This morning’s Populus poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. The five point Labour lead is up from Friday’s poll which had the two parties equal on 35%… but both polls are inline with the average lead of 3 points or so which Populus have been showing lately.

I’ve seen it suggested lately that there’s a pattern of Populus producing better figures for Labour in their Monday polls, better figures for the Conservatives in Friday polls. Such a pattern is possible in theory – one can imagine that you might get slightly different respondents from weekend fieldwork than weekday fieldwork – and on the face of it looks like there could have been a bit of a pattern last month. Crunching the data properly though any difference appears to be minimal – the average figures this year for Populus’s Friday polls are CON 33.4%, LAB 36.5%; for Monday polls they are CON 33.1%, LAB 36.9%. Populus’s Monday polls give a Labour lead that’s 0.7% bigger than Friday polls, less than a percentage point.

Meanwhile Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows another big change in Tory support from last week. Toplines are CON 27%(-5), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 17%(+3), GRN 7%(+1). I wrote about the volatility in Lord Ashcroft’s polling a couple of weeks ago here: essentially, there’s no methodological reason for it, nor are the figures actually particularly volatile given the standard levels of variation you’d expect to find. As ever, it’s the underlying trend that counts rather than the individual bits of data that make it up.

138 Responses to “Latest Populus and Ashcroft polls”

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  1. Ed starting to cozy up to the US. :-)

  2. Maybe Populous gets a higher proportion of pensioners in its weekday polling.

  3. Numero uno!

    ….or at least I thought I was until you two blighters beat me to it.


  4. Gotta type faster.

  5. Anthony has just added two really useful comments + links to the last thread – so get back over there, people! :-)

  6. RogerH – it’s not possible for differences to be down to things that are weighted for, as any difference would be corrected for. If you did get more pensioners in the week, then the Friday raw samples would have more pensioners than the Monday raw samples… but both would have identical numbers once they’d been weighted by age.

    As I said, the difference is sufficiently small to not really worry about anyway. It may well just be the result of random chance that will even out over the longer term.

  7. Thinking about Ashcroft volatility, these are phone polls and the only other one doing it that way is ICM, I think. The latter is monthly so one would expect more change, but perhaps it’s the fieldwork method that is to blame. I wonder if that notion is backed up by historical data, when phone polls were the only method?

  8. Substitute ‘these’ with ‘this’. I was only referring to Ashcroft (even though it is Populus!!).

  9. @Mr Wells

    I thin your Populus percentages analysis is the wrong way round, isn’t it? Populus’s monday polls give a Labour lead that’s 0.7% bigger than Friday polls. Or am I missing something?

    [You were right – thanks!]

  10. Sun Politics @Sun_Politics · 14m

    YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by four points: CON 34, LAB 38, LD 9, UKIP 11

  11. Yet another 38%.

  12. The gap starts to narrow again

  13. Bantams…it’s not really narrowing: it’s been a 3-4% labour lead for months.

    yougov showing lab on 38% is a real worry for the tories. If labour get 35% in the real thing, dave is out of number 10…it’s that simple.

  14. Something for everyone.

  15. “The gap starts to narrow again”

    I think you could just about get away with that analysis if there was a sequence of three or more smaller leads.

    However…… there isn’t as yet.

  16. Only meant with Yougov over the last few days, it could easily be 7% again by the end of the week. I know and understand labour have stayed above the magic 35% for a long time, a lot of people seem to agree on here though that the gap will close as in previous GE’s. Just how far though as only as a small change will mean crossover? IMO no-one’s going to run away with this.

  17. I’ve looking at various regressions on previous elections (groan…).

    I know many comparisons have been drawn with 1992.

    Well, I think the comparison looks ropey. By Christmas 1990 the Conservatives had been boosted (no doubt the stepping down of Mrs T and John Major becoming PM) and had overtaken Labour.

    This looks quite different from the position we are in now. The Conservative have been trundling along at the basically the same level since April 2012, and have not threatened to overhaul Labour (yet).

