A couple of tight polls today. The weekly telephone poll by Lord Ascroft has topline figures for CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6% (tabs here). Meanwhile the twice-weekly online poll by Populus this morning had figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 3% (tabs are here)

Along with the Ipsos MORI poll last week showing the Conservatives just ahead one might be forgiven for thinking that adds up to a narrowing of the polls. I’d be a bit cautious – the YouGov daily tracker had a three point lead at the weekend and a couple of sixes last week, the Opinium poll on Sunday had an eight point Labour lead. I think we’re probably just seeing a couple of low polls randomly turn up at the same time… though of course, time will tell.

44 Responses to “Latest Ashcroft and Populus polls”

  1. Lol! Just in time for the Scottish vote

  2. It’s interesting seeing this tightening of the polls.

    Because a couple of recent outliners have shown 7% Labour leads we’ve had the usual suspects banging on about how it disproves ‘swing back’ theory.

    I think this might be the right time for me to introduce a new psephological concept…


    Not to be confused with the tendency of some to deny the existence of climate change, ‘Swing Back Denial’ (or, if you prefer, ‘Swingbackophobia’) is the refusal to accept the proven fact that the electorate behave differently when registering a protest in mid-term elections and voting intention surveys to the way they behave when confronted with the sobriety of choosing a credible party of government in a general election.

    In short it is the conviction that current polling trends are predictive rather than what they are intended to be (i.e. a snapshot of public opinion at a particular point in time). In its most virulent form SBD can lead some individuals to misrepresent those of us who try to use historical precedent as a guide to likely future trends.

    For example, at least two swing back sceptics (both of whom, I am ashamed to say, are regulars of the ‘Election Guide’ section) have accused me of prophesising a Tory overall majority at the next general election. When challenged to provide evidence of this they referred to a posting I had made a year ago in which I predicted a Tory popular vote lead of 6%. (In case any of you are not aware, a 6-point Conservative lead would not translate into a majority government).

    In one or two cases those of us who practice swing back advocacy have even found ourselves on the receiving end of the vituperation of those who propagate SBD. (In fact I believe that Anthony Wells actually found it necessary to remove one such post from the ‘Polling Blog’ section a couple of weeks ago).

    I have no intention of naming and shaming individual Swingbackophobes, but I would like you all to take a look at the following checklist and ask yourselves if you have any of the tell-tale signs…

    (1) Over-reacting and in some cases even getting hysterical about individual news stories or short-term trends which cannot be sustained;

    (2) Deliberately ignoring sampling error, e.g. by making inane remarks like “Swing back, anyone?” just because a single poll shows a slight increase in the Labour lead (mentioning no names here, Peter Crawford) yet failing to comment when another poll shows a smaller Labour lead;

    (3) Claiming that because the bookies’ odds imply something it is bound to happen (even though their odds will, themselves, change in accordance with forthcoming movements in voting intention);

    (4) Asserting that the rise of UKIP is bound to disproportionately hurt the Tories even though the level of UKIP support has, if anything, been slightly inversely correlated to the Labour lead over the Conservatives;

    (5) Deliberately being obtuse in interpreting the cross-breaks that relate to people switching sides (e.g. highlighting the fact that more 2010 Tory voters than Labour voters have switched to UKIP whilst ignoring the likelihood that many of those switchers would have voted Labour in 2005 and in the 2012 mid-term elections and are therefore not natural Tory supporters);

    (6) Wilfully ignoring the underlying trends on leadership qualities and perceived economic competence (i.e. the twin facts that a substantial minority of current Labour supporters rate David Cameron more highly than Ed Miliband and trust the Tories more than Labour on the economy) because such data inconveniently implies that the potential for swing back is, indeed, as great as in any previous parliament;

    (7) Asserting that there is no potential for swing back because hardly any Tory voters have switched to Labour since 2010, meaning there are very few to return home (thus misunderstanding the fact that swing back relates to NET swing and can include Labour voters from the previous general election who may in coming months start switching directly to the Conservatives, as occurred in 1955, 1959 and 1983);

    (8) Claiming that swing back theory cannot possibly happen this time “because the current parliament is like no other” (thus conveniently ignoring the fact that every parliament has its own unique characteristics).

    It is also important to understand that swing back applies just as much, if not more, to by-elections. In fact it can be particularly vivid in the case of those short-term by-election “sensations” that have been scored by minor parties or independents over the years, e.g. Orpington, Lincoln, Ribble Valley, Bermondsey, Liverpool Edge Hill, Crosby, Ryedale etc.

    In some of these seats the victor did manage to hold on in the subsequent general election though even in those cases the majority was, almost without exception, substantially reduced. (Douglas Carswell please note).


    and what do you say to those advocates of swingback like Stephen Fisher and those at Election Forecast who are also beginning to doubt the validity of their models working in this instance?

