This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11% (tabs here.) Over the last week YouGov’s daily polls have averaged out at a two point Labour lead, compared to five or six before the budget, suggesting there has been a genuine narrowing. Whether it lasts or not is a different matter.

One thing worth noting is that if the average position in the polls settles down to a Labour lead of two points or so, then it is almost inevitable that sooner or later normal random sample variation will spit out some polls with the two parties equal, or the Conservatives ahead. It won’t necessarily be particularly meaningful in terms of the individual poll (as ever, it’s the underlying trends that count) – but politically it may well have an impact in terms of narrative and the morale of the Parliamentary political parties.

YouGov also asked about European voting intention and found topline figures of CON 24%, LAB 28%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 26%, GRN 7%. Labour remain in the lead, but its very close between Labour, UKIP and the Conservatives, with just 4 points separating Labour in first place from the Conservatives in third. Taking just those who say they are 10/10 certain to vote would put UKIP up into first place, on 30% to Labour’s 29%. Note that the fieldwork started before the Nick v Nigel debate, so be carefuly of reading too much of a post-debate effect into the results. Tabs are here.

This morning we also had the second of this week’s Populus polls. Topline figures are CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12% (tabs here)

189 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 35, LAB 36, LD 10, UKIP 11”

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  1. Are working age people starting to feel better off and are leaning towards the Tories ?

    With the increase in the tax free allowance to £10,500 and schemes such as help to buy, perhaps some people are feeling more optimistic ?

    Why are the Lib Dems not sharing in any polling increase, that may be down to government policies and a more optimistic outlook ?

    Perhaps YG should be doing some polling to identify the reasons for the polls narrowing.

  2. There is further evidence of the general weakness of the recovery this morning from the trade figures from Q4. Exports actually fell, and the current account deficit is just a shade below it’s previous record level. All in all, these are really poor figures, although there was a small increase in investment at long last.

    There is a desperation out there to paint the economy as doing well, and not, I think, purely for partisan political purposes. News cycles seem to have a natural life cycle, and people want a different angle to present after a while, and I think there has been sufficient evidence to allow the narrative to switch to a more positive tone.

    However, as ever, the complexities and nuances get overlooked with the desire to simplify the message, giving us a false picture of where we really are.

    Even today, among the commentators we’ve had Neil Prothero, deputy chief economist at EEF, and the CBI, suggesting that firms are upbeat and that the ‘recovery is on course’. Neither of them has mentioned (nor has anyone else, except me, I think) that the latest figures show firms actually shedding staff, contrary to every single confidence survey.

    Things are much more complex and difficult out there, and the recovery is patchy and much weaker than people think. Strip out the net effect of house price bubbles, and I suspect we’ve got a seriously anaemic recovery that is struggling to really get going.

  3. Forgive me for asking someone else better equipped (now now I don’t mean that!!) than me to work out.

    How much of the Lab drop in the last week or so 1-1.5% I reckon been due to 2010 Con WV/DKs returning as notional turnout increases.
    I suspect Labour has lost few supporters after churn.

    IMO – this was always probable but does not dent my view that Labour VI and retaining the ‘SDP’ 2010 LD switchers is the biggest factor in the 2015 GE.

  4. The economic figures out today are pretty poor, and show that under the headlines of growth there’s much wrong storing up future problems.

    Record current account deficit going back to 1955. Savings going down from 5.6% to 5% which is fueling consumer spending. Positive news was a 2.4% increase in investment. Many sites I have seen have portrayed the figures as ‘horrific’, ‘terrible’ etc.

    Yet I’m watching BBC news at the moment and no mention of it, only that consumer confidence is at record highs and they are painting a great picture. Whether a consumer survey is better than hard data from the Office of National Statistics is another matter…


  5. Alec – I agree it may not be partisan coverage, rather a desire to alter narratives to gain viewers/readers tired of the old.

    The job stats were interesting. In the latest stats employees were laid off and unemployment only reduced with an extra 233k self-employed.

    I don’t know why Labour have been so silent the past week with their falling VI. They could be highlighting stats like that, or that savings rates halved due to Osborne introducing Funding for Lending in 2012, thus doubling allowances doesn’t really make up for it. Instead it’s the endless mantra ‘cost of living’ which even very occasional news viewers will find tiring.

