Lord Ashcroft this morning announced he was going to start publishing weekly voting intention polls in the run up the election. The polls are conducted by telephone so will be by far the most frequent phone polls (the ICM/Guardian, Ipsos MORI and ComRes/Indy series are all monthly efforts).

Topline voting intentions for the first on, conducted over the weekend, are CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%.

I misread that to start with, and began to write a post about it being a useful addition to the polling world, but showing figures similar to everyone else… but then realised it wasn’t showing a 2 point Labour lead, it was showing a two point Tory lead. The first for a couple of years. As ever, unusual results demand closer scrutiny and currently we don’t know anything about it other than it was done by telephone – we don’t have a track record to compare, or any clue about the methods used. I’ll update later one I’ve some details to rake over…

UPDATE: Methodological details of the poll are as follows – the poll is past vote weighted (accounting for false recall, so the Tories are actually weighted slightly lower than than in 2010, Labour slightly higher), the voting intention question is prompted for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems like most other companies. Results are weighted by likelihood to vote and a proportion of people who say don’t know are re-allocated to the party they voted for in 2010. Fieldwork was 50% landline, 50% mobile (weighted to be 15% mobile only households).

There is nothing here that should produce unduly pro-Conservative figures, in fact it’s broadly the same methods as Populus used to use in their telephone polls before they switched to online polling, and their polls were normally inline with other companies. What to make of the Tory lead then? Well, the poll seems methodologically sound, but it’s subject to the same margin or error as any poll, so treat it with the same caution you would if ICM or YouGov or MORI had popped up with a slim Tory lead. It might be a sign that the Tories have overtaken Labour, or might just be a an outlier, wait and see if it’s repeated it in other polls.

100 Responses to “Ashcroft – CON 34, LAB 32, LDEM 9, UKIP 15”

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  1. Anthony, did anyone complain about Lord Ashcroft’s polls when he was showing clear Labour leads?
    Are people “complaining” about this poll? I don’t think so… they are just curious about it because it’s new. It could be a reheat of phone polling methods which Populus used in the past or it could be a brand new series. Even Anthony hasn’t decided which it is yet (unless I’ve missed an update to his earlier comment).

  2. Ok then. Was anyone curious?

  3. Hmm, I detected a frisson of excitement from our host. I think it’s great if Ashcroft is going to do what he says over the next year (er, as long as he shares it with us).

  4. Bill Patrick

    Where I go, others follow. :-)

  5. In a period of two days we get two polls, one showing the Tories 2 up and one showing Labour 7 up.

    Guess which one the Blessed Grauniad decides to highlight and attach a comment section to?

  6. the real cause for panic in many camps may come when real votes are counted this month. Meanwhile polls are polls. It can hardly come to anyone as a surprise that a poll shows a Conservative lead – when the underlying story has been one of underlying narrowing.

    The business with UKIP has muddied the waters but surely we can see the polling number were closing between the two main parties. There would be little to surprise on the up side were the Conservatives to get something in the order of 365 they got last time – given the improvement in the economic position and the mood music in the media which goes with this. Similarly, as has often been observed Labour’s polling numbers have been where they were largely because of the LibDem rupture after the coalition has formed. Though Milliband has in some ways outperformed Media expectations in many ways the public’s cool perception does not seem to have changed.

    Unless the party leaders are all upended by events between May and September we must all assume the leaders we have are most likely the ones we will still have in a year. Which of them will be inside No 10 is another matter.

    Never underestimate the electoral power of a good old fashioned credit boom-let…house prices have been a good barometer of the public’s sense of well being and the Conservative party will claim the credit and claim if only they were unencumbered by coalition they could have done so much more. After the election the devil will have to be paid.

    Whether the conservatives will be believed is another matter. Similarly, if Labour hangs on to the majority of those left leaning LibDems who left them in 2010 they too will poll around 36% and we will have the stalemate that always has looked the most likely outcome – perhaps with a narrow Labour majority – most likely without any one party having a working majority.

