This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%. The three point lead for Labour is lower than usual, though nothing to get too excited about as it is well within the normal margin of error for a lead of five points or so. The 14% for UKIP is right at the top end of their their normal range. YouGov have had them at 14% a couple of times this year, but you need to go all the back to November to find them any higher.

I saw a couple of people commenting on this poll and on yesterday’s Populus poll in relation to the ongoing troubles around Maria Miller, asking about whether there would be a Miller effect, or pondering why it hadn’t damaged the Conservatives.

Obviously this is just one poll so one probably should read too much into it. More importantly though, I would not expect to see any impact at all from the Miller scandal anyway. As ever, the vast majority of the Westminster soap opera has no discernable impact upon voting intentions. The majority of people do not follow or watch Westminister events, will not be aware of who the people are or what they are supposed to have done. Those people who are interested in politics will tend to view events and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political loyalties. For example, if a Labour politician is involved in a scandal, Labour supporters will be more likely to see it as a smear, or at worst one bad apple amongst an otherwise decent party; Conservative supporters will be more likely to see it as some major failing and characteristic of a rotten party… and vice-versa for scandals affecting Conservative politicians). I expect all these things have a drip-drip effect upon party image, but not one that is measurable or quantifiable.

A good reminder is to go back and look at the ups and downs of the polls in the last Parliament, or the Parliament before and see what has changed polls. Most of the time they trundle along larged unaffected by short-term events – leadership changes affect them, budgets sometimes do, recessions and recoveries, wars, mid-term elections, party conferences (for a week). The weekly Westminster stories of speeches, policy announcements and scandals rarely do – the main exceptions of I can think of in recent years are the expenses scandal in 2009 (but that was the whole political class, a huge event); Charles Kennedy’s resignation (but he was a party leader) and I suppose Labour’s black Wednesday in 2006 (when Charles Clarke, John Prescott and Patricia Hewitt all managed to get themselves in a mess in the same week). Perhaps Maria Miller will join that list, but I really wouldn’t count on it.

191 Responses to “A reminder of what moves polls”

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  1. @AW

    “Hold up, weren’t you the person attacking other people for not providing any evidence for their baseless assertions the other day? Hmmm? Perhaps be a bit less aggressive towards people doing things you do yourself in the future?”

    I think we’ll have to rename you MB (mote and beam) as it’s quite common these days. :))

  2. Statgeek
    I don’t think you need to speculate; I describe the Midlands area as our Ohio. It’s where Worcester Woman and Mondeo Man live.

    I just wonder if we could be a little more specific as to a specific constituency or bunch of same that would qualify. Perhaps then it could be arranged that on election night, the media club together to pay those constituencies to get their results in by 2230, so that we can all go to bed at a reasonable hour (allowing 90 minutes thereafter for appropriate nightcap celebratory or commiserating drinks).

    For instance, if Rob Marris cannot win back Wolves SW then it all over for Miliband but that constituency has strong ethnic influences, so may not be a good typical choice.

    Any offers?

  3. ToH
    Read my post to CrossBat with the bucket load of Sprightly Old Buffer’s irony that was clearly intended !
    What exactly is your point re the Attlee Govt’s imposition of the post-war German electoral system ? Being ‘decades ahead ‘ of us didn’t stop You-know-who did it ? (Apologies to Howard for nearly falling foul of Godwin’s law).
    My serious point is that as far as electoral reform is concerned it is high time we took the medicine that we handed out to the Germans six decades ago.

  4. The sun the Mail,The Times and the Mirror all calling for Miller to resign,plus
    More and more Tory MPs breaking ranks and lining up to be less than supportive.It may not effect the polls but surely not good for Conservative party morale.
    Welcome back R and D.

