Sunday polls

There are three voting intention polls in the Sunday papers. The regular YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13% – we’ve had a week of YouGov poll with quite low Labour leads, including a couple with leads of just one point. This seven point lead suggests they were just co-incidence and what we’re actually seeing is normal random variation around an underlying lead of 3 or 4 points (tabs are here.

Meanwhile Opinium in the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-3), LAB 33%(-1), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 20%(+2). Opinion tend to give UKIP some of their highest scores but even by those standards its a high score – the highest Opinium have shown since last summer’s 21%. We are overdue an Opinium European poll too – they said they’d be releasing one last weekend, then mid-week, but nothing yet.

Finally Survation for the Mail on Sunday have topline figures of CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 20%. Survation are the other company that tends to give UKIP their highest scores but again the 20% is the highest since last summer. They also have European election voting intentions which stand at CON 21%, LAB 28%, LD 9%, UKIP 32%, GRN 5%. This seems to be becoming the broad picture of European election support (tabs here.

The rest of the YouGov and Survation polls had lots of questions about perceptions of the leaders (both found that people thought David Cameron was more “intellectually confident” than Ed Miliband. I expect it reflects general positive and negative perceptions of the two men rather than any specifics). I’m not going to drag myself over the issue with Ed Miliband’s poor ratings yet again – other than the observation that not much has changed since I last wrote about the contrast between Miliband’s ratings and Labour’s ratings.

YouGov also had some questions about rent control (people still support it) and nationalising railways (people also support it). This is one of those poll findings that are pretty consistent (I’ve seen various questions about rail nationalisation over the years and the public always seem to be supportive) yet often seem to come as a bit of a surprise to people. I suspect it’s because its one of those areas where public opinion is at odds to mainstream political debate. Outside of things like the bankers bailout nationalisation, the mainstream political debate seems to treat nationalisation as something wildly left-wing that is outside the main debate and would indicate a massive swing left, yet the public seem broadly positive towards it. Before one takes away the conclusion the public are all very left wing, one could make a similar observation about law and order, immigration or human rights policies and come to the conclusion that the public are wildly right wing – it’s more than the debate inside the party-Parliament-media sort of political universe often operates within different boundaries of what are “normal political views” from what the public actually think.

(A brief note about the differences in UKIP support between pollsters. I wrote about this last year and should probably do an updated post at some point, but the sheer quantity of ignorance and tinfoil-hattery it produces on Twitter means I should occasionally knock down some of the nonsense written. Essentially there appears to be a substantial difference between the levels of UKIP support recorded by telephone pollsters and online pollsters. Polls conducted by telephone produce lower UKIP scores, polls conducted online higher ones. We don’t know why – it could be because of an interviewer effect, or because one mode is producing more accurate samples. Differences in weighting may also be a factor – Opinium show some of the highest figures and put it down to their lack of political weighting, YouGov and Populus show lower UKIP scores than other online companies and also weight by party ID rather than past vote. What is certainly untrue is the perception that weighting by past vote automatically leads to lower UKIP scores – the method is shared by both ICM and Survation, who tend to give UKIP some of their lowest and highest scores respectively. Prompting is often cited as another cause of the gap, and it does make a difference…but Survation are the only pollster who include UKIP in their main prompt, while Opinium and ComRes online also show very high UKIP scores so this is clearly not the major factor at play. Whatever the reasons for the differences in UKIP support, they are not simple.)

146 Responses to “Sunday polls”

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  1. Whoops. The first sentence is a complete mess. It should have said –
    Alec – the school places issue is one that in previous times would benefit Labour, what with funds from a flagship Tory policy going to ‘favoured’ free schools, yet class size rises and inadequate facilities are also associated with rising birthrates from immigration for much of the electorate which affects Labour.

  2. @Howard

    It’s not going to happen CB. Arithmetic says no.”

    Agreed. Anything other than a Tory hold is unlikely, but who knows what could happen in the febrile political atmosphere that we’re likely to have after the Euro elections.