    I have little faith that regression offers any accurate insight, as we are in different times. However, I also think faith that things will turn around strongly for the Conservatives look very optimistic. If it does happen there is good money to won off some bookies.

    Of course, for all party supporters, optimism is what keeps us going :-)

  18. The gap seems steady to me – a lot steadier than I’d thought it would be at this point. I know an improving economy can help an incumbent, or perhaps it ought to, but then it can be argued this one either is a bit too patchy to help the Conservatives. It’s done nothing for the LD’s, but I think their electorate fate was sealed quite a while ago.

  19. One of the developments in these polls that tends to get overlooked amidst the understandable preoccupation with the Labour and Tory VIs is the persistent lead that UKIP have now established over the Lib Dems. I think the latest Ashcroft is overstating it a little at 10%, but even the more sober pollsters like Populus and YouGov regularly have UKIP leading the Lib Dems by 3 or 4%.

    It’s another factor, amongst many others, that makes comparisons with past elections and Parliaments very difficult and why the election in 9 months time promises to confound predictive models we’ve debated, ad nauseam some might say, on these very pages.

    Tonight’s YouGov looks a bang-in-the-middle of MOE one to me, confirming a 4% Labour lead. However, combined with some of the other polls of late, I get a slight inkling that Labour might just have steadied the boat a little following the post budget wobbles of Spring. Lots of 38s popping up for them on YouGov of late.

  20. I need more than 3 in a row to get me interested in a one point increase or decline- the probability of it happening by chance are too high, given the frequency of YGs. The median for YG this last week is the same as the week before. I say we’re becalmed – sudden and precipitous fals from Ashcroft to YG notwithstanding.

  21. I think it’s fair to say that most people who feared/longed for swing back would also be the same people who assumed that the economy would continue to be a positive for the Tories. Indeed, as I suggested a few threads back, the historical evidence tends to suggest this, which is intuitively to be expected. Governments tend to get more votes if people feel well off, fewer if not.

    Perhaps what people missed was to become over focused on one bit of the economic data – namely the size of the economy. GDP figures get a good deal of attention, as they define recession and boom, but are largely meaningless in VI terms.

    Unemployment is another potential measure, but while this could affect perhaps 1 in 10 voters if things got really bad, it actually affects a remarkably small proportion of potential voters, so excellent jobs market data sounds ideal, but actually again may mean little directly when it comes to VI.

    My suspicion is that inflation and earnings are the real VI movers when it comes to the economy, and the swing backers (swinger backers?) seemed to be of the view that voters would feel better as the economy grew, and so be more inclined to reward Tories.

    This may still happen, but time ticks by, and the key measures seem to get worse.

    Indeed, there seems to be something of an awakening that things aren’t really as good as they should be, with new warnings of unrealistic optimism from the IMF and a somewhat honest assessment of a fragile recovery from Ken Clark, and I don’t think we should get too carried away with the notion that people will feel better off and more secure come next May.

    We were promised earnings and prices crossover in April, and it never happened, and we’ve been promised VI crossover for ever it seems. Nothing is certain for next May – and the economy really might not be the good news story by then that everyone has assumed.

  22. Looking at the tabs for Ashcroft, the VI numbers (not the ‘published’, which are adjusted by allocating a proporion of DKs) give the Greens 8%: afaik the first time a pollster other than IpsosMori have given the Greens 8% VI in a national poll.

  23. Though it is now looking increasingly possible that Labour will have a chance of an OM next May the fact is that if they DO so, and under Ed Miliband [!!], it will be the most remarkable victory I can recall.

    To be in the race is amazing in itself.

  24. @Crossbat11

    I think you are right about the LDs and UKIP. While the Lab vs Con is the headline battle, it’s how the LDs and UKIP current supporters act that will determine the result.

    I suspect that we are in for a few good years for political junkies, although I think governing might be a bit of a battle.

  25. The Ashcroft polls are unique in including a “flakiness” question about whether or not someone is going to definitely vote that way or whether they might vote differently.