  5. There appears to be a lot of encouraging economic news around this week…………………….

    ““The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said Britain’s economy probably grew by 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the fastest rate of growth for a calendar quarter since the second quarter of 2010.
    Factories expanded production far more quickly than expected in February, UK statistics office data showed. Separate surveys showed a strong first quarter for companies and a long-awaited pick-up in wages.
    The IMF said it expected Britain’s economy to expand by 2.9% this year – faster than any other G7 economy, and a significant upgrade from the 2.4% rate it predicted only three months ago.
    A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce showed six key manufacturing balances, including investment plans, hit all-time highs in the first quarter and services were strong too with exports at a record high.
    Another survey showed British employers are raising the salaries they offer to new permanent staff at the fastest rate in nearly seven years as they struggle to fill vacancies.”

    Good to see.

  6. Ann in Wales
    You won’t feel so welcoming when Paul corrects your ‘effect’. :-)

  7. Ann in Wales

    I think Tory Party morale ( and LibDems) is much more likely to be affected (and in a positive way) by the economic data coming through.

  8. Howard,

    Watch for Loughborough.

  9. @Howard

    “Perhaps then it could be arranged that on election night, the media club together to pay those constituencies to get their results in by 2230, so that we can all go to bed at a reasonable hour”

    Just watch Corby.

    “Since creation it has been a marginal seat alternating between Labour and the Conservative representatives with marginal majorities relative to national averages on all but two occasions, the 1997 Labour landslide and the 2012 by-election emphatic victories have been won for Labour. This saw a new party’s candidate enter the race and finish third, from UKIP, and the combined votes of which with the new Conservative candidate would have led to a marginal majority.

    Lab majority due to UKIP. See you in 2020. :))

  10. Howard:

    Stop picking on me: there’s a queue to join.

    Ann in W: Diolch yn fawr iawn.

    [No offence but what a soppy language. You wouldn’t even be able to guess what those words mean like you can with Spanish and Italian.]


    Any opinions on whether it is worst for the Tories to come first or second in the Euro Finals?

    I have a feeling that first would be because it would be healing stuff and frighten the Tory party more.

    But that is just a guess.


    I would be interested in looking at the report on British employers and salaries, are you able to provide me with a link?


    Thank you for the link. It will make interesting reading.

  13. Re. Ukip and Labour, they do hurt Labour insofar as they mop up Old Labour 2010 abstainers and Tory/Labour swing voters who Labour might otherwise hope to woo back into the fold.

    But I think Labour’s wooing prospects were pretty dim anyway, even though winning these people back was part of Ed Miliband’s mission as set out during the leadership contest. They’re angry about the overall structure of the economy, they’re displacing that anger onto immigrants, and unless/until a Labour government can restructure the economy they’re going to stay angry. They’re not going to give an establishment candidate like Miliband a hearing.

  14. Statgeek

    It seems to me that Corby has too much recent history to enable me to go to bed, were it the first result.

    Mr N
    Yes, Loughborough looks good. I could not discover if they had an exceptionally high ‘ethnic’ element. There is a major employer so if Brush went bus tomorrow, one could have an undue influence there (thinking back to Redcar, for instance).

    Any other offers? I suppose the writing on the wall could be gleaned from a non-Midlands seat, if it declared early, as Dagenham provided in 1992.

  15. Er ‘Brush went bus’ would be inappropriate as they make railway engines.

  16. ‘re UKIP and Labour

    UKIP ex Conservatives have just taken a step sideways in their view and there is no ideological reason why they can’t move back if the situation demands in 2015. Some are a bit angry now but will that last? Those who have voted Labour in the past have taken a huge step to the right to support UKIP and may find it harder to return without losing face. It all depends on how savvy switchers are. The UKIP core, ex Conservatives who left long ago, are never coming back but they are no more than 3% of the electorate and have probably been discounted by all other parties.

  17. @ ToH
    I assume you welcome the good econmic news or am i wrong?
    Who cares what Paul A welcomes? He’s not Ed Balls & you’re not Andrew Neil.

