Compare and contrast

A couple of weeks ago someone sent me a link to a “poll” in the Tab (which, one understands, is some form of newspaper for students) that claimed to show Conservatives were in the lead amongst students. Nonsense of course, it was an open access voodoo poll with no attempt to get a meaningful or representative sample (hell, 10% of the sample were Cambridge students!). Of course, it was only a poll in a campus newspaper so I didn’t bother writing rude things about it, the only other media I found foolish enough to cite it were Vice and Breitbart.

Just for the record though, today’s Independent has a properly conducted poll of students by YouthSight (we’ve met them here before, under the name of Opinionpanel). This was a panel based survey amongst undergraduate full-time students, recruited via UCAS and validated through an email address, weighted by type of university (Russell, pre-1992, post-1992, specialist), year of study and gender. In contrast to the voodoo poll above, it shows Labour with a solid lead amongst students who say they are likely to vote – Labour 43%, Conservatives 24%, Lib Dems 6%, Greens 14%, UKIP 5%. Compare and contrast.

310 Responses to “Compare and contrast”

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  1. Glad that UKPR is a voodoo free zone!

    Is Yougov polling continuing as normal over the Easter period?

  2. I am more than a little surprised at how high the Con and UKIP figures are, and how low the Green VI. Or am I just showing my age?

  3. Those of us who write for proper student media (ie actually printed or broadcast) are very disdainful of the Tab. It’s totally lacking in most content that isn’t list-type articles which make it a sort of low-rent Buzzfeed, itself a poor man’s Cracked. It’s not surprising to me that they’d have done this sort of thing.

    Anyway, nice to get students polled. As we’d expect, a big Labour lead, and a significant Green share. I won’t share my thoughts on Green students because I’ll get modded but phrases that might pop up include “borderline anarchists” “delusional idealists” and “no understanding of FPTP”.

    Before anyone expresses surprise at the Conservative share being so high, don’t. I’m actually shocked it isn’t higher. Students seem quite right wing to me, although that’s mainly (in my view) because they’re often the children of wealthy parents in the Home Counties, who themselves tend to be right wing.

    The 6% for Lib Dems is probably nearing their natural base. It may seem odd but some students really don’t mind the tuition fees thing, and the ones who call themselves Libertarians (again won’t share my thoughts, but isn’t it funny how that word rhymes with “immature contrarians”?) might vote LD if they’re put off by social conservatism.

  4. Haha- filed under ‘voodoo’. On a more serious note, I think there has been a decided shift among the student/ 18-24 age group. I noticed a year ago that quite a few supported Tory/LibDems. But recently it is unusual, especially in my part of London, to find any who support LibDems. There are still some Tories in the late 20’s / early 30’s group.

  5. Oh, and UKIP – yeah, again, I’m surprised it isn’t higher but then from the representative sample of my flat UKIP VI for the European elections is 40% so maybe I’m in the wrong environment.

    There is a significant “anti-establishment” element to UKIP which may wash with some students, and of course there’s the type of “lad” who enjoys lifting weights, making hilarious rape gags and grunting. They’ll be voting UKIP too.

  6. There will be hardly any students on the electoral register next year.

    It’s called individual electoral registration. It requires students to register individually, preventing university accommodation officers from doing that en-mass for their halls of residence. And the first register using it comes into effect in April 2015.


    “of course there’s the type of “lad” who enjoys lifting weights, making hilarious rape gags and grunting. They’ll be voting UKIP too”

    Try to stay at least a little bit sane.

  8. There was a poster last week who made a wild comment coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum. He was howled off this site. Is it only OK to sling around slurs if you are left wing? Show some discipline comrades.

  9. Sorry, I didn’t put the requisite >>>>JOKE<<<< before that. Consider my remark withdrawn, although the point about the anti-establishment vote for UKIP still stands.

    I also note nobody's telling me off for slagging off the Greens, although stick a retrospective joke tag above that too.

  10. Interesting poll although, not knowing how things might have moved over the years, it’s difficult to know how interesting it might be. Have we (Anthony?) any historical polls showing how students voted in previous decades and generations?