    The % of each party’s VI which is “definitely going to vote that way” is in descending order as follows:
    UKIP 63%
    Lab 63%
    Con 61%
    Lib Dem 49%
    Greens 20%

    That’s a pretty lousy result for the Conservatives, if they’re assuming that the UKIP vote can be easily wooed back to them. And by contrast it very much suggests that much of the Green vote will disappear elsewhere when the chips are down.

    Put another way, the absolute count of voters who say they might vote differently includes 34 wavering UKIP and 33 wavering Greens. For every one of the former the Conservatives will be hopeful of picking up, Labour will be hopeful of picking up one of the latter.

  26. Even if one accepts that the economy is improving it’s not going to create a situation where Cameron’s message to the electorate can be “You’ve never had it so good”.

  27. That’s utterly lousy for the Greens. Are they people who voted Green in the locals/Euros but know they’ll vote tactically in May?

    In other news, Ed Miliband in Actually Decent Photo shock:×292.jpg

  28. @Ben Foley

    And in that same Ashcroft poll, if you count only the voters who are “definitely going to vote that way”, the Greens’ share of VI isn’t the 7% that Ashcroft published, nor the 8% that you would have liked him to publish, but only 3%.

  29. @Phil Haines

    It might once have been true, but there is really little reason to suppose that current day floating UKIP supporters will switch preferentially to Tories. A large proportion of the current UKIP VI has come from Labour, as is made only too clear by the correlation between the recent drop in Lab VI and the increase in UKIP.

    Greens on the other hand seem a racing certainty to break heavily towards Labour.

  30. Pertaining to the previous thread, human rights can only really exist as a human construct – unless one is to believe in some mystical revelation of them.

    Thus it is a question of the definition and that definition, unless it has some democratic basis, is made by an elite. Sadly this elite has played fast and loose with them, hijacking them for narrow socio-political ends.

    Many more people would ‘hold their truth to be self-evident’ if they were merely confined to concepts like ‘equality under the law’ and ‘the right to life’. When they are pushed into areas such as a ‘right to family life’ that can in practice favour the rights of criminals over their victims people take issue with them and the whole notion is discredited. It’s a shame, because like Santa Claus, the world is a nicer place if we all believe in them.

  31. But people choosing Green, no matter how ‘flaky’, is good for Green issues because it gets some of their wish list into the manifestos of the big Parties.

  32. Postageincluded is right. It keeps happening that either we get a small flurry of polls which suggest that the Tories have almost caught Labour, or a flurry of large Labour leads which happened a fortnight or so ago. Yet before long we go back to the average which seems at the moment to be between 3 & 4% Labour lead – slightly down on January, but only slightly. The Labour lead is clearly not as high as it was in 2012 in particular, but the actual voting intention for the party is quite strong still and must surely be a worry for the Tories. At the rate we’re currently seeing, Labour should be at worst 1-2% behind the Tories in the general election, maybe very slightly ahead, which would make it well nigh impossible for the latter to form a government.

  33. In their report, the MPs questioned whether the sale of the [student] loan book would lead to a good return for the taxpayer, since the government’s own analysis has now found it would raise only £2bn rather than the £12bn originally expected by the government with “an unusual and potentially costly deal made to protect the private investor”.
    This will be an election problem for the LibDems, I think. Their reason for going along with the tuition fees increase was that it would ensure students – & universities – would be well funded. It now seems that they were wrong.

  34. I suspect that just about everything could be an election problem for the LibDems.

  35. It’s to be expected that potential Green voters are going to be less likely to be certain that they will vote for them. The Greens don’t normally stand in every constituency and in very few do they have a chance of being in contention. So even the most dedicated Green will realise that voting for them may not be productive or even possible.

    Whether they will automatically go to Labour though is another matter. In Ashcroft’s figures, three-quarters of the defectors to Green voted for the Lib Dems last time. They may still go back there, vote Green or abstain if Labour fails to convince them there is sufficient reason to do so.

    One other little thing that needs pointing out with Ashcroft’s polls. People are given the chance to pick an unnamed ‘Another party’ and 4% did so in this one. It’s another element of uncertainty.