    I’m picking you up on this because I don’t ‘get’ why individuals who comment here are asked to condemn this, welcome that & denounce the other, as if they are politicians who might make a news-worthy gaff. And it’s irritating enough when it’s Andrew Neil or Andrew Marr asking ‘real’ politicians; on here it’s exasperating.

  18. Amber – Exactly, thank you. No one here is a party spokesman, and the discussion here is not a place to discuss or challenge each others political views.

    Will people please (a) stop playing at being little political interviewers, trying to challenge or point score off people they think have different political viewpoints and (b) stop responding to it, and acting like little party press officers.

  19. @JohnB re the last thread.

    I agree really that it’s far too early to make Scottish 2015 predictions (though I enjoy making them anyway). As you say it’s dependent on the referendum and also what the parties offer Devo Max wise post referendum (if its a no vote).

    My gut feeling is that despite the often visceral dislike between Labour and SNP politicians there is a large block of voters out there (maybe 20%?) who don’t really care whether they vote SNP or Labour. They dislike Conservatives and are happy to see more powers for Holyrood without really being convinced by Independence. They’re trade unionists who’s parents voted Labour but who are disenchanted with the current Scottish Labour Party (although they quite like Ed Miliband and always thought Gordon Brown was a nice bloke). They vote SNP at Holyrood as the government is doing no bad and vote Labour at Westminster to keep the Tories out.

    This group of people will determine the 2015 election result in Scotland but as yet they haven’t even decided whether they’re voting Yes or No in the referendum never mind what they’re doing next year.

  20. I think it’s fine to point out the good economic news and possible impact on polling. Personally I care little for people’s personal opinion, as it normally contains vested interest or political prejudice. But I do give significant credence when the IMF says the UK’s growth will be the strongest in the G7.

    [Ahem, some people will want to vote to keep a party they see as having run the economy well in office – AW]

  21. Northumbrianscot

    “what the parties offer Devo Max wise post referendum”

    Attitudes to the Labour Devo proposals in the latest Panelbase poll.

  22. RICH
    I don’t think they will.
    What matters how they feel about their own position not what the IMF says will happen on the global scale.

  23. Howard,

    Brush has indeed been in trouble (as I know because an acquaintance’s father sadly committed suicide after being made redundant from there) but it’s still open and should remain so until the GE.

    Loughborough is the ultimate ‘generic’ town. It’s average sized, averagely wealthy, in the middle of the country, with an average employment level, educational and racial mix, and has voted for the winning party for ages.

    If Matthew O’Callaghan looks happy or Nicky Morgan looks sad, it’s bedtime for you. As for me, I will be using my student privileges and after the nail biting is over, drinking copious amounts of alcohol to celebrate/drown my sorrows (my GE drinking game has been refined almost to perfection now).

  24. To be fair Norbold, that’s what they do every Wednesday afternoon in parliament.

  25. I think good economic news must have an effect.

    If TV news & newspapers are saying good things about employment, GDP ,Public Finances etc etc, and people have generally been told that these features have been a problem, then the recipient of the news must presumably
    be influenced.

    My impression from “feelgood” questions in OPs was that answers were trending to feeling less
    If, as EM is saying , people are actually worse off personally, where can such a reaction have been generated except via the economic headlines ?

  26. @Spearmint

    Regarding the data I asked about, mine is incomplete.

    Do you have the breakdown of You Gov 2014 polls, by 2010 party ID, including DKs and WNV?

    I could spend aeons copying data from all the polls this year, but if you have that I be very grateful for it, if that’s okay :)

  27. ….”less bad” obviously.

  28. RICH

    I don’t know what the headlines will say, but the significant bit of the IMF report on UK was it’s backtracking on its previous warning to GO about “playing with fire”, because of fiscal consolidation.