    I have a son at Sheffield University, but my fist hand experience of these things goes back to my student days of 40 years ago. In the 70s, the anecdotal view was that the student population, which formed a much smaller proportion of the population then than it does now, was overwhelmingly left wing, although I always had a feeling that there were more closet Tory students about than was generally acknowledged. Bristol had a lot of ex-public school, middle class failed Oxbridge applicants and I suspected many had inherited their parents voting sympathies. Us lefties were much more loud and boisterous though, and the silent Tories kept lower profiles. One thing that was undoubtedly true in those days though was there a much greater interest in politics shared by students, whatever their political views. Politics was alive, well and in rude health on campus in those days. From my son’s experience now, that is very far from the case, sadly

    As for this Independent poll, if you add up the Labour and Greens, then it would appear that the student population, now much larger than it once was, is still generally left-leaning. It’s just a shame a lot of them won’t be registered to vote in May 2015!

  11. Yeah but you weren’t conflating the Greens with tolerating rape. If you want to go down that route you might want to look at some Labour councils in relation to grooming gangs. In fact the party that has the honourable record in that department is one that I suspect both you and I regard as vile, the one that got howled off Question Time for mentioning it.

  12. Not surprised at all with the findings straight transfer from LD’s to Greens and Labour in this cohort or that UKIP which primarily appeals to the Old and Poorly Educated is making no headway.

    Unfortunately for Labour this age Cohort is the least likely to vote.

  13. True, although it genuinely wasn’t my intent to imply that was UKIP policy or a significant attitude of their members. I was actually referring to their attitude towards political correctness and not liking to be told what they say is unacceptable. However I can see the confusion and will leave it up to AW as to whether he wants to snip that particular line.

  14. FPT
    @ R Huckle
    ‘I think the polls are being affected by the upcoming EU and local council elections’

    Much too early for that. Only anoraks such as ourselves will be paying much attention until the last week of the campaign – indeed only 35% or so are likely to vote!

  15. Crossbat – follow the link to YouthSight, they do have a graph of the historical trend back to 2005:

  16. (FPT)

    @John B

    Pure seat calc, without analysis of likelihood:

    Lab 30 (-11)
    SNP 14 (+8)
    Lib 13 (+2)
    Con 2 (+1)

    Lib have had higher (about this time last year as it happens), but the sample sizes were sub-150. They even had a VI of 24%, but there was a 5% and 8% either side of that. :))

    This sample is 203. Not huge, but far better than sub 150. YG seem to have woken up to getting at least 1000 from their five weekly polls gives a better chance of a more realistic average.

    Not including April 2014, since Nov’11 the SNP have been ahead of Lab 51 times (594 polls, or 8.6%). What is interesting is that in April of 2014 we have had three instances of SNP ahead of Lab. Three in 14 polls which is 21.4%.

    I generally believe that SNP ahead of Lab is statistical noise, but the number of times it happens in a given period might be telling of a narrowing gap, that is difficult to spot within the noise of the Scottish cross-breaks (e.g. the last ten polls – 36, 39, 40, 36, 34, 29, 46, 39, 33, 29). The average of those is 36.1, but arguably the 29s and the 46 are outliers. A seventeen point gap is quite troublesome.

    A quick breakdown of the SNP > Lab polls since Nov’11:

    Nov / Dec ’11 – 7
    2012 – 38
    2013 – 4 (1 x Jun, 2 x Nov, 1 x Dec)
    2014 – 5 (2 x Feb, 3 x Apr…so far)

    There were 21 SNP > Lab polls by 17th April in 2012.

  17. The Tab is very much a right of centre paper (I tremble at the thought of calling it a “news” paper), certainly in Cambridge, so I’m not at all surprised at their results.

    I think that the LD student vote could hold up well in areas with relatively well off students and/or relatively leftwing and liberal Lib Dems; I’d be surprised if the student vote in Cambridge didn’t break Liberal, possibly in places like Oxford, Durham, Bath, perhaps Bristol, though the LD vote will certainly suffer from its 2010 levels.

    Individual registration does seem a massive recipe for weakening student voting; I can’t help but think it was a horribly canny move on the part of the Tories whose voters will be far more likely to get themselves registered.

  18. CROSSBAT11

    – I was at Bristol in the 1970’s.

    From a Comprehensive School I should add.

    I went there in preference to Oxford not so much of the Oxbridge Rejects please.

    But You have a point it was full of Public School students, I very nearly married a very nice Girl from Roedean.