  36. Alec

    Bang on that GDP in and of itself is of no use in assessing political preference. The critical thing in this administration is that GDP per capita has flat-lined. It’s little comfort to Joe Bloggs that the country as a whole is getting richer, if that wealth is just being spread among more people.

    Now, to polling. The “VI will change in the Govt’s favour before the GE” argument has always been based on the 83, 87 and 92 GE experiences. We can ignore 83 because of the Falklands and SDP effects. We can ignore 92 because of the defenestration of Thatcher and the fact that the polls were screwed by the reluctant Tory effect.

    But we’ve not been able to ignore 87. That was a stunning turnaround. There was a 9-10% Lab-Con swing from June 86-June 87.

    But look at the economic performance then. There was a 15% increase in real GDP per capita between 83-87. And of course, it was concentrated in the southern 2/3rds of England, as the North and Scotland bore the brunt of de-industrialisation. People in those areas saw their positions getting much better. Comfortably enough people were getting comfortably better off to give the Tories a landslide.

    That is not happening now. There’s simply not enough money being made to fill enough pockets to produce a big swing to the incumbents.

    So why should we expect the kind of big swing to the Tories that Fisher for one assumes?

  37. the guy who said that a labour majority is back in play is absolutely right…

    the tories’ flatlining for about a year and labour rising in the last 6 weeks have definitely put this thing in a different place.

    the received wisdom was that there would continue to be narrowing after Newark and the EU elections…to the contrary, labour support has nudged up a touch…a tory largest party scenario, where they lead labour by 3 points nationally, would require a collapse in labour’s VI to at least 31-2%, or conversely a tory boost to abt. 37%…possible but difficult to envisage from what we’ve seen in the last 3 years…

  38. Roger Mexico

    Thanks for the pointer to Ashcroft including the option of having a VI for an unspecified “Another Party” which 5% of those in England selected (and at 7.47% in Eng, the Greens only become 8% by a rounding formula I dislike)..

    Usefully, both Ipsos-MORI and Ashcroft give the cross-break for the 85% of the sample in England – arguably, a more useful number for those wanting to estimate the likelihood of a particular result in a UK GE (calculate the English result, and only include the other nations with their different dynamics if the English result is very tight)..

    The 5% selecting “Another Party” goes a long way to explaining the VI differences for England between MORI and Ashcroft, which were puzzling me –

    Ipsos-MORI: C 34 : L 35 : LD 9 : UK 13 : G 8 : Oth 2
    Ashcroft ….. : C 29 : L 33 : LD 7 : UK 19 : G 7 : Oth 5

    It would be interesting to discover what was in the minds of the 5% – “God! Anyone but that lot”, perhaps?

  39. The problem with the volatilaty in Ashcroft polls is that they are weekly polls. As a general rule the less often you poll, the more cautious you have to be about the raw data as a reflection of how the country is likely to vote if a general election were held tomorrow.

    Regardless of whether this is what polls SHOULD be used for, it is generally what they ARE used for, which is why those looking at those polls for that purpose will generally gravitate towards ICM, who do more with the raw data before releasing the figures than other organisations.

    Right now we can read into the underlying trends in the Ashcroft polls because not too much is going to happen to change them. But in the six months before the GE the swings in opinion will become more pronounced, with more uncertainty on whether these revised opinions are accurate reflections of a short-term shift, sample-related variations, or the factoring in of issues that voters are likely to act on at the ballot box.

    Unless the variation drops, or he starts to poll more regularly in that period, his polls run the risk of being relegated to having propaganda value (to all parties in equal measure, as in different weeks all four of the topline parties have had eyecatching results), rather than being seen as a reasonable reflection of current opinion.

  40. ALEC

    @”a somewhat honest assessment of a fragile recovery from Ken Clark,”

    I don’t see anything in these remarks which GO would disagree with:-

    “The recovery is “a work in progress” because “it’s not firmly enough rooted on a proper balance between manufacturing and a wide range of services and financial services”. The banking crisis “isn’t resolved”; the international outlook is “fragile”. There is “a long, long way to go” in terms of skills and investment to create “a modern, competitive economy capable of taking on the Chinese, Brazilians and everyone else.”