  6. Given that the Government normally increases its share of the vote in the run-up to a General Election, for Labour only to be 1% ahead at this point in the electoral cycle is from their point of view deeply worrying.

  7. Australia has /is following pretty similar policies to the UK
    (including massive subsidies to housing) and also has a manufacturing recession.

  8. @AW

    Just doing a re-jig of my MAD data (I’m considering a change from a flat 30-poll MAD to weighted 25-poll setup).

    In you opinion, is there any value in taking a total of the regional MAD averages, rather than the national MAD?

    i.e. instead of a calc of the national data, the sum of the calcs of the regional data.

    Including today’s poll I get the following from the most recent 25 polls:

    National data: Lab 37.9%, Con 34.1%; Regional Sum: Lab 38.2%, Con 33.7%.

    Versus the 30-poll setup I generally use:

    Lab 38.5%, Con 33.5%

  9. The Weighted Moving Average that I track (New =0.1*Latest + 0.9*Old) gives a Labour Lead of 3.1 but this is falling very fast. – one month ago it was 5.9.

    There is a pretty convincing long term downtrend (R^2=0.79) though it hasn’t been by any means smooth. Since 17 Feb there has been a faster linear downtrend (R^2=0.84) which seems to be accelerating (a quadratic fit has an R^2 of 0.91) and since 19 March there is a linear downtrend (R^2=0.94) which IF continued would bring the underlying Labour lead to 0 within 20 days.

    BUT as you say there is no guarantee that this will continue and it may reverse. Labour can’t continue to lose support at the present rate for very long – they would be down to zero before Christmas so this trend is clearly unsustainable.

  10. @Statgeek
    If you use an un-weighted 30-poll average you will be quite a long way behind if there is a noticeable trend. Even my Weighted Moving Average with a 0.1 weight for the latest observation will on average be about 6 polls out of date, yours will presumably be on average 15 polls out.

    Since the standard error goes down roughly as N^0.5 the standard error of your result will be about 0.5 and therefore there is no meaningful difference between the sum of regions and the total sum. Furthermore the polls don’t AFAIK try to get each region representative. So I’d advocate the simplest measure that isn’t too out of date. 25 poll weighted so that the mean delay is under 10 would seem OK. Or you could try the simpler WMA.

  11. Following my contribution to yesterday’s thread (to which no-one replied, but anyway….) I see that both YouGuv and Populus are now consistently showing SNP level with, or above, Labour in Scotland. This has to be worrying news for Labour, both in terms of the Referendum and whatever follows afterwards. I suspect that any consistent Tory gains in England will just add to the Scots’ uncertainty as to whether a vote for Labour is a wasted vote.

    Any news from Kilmarnock on last night’s county by-election?

  12. “Any news from Kilmarnock on last night’s county by-election?”

    SNP 1334 (44.2%; -8.5%)
    Labour 1130 (37.4%; +1.7%)
    Conservative 493 (16.3%; +4.7%)
    Green 61 (2.0%; +2.0%)

    Majority 204
    Turnout 31.3%
    SNP elected at the 4th stage.

    SNP Hold.

    Percentage change is since 2012.

  13. @NicholasB

    Cheer for the reply. Yes, I’ll certainly be moving to a weighted system. The 30-poll average was the result of me throwing together a system of omitting outliers to arrive at something a little more meaningful from the cross breaks.

    As you say, it can be 15 polls out, if the data is very uneven. An example (red bars are outliers):

    The ’30’ was due to it being a multiple of five, six, ten and fifteen, so I had options of how to display things. 25 is less flexible, but given that YG do five polls per week, a multiple of five seems a must. Twenty would work, but there’s a limit to using MAD, and the smaller the range of samples, the more pointless it becomes. It will only weed out the really weird numbers. With the cross breaks, there can be a good selection of weird number anyway, so a larger sample is preferred where possible.

    There is of course the issue of weighting newer polls more, and they being outliers, e.g. 34, 34, 34, 34, 42. If they were weighted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 respectively, then the 34s would ‘win’, but if we had 34, 34, 34, 42, 42, then the 42s win, and while two polls might indicate a trend, it’s not always that simple (hence the desire for larger samples).