    Stranger things and all that.


    Lol Ann, I understand your cynicism. I can be a bit cynical myself. Would like to see RiN back, he was one of the most refreshing cynics around…

  4. Couper2802

    After September, I intend to vote Scottish Green (when possible) anyway, but for the Euros, a tactical vote seems more useful.

    If the SNP look likely to be a close contender for a 3rd seat, then they’ll get my vote. If a 3rd seat looks secure or unachievable then my vote might go elsewhere. On principle, I’d vote Green, but ensuring UKIP doesn’t get a Scottish seat is more important.

    Consequently, it is even possible (for the first time in my life) I might even vote Tory, if the 6th seat looks like it might be close between Tory & UKIP.

    Of course, I’ll have to disinherit myself if I do. I don’t think anyone in my family has voted Tory since the 1950’s when SCUP were seen as a bulwark against centralisation in London.

  5. @Crossbat

    Yeah, it’d be interesting if Ukip won, just to see the effect it might have. It seems to be the case that Miliband is very careful about which battles he picks to fight; guess we’ll see how good he is at picking…

  6. Oldnat,

    You’re not the only person struggling with that. My flatmate (a Tory member) has declared he’s going to hold his nose very hard and vote Labour in next year’s local elections, as he will be living in a Labour-Green marginal (envious of you Scots with your PR local elections).

    I was out leafleting in Fulwood in the rain earlier this evening (a more depressing activity I can’t describe) and, er, liberated a copy of Focus from someone’s doormat. Aside from the obligatory awful barchart and pictures of local councillors pointing at potholes, there was a very clear “It’s Labour or Lib Dem” message to the thing.

    This is a new development because the way they traditionally built power in wards was being the only way to stop the Tories. It’s a risk, since they’re giving away the anti-Tory tactical vote.

    Has anyone else noticed the Lib Dems pitching to the soft Tory/ABL vote in their area?

  7. MrNameless

    I always struggle to understand why the UK Lib-Dems didn’t force the Tories into legislating for STV local elections in England (& Wales? if Westminster has kept control of that) instead of that silly AV referendum for Westminster.

    That the LDs have not gained much from STV in Scottish local elections isn’t down to the system, but that they have made themselves very unpopular!

    Coalitions/Minority rule in local government works pretty well. It’s a little corrupted at the moment due to the indyref producing overly politicised attitudes, as can be seen in Aberdeen and Stirling, but it’s a much better structure than FPTP resulting in long periods of one-party rule, with all the tendencies to corruption that such a result inevitably produces – regardless of which party enjoys that status.

  8. A good reason for UKIP polling lower in telephone surveys is,believe it or not,the fact that people are still wary of declaring there support for UKIP,lest they be classed as racist.When they can vote anonymously,as they will at the polls,then a different picture emerges.If UKIP do as well as polls suggest,I think they will garner support from a wider spectrum.

  9. Guymonde

    I’ll try and work out whether Green would be a better idea given the impenetrable electoral system! I don’t know whether we have any London Euro polls to guide the innocent?

    We’ve actually had two proper ones, pdfs linked from here:,_2014_(United_Kingdom)#London_polls

    though I wouldn’t surprised to see another YouGov/ES this week. As always d’Hondt makes tactical voting difficult because everyone ends up in scrum for the last seat or two with a remainder of around 10%. I would say go for the Greens as Labour look certain to get three seats with a result anywhere in the 30s (which they should get with a boost from the locals and good organisation in London), but they’d probably need over 40% to get the fourth which seems unlikely. If the Greens get over 10% they should get one, though at the expense of whom is anyone’s guess – possibly UKIP if they only get around 20% (London is their worst region).

  10. @ Spearmint (from Page 1 of the thread)

    “@ GRHinPorts,
    such a party would eventually need a counterpoint of soft economic and social liberalism
    Don’t we already have such a party? And they’re polling at 9%.”

    Thats true but we don’t yet have a party that has properly cornered the social-conservative, economic-socialist market. So the need for counterpoint is not particularly needed.