    The article also quotes this KC opinion:-

    “For all that, he believes the economy will be the Tories’ trump card over Labour because “there’s absolutely no doubt the public usually prefer a Conservative government when they’re worried about the economy.”

    Perhaps that wasn’t such an “honest assessment” for you Alec ?

    And no doubt you will have nodded sagely at his unfailing support for all things EU Alec :-)

    “”the pro-European case is not being put by anybody. One of the things we’re going to have to do over the next two or three years, pro-Europeans of all parties, is sort out how we start putting a sensible pro-European case.”

    Put out more Flags -eh Ken?

    Still-I love the way that blokey old Ken brings out the lurv in Labour supporters. Its ca wonderful thing.

  41. Errr…. I dont think Alec is a Labour supporter.

  42. JAY

    Really :-) :-) :-)

  43. COLIN
    “Still-I love the way that blokey old Ken brings out the lurv in Labour supporters”

    Cast your mind back to Ken’s (successful) creation of Training and Enterprise Centres in regional economic development . Ring any predistributive bells?

  44. @Amber

    “But people choosing Green, no matter how ‘flaky’, is good for Green issues because it gets some of their wish list into the manifestos of the big Parties.”

    But it could come at a heavy price.

    On balance, I don’t think that choosing to vote for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in the 2000 US presidential election (Bush v Gore, Florida hanging chads and all that) turned out well for green issues in the subsequent 8 years of Bush.

  45. Rosieanddaisie

    “To be in the race is amazing in itself.”

    Looking at the detail of this mornings YouGov, for once I agree with you. Tories lead Labour on six policy areas, including the economy, have near parity on another two and are only behind on the NHS and housing. Despite this they are 4 points behind in the poll. Totally bizarre IMO.

  46. @Catmanjeff

    “I think you are right about the LDs and UKIP. While the Lab vs Con is the headline battle, it’s how the LDs and UKIP current supporters act that will determine the result.”

    It’s somewhat of an inconvenient truth for many, but UKIP ceased to be a will o’- the- wisp protest party long ago. Not only have they featured prominently and influentially in European and local elections, as well as parliamentary by-elections, for most of this Parliament, they’ve shown remarkable resilience in the opinion polls for most of that time too. Admittedly, they lack much of a representative presence outside of Brussels, but that’s changing at local council level now and only our electoral system will prevent them breaking through in terms of seats in May 2015.

    However their capacity to cause mayhem and influence the result of the next General Election remains undiminished. They are Cameron’s nightmare in many ways, forcing him to continually look over his right shoulder, forever tacking his policy direction in attempts to outflank UKIP. Not only are these proving futile and ineffectual thus far but they risk alienating his newly acquired 2010 voters who thought they might be voting for a new centrist Tory Party.

    It’s a terrible political pickle for him and his party to find themselves in. It could be heads I lose, tails you win.

  47. Some very strange cross breaks in this morning’s YouGov.

    Unusually, 2010 cross breaks way out, by almost Populusesque proportions, at the expense of the Conservatives.

    Conservatives also on 29% in Scotland, 1% off taking the lead.


    You don’t need to go so far back to find positive industrial policy under a Conservative administration, with which KC is associated:-

  49. @TOH

    Perhaps the Tories would do better in the polls if GO could manage to wipe that permanent smirk off his face.

    Yes, it is strange that people can say that party A is better at a whole range of things, but we will still vote for party B.

    I suspect that this is because many people put their faith in Labour to protect them from the terrible effects of the economic situation – a situation which, we are assured, is going to continue for many years to come.

    If, as has been said, only 40% of the planned government cuts have yet been put into action, then the next twenty years are going to be very rough for a great number of people, and the Tories’ history (since the abolition of noblesse oblige under Maggie T) has not endeared them to those who know they will always be the ones to suffer.

  50. @PH

    Some very strange cross-breaks…..

    Bizarre is how I would describe the Scottish figures. We’re now well into silly season, it would appear, with YG going out into the countryside shooting estates to interview the gentry……

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