  4. May I say thank you and congratulations to the outlaw in green tights.
    A very worthwhile post, despite your ridiculous outfit. If the Sheriff doesn’t get you for theft, he will get you for fashion crime.

  5. Swing Back will happen, and probably already is happening in the GE race, and in the Scottish Referendum.

  6. Calm calm….. its one poll…..

  7. Robin Hood, Robin Hood, gosh his posts are long

    I haven’t time to read ’em so I just moves along.

    Feared by the good, loved by the bad

    Robin Hood, Robin Hood ………………………………

    …… oh, add yer own last line, I’m bored.

    With grateful thanks to the bloak wot rote the original song for the REAL Robin Hood – viz Richard Greene.

  8. I think we can safely disregard the polls as any sort of indicator of the likely result of the 2015 GE until well after this Thursdays Referendum

  9. Statgeek,

    “English voters generally decide which government gets elected”

    Tell that to the good people of Brighton Pavilion. Or, frankly, anyone who has spent the slightest amount of time impartially reading about how the Westminster system works.

  10. CL

    ta for the insight.

    no chance of any change then as “swingback” leads to your predicted dead-heat in may 2015 ?

  11. Very interesting set of polls and I would say the Tories are climbing back up.

    A couple of pointers for Labour…The Scottish cross breaks (I know the health warnings) have shown some SNP leads. Now Labour could find themselves in difficult territory.

    The notion that a Yes vote could dash Labour’s hopes of forming a government does have some credibility to it but in the event of a no vote then the same could also be true…why? Well the SNP could take a large chunk of the Scottish seats denying Labour a majority in Westminster and the aged old waffle Labour come out with “A vote for the SNP will let the Tories in” shouldn’t wash with the Scottish electorate!

    After all they have been promised extra powers which include welfare etc which should cushion Scotland from any unpopular Tory polices.

    It’s going to be a hard sell for Labour to say to the Scots a vote for the SNP will let the Tories in when they (should) have a parliament strong enough to resist unpopular Tory policies…Maybe that’s why Labour are not as keen as the Tories to hand over as much economic powers!

  12. BALBS
    Calm calm….. its one poll…

    I’m looking at two polls and both are by in large neck and neck.

  13. I wouldn’t be surprised if the result in May isn’t that much different to the sort of polls we are seeing now.

  14. roland

    Probably best to sit down before reading this.

    TheRobin Hood” posting here is NOT the real Robin Hood, he’s just a bloak.

    Richard Greene [the surname is the giveaway] is the REAL Robin Hood.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think the fake one shouldn’t be arrested by the sheriff of course – or by anyone come to that – police, secret services, civilian arrest, the pups…. anyone will do.

    ‘Cos he certainly should.

  15. By the way, I’ve updated the Leadership Ratings page. Below each region, I’ve added each leader. When you see them side by side, it’s quite telling.


  16. @Robin Hood – your last swingback calculation was based on a Labour lead of 3 in the UKPR average. That’s now up to 4.

  17. R and D.
    Good Evening to you.

    Yes, a dead heat looks to be on the way.

  18. Hmm. in the furore over whose porridge it ought to be, other events have been tickling voter consciousness – Rotherham, Isis, and possibly generally gloomy news from Europe.

    Rotherham is definitely +2 for UKIP and -2 for Labour. Considering that it has turned out to be all abut multiculturalism and diversity and political correctness. And those are predominantly issues in the large metropolitan seats where Labour generally holds sway.

    Isis, too, is a bit of a boost for UKIP, as once again, its ultimately about culture and who is going to win if not hearts and minds, certainly power through naked savage aggression. Once again, pleading with peole who dont understand the meaning of the word, to be nice, when being brutally nasty is actually winning them ground, is a bit like carpet bombing the third Reich with pansies.

    Likewise gloomy news of spiralling debt, rises for Marine le Pen, AfD, cTalan separatist marches, and static economic data, plus the Ukraine looking more like a regurgitated dogs breakfast than a statesmanlike application of diplomacy, is further eroding such little confidence in the EU to do more than merely oppress its citizenry.

    All in all a bit more grist to UKIPS mill.

    Of course the momentum of events may reverse, but right now the tide is running against the mainstream parties – the Liberal democrats are now so irrelevant they are getting zero coverage, which makes them seem even less relevant,. UKIP is a story that keeps on giving, so there is positive feedback there as well.

    Whilst Miliband and Cameron appear to be loose ends flapping in the breeze, and completely out of their depth.


    The only positive news for any of the UK party leaders is for Cameron where he has a net approval rating of 4% in the Rest of the South.

    Is that it?


    UKIP are getting lots of exposure at the moment and they will resonate with some voters particularly with the areas you have mentioned such as Ukraine and ISIS .

    However I just feel when the GE draws closer that UKIP exposure will turn negative towards them when they are questioned on real policies.
    I reckon UKIP will poll around 8% at the GE.

