A week ago co-incidence spat out three polls with seven point Labour leads within 2 days. This weeks little clump of Monday polls has produced rather more typical polls from Ashcroft and Populus, and a more unusual one from ICM.

Lord Ashcroft‘s weekly telephone poll has topline figures of CON 32%(+5), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 7%(-4), UKIP 14%(-1). The Conservatives are up five, but it looks like something of a reversion to the mean after last week’s unusual poll that had that the Tories down 6. Full tabs are here.

Secondly is the twice-weekly Populus poll, which has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. Tabs for that are here.

Finally there is the monthly ICM poll for the Guardian here, which has topline figures of CON 34%(+3), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 12%(+2), UKIP 9%(-7!). The narrow Conservative lead looks unusual, but is actually pretty typical of ICM’s recent polls – their last three monthly polls have now shown the Conservatives and Labour effectively neck and neck (a two point Tory lead, a point point Lab lead, now a one point Tory lead). More startling is that sharp drop in UKIP support, down 7 points and into single figures.

The drop in this particular poll is unusually large but it does fit into a broader trend. The expected pattern of UKIP polling around the European elections was for their support to peak after the inevitable burst of publicity following the European elections and then decline again. That’s pretty much happened. Lord Ashcroft’s polls had them peak at 19% just after the Euros, and they’ve now drifted down to 15%. YouGov had them peaking at 17%, now they’ve fallen back to 12%. ICM had them up to 16% after the Euros, now down to 9%. Populus they didn’t really have much of a post-Euro boost for UKIP anyway, only going to up 15%, but in their last couple have had them at 12%. ComRes, Survation and MORI haven’t shown UKIP coming down from their post Euro high yet, but none have polled in July yet… time will tell if they follow the trend.

370 Responses to “Latest Ashcroft, Populus and ICM polls”

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  1. First!

  2. Last.

  3. Reshuffle has started.

    Feeling in HE is that, although we were braced for loss of Willetts, sector is still disappointed he’s going.

    Strikes me as slightly odd as well. HE is a very tough brief, with an unusually independent, able and experienced client base. It’s also an election issue.

    If, as rumoured, we’re likely to get an inexperienced Minister with no background in the sector, it could backfire.

    Indeed, there is a suspicion that the new incumbent is being thrown a ‘hospital pass’ for some reason, possibly to cure them of further ambitions. It wouldn’t be the first time the HE brief has been used for that purpose.

  4. Sorry, should have added. Whatever your views on Willetts (and I come firmly down on the side of admirer), he was able to keep a lid on higher education as a major issue for the Government. I wonder if, in a year’s time, the Conservatives will rue the loss of someone with that skill?

    Big shoes to fill, anyway, and we’ll miss his witty speeches, his unfailing courtesy and the fact that he never thought himself too important or wise to carry on learning about his brief, even from people who didn’t agree with him. That’s not too common.

  5. When was the last time the Lib Dems polled ahead of UKIP?

  6. Bet lazey journos concentrate on the one with a Con lead. Stand by for a ‘Labour in crisis over poll shock’ rubbish headline.

  7. Am I right in thinking that these polls, taken in the round, are consistent with a small Labour lead, and that the volatility n the size of the lead is simply down to random variation?

    Similarly, they are *also* consistent with a gradually dropping Labour lead.wit the movement hidden amongst the random noise of movement within moe.

    Problem is, of course, how do we tell the difference between a small but stable Labour lead, and a small but dropping Labour lead?

  8. Hardly a reversion to the mean in Ashcroft poll – 68% for two biggest parties is the highest ever – even his first poll, showing a Tory lead, was only a total 66% and it’s normally about 60-62% for his polls.

    Still puzzling about his polls being so much more volatile than everyone else’s, despite his protestations and spin to the contrary.

  9. UKIP -7; it couldn’t happen to a more deserving Party!
    There are aspects of UKIP which are beyond belief e.g. Nigel Farage, the Party’s leader & high profile 2010 candidate, recently saying that he hadn’t even read UKIP’s 2010 manifesto.

  10. On the subject of trends, it’s time for (drumroll please) a churn analysis! I was going to do it at the start of July but I thought I’d better wait for any Juncker surge to subside.

    For those of you just joining us, these are five-poll rolling averages of the YouGov crossbreaks, now with new, improved Shev-friendly labeling corresponding to the position of each line on the right-hand side of the chart.

    The Big Picture

    After the chaos of the May elections and the Juncker blip, things are beginning to stablise. The Tories and Ukip have returned to their 2013-2014 baselines of 33% and 12% respectively. Labour appear to be stuck on their new baseline of 37%, which is not really where they want to be. The Lib Dems are not in a place anyone would want to be.


    The Conservatives


    As the election candle burns ever lower, the Tories remain marooned in the low thirties. They can comfort themselves that they have not experienced a repeat of last year’s Ukip migration- familiarity, a lack of further LGBT rights legislation, the anti-Ukip campaign in the media, or Lynton Crosby’s red meat appears to have inoculated them against further losses. But in two years they have made no discernible progress recovering the voters they lost over the Omnishambles Budget. With budget goodies or a European “veto” they can briefly pull their numbers up to the giddy heights of 34 or 35%, but nothing that even approaches parity with Labour, much less a majority-winning lead.