    Even more of them there now I understand as cost of accommodation and the ludicrous insistence of Russell Group Universities that Students don’t have part time jobs during term time has priced everyone else out

  19. @Gog – “how high the […] UKIP figures are, and how low the Green VI”

    This poll has UKIP on 5 and the Greens on 14…

  20. Wes,

    Yes, but he meant for students, who are generally thought of as very left wing.

    It’s a misrepresentation of course but you can see where it comes from. It’s the same as saying old people are Tories when significant numbers vote Labour, or that trade unionists are all Labour when many are right wing.

  21. Anthony
    Interesting link I was surprised to see in 2008 the Tories were on 42% with Labour on 17% in this Cohort quite a turn around.

  22. It’s a misrepresentation of course but you can see where it comes from. It’s the same as saying old people are Tories when significant numbers vote Labour, or that trade unionists are all Labour when many are right wing.

    -As Trade Unionists are mostly found in the Public Sector I would suspect there aren’t a lot of Tory Voters left in this cohort.
    2015 Will tell

  23. Violence against women is a political issue. And there is a ‘type’ which systematically fails to recognise that such violence/ viciousness definitely has some of its roots in the ‘jokey’ stereo-type which Mr Nameless offered for our consideration.

    How quickly he was howled down for daring to raise the issue, even though he did it ‘tongue in cheek’. How quickly his point was twisted to be a race issue instead of a societal or political one.

    Such backlash when ‘every day’ sexism is mentioned by our student participant – it makes the case for gender balance in politics more clearly than I ever could!

  24. The first poll was a waste of time, the second quite plausible.

    The next problem is getting them to actually vote.

  25. @Anthony

    Thanks for the link and I must admit that I’m taken aback by some of the historical data. The Tories leading Labour by 25% amongst students in August 2008 (42 v 17) and enjoying unbroken and consistent leads for all the years between 2006 and 2010?? Another cosy assumption blown out of the water!

    Notwithstanding the formation of the coalition in 2010, tuition fees rises and the almost total collapse of Lib Dem support amongst students (they were actually the most popular party amongst students for most of 2005 and 2006), I’d say these were pretty good polls for Labour, certainly in the context of the last 10 years.

    Just got to get them out to vote now!

  26. I very much agree with Amber wrt sexism. It’s also one of the few issues that can really heavily motivate some sections of the student population. I don’t know how much it’ll influence voting patterns though, that said, I certainly don’t get the impression that UKIP are doing any boots on the ground stuff in places like Cambridge. Their few young supporters tend to hang forlornly around the edges of the Conservative Association social set, cuddling Thatcher posters and wondering why nobody else is as scared of immigrants as they are.

  27. @Statgeek

    I had replied on the previous thread, but here is what I put there:


    Thanks for doing this work. “Statistical noise” it may be, but Labour are still not firing on all cylinders in Scotland. They seem very unsure of their way forward on matters relating to further devolution for Scotland, and I wonder also about their numerical strength when it comes to having people to do the footwork at election time.

    Interesting reading James Robertson’s ‘And the Land Lay Still’ in the section regarding the 1970s and Jim Sillars setting up the Scottish Labour Party. Still some unanswered questions regarding Labour’s UK leadership and its relationship with Scotland, plus the on-going uncertainty as to whether the Scottish Labour Leader (whoever it may be, not just the present one) really leads the whole Scottish party – including the MPs in Westminster – or not.

    To sum up – unless Scottish Labour gets its act together following the NO vote, they may well suffer some losses…..

  28. @ MRNAMELESS fair point, sorry to get preachy, you made your point, I made mine, that’s free speech.

    @STEVE ‘UKIP which primarily appeals to the Old and Poorly Educated’

    Unless you factor in that ‘the Old’ went to university at a a time when far fewer went to university. But don’t let such sophistry get in the way of a cheap shot. Might want to factor in that Ukip voters are more Working Class, then you might find that they are the more highly educated representatives of their particular social class and age group. Now wouldn’t that be an uncomfortable truth.

  29. @Steve

    Always nice to meet up with an old 1970s Bristolian! I was there between 1974 and 1977 and had the time of my life. I fell in love with the city during my time there, living in Clifton, Redland and Eastville (come on the Rovers!) and have nothing but the fondest of memories of the place. Don’t get back there much now, and went a long time without going back at all, but I attended a nostalgic re-union with some old student mates a couple of years ago. It was striking how little had changed, and the Students Union certainly needed a bit of urgent refurbishment, but it was good to see so that many of my old drinking haunts were still intact (Highbury Vaults, Coronation Tap, Llandoger Trow etc).