  21. @ WES

    Yes, the rolling average showed a 4% Labour lead when I did last month’s ‘swing back’ simulation, it was 3% when I did this month’s and it’s now back up to 4%. Once these two new polls are added to the mix it will probably fall back again. I refer you to symptom (1) in my above ‘tell tale’ guide as to whether you are suffering from Swing Back Denial.


    What a silly post. If the Rotherham child abuse scandal was all about “multiculturalism, diversity and political correctness” then what should we make of the countless numbers of white English politicians, celebrities and DJs who got away with the same crime for literally decades? To try and make a racial point about something as serious as child abuse is beneath contempt (and just what one expects from UKIP).

  22. @R&D
    The REAL ROBIN HOOD is Errol Flynn, not some TV actor from the 50’s.

  23. @LEO SMITH

    When the election campaign proper begins OfCOM’s guidelines will kick in and the LibDems will get significantly more coverage whether they deserve it or not.

  24. @Lurker (FPT)

    So if Scotland goes independent the Conservatives won’t benefit because some Conservatives will decide not to vote Conservative any more.

    Got that. Let’s agree to disagree.

  25. Chris

    I’ll get a new record book.

    Anyway, to sum up – a very, VERY precise [excuse tautology] swingback which stops [or swingsbackagain ?? not sure which…..] at the precise figures which enable a dead-heat to occur.

    I am very impressed!

  26. @Phil

    Basically UKIP in rUK will shoot up, while Others will drop (SNP). Lab in Scotland is not much different to Lab in UK at present. Con will rise in rUK slightly, but not much.

    In fairness to the real world, in the event of a ‘No’ vote, I expect plenty of returns to Lab to block the dratted Tories in Scotland. Lab hegemony etc.

    Having said that, I also expect a stronger SNP after a ‘No’ vote (than 2010).

  27. A piece of news to cheer all us Brits up, from Madrid, Plaza de Margaret Thatcher was inaugurated by the Mayor of Madrid today, touching recognition of the great lady by our Spanish neighbours.

  28. @Phil Haines

    They might not, or maybe they would. Maybe Labour would split. Maybe an English Parliament would have PR. All bets would be off.

  29. New, I think, ICM poll for the Graun.
    I posted the link but it’s in moderation.

    Con 33, Lab 35, LD 10, UKIP 9, OTH 13

  30. It’s been nearly half a year since Labour last got a 40% VI result. I think they’ll win in 2015, but it will be more akin to 2005 or the 1974 elections than 1997. There just isn’t that great feeling of enthusiasm for Labour, as opposed to dislike of the coalition.

  31. @Amber

    A Lab lead of any description in and ICM poll is worth considering.

    That said, UK VI polls at the moment are likely to be heavily influenced by the IndyRef. If the IndyRef fails, I’d expect Lab VI to gradually work its way back to 37% ish.

  32. @RAF

    Almost anything could happen post referendum… I can see valid arguments for any variation of opinion ranging from Cameron landslide to the total evaporation of the Conservative Party.

  33. @Sheep
    I do like the idea of the Conservatives “evaporating”. Will it leave a stain?

    I think it will be more 1974, February, than 2005, when Tony Blair won the second of his GE victories.

    R and D: Thank you very much.

    KEN: Hello again, very pleased about the Madrid Plaza tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

  35. POSTAGEINCLUDED………..Charming, I’m a Conservative and if I evaporated, the Govt would have to find alternative revenue for at least 100 scroungers. ;-)

  36. Chrislane1945.

    “2005, when Tony Blair won the second of his GE victories.”

    Come again?

  37. Please, not the ‘swing back’ discussion again.

    It’s impossible for there to be a ‘swing back’, as there has been no discernable Tory -> Labour swing in the first place.

    If you’re suggesting a ‘swing back’ from Labour -> Lib Dems… well, good luck with that.

  38. amber

    In the small print of that poll on the pound it also say that a majority think that Scots should not be allowed to ever visit London again.

    especially Westminster.

    [it sez]

    Naturally they will still be made welcome in Barney but the shops would not be willing to accept their thrae-poondie-noats for actual goods or services.

    [is wot they sez]


    “It’s impossible for there to be a ‘swing back’, as there has been no discernable Tory -> Labour swing in the first place.”

    You’re claiming to be a doctor but I’m afraid it’s me that has to give you a diagnosis: you’re suffering from ‘Swing Back Denial’.

    Please refer to symptom number 7 in the scholarly lecture which I posted above.

  40. @ Rosie&Daise

    I missed that bit. LOL!
    I hope you see this comment but maybe not because Anthony has a new thread now.

  41. @Ken
    I suppose that instead of a stain you’ll be leaving a deposit….


  43. Allan Christie, BALBS
    I have a funny feeling that following the Independence Referendum result I might just find myself posting:
    Calm calm….. it’s just one poll