    UKIP are trying perhaps to tap into that but still have some persuading to go…particularly when you consider the barriers of FPTP to any “new” party breaking through.

    Nevertheless I think there is some evidence to suggest both that a) the two main parties have lost electoral support over successive electoral cycles; and b) that since 2010 UKIP have made inroads into both Lab & Con (and LD) albeit in differing proportions.

  11. @Roger Mexico
    Excellent, thanks a bunch.

  12. @ CrossbatXI

    I think Labour’s decision to soft-pedal in Newark may be a shrewd one. On the basis of Labour’s insipid poll ratings,I don’t think over-turning a 16,000 Tory majority is feasible, but a UKIP win in their inevitable post Euro elections honeymoon period, is a far more realistic scenario.
    If UKIP win Newark, or run the Tories very close, then a bomb will go off inside the Tory Party, especially if they’ve come third in the Euros and lost control of many local councils a few weeks earlier.
    I suspect Miliband, Alexander and Axelrod would regard a UKIP win in Newark as akin to all their Christmases coming at once. It may be a tacit acceptance that Labour are not doing too well themselves at the moment, but if there’s a big bully in the playground not beating you up but laying into your ultimate enemy instead, then you’re usually a happy, as well as a lucky, bunny! :-)”

    Why I can understand the short term benefit to Lab if UKIP currently do well its worth considering that about a hundred years ago the then dominant Liberal party adopted similar tactics to the advantage of the then emerging Labour party. All in an attempt to make life difficult for the Tories.

    That didn’t exactly turn out well for the party instigating those tactics in the long run.

  13. NFR – PK along with almost every other polling company principal predicted a Tory majority at the start of the campaign in 2015 (see archive).
    Having said that I agree with you that the Tories will probably end up with more votes than Labour but that the seat count will be close.

    I think the benefit for the Governing parties of an improving Economy will be dampened by the distribution of the benefit and by the delay in it arriving with some potential switchers judging that the upturn is despite the Government not because of it.

    Given how bad 2010 was for Labour I would say EM is probably just about the most satisfied of the 3 main Westminster party leaders with the current polling message.

  14. Some people need to get out more !

    The World Service Beeboids have an entire website and online radio station in Ukranian; the operation has been around since 1993. It has shrunk since the Short Wave version was chopped recently.

  15. “In other respects, the most important aspect of the elections will be nothing more complicated than the voter turnout. If it falls below the 2009 level of 43 per cent – which represented the sixth consecutive decline since 1979 – the parliament’s critics will seize the opportunity to ask some searching questions about its democratic legitimacy.
    Many of these critics will, ironically, be in the legislature itself. Far right, far left, anti-establishment and anti-EU parties are expected to achieve their best ever results, posing a challenge to mainstream politicians who believe the answer to Europe’s troubles lies in ever closer unity.”


  16. Colin – partially I agree with the FT but as long as the real power stays with the council of ministers the debate imo will be more around QMV than anything else.

  17. 20 years ago this morning, John Smith died.

  18. Here’s a theory for why UKIP score lower in phone polls; PPI.

    As anyone who is at home during the day will tell you, you now get a fairly constant stream of calls asking about PPI or the like, sometimes more than one a day.

    As I am looking after my Mother in Law who has dementia I keep intercepting hers as it would be so easy for someone to get her to agree to anything. So a lot of people now just hang up immediately without waiting to see what the caller is after.

    Given the age profile of UKIP voters I wonder if they are just becoming less likely to answer any phone questions.

    Really a question for Anthony as he is the expert; Has the rise of call centres made the return rate on phone surveys drop?



    “20 years ago this morning, John Smith died.”

    And the Labour Party with him…… It’s the Day I cried by the time Blair was leader I had joined the SNP.

    I am still sad about Smith but not about joining the SNP as then and now it stands for more of what he did than Labour does.



  20. @Matt Wardman – hello – don’t think we’ve met before.