    I’ve widened the scope of their churn graph so you can see the Tory -> Ukip surge that didn’t happen this year.

    An amusing but probably insignificant discovery: half of the Juncker blip came from increased retention of the Ukip tendency, but the other half came from a surge of LD -> Tory switchers. Huh??


    However badly the Tories are doing, at least their position is not getting any worse. Labour cannot say the same.


    After their spring decline and a nadir at the European elections (strikingly similar to the pattern we saw with the Tories last year), they appear to have stabilised, but their new plateau is at 37%, two points below their 2013 plateau. This is not a great position, especially if they’re going to follow their recent pattern and lose another 2% next spring.


    Their problem is all retention- pull their retention figures up and they’d be home and dry. But despite a small post-May recovery there’s not much sign of this happening. Most of the loss is Lab -> Ukip, some of it is to the Greens (which I don’t track, but I can see from individual crossbreaks that the Lab -> Green flux has gone up). Since we know from the May elections that the Ukip vote is widely distributed and includes many marginal voters, this is a serious problem for Labour.

    On the plus side, LD -> Lab switching has stabilised in a decent position for them, assuming they can hold it there.

    The Liberal Democrats

    For a while it looked like the Lib Dems had found a new post-European election plateau- perhaps it would be more accurate to call it an abyssal plain- of 8%. But they are now making a brave ascent back up to 9%. Will they stop there or will they recover all the way to 10%? Only time will tell.


    Lib Dem retention falls off a cliff in May. Now some of them are coming home, from both Labour and Ukip. Note the bizarre LD -> Tory Juncker surge, clearer on this graph:



    As usual Ukip have enjoyed their annual migration, although it wasn’t quite as elegant as last year’s. Looks like they’re back to baseline now.


    Don’t Knows and Not Voting


    DKs fell slightly for all three main parties over the spring. It looks like they may be coming back up now, but these data are always pretty noisy so we’ll have to wait and see.

    For the first time we’re also seeing a drop in NVs, which may be random or may signal voters beginning to think seriously about the next general election and whether they are really willing to throw away their vote.

  11. Shock,horror,
    Waitrose profits down.What can it mean?

  12. Haha, Peter Kellner wins best headline of the day:

    “Voters are wary of all MPs, not just paedophiles”

  13. Good analysis spearminf

  14. @ Spearmint

    Thanks as always for the summaries and graphs AND the graphs are perfect this time (I think you changed your index so they matched the order of the lines on the graphs).

    Definitely easy to read now and a very useful analysis as well.

  15. “UKIP -7; it couldn’t happen to a more deserving Party!”

    Comments policy?

  16. “Waitrose profits down.What can it mean?”

    All those free newspapers, perhaps.

  17. There’s a theme emerging in the reshuffle – sack all the most able ministers: Clarke, Willetts, Grieve and Green.

  18. @ Shev II,

    (I think you changed your index so they matched the order of the lines on the graphs).

    I did it just for you. :)

  19. Well, I did for you and because I was too lazy to follow Phil’s suggestion of more graphs with less lines on them.

  20. Fewer lines, before someone corrects me.

  21. A in W
    Is there a Waitrose in Abergavenny ? Or do you have to go to Monmouth?

  22. Good write up by Tom Clark this month on the ICM poll- explaining the methodology, mentioning the differences with other polls and so on.

    I think he was a little over the top on ICM’s track record- difficult to set criteria for which polling organisation does best, whether you judge them over a period of time or on their final prediction before election day. Plus seems to me ICM philosophy is that politics hasn’t changed- with the LD’s at a maximum of half their 2010 vote that suggests to me things have changed.

    I like having ICM because they give an alternative version to compare but I don’t think they have got the methodology right and this time I’m not convinced don’t knows will just all go back to where they came from. I think a lot of voters genuinely don’t know.

    One thing I don’t really understand with ICM is why they have Lab and Con so close together. I can see why they overestimate LD and underestimate UKIP (in my opinion) but I don’t see why that makes the Lab vote so weak unless it is because of the Lab 29% in 2010. Maybe more Lab are still saying they are unchanged than with the other parties and this means they have less don’t knows to push their vote up with ICM (from a low base as well).

  23. Iain Dale predicting that Hague to go.

  24. Apparently Patterson gone too and Fox returning (so good for fox and badgers).

  25. @ Roger H,

    But they sacked David Jones! He’s not able.

    @ Shev II,

    Er, sort of. Labour do have the lowest DKs (combination of an intrinsically low level and their low 2010 vote share relative to the Tories), so with pollsters that discard DKs they retain more of their 2010 voters than the Tories or the Lib Dems do and the lead is therefore higher.

    ICM give the Tories and Lib Dems half their DKs back but Labour don’t have as many to return, so the Tories and Lib Dems get a boost they don’t.