    Memories, indeed.

  30. Amber:

    In using the “slippery slope” phrase I am not suggesting that we are in danger of getting to the boko haram/schoolgirls state but, like you, but as a male, I think zero tolerance is the very least we should aim for with regard to sexism. I utterly loathe it and I remember feeling the same back in the 60s.

    As far as the state of affairs in Nigeria is concerned it makes me despair for the human race.

  31. @Mr Beeswax

    UKIP’s rate of recruitment is such that I doubt the party itself has a good handle on who its members are. I have no doubt that there are some unsavoury types included – why should UKIP alone among parties be immune? Actual polling, however, suggests that UKIP voters are poorer, older, less well-educated, and more likely to be working class. I don’t see that as a criticism of UKIP, but of the big 3, Labour in particular.

    Mr Nameless’s offensive and deeply closeted chum (haha) is a different matter. He probably shouts about voting UKIP, but he does it because he thinks it makes him sound butcher. Actually voting for UKIP, or amyone else, is different matter entirely.

  32. Coronation Tap I remember going in with a set of Legs but on the consumption of 5 Pints of Scrumpy misplacing them!

    Beswax Can’t get my head around your post.

    Evidence suggests the Old and the Poorly Educated are in General the main back stay of UKIP support. The Two Groups are not the same .
    Basically a Group wanting a return to some past state of the Country and a group who feel excluded form the benefits of the current society.

    UKIP’s approach which is entirely Nihisitic is aimed at attracting these potential voters and they have proved successful in doing so.

    In addition to these groups they have picked up on the plague on all your houses protest vote which used to be LD’s territory.

    Indeed as People get Older they tend to get more Right wing the age and social class cohorts on Opinion Polls regularly support my comments.

    I am sorry if this somehow annoys you but this is supposed to be a sight for discussing polls.

  33. To be fair to said chum, he’s only planning on voting UKIP in the European elections because he’s a staunch Eurosceptic. In general and local elections he’s Tory to the core (although that may change if UKIP become competitive in his home constituency).

  34. @ Rosie, Daisie & Others

    I think zero tolerance is the very least we should aim for with regard to sexism.
    Thank you all for your support. We need an end to all violence/ viciousness; mocking & threatening people who are seen as being ‘weaker’ (in the case of every day sexism, because of gender) sets the stage for a society where bullies hold sway, with terrible consequences.

    (Paul, I often think of the loss your family suffered because of the violence in our society; your continued support for a good society, your obvious affection for your wee doggies & your condemnation of violence everywhere is heart warming – long may it continue).

  35. I’ve got the Easter break up north and given the people I will be meeting and events attending I should be in a good position to report on how things are going with the big match.

    On the basis of the people I met at the Kelpie event in Falkirk last night YES are moving ahead by a street however I suspect that wasn’t a fully representative crowd – although a very large one,

  36. @Steve

    “Coronation Tap I remember going in with a set of Legs but on the consumption of 5 Pints of Scrumpy misplacing them!”

    Ah yes, the Tap in Clifton with the legendary scrumpy. My favourite tipple was Lemon Top (a pint of scrumpy with a splash of lemon cordial) and I have similar memories of yours of its detrimental effect on the ability to walk! I distinctly remember my first experience of drinking scrumpy in that very pub and as a beer drinker and ingenue,who thought cider was a semi-soft drink called Woodpecker, I fell foul of cunningly staged drinking contest with an experienced scrumpy man. Halfway through my third pint my last memories were of my grinning drinking rival and a rapidly spinning ceiling.

    Great pub and I loved one of the old regulars in there who often used to regale me with ancient and heroic cider-drinking tales, while his little dog was lapping scrumpy from a bowl on the floor. I expect both owner and loyal pet had eventful walks home at the dead of night, especially with Avon Gorge and the Clifton Suspension Bridge only a stone’s throw away from the pub. The drunk leading the drunk, albeit with one having the partial use of four legs rather than two!

  37. @ James Baillie,

    I can’t help but think it was a horribly canny move on the part of the Tories whose voters will be far more likely to get themselves registered.