  29. Re the GE next year and going to bed early. I think it will be the most interesting GE for many years – probably since the rise of the SDP. This is because of a credible fourth party in England for the first time since then.
    UKIP may lose some support as the election nears, but this could be offset by a boost after the European elections. They might end up with about 10% of the popular vote. This may not be enough to win them any seats, but their support is likely to be patchy, and they could affect the result in quite a few seats. They are strong in the East Midlands and the South West in particular and seats like Loughborough, as MrNameless said, could be very interesting.

  30. @Anthony/Amber

    You’re both absolutely right and, as a sinner myself on occasions, I repent! More seriously, the behaviour you describe is usually the reason that some discussion threads go rapidly downhill. My defence is that my offending is usually when I rise to the bait as opposed to initiating things, and maybe the habitual provocateurs are those that need to take most heed. Depressingly, I see your strictures are being ignored already as we’re already being treated to terms like “growth deniers” and “bad losers”. Dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    Returning to the interesting discussion about who is being harmed most by the rise of UKIP, I’m very much in accord with Peter Crawford and Mike Smithson’s view that they’re dining out primarily on former and potential Tory voters. That’s not to say that former Lib Dem and Labour voters aren’t amongst their number now and that there might not be circumstances in the future where significant chunks of Labour’s support are vulnerable to UKIP’s charms, but Labour would have to play an extraordinarily bad hand to allow that to occur.

    This is very broad brush and unrefined, I admit, but I just get the sense that they’re harvesting what used to be called the working-class Tory vote. Ken Livingstone’s parents were from such stock and he talks interestingly and lovingly about what tends to motivate people like them. It’s what makes him one of the more stimulating politicians about at the moment and his background lends him a unique understanding of what can easily be regarded as a mysterious section of the electorate.

    Farage understands them too, although I suspect, unlike Ken, his understanding is of a more cynical and calculated kind.

  31. PETEB

    @” I think it will be the most interesting GE for many years ”

    I think you are correct-the only prediction which can be made with certainty at present.

  32. This is a single incident (and I’m aware of the problems with using council by elections as predictors) but I’ll refer you all to the Loughborough Ashby by-election of August last year:

    Labour 71.8% (+9.6%)
    UKIP 22.6% (+22.6%)
    Conservative 5.6% (-32.2%)

    UKIP are doing serious damage to the Tory vote in some sectors, and with a rather small Conservative Association (10% drop in membership from 2012-2013) it could be hard for them to stop.

    Someone on the constituency guide section of the site posted this Populus poll of Loughborough from December:

    Labour 41
    Conservative 35
    UKIP 13
    Lib Dem 7
    Other 4

    If that’s the sort of scenario we’re looking at in seats like Loughborough in 2015, Labour will be on for a good night.

  33. ““The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said Britain’s economy probably grew by 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the fastest rate of growth for a calendar quarter since the second quarter of 2010.”

    What happened after the second quarter of 2010 which has given us such disastrous growth in the meantime?

  34. @Oldnat re Devo Nano

    Indeed and if Scottish Labour don’t come up with a more convincing post No position we won’t be debating who’ll be offering the best post no vote package in 2015 we’ll be arguing over whether Holyrood or the Scottish MP class of 2015 get to negotiate the terms of the separation.

    I tend to believe someone in the wider No camp (won’t be Lamont!) has to come up with a more convincing plan, especially as the polls tighten. Gordon Brown? Menzies Campbell? Henry McLeish? Jackson Carlaw? Somehow I doubt anything truly satisfactory (Federalism? Crown Dependency?) will come out of Westminster anytime soon.

    I look forward to a post No vote, 2016 SNP Holyrood manifesto which is what I believe will lead to the next big change in Constitutional status for Scotland.

  35. Mr N

    I could read into that, that if Con wrestle back 7% (“UKIP can’t win here” histograms, I see them now :-) ) then they shade the seat.

    I suppose it depends how genuinely right wing, Ms Morgan is prepared to portray herself?

  36. I for one am tired of ministers in this government resigning at the drop of a hat.

    Minister caught coughing without putting their hand in front of their mouth -> RESIGN!