    But more Labour DKs wouldn’t make Labour higher with ICM- a DK is still worth only 50% of a declared voter. It would just make Labour lower with all the other pollsters.

  26. “But they sacked David Jones! He’s not able.”

    Possibly none left..

  27. @Spearmint

    Last week I convinced myself that Labour were now a dead cert to win the GE. Your thoughtful analysis now challenges that assumption. You seem to suggest that there is still all to play for – at least between Labs and Cons.

    Now, the time scale of all this is important, of course. It seems to me unlikely that any reduction in Labour’s GE prospects will be significant enough by mid September to have any influence on the Indy vote – but we (that is to say the Yes folk – small, persecuted minority that we are) can always hope…….

  28. Tonight’s YouGov:

    CON 35%
    LAB 38%
    LD 8%
    UKIP 10%

    Lowest Ukip VI since March.

  29. “Iain Dale predicting that Hague to go”

    Where to?

  30. JOHN B .
    Good Evening to you.
    I think it is fairly clear that Cameron will be PM, from 2015-2020.
    Chuka Umanna should be leader of Labour by then.

  31. @ Roger H,

    Oh, Hague’s just gone. Further support for your “They’re sacking all the able ones” theory- he was fantastic in the Commons today, I thought.

  32. Hague stays in cabinet as leader of the commons… and will leave parliament altogether after the election.

  33. Another 38% for Labour, they must be pleased with current polling.

  34. CB (if there)- my pet theory and the one area we disagree on?

  35. Surprise about Hague.

  36. I recall that a week before the 1997 election ICM showed Labour’s lead dropping to just 5%. Their eve of poll forecast was a 10% Labour lead compared with the actual outcome of a 13% lead. They were the only polling organisation to understate Labour’s winning margin that year.

  37. “I think it is fairly clear that Cameron will be PM, from 2015-2020.”

    Clear as mud.

  38. William Hague is to stand down as ­foreign secretary with immediate effect and will take on the lesser role of leader of the House of Commons as he prepares to end his political career by retiring as an MP at the next election.
    Cracking job offer? Doesn’t believe the Tories can win? Or what…?

  39. I wonder if we’ll see numbers almost exactly like the February 1974 election, except with the “not those two” vote split between the LDs, UKIP, and SNP/PC, rather than with the Liberals and SNP/PC. I suspect that’s the best case scenario for the Tories, leaving them in a fairly good position to win in 2020.

    Labour’s best case scenario, at this point, seems to be like the above except in an October 1974 fashion, which under modern boundaries and dynamics could leave them with a comfortable majority.

    I still expect a narrow Labour win in the popular vote and a majority of 15-30 in seats.

  40. Re-allocating DKs to LDs and Tories increases their VI but also reduces Lab VI due to higher notional turnout and less extra VI at 50%.

  41. @CL1945

    I don’t agree with you. At present, nothing is clear to me, least of all who will be PM.
    One factor which will now have to be assessed over the coming few weeks is the present re-shuffle and the backwash which will follow.
    If this turns out to be ‘a night of the long knives’ there may be unexpected consequences. Much will depend on how quickly the new ministers come to grips with the tasks in front of them – and how the various parts of the country and wings of the party are represented. Do you believe Cameron has the ability necessary to choose a winning team? I remain to be convinced.

  42. Chris – what is your rationale for that?

  43. William Hague has just joined Chris Huhne as a soulmate (for next leaders of their respective parties) in the box marked “Phil’s unsuccessful unsettled bets”.

  44. @Spearmint

    Thank you

  45. “I think it is fairly clear that Cameron will be PM, from 2015-2020.
    Chuka Umanna should be leader of Labour by then.”

    Someone should collect your various predictions and give you them in a bound folder next May.

  46. @ Graham,

    ICM always predict the next election will look more like the last one than the other pollsters. That’s why they did so well in 2010- everyone else underestimated Labour, but they assumed voting patterns would revert back to 2005.

    @ Amber Star,

    13 years of opposition were probably enough for him.

  47. @ Peter Bell,

    To be fair, is it likely Hague’s replacement could make the Israel/Palestine situation any worse? I agree though- big loss to the Government.

  48. Three polls published today read as follows: –

    YouGov: CON 35% LAB 38% LD 8% UKIP 10%

    Ashcroft: CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%

    Populus :CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%.

    Pretty close to each other and giving an average of: – CON 34% LAB 37% LD 8% UKIP 12%

    Meanwhile, in another world altogether, we have a pollster called ICM. Here’s their unique and eccentric take on the state of play: –

    CON 34% LAB 33%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 9%

    Marching in step as always.

    Titter ye not, ladies and gentlemen!


  49. I can’t believe what I am reading here about supposed competencies. It reminds me of eulogies about recently passed away political opponents (and most of these comments here have been from those). Is this a human trait?

  50. Can’t say anything till we hear announcements about their replacements, which doesn’t seem to be going to happen till tomorrow, but there seems to have been a euro balancing act in removing both Hague and Grieve. I’m going to assume for now that the timing of accusations being published in the Mirror are simply coincidental.

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