    The world will not end. Somehow we will all muddle through…as somehow we all usually do…

  7. ArtAir

    Anthony, did anyone complain about Lord Ashcroft’s polls when he was showing clear Labour leads?

    Well he hasn’t been doing so really – his polls have been more directed towards elucidating particular topics with voting intention only incidental to a more detailed examination of public opinion. In addition they usually tended to be published a while after they were taken so any VI you could derive wasn’t up to date.

    In some ways this latest series is a disappointingly conventional approach, similar to the phone polls we already have (ICM, ComRes, MORI). It would have been nicer to have a larger sample even if not so frequent.

  8. @DrunkenScouser

    Never forget the Groan is a LD hence coalition, paper.

    Don’t ever make the assumption it supports Labour because quite simply, it doesn’t.

    The frothers BTL on that article are something else though – I find them impossible to wade through because they refuse to accept a MOE exists & because this single poll gives this result, all other polls must therefore be wrong & we’re headed for a Con landslide……strewth, give me strength !

  9. @Scouser

    To be fair a Tory lead in a poll IS news and from a Grauniad POV it’s BAD NEWS to boot and we all know what sells newspapers.

    The spin in the article however…
    “Many of those questioned said that they had not personally benefited from the return to economic growth” Not the “many”, not even “most” let alone “nearly 9 out of 10”

    An alternative (and perfectly honest) spin might be “only one person in 8 has had any financial benefit from the alleged upturn in the economy”

  10. Note the “many” not not

  11. GuyMonde

    “An alternative (and perfectly honest) spin might be “only one person in 8 has had any financial benefit from the alleged upturn in the economy”

    Not perfectly honest, there is an economic upturn, even Labour agree.

  12. Despite every fibre of my rational being knowing that there is no reason to be suspicious of this poll, I can’t shake just the tiniest niggling doubt.

    It just doesn’t seem likely. At some point, maybe, but not right now.

    And I’m broadly a Tory supporter. Heaven knows what it must feel like for the rest of you!

  13. One of those little things which go unnoticed but might turn out to be significant in indicating a Tory victory in May 2015. About a year ago, The Sun was quite hostile to the Conservatives and didn’t endorse any party in the council elections. It seems the newspaper and the party had gone their separate ways and it looked unlikely they would endorse the party at the General Election. But, largely unnoticed, The Sun has swung back behind the Conservatives. I mention this because The Sun only backs the party it thinks will win the election. At the 8 General Elections since 1979, The Sun has backed the winning party every time.

  14. CHRIS

    That really is a partisan post with as far as I can see no evidence to support it.

  15. I’ll say it, just in case nobody else does. Chris, we don’t need that stuff here. A website called PB is awaiting your expertise.

  16. A telephone poll. That explains it all. I think even Comes has moved on from phone polls. Next we’ll find out it was taken over the bank holiday…

  17. When was the last time Labour got a 32 or lower?

    Also, do all remember the point that the methodological details listed by Anthony do not cover sampling methodology. One can have perfect weighting etc but if your sample is biased then those things are useless.

  18. @GuyMonde, Other Howard

    Ashcroft himself is much more objective than either of you – viz:

    Only 12% say “the economy is recovering from the recession and I am feeling better off as a result”.

  19. (gets popcorn….)


    I wasn’t commenting on what people think, I was commenting on the economic reality.

  21. I was just commenting on Chris’s comment. I don’t know what the rest of you are commenting about. Are the tables for Ashcroft available?

  22. @TOH

    Delete ‘alleged’

  23. Howard

    You will find AW gives a lead-in to the tables on the previous page of this blog.

    I agreed with your comment to Chris see above.