    I have to agree entirely with you on the BBC World Service. Skimming back through the thread I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that some people think German broadcasters would have the edge on the BBC in terms of foreign language services.

    The World Service remains the premier source of global news, despite William Hague’s attempts to butcher their budget. We have, and remain, streets ahead of the Germans in this regard, and indeed, everyone else. It’s the only global news gathering and transmitting organisation that is seen by the vast majority of global citizens as truly impartial (they never called the IRA terrorists, for example) which is why people are desperate to listen to it.

    I’d say it’s one of the UK’s greatest institutions.

  21. Lord Ashcroft announces weekly phone polls between now and GE2015. He’ll also be showing off Con/Lab, Con/Lib and Lib/Lab constituency polling.

  22. @Ed – altogether very unsure of the conceptual leap from school places to immigration in voters minds. I still think that if the issue does emerge as a media story, it will rest firmly with Gove as the culprit. []

    If it does get dumped on the door of immigration, which I think is highly unlikely, then we fall back on the two main parties positions. Labour, not being in power for the last 5 years, but accepting they misjudged migration levels, and Tories, who came to power having promised to cut migration to ‘tens of thousands’ having failed again to deliver on a cast iron pledge.

    Immigration is not going to be a stick that Tories can beat Labour with. It’s a stick that UKIP can beat everyone with.

  23. YouGov/Sky EU poll:

    Ukip 31
    LAB 25
    CON 23
    LD 9

  24. Immigration is not going to be a stick that Tories can beat Labour with. It’s a stick that UKIP can beat everyone with.
    Including 5 year olds? Surely neither UKIP nor the Tories would try to make primary school children the focus of anti-immigrant rhetoric?

  25. Thw money charity have redesigned thier websites, but the facts are still as scary

    Unsecured loands stand at £159.8 billion at the end of March 2014 up from £156.3 billion in March 2013

    Average household debt is £ 6,048.

    On Wednesday the employment stats are released. The total one month pay figures will show a big rise of at least 3% giving the 3 month figure an average of 2.2 % well above March inflation of 1.6%.

    This 3% figure is inflated because in March 2013, bonuses were held back to take advantage of the change in the 50% tax rate, and total pay actually fell in March 2013, the figures will even out in April.

    Watch for the headlines though

  26. I realise that Euro and Westminster polls aren’t fully correlated, but LAB v CON spreads of 2 pts (YouGov) and 4 pts (Opinium – ) in the Euros seem more in line with 1-3pt Westminster leads than 7pts.

    We will find out soon enough…

  27. Interesting labour cost stats published by the German Stats Office this morning. From this, one might expect routine assembly work to be busily being exported to Bulgaria or Romania rather than hauling their workers over here, to annoy our UKIP voters?

    These are huge differences and one really does wonder why it does not even out more rapidly in a single market. It’s not just wages of course.
    link is here:;jsessionid=EEE95B4FC8AB58D8C87F3188ABDEC1DF.cae2

  28. Setting aside the two polls showing massive UKIP leads from two weeks ago as simple variation, the trend over the last month or two seems to be that of UKIP making a slow rise (from the mid 20s to the low 30s) while Labour has done roughly the opposite (mid 30s to high 20s). The Tories and LDs are down slightly and Others (likely centered on the Greens) up, but the big movement has been the Labour-UKIP dynamic.

    What is behind this? I’m not sure. I suspect we’re seeing some different movements hidden in this:
    -Tory voters flipping to UKIP (and some to random Others)
    -Labour/LibDem voters flipping to the Greens and Others
    -Likely some Labour/LD-UKIP traffic as well…the LibDems were the Protest Party for a long time, a role that UKIP has taken up (much like the Greens replaced the Australian Democrats over the course of the 2000s), and UKIP is probably experiencing something similar, while there /are/ anti-European Labourites who may just be piling onto the UKIP bandwagon as being a more viable vehicle than, say, No2EU.

  29. @Gray: “the trend over the last month or two seems to be that of UKIP making a slow rise”

    In the Euros. No sign of that in the Westminster polls where they’re stuck around 12% to 15%, possibly having dropped a couple of points in the last month.

