key question is whether this will precipitate another step change in the balance of support between Con and UKIP.

    UKIP support jumped 3 or 4 points soon after they nearly won Eastleigh (although I think it was some other event at the end of Feb 2013 that triggered it), and had a transient gain of a few points at around the local elections. There is clearly scope for a good UKIP performance in the Euros to prompt another shift in the polls and another bout of Tory in-fighting.

    There is likely to be a tipping point at which the tea-party tendency will start to seriously consider jumping ship. If the polls don’t start to move soon (and they’ve been essentially static for more than 6 months), that tipping point might start to appear on the horizon.

  29. Good luck Norbold – here is to hoping for a win!

  30. A thought on the survation Scottish poll – Curtice points out that if you weight by 2011vote cast you get a better result for the Yes to Independence campaign than you do if you weight by 2010 vote cast.

    HOWEVER – the 2011 vote cast was about 50%,if I recall correctly. The 2010 vote cast was around 64% (http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm). It’s a truism that a low turn-out favours the party or position with the more committed voters (and in part, this explains the ‘whitewash’ of the SNP in 2011). Would not weighting back to the 2011 vote have a greater margin of error than the weighting back to the 2010 vote?

  31. Labour support at 39%.
    I read that as 61% of support that Labour do not have.

  32. @TOH

    “the question for Labour is “why would the electorate vote you into power if they think you will make a much worse job of the economy…””

    But they don’t. Tory voters are highly partisan towards GO. Labour voters favour EB but there is a sizeable minority would prefer someone else (probably Darling), LD voters are fairly evenly split, but the large majority overall are DKs. The supposed preference for GO is entirely a function of Tory partisanship. The same applies for the question on “How much confidence… out of an economic crisis”.

    The scale of Tory partisanship is clear from the fact that 96% of Tory voters say that DC is doing a good job as PM.

  33. No idea what the Polls are saying at present -don’t think they have either.

    A really interesting & thought provoking article in ST by Peter Kellner. The subject is the beguiling, but often fatally misleading polling signals resulting from “populist” policies.

    Some great historic examples.

    PK’s conclusion is that to win votes ( & keep them) policies must pass four tests :-

    1-The policy must be credible.
    2-The people putting forward the policy must also be credible.
    3-The policy must not look like the thin end of a threatening wedge.
    4-The policy, and its advocates must be able to survive sustained examination over a period of time.

    Great stuff -mandatory reading for our politicians

  34. I predict the next YG poll lead to be 2% or 11%, just to keep the confusion going.

  35. Robin

    Try reading AW’s commentary and the detail of the YouGov poll at the YouGov site. I was not making a partisan point I was pointing out what I think this poll detail showed.

  36. @TOH

    It’s not a referendum on the economy. Of course that’ll be a significant factor but even an improving economy won’t remove people’s concerns about rising utility bills, housing shortages, the NHS etc. A failing economy may be the reason a government gets thrown out but an improving economy alone (even if verified) is not going to be sufficient to get one re-elected.

  37. Assuming they go ahead I expect Miliband to benefit from the TV debates. I don’t think Cameron comes across that well and can be easily rattled whereas Miliband’s rating has tended to improve with publicity, e.g. with the Daily Mail affair.

  38. RogerH

    Tory supporters will be hoping that EdM and co think that way. Certainly I see a lot of complacency fro both pareties on these threads.

  39. RogerH

    from both major Parties was what i meant to say..

  40. Colin

    Sounds interesting but unfortunately have no access.

  41. MissGlenghis – I think John overestimates the difference it makes. When TNS-BMRB switched from weighting by 2010 recall to 2011 they said it made no “significant” difference. IIRC when we switched the YG weighting from 2010 to 2011 it made one or two points difference.

  42. COLIN DAVIS

    @”At the very same time they have strong feelings about the EU and immigration issues – and those issues vie with their own personal circumstances as the VI-definers of the day.”

    They may do -but:-

    * THe EU is practically invisible in a list of “important issues”-it has no salience.

    * Immigration does seem to have salience, and as you say evoke strong feelings. However the article by PK I referenced upthread provides a salutary reminder that Polls can say you are tapping in to “issues of concern” -only to be followed by a GE verdict that you don’t win.

  43. TOH

    It is -worth a read if you find a copy in a waiting room .

    Lessons for all parties-though the headline refers to the 50p policy.

  44. @TOH: “Tory supporters will be hoping that EdM and co think that way.”

    No doubt it’ll be mutual, then. The Tories will be taking a big risk if they place all their hopes on one issue.

  45. Thanks, Anthony. I wonder if he thinks it because of ‘buyers confirmation’?

  46. Hi TOH,

    If UKIP – not the Tories – are the beneficiaries of any drop in the Labour lead or VI (as right now they are – for whatever reasons,) then your statement, “Rightly or wrongly the Government have won the argument on the economy…” has no legs as a premise. You could try, “UKIP have won the argument…” but that wouldn’t work in anything like the same way.

    If that premise totters, however, then the next step in your argument, “…the question for Labour is “why would the electorate vote you into power if they think you will make a much worse job of the economy and are much less likely to take us out of the current economic crisis than the present Government?” must totter also. That’s not to say it can’t be the case, but you have no longer made an argument for it.

    Having said which, your advice to the Tories, items 2 and 3:

    “2. Use the two budjects to help those at the bottom and in the middle.
    3. Support a rise in the minimum wage (through gritted teeth if necessary).”

    would clearly not do them any harm at all.

    If, however, the Tories have a ‘brand image’ problem (Carfrew) or are simply seen as morally unacceptable (me), then it may take more than a couple of pre-election sweetening gestures to move the polls significantly.

  47. @ Norbold,

    Go get ’em, tiger!

    @ Colin and T’Other Howard,

    I could swear a version of that article has been published somewhere else- somewhere not paywalled- because I remember reading the four points Colin cites earlier this week. I’d give TOH the link if I could, but I can’t seem to find it. It’s not part of Kellner or Anthony’s recent articles on the YouGov website. But if anyone has a thought about where I might have seen it…

  48. Tssk. I mean ‘confirmation bias’. Stupid brain.

  49. Where Tendring leads…

  50. Can I sum up the day’s posts for both sides, and feel free to refer to the points below (and for subsequent polls/debates) to save time:

    1. Your lot will not gain votes from [insert party here]

    2. I fail to see how your lot can win the next election.

    3. Your lot should be further ahead than they are at present.

    4. Today’s poll highlights that my lot are doing better than you had hoped and your lot are doing worse than you had hoped.

    That ought to cover things nicely. :))

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