    My inclination is to to with 25 polls, and weight them 1 to 25 from oldest to newest. That way, the oldest polls only add their weight if they are part of the trend (strengthening the trend if you like).

  14. [email protected]

    It’s official: UK is now nursing its biggest current account deficit since comparable records began in 1955

  15. Here’s some pretty irrefutable evidence, based on solid research and a massive sample set, that provides a pretty comprehensive demolition of the idea that state schools provide a worse education than private –

    The study found that while private school pupils tended to get higher A level grades, in a like for like comparison of state and private school students were made, state school pupils do markedly better at university.

    While the study doesn’t provide reasons for this, it does suggest that while private schooling might be good at coaching pupils for A levels, it isn’t as good as state schools at teaching pupils how to learn. The university performance gap between state/private cohorts with identical academic records at A level is marked – between 8 – 9%.

    I think this is a real feather in the cap for the state system.

  16. Apologies for the density of talks, but Rosie Winterton, Labour’s chief whip, is speaking to the Politics Society at 4. Questions in a post, as usual.

  17. Alec,
    Do you still incline to the opinion I believe you expressed in the latter part of last year that Cameron would rue the day he introduced a 5 year Fixed Term Parliament? I recall you suggesting that his optimum election timing would be likely to be Autumn 2013 or Spring 2014.

  18. @SHEVII

    Thanks for the Kilmarnock result. First time in a while that the SNP have held a local government seat in any by-election, I think.

    SNP down 8%, but still doing well in an area of Scotland in which they are not particularly strong. On the other hand, you can’t read too much into a 31% turn out.

  19. John B
    The SNP actually have a history of doing pretty well in Kilmarnock.As far back as 2007 they polled 55.6% in this ward – so have dropped 10.5% since that time.It certainlt does not suggest that the SNP are gaining ground there.
    Also according to the official website the Tory vote was 430 -or14.6%..This represents an increase of 3% since 2012 – whilst Labour increased 2.5%

  20. Wow, the Tories may end up winning the European elections, in popular vote terms at least.

    As for the main poll, Labour are JUST getting an OM on the UKPR swingometer now, and would not be the largest party if one subtracts their Scottish seats.

    I still think that Labour will win a solid majority, though. For one thing, I think that (contrary to many expectations) UKIP will take a lot of votes from the Tories as the campaign begins in earnest and they get a lot of coverage.

  21. The Euro Poll is not good for Labour, except for the curious anomaly that their VI increases to 29% of those certain to vote.
    As a Labour supporter myself I find this odd – even I can’t be bothered to vote in a Euro Election and if I did I might vote for a left protest party – the Euro Elections tend to motivate fanatically Pro-EU voters ( ie. Lib Dems ) or fanatically Anti-EU voters ( ie. UKIP or, to a lesser extent, Anti-EU Tories ).

  22. State v Private education.

    You would expect private-school kids to get better As; otherwise it would largely be a waste of money.

    Uni is the great leveller: some parents find for the first time that they cannot buy their kids privileges: smaller classes, special coaching, more cloistered existence, etc. It must be quite a shock.

    Note that report indicates higher proportion of private school pupils get a 2:1. & no info about 1:1s,
    The Telegraph etc will still condemn Unis offering lower grades to kids from state schools in deprived areas etc.

  23. Cambridge 70% of intake from state schools approx.
    Oxford a bit less.

    less than 10% of kids go to ‘independent’ schools.

    Kids from aspirational high achieving parental back-grounds would have a greater chance of Oxbridge than average anyhow. So the question, to which we cant know the answer, is I guess what proportion of the 30% from Independent schools would not have made it without the advantage and by definition how many state school kids have missed out?

  24. @ Bill Patrick

    It could work the other way as well, more exposure will lead to their policies being more heavily scrutinized which in turn could debunk some myths and half truths.

    Also with just one budget some support has already left them for the Conservatives, so I would imagine tory HQ are already breathing a little easier on that front.

  25. @Graham

    “A history of doing well” you say; but “as far back as 2007” hardly counts as ‘history’.
    In 1983 the SNP gained 9% of the vote in the Kilmarnock constituency. Agreed, by 1992 they were in second place with 30%, but Kilmarnock had been a skilled industrial town – until that woman came to power. Despite her, the Tories did reasonable well there in 1992.