  24. Guymonde

    Well Ashcroft’s question actually had the options:

    The economy is still not recovering from the recession 21%

    The economy is recovering from the recession and I am feeling better off as a result 12%

    The [economy] is recovering from the recession but I do not feel any better off 46%

    The recession did not make me any worse off in the first place 20%

    There was surprisingly little variation across demographic groups, though women were much more likely to pick option 3. Even the breakdown by party support is more even than you might think.

  25. Mike Smithson [email protected]SmithsonPB 5m

    CON have lead in ICM Guardian poll

    Con 33
    Lab 31
    UKIP 15
    LDs 13.

  26. Ah I see, we have an ICM in the grauniad with crossover. Well, you didn’t say!

  27. Perhaps Lord Prescott should start up a polling operation in time for the GE next year?

  28. I note Tom Clark still can’t spell Osborne.

    Remarkable turnaround in the results of the confidence questions. A bit too remarkable possibly?

  29. However the Guardian are now reporting similar figures in the latest ICM:

    Lab 31% (-6)

    Con 33% (+1)

    L/D 13% (+1)

    UKIP 15% (+4)

    Other 9% (+1)


  30. I don’t think Ashcroft’s poll is that extraordinary. He seems to have followed a logical methodology. The result is well within MOE compared to many others recently – a crossover result was inevitable soon given the string of tiny Labour leads we have had from other companies over the past three weeks, despite the pulling away from that to larger labour leads by one or two polls over the past few days. It is all to be expected without allegations of malpractice – which is not something one can level at Ashcroft despite his admitted personal partisanship he has provided useful publically scrutable data of great interest for some time now. Indeed, his marginal polling is probably some of the most interesting data we have had this parliament. I suspect there is a swing to the Tories going on when one filters out the UKIP euro-bubble. However, I suspect that swing is disproportionally heavy in London and the South-East, eastern South West and southern Eastern regions. Beyond that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his marginal polls from the West Midlands and North still show Labour with a solid advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tories in 2015 improve their position in the aformentioned areas, but still lose marginals quite heavily in the others – thus the election will be too close to call in terms of who has the most seats? – but we shal see!!!

  31. Labour are feeling jittery. both those polls if put into electoral calculus would lead to Ed M being in number 10…

  32. ICM also have CON ahead for the Euros: Con 27 Lab 24 UKIP 26 (not sure about the others)

  33. Grn 10 Lib 7

  34. The plot thickens. Two years for a crossover poll and two appear in about 24 hours!

  35. @Other Howard

    Well you should have been commenting on polling, really, or you should take your remarks to an economics site. The poll we are discussing doesn’t tell us anything about “economic reality”; it does tell us something about popular perceptions of “economic reality”. Do I really need to explain the difference?

  36. If you think the 6 point drop in Labour’s Westminster VI looked a bit strange:

    ICM also asked more specifically about voting intentions for next week’s European elections. With only 37% of electors suggesting they are certain to cast their ballot, such projections inescapably depend on fewer respondents than those for Westminster. Even so, the news is again encouraging for the Conservatives, and worrying for Labour.

    The Tories are up two on April, which puts them on 27%, and in a virtual dead heat with Ukip, which has bounced up four in the European stakes to stand at 26%. Labour sinks by 12 points on April, to 24%, with appreciable proportions of the party’s 2010 votes moving to Ukip and the Greens.

    Together with Lib Dem defectors (Clegg’s party languishes on 7%) this helps push the Greens up four and into a clear fourth place, on 10%. The Scottish and Welsh nationalists are on 2% each, and assorted independents and others notch up 3%. (my bold)

  37. Labour were on 30% in an ICM poll soon after that, and subsequent polls have had Labour moving downwards as well. It’s surprising, but not THAT surprising, and Labour don’t have a great record in Euro elections. I think it tells us very little about Labour’s prospects in 2015.