    We all make mistakes in our jobs, we don’t have to resign because of them. The committee judged their was no fraud or outright intent to gain, just that she made a mistake and wasn’t very helpful in the investigation, for which she apologised.

    To be honest, wouldn’t be too happy myself if someone came snooping in my business when I knew hand on heart I hadn’t meant to do anything wrong.

  37. ‘But I do give significant credence when the IMF says the UK’s growth will be the strongest in the G7.’

    The IMF is not noted for actually having a good forecasting record – neither is the Bank of England.

  38. @crossbath,

    ok fair point, apologies on a couple of crass phrases, but I get very frustrated that a couple of the most revered and most resident posters are actual the most partisan, but their status allows them to continue to plough the anti-Con rhetoric relentlessly through subtle attempts to feed narratives.

    Anyway, agree it will be a great election battle, and the UKIP rise is the big threat to Cons still for me, despite them inroading in to Labour votes too. It seems wholly plausible that a very small majority for Labour is the most likely outcome right now, but Cons have a chance too. Either way, a landslide looks very unlikely, which should weaken any far left/right agenda, probably a good thing for most, but not for some…

  39. @Howard
    “For instance, if Rob Marris cannot win back Wolves SW then it all over for Miliband but that constituency has strong ethnic influences, so may not be a good typical choice.”

    It would be all over for Miliband. But Rob Marris is a mate of mine and it will be a huge upset if such a respected and well-known former MP doesn’t get back in. Meanwhile it’s debatable whether Uppal (who?) has no incumbency vote or a negative one.

    The Lord Ashcroft September 2013 marginals poll picked out the following barometer seats in the W Midlands: North Warwickshire, Wolves SW, Halesowen & RR, Nuneaton. On the weighted subsample after turnout (n=551) the split was Con 29%, Lab 44%, LD 4%, UKIP 15%, Green 5%. Also 30/45/5/12/4 on the “thinking about your constituency” alternative question.

  40. R and D,
    Thank you for those kind words.I am however not Welsh although I live in Wales.What ever.Nice to see you back.In the immortal words of someone I once met ,unfortunately,don’t let the buggers get you down.

  41. I do post CUSUM charts about VI data, but realise that these charts may not be common knowledge, and are not normally in use.

    If anyone wants to read an explanation, try this:

    It includes the YG VI data for 2014 in three forms to show the extra information they extract.

    I think they are greatly under valued as an analytical tool, and invaluable to me in my day job, looking at process improvements. They really do a great job.

  42. If anyone is interested in the regional 5-poll rolling averages (per the UK one earlier, I’ve zipped them up. I was going to apply some analyses to them, but it would take too long.

    Suggest you see the North and RoS for UKIP’s changes v other parties though. Quite interesting.

  43. @Statgeek

    Nice work.

    Have you tried applying a CUSUM analysis to your data? There would be some untapped gems in there for sure, under the chaos.

    I guess the question is, in the RoS, are Labour voters joining UKIP and therefore setting up UKIP to be the Conservatives’ main challengers?

  44. AW,

    I’m in moderation for some reason!


  45. Phil Haines
    Thanks very much, duly downloaded and I will study the ones you mentioned.

    Indeed, my opinion is that not only is the Ashcroft approach the most valid, but, leaving aside the Celts, it would be far cheaper just to have perhaps the general election in the ones you mentioned and simply apply the average swing across the rest. Ensure the results are quickly gathered and counted and then send the pundits in the studios home by 2300.

  46. Just to say,
    That the one we cannot mention,who hates you know who,has said she must go.So that’s that then.

  47. Sun Politics [email protected]_Politics 30s

    YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead up one to four points: CON 33%, LAB 37%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%

  48. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead up one to four points: CON 33%, LAB 37%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%

  49. Cons seem a touch down on pre-budget, or is that just me?

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