    And I was not suggesting that the SNP are gaining ground there, only that they had not lost as much ground as they had done in other recent results.

    Cathy Jamieson is a high profile Labour MP and it would take a lot to unseat her – but Kilmarnock is the sort of place the SNP have to do well in if they are ever to be a real presence at Westminster. 25% at the last election was not positive enough as far as they are concerned, and retaining a council seat at a by-election may be a boost for them.

  26. So does that mean that a pupil who gets say AAB A-levels at a state school is likely to get a better class degree than a pupil with the AAB who has been privately educated?

    It could imply that the former is better prepared for study at university. i.e. has more practice in studying independently etc.

  27. @Valerie – “So does that mean that a pupil who gets say AAB A-levels at a state school is likely to get a better class degree than a pupil with the AAB who has been privately educated?”

    Yes, absolutely. That is the very clear evidence from this study. Private educated pupils are likely to get higher A level grades on average, but they don’t perform as well with these grades at university.

    Intuitively, this would suggest that private schools are good at the conveyor belt style education, targeting grade performance, while state schools are better at providing people with the skills and outlook to learn.

    @Graham – yes, I do still think this, although I’ve said it for a lot longer than last year – dating right back to when he announced the move.

    I have been surprised that the polls haven’t reflected the rise in consumer confidence more closely, but I do think that May 2014 may well prove to be a date DC would have liked to have the choice on.

  28. Alec,
    I am inclined to agree!

  29. The net switch from Lab (down about 2) to Con (up about 2) whilst being a net change makes me wonder, but I imagine our churn experts can put me right. Anthony seems not so sure. We all thought it was UKIP that was targeted but at 11 that does not seem to have been the result does it?

  30. @John B
    The main point re Kilmarnock is that the SNP are doing significantly less well than 7 years ago. Moreover, since we have had a general election since that high point yesterday’s result does not augur well for them improving on 2010 there..
    Going further back, I seem to recall a strong SNP performance in both 1974 elections when Willie Ross was still the MP.

  31. Will universities offer places to state school pupils with lower grades than a private school pupil as the marketization of HE means they need better results for their courses to be popular etc

  32. @ Paul A

    “As a Labour supporter myself I find this odd – even I can’t be bothered to vote in a Euro Election and if I did I might vote for a left protest party – the Euro Elections tend to motivate fanatically Pro-EU voters ( ie. Lib Dems ) or fanatically Anti-EU voters ( ie. UKIP or, to a lesser extent, Anti-EU Tories”

    But for many/most people council elections are at the same time. I would probably turn out for the Euros anyway but i wouldn’t miss the council elections – though I recognise that is a minority sport. Our local independent group have been moaning like crazy that they lost all their seats last time because it was a GE and too many people voted in the council elections.

  33. The study found that while private school pupils tended to get higher A level grades, in a like for like comparison of state and private school students were made, state school pupils do markedly better at university.

    Nothing new about this.

    Academic institutions used to take account of the relative performance at A levels where in general state school students received far less support than their Fee Charging School equivalents.

    While this assisted (sometime to the Point of taking the exam for them) with the grades of Public School students it didn’t prepare them for the more independent study required at Universities.

    Way Back in the 1970’s when I went to Bristol, then the LSE and finally Oxford all Three Institutions regularly offered a lower level of A level entry requirement for state School students because they appreciated that their performance would be better reflected in achievement

    At Both Bristol and the LSE the highest performing 5 Candidates in both Courses were state school students despite the fact that Half the Students were from fee charging schools .

    The Problem However,was despite better academic achievement the better jobs on graduation went to the Old School tie brigade.

    The Russel Group of Universities have now made the situation worse by demanding the same Grade Requirements at A level from state and Private.


  34. Anthony: can I please request an update of the UKPR polling average? Thanks in advance.

  35. Populus so far does not appear to be showing the decline in Labour % share that has been seen this week in YouGov. At 37% it matches the level shown more than a month ago.

  36. Doesn’t particularly pertain to this poll but to comment in general here and elsewhere .

    It is oft stated that there is a great irony in Ukip doing well in polls for a parliament they would wish to abolish – fair enough.