  38. I have just caught-on that the Guardian were talking about ICM. So we have two cross-over polls!! Something seems to be moving – but why the sudden Labour dropping away? Is it nibbling from several sources perhaps? Slight swing to Tories? Some Labour working class voters drifting to UKIP? Greens nibbling radical voters from the Left as they climb towards the Euro-elections? The raw figures don’t really tell us. All we kow is that on the face of it Labour are in real trouble. I don’t want them to be – but they are I now think!!!

  39. @PostageIncluded – “@Other Howard
    Well you should have been commenting on polling, really, or you should take your remarks to an economics site. The poll we are discussing doesn’t tell us anything about “economic reality”; it does tell us something about popular perceptions of “economic reality”. Do I really need to explain the difference?”

    Excellent points that all commenters should consider.

  40. Lab down 6… Con from a poor third to 1st in the Euros…
    polldrums replaced by pollimorphous perversity?

  41. Tony Dean,

    I suspect the recent drop in the Labour VI is due to Labour being squeezed among socially conservative Labour supporters by UKIP and among firmly-left-wing voters by the Greens (who seem to be doing well despite a lack of coverage). Those are two sets of voters who are hard to satisfy at the same time.

    The Green voters can be expected to shift to Labour come 2015. The Red Kippers are very much an unknown factor.

  42. We’ve only had Ashcroft’s tables so far, but they seem to suggest a big Lab to UKIP swing. ICM did have a big UKIP VI last May when they went from 9% to 18%, taking from all three Parties (they were back to 7% two months later). This may be a similar hiccup caused by press coverage promoting UKIP as the ‘anti-government’ Party.

  43. We received our Green EP leaflet today, too late as we had already voted. I just wondered if the late delivery (we have yet to receive anything from UKIP or Labour) has to do with the Post Office or the political parties, I assume the latter.

    Strange, as the rural SW is a ‘why not’ opportunity for Greens and UKIP? We’ve had ‘whataboutery’ so I had expected more effort to produce ‘whynotery’.

  44. When was the last time anyone got a -12 swing from one poll to the next? Suggests either the last poll was wrong, or this poll is wrong, or we’ve all missed some major cataclysm to shift opinion hugely.

  45. Ok so the latest polls show a big fall in the Labour vote. April ICM Euro poll Lab down 12 on 24, Westminster Lab down 6 on 31 The Ashcroft poll has Lab on 32 With the Lab policy announcements being popular, what has changed to explain this ?

    Is the Euros confusing folk and the Euro VI is leaking into the GE VI. Doesn’t explain the -12 in the Euros though. Or worrying for Lab is an election concentrating people’s minds and they will after all not vote for EM. Any other reasons?

  46. Hard to know whether to comment and run the risk of ole Colin having a terminal laughing fit but it occurs to me that the Euro polls are probably muddying the waters wuite dramatically.

    I doubt it matters much to many people which election they are asked to respond to when it is UKIP and the Euros that dominate.

    That is what is called a “comment” by the way, not a complaint.

  47. @R&D: “it occurs to me that the Euro polls are probably muddying the waters wuite dramatically.”

    I think that’s very likely.

  48. in the longer term, and as Andrew Rawnsley mentioned yesterday, it does seem clear that no matter how clear and thoughtful Nick Clegg appears he turns voters off – unfairly or not.

    On the other hand Cameron is personable and, despite being seen as the weak link, it seems that EM improves voter perception the more they see of him.

    If so that will impact a lot in the build up to 2015. My own view is that the weak link is the lab front bench. hard to know what they do really.

  49. Rosie wants to know is the good Lord A. himself does the phoning and when he says:

    “Can I put you down as a Tory voter?”

    they say

    “Yes m’Lud, thankyou very much.”

    [I think that WAS a complaint but she’s a cynical little terrier.]

  50. Well there was a similar falling off for Labour in the Scottish elections wasn’t there?

    The question for Labour if things turn out as polls now suggest on May 22nd is whether they will do to Ed what they failed to do to Brown and Foot….we know the Conservatives would!

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