  30. @ Howard “It’s not just wages of course”

    That’s the key point – It’s also about productivity, and to shift work (even routine assembly work) to Romania and Bulgaria would require a whole lot of capex. Much easier to shift people…

  31. @Amberstar – “Including 5 year olds? Surely neither UKIP nor the Tories would try to make primary school children the focus of anti-immigrant rhetoric?”

    I don’t think anyone would actually target 5 year olds, but yes, differential birthrates are the key influence on population dynamics arising from immigration.

    Again, this is where the language around immigration is entirely inappropriate. I make a comment regarding school numbers and immigration, and then a reply comes in that could be taken to mean making such a point is an attack on children with ‘anti immigration rhetoric’.

    The actual numbers of immigrants are quite high, with net migration in effect creating a new Southampton every year. Migrants themselves tend to be younger on average than the host population. They currently also have much higher fertility rates. This is true for both the predominantly catholic eastern European migrants and the non EU migrants.

    The net result of this is that the birth rate among immigrant communities is much, much higher than in the settled community. This is directly responsible for a disproportionately large number of the new school places now required.

    In terms of political rhetoric on issues of migration, my entire post is completely neutral. I am stating basic population facts, that need to be addressed if we are to have a happy nation with effective public services. I have neither identified these issues as blessings or problems, nor have I said that immigration is either good, bad, or neither.

    Saying we need more primary school places, in large part because of the effects of migration, is a statement of the obvious. It is not ‘anti immigration rhetoric’, and treating it as such will merely create the conditions that allow extremists to prosper.

  32. @Howard

    interesting stats Howard, thanks for that

    “Labour costs consist of gross earnings and non-wage costs”

    There is a kind of 3 tier look to the stats-

    a high tier from Sweden to Ireland
    a mid tier UK and Spain
    a low tier southern and eastern europe

    whether that correlates to wealthiness of a country. it is hard to say. In much of Europe they pay social costs of health etc which bumps up the labour costs.

    Having said that all the countries higher up are the ones that i would have thought as wealthy and the ones at the bottom would thought of as poorer

  33. Isn’t there some evidence that voters are more willing to elect Labour governments when economic conditions are good, only turning to the Tories when there are problems?

  34. @Rogerh

    But the public do not think economic conditions are good

    In your opinion how good or bad is the state of the UK economy at the moment

    Good 24%
    Bad 41%

    difference -17%

    How do you think the financial situation of your
    household will change over the next 12 months?

    Better 19%
    Worse 35%

    difference -16%

    yougov May11th 2014

  35. @mrnameless

    “Ukip 31, LAB 25, CON 23, LD 9”

    I’ve not been paying attention to the EU polls lately. Is that normal, change or outlier?

  36. Very interesting Howard.
    If I read it correctly the non-wage costs from the table below are additive. If that’s correct UK suddenly becomes real bargain basement territory being cheaper than the likes of Greece, Hungary and Czech and less than half the cost of France, which is quite astonishing – and an indictment of our polity.

  37. @ RogerH

    “is it really so outlandish to suggest the Tories are currently in the stronger position?”

    Ha, ha, ha – a one word answer! But, actually, the situation is not as simple as you suggest:

    To quote: ‘If Britain’s recovery is sustained (especially if living standards start to improve) and Cameron is able to maintain his lead over Miliband, we are likely to see a swing back from Labour to Conservative over the next 12 months – as we have every time in the past half century that a Tory prime minister has led his or her party into a general election….Cameron, then, has good reason to hope that the fundamentals will prevail and that he can win next year’s election – or, at least, ensure that his party remains the largest in the new parliament.’

  38. GuyMonde

    Yes, I wondered if someone would spot that. I expect there will be differing views on the desirability of it though.

    It goes to prove that straight comparisons of stats like ‘net pay’ or cost of living items, for instance, between EU countries, are quite simply trite, yet that is what our wonderful journalists continually serve us up, if they serve up anything.