    But is it not also ironic that the same people who are committed to the UK being_at_the_the_heart_of_europe_so_we_can_influence_it seem to go on about the irrelevance of the European elections? Are there any pro-EU people out there who think EU elections ARE important?

  37. HOWARD

    @”We all thought it was UKIP that was targeted but at 11 that does not seem to have been the result does it?”

    But UKIP take votes from Labour as well.

    If you compare this morning’s Poll with YouGov’s last Poll with a lead of 5, & look at the 2010 crowd you can see that :-

    Cons retrieve from UKIP
    Lab lose to UKIP & Cons.

  38. Colin
    Thanks, this is thus what Spearmint calls ‘churn’ is it?

  39. Alec
    I agree the latest Trade Figures are not encouraging, but it is not totally doom and gloom.
    “ONS chief economist Joe Grice underlined the net trade situation in a statement alongside Friday’s figures. “As a percentage of GDP, the current account deficits over recent quarters represent some of the largest on record. However, relatively little of this is due to deteriorating net trade. Most of the decline stems from falling income from UK assets overseas, compared with income from foreign-owned assets in the UK,” said Grice.”
    “Samuel Tombs, UK economist at the thinktank Capital Economics, said the details painted a mixed picture on rebalancing.
    “On a positive note, a bigger proportion of the 0.7% quarterly rise in GDP in the fourth quarter is now thought to have come from net exports. Business investment is also still thought to have grown by 2.4% quarter-on-quarter. But as we feared, the 0.4% quarterly rise in real household spending was funded by households saving less.”

    As Osborne made a point of saying at the Budget, still much to be done.

  40. For Labour: Milliband is out of his depth. He needs to go.

    Like when a football team changes manager because – otherwise – they are sure to get relegated!

    It might not work, but is has to be worth a go.

  41. DiF: Four words for you: Too late. Nobody better.

  42. @ Steve, valerie.

    I think the BBC report gives a limited view of what this study says. Its strength seems to be the size of the sample, virtually the whole student body for a suingle year.
    It also shows that 67% of private entrants get 2:1s as opposed to 62.3% of state ones.

    There has been significant grade inflation in Uni degrees as well as school qualifications.
    Unis in a market world have two choices in this respect.
    Either: (a) Look come here & get a fab 2:1! or
    (b) Our degrees maintain a gold standard of quality.

  43. @DIF

    Disagree. See how things develop from here in. Policy stuff just about ready I believe and he’s done an astonishing job on unity including some very ‘brave’ and genuinely courageous things. A modest man with – in the Tory and the press community – much to be modest about, like Attlee.

    Mr Waxy

    Good question. Ironically enough I’m not that interested in Euro elections because the Euro parliament has little influence on what happens here, which has much more to do with whatever is carved out by Heads of state/PM’s/economics/foreign ministers etc. (not Eurocrats) I view the Euro parliament as a kind of transnational House of Lords, doing useful donkey work around the edges (though my understanding is UKIP don’t bother with the donkey work)

  44. Am sure I’ll get shot down, but I can’t help thinking labour would be doing way better with David in. Just so much more appealing…

  45. Samuel Tombs!
    Goodness Dickens missed a trick there .

  46. Rich,
    Precisely how?

  47. @ John B, Graham

    The Kilmarnock North by-election is also significant for its potential effect on the administration of East Ayrshire Council. This is currently run by the SNP (15 councillors), with the assistance of 2 Tories. The Labour opposition has 14 councillors; there is also an independent.

    Had Labour won the by-election, they would then have become the largest party. Since they didn’t, the administration can continue, with no scope for votes of no confidence etc.

  48. TO H

    A very good response to our resident Doom Merchant.

  49. @anne,

    Because he was just very appealing to me, and given I vote Cons, I know that’s a red flag to [some people], but it does mean he can get that centre ground vote and takes away the worry of all this big Govt market intervention as the answer to everything that seems to be EMs way. He is the king across the water I feel.


  50. HOWARD

    @” this is thus what Spearmint calls ‘churn’ is it?”

    I really don’t know Howard.

    They might be just MOE of sub-samples for all I know.
    I don’t really understand any of it.

    Well I can see what lead is, and that’s what matters in the end.

    I think the post Budget Polls must now qualify for your criteria for a new trend ??

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