    It was, and I wonder how much effect it will have. It’s another “fundamental” that isn’t mentioned enough by the commentariat.

    I liked the canny counter-suggestion by one Labour MP that people should have to register to vote in order to receive their benefits. Superficially ‘tough on scroungers’, but beneath the surface a massive recruiting tool…

  38. @Steve
    Is there evidence that people become more right wing as they get older? I know that the older people are more right wing, but that’s a different thing. It’s a fact that the richer you are, the longer you live so we’d expect older people to tend to have opinions less typical of the poor.

    I also wonder about history. Voters who were finding their feet, raising a family, and forming their opinions when “we never had it so good” in the 50’s might be expected to differ from those struggling to do the same in the 80’s. YG’s 40-59 cohort are very different to the 60+ cohort. I can’t believe all these middle aged people are just going to change their minds when they draw their pensions. We’re not noted for liking the idea of change!

  39. Oh sod, forgot to close that tag.

  40. “Just got to get them out to vote now!”

    I’ve volunteered for this:

    Too late now to add your name for locals/euros but I’m sure they’ll be back at it before the GE

  41. @ Postageincluded,

    My favourite graph, which says not really. Older people were always more right wing and remain more right wing, generations become successively less conservative (or less Tory, anyway) over time:

  42. Add your name to volunteers list I mean, not the register

  43. @ Far Easterner (FPT),

    You might well think that Labour’s 45%s were down to 2010 Con voters who have now switched to Ukip, and indeed I thought so too and was about to post a comment agreeing with you. But then I remembered I had the figures and thought I probably ought to check them before I posted.

    It turns out we’re both wrong.

    In the wake of the Omnishambles Budget, Con -> Lab switching increased by at most 1% of the electorate (and probably more like 0.5%). Those voters did indeed switch over to Ukip last spring, but there just aren’t enough of them to explain Labour’s decline. The big losses have come from retention of 2010 Lab voters and LD switchers, which are both on the order of 2%.

    Although the Labour and Lib Dem contributions to Ukip are small relative to the Tory contribution, they were both around zero before the Eastleigh by-election. They’ve increased sharply, and both contributions came largely from post-2010 Labour voters. This was enough to drop Labour about 4%. It’s not the Tory/Lab swing voters that are causing Labour’s Ukip headache, it’s their own.

  44. @LHamilton

    “On the basis of the people I met at the Kelpie event in Falkirk last night YES are moving ahead by a street however I suspect that wasn’t a fully representative crowd”

    By a street? Big Mo then. Next poll should be interesting.

  45. (Some of the Ukippers may still be 2010 Tories/2005 Labourites, though. They just never supported Labour in this Parliament.

    Further to this point, I think the Pressman/Conservative Central Office “Vote Ukip, get Miliband” line may have a limited efficacy, because quite a few Ukippers (the 2010 swing voters and all the Lab/LD defectors) are perfectly sanguine about the prospect of a Labour government.)

  46. spearmint

    “Oh sod, forgot to close that tag.”

    Langwidge please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Owr Daisie reads this – and she’s oany WON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Rose [aged too]

  47. @Spearmint

    “because quite a few Ukippers (the 2010 swing voters and all the Lab/LD defectors) are perfectly sanguine about the prospect of a Labour government.)”

    May even welcome one, especially those UKIP activists and supporters who are playing the long game. It seems to me that a pro-EU Labour Government, with a weakish mandate, would be manna from heaven for a UKIP party aiming to supplant the Tory Party on the right of British politics.

    The last thing they’d want, I would have thought, was a majority Tory Government, promising an EU In/Out Referendum, more right wing social and economic policies and unhindered by irritating Lib Dem coalition partners.

    Farage’s mission this election is to shaft the Tories. It must be his absolute Number One priority, surely?

  48. Farage seems to actively dislike and distrust Cameron far more than Miliband, and in my admittedly limited experience the same is true of UKIP supporters. Makes me unsure about the impact of the Anyone But Miliband message.

  49. Douglas Alexander for one seems to be taking Pressman’s prognostication seriously… part of the reason for hiring Axelrod is that Labour realises there will be an unprecedentedly negative campaign against Miliband. Part of the reason Axelrod says he accepted the gig is that he is enthusiastic about Ed’s “vision”.

    A reminder of one of Wilson’s Three Wise Men who died last week:


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