  39. Statgeek,

    It seems very low for Labour, about average for the Tories and UKIP and LDs. So some “Other” is doing well, presumably the Greens.

  40. @NFR: “But, actually, the situation is not as simple as you suggest”

    I’m not the one suggesting things are simple, i.e. that the Tories ‘are currently in the stronger position’. Second place is not ‘the stronger position’, particularly when you’ve been in it for over two years. Kellner argues that the Tories can (with provisos) improve against Labour but at no point does he suggest that their current position is the stronger one.

  41. @HOWARD

    “These are huge differences and one really does wonder why it does not even out more rapidly in a single market…”


    Same reason women can get paid less than men for the same job. How much bargaining power is also a factor…

  42. Gazzer to keep his OBE, apparently.

    I’m not bothered about stripping him of honours, to be honest; a straightforward promise not to release any more records would do for me.


  43. @RogerH

    “Isn’t there some evidence that voters are more willing to elect Labour governments when economic conditions are good, only turning to the Tories when there are problems?”

    Somewhat of a myth, I think. We have to go back a long way to the last time the country “turned to the Tories”, arguably 1979 if you discount elections won whilst they were the incumbents (i.e up to 1992). I’m not sure we can say with any degree of certainty that the country decisively turned to them in 2010, can we, although the voters definitely ejected Labour. There were economic problems in 1979 but I think Labour lost office then for a multiplicity of reasons, many unrelated to the state of the economy. In fact, there were signs in 1979 that the worst was over in terms of inflation and unemployment and that the IMF bailout conditions were having their effect.

    1970 was another election won decisively by the Tories but they did so on the back of a fairly buoyant economy. No evidence there that were ushered back into office in order to sort out economic problems. To further puncture the myth, Labour got back in when the economy was in dire straits in 1974, limping along after the three day week and Barber’s disastrous induced boom. Labour certainly weren’t swept into office on the tide of a booming economy then.

    I suppose the myth, for what it’s worth, gains it’s traction from the 1992 and 1997 elections. Major won on the back of a sharp and deep recession in 92 and then Blair swept into power on the back of a rapidly growing economy in 97, but I’m still of the view that there was a lot more going on in those elections beyond the state of the economy that ultimately influenced the respective results.

    They’ll also be a whole range of critical vote-swaying issues at play in May 2015 that don’t hinge around rates of growth and headline inflation and unemployment figures. Economic well-being and standard of living issues will be important, but elections are no longer those wonderfully simple two party slugfests of old when it was feasible to assume that poor trade and unemployment figures before an election would doom the incumbent administration!

    Of course, if I could diagnose exactly what causes an electorate to conclude that it is time for a change, then I’d be a very wealthy man, either by dint of advising political parties and periodic visits to betting offices!

  44. CB11
    Your 1.49. I’m was so pleased that I had not a clue to whom you were referring. I have now, but wish I hadn’t.

    It must be one of those 80s things again that I missed.

  45. 1970 was an interesting precedent:-

    The economy was doing superficially well in the run up to the election and a cocky, media savvy incumbent PM was taken in by his own propaganda and his media cheerleaders and thought he would cruise to victory over his opponent as leader of the opposition who the polls showed was unpopular with voters and whom the media ( including the BBC ) never tired of telling the electorate was hopeless.

    Underestimated opponent ended up winning however because voters remembered how bad the economy had been doing for the majority of the governments’ term of office and some of the figures that were released just before polling day reminded everyone how fragile the economic recovery was.

    Finally, for all his faults, “hopeless” opposition leader had been doing his homework behind the scenes and developed some popular, eye-catching policies especially related to the Cost of Living which gradually seeped through and struck a chord with enough voters!

    PS. Incumbent PM also complacently assumed England would win the World Cup and help boost the feelgood factor – but I suppose you can take these historical comparisons too far!

  46. @CROSSBAT11

    Thanks for that. Personally I’m not convinced that governments get much credit for improving economies but will often get the blame when things go wrong.

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