We’ve almost arrived at the Christmas break. Today we have new polls from Opinium (their last of the year) and YouGov (their penultimate of the year – there is one more to come on Monday night). I’m not sure when Populus put out their final poll of the year, and Survation have a Scottish poll being published next week, but that should be it for the year.

Topline figures for today’s two polls are:

Opinium/Observer – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 6%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3), GRN 5% (tabs)
YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8% (tabs)

The Observer write up of the poll, incidentally, is particularly poor, or at least, contains one particularly poor sentence. Toby Helm writes “It is the second poll in a week showing that the Tories have lost ground since chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement earlier this month”. Now, I have long whined about newspapers treating only their own poll as being meaningful and pretending others don’t exist, so well done for putting a poll in context… but it’s a rather extreme case of cherry-picking context to create a narrative that doesn’t exist.

The Opinium poll is the second one this week to show Labour’s lead growing, in fact it’s the third as there was also TNS. But there were also rather a lot of other polls that didn’t… there were another ten polls who the Observer has chosen not to mention. There was an Ipsos MORI poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes phone poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes online poll last weekend (shrinking Labour lead), two Populus polls (who have shown smaller Labour leads in their four post-Autumn Statement polls than their four before the statement) and five YouGov polls (whose post-Autumn statement polls have shown essentially the same Labour lead as those before). Lord Ashcroft hasn’t polled this week, he’s already finished for the year, but his post Autumn Statement poll had Labour’s lead down one point. As you can see, there as as many polls showing Labour’s lead falling post Autumn Statement as rising, and overall I expect what we’re seeing is a simple case of normal random sample variation. Taking a crude average of the Labour leads in November would give you an average lead of 1.6 points, take a crude average of the polls in December so far gives you an average Labour lead of 1.6 points.

There’s always a temptation to see narratives in polls, to ignore those showing no movement, latch onto those showing exciting looking changes and build an explanation and a story around them. It’s normally wrong to do so.

159 Responses to “Latest YouGov and Opinium polls”

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  1. I can’t stand those people who just post “First”.

  2. @Anthony

    “There was an Ipsos MORI poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes phone poll this week (no change in lead),”

    But those IPSO/MORI polls, both this month and last, have been so out of kilter with all the other polls taken at similar times, that they have to discounted, don’t they? In November they had a 3% Tory lead that looked extremely odd then and, in December, they show a 3% Tory lead that looks even odder in the context of all the other polls.

    I’m sure your averages are right, and it’s too early to talk about fundamental shifts in opinion, but time lines are important, I think. Taken over 7 to 10 days, there have been a whole host of contradictory polls, but leaving Ipsos/Mori aside there has been a recent cluster of polls showing larger Labour leads. YouGov on Friday (admittedly contradicted a little today), but also the latest ICM, TNS and Opinium polls.

    I’m not quite saying that you’re as good as your last poll, and MOE and sampling variation can throw up periodic oddities, but if three or four polls in a cluster suggest some movement, then it might be worth a comment. Looking down your list of past polls, we haven’t seen 7% Labour leads for a very long time. Now two have appeared, via different pollsters, in quick succession.

    I wonder what we might have been saying had we had similar Tory leads popping up? “Autumn Statement proves to be a game-changer for Tories!”


  3. Looks like the beeb will be under even more pressure to include the greens in the debates. Another day, another set of polls showing the greens equal to or beating the LDs.

  4. Hi CB

    Am I too late to come up with Crab toss?

  5. How often is the poll of polls updated, or is it just automatic?

  6. Anthony

    When the last opinion poll of the year comes out can you update the average so that we can see where the parties stand at the end of 2014.



  7. @CB

    Soc’s brat ?

  8. @ Crossbat

    I came up with Asto but then ran out of vowels so I’d best get my coat.

  9. “I expect what we’re seeing is a simple case of normal random sample variation”
    To slightly misquote Stanley Holloway:
    ‘He were getting ashamed of saying the same, and were thinking of cutting a stencil’

  10. @AW

    While it’s true that there have been plenty of polls not showing a substantial Labour lead, 3 of them in a week does point to a shift n the polls, albeit not of the scale that the Observer suggests.

    And, even if we exclude the 5 point lead poll as an outlier, the running average of YouGov is showing a 2 point improvement for Labour since the autumn statement. There is something definitely afoot.

  11. (Re-post)

    Charts updated folks.

    SNP lead Labour by 20% points.

    Greens go into 4th place in UK (all areas, except Scotland).


  12. There’s always a temptation to see narratives in polls, to ignore those showing no movement, latch onto those showing exciting looking changes and build an explanation and a story around them. It’s normally wrong to do so.


    It is normally wrong to do so psephologically speaking.

    But if the idea is to try to help shape or push opinion it is also quite natural for editors/hacks/whoever to do it. It isn’t “wrong” in that sense. It may not actually work. But that’s another story….

  13. It’s also possibly my dissertation next year so shush.

  14. @Statgeek

    That’s 15% not 20%.

  15. crossbat11

    Looking at recent polls again I think you are right this time and Mr Wells may be a little bit off the mark… (Will that get me barred?)

    There does seem to be a slight downwards trend to CON and a slight upwards trend to LAB. Not a lot. But the last half dozen polls do seem to show it. All the more so if you take out the CON +3 poll.

    Maybe the Autumn statement combined with Xmas has made CON look a little like Scrooge after all! (Though I expect things will return to normal in the new year).

  16. looking at all the polls, there definitely has been a slight uptick in labour in the last month. it is arguable whether the autumn statement had much to do with that. I just think labour went through a torrid time in october/early november. Mili’s dreadful conference speech and the jitters caused by that and the post-independence referendum scotland meltdown.

    I think recent poll movement is probably a reversion to the pre-conference time, where labour were enjoying decent 3-4 point leads.

  17. There are certainly a wide variance of positions positions from the pollsters, and there will be outliers here. But there has been a clear shift towards larger Labour leads when you take the polls together.

    Let’s put it like this. 1 in 20 polls will produce an odd result. Some people appear to be suggesting that ICM and TNS and Opinium have all produced 1 in 20 polls at the same time…..

  18. @Syzygy

    Soc’s brat ? Nice one. My mother would have liked that one, especially if a “k” was available to be included!


    Crab toss. Good one too, and reminds me of an area in my home town called Crabbs Cross. Best pubs in the town situated in that area too.

    A crab toss was actually an old custom in the fishing industry when the trawlermen used to discard unwanted crabs overboard if they got caught in their nets. The old salts used to have a particular way of throwing them back which was a bit like putting the shot in field athletics and this became known as the crab toss. They could throw the crabs remarkable distances in this way.


    Asto? You were trying to find Aston Villa in their somewhere!

  19. “There” not “their”, obviously, in my previous post!

  20. Scots Bra.

  21. AW: I’m hoping we will get an end-of-year roundup. Is one in prospect?

  22. The best mathematical model here is to take the average of the two polls above, follow the round up convention, which gives Labour’s current lead as 5%. All good news for a Labour supporter.
    And The Seagulls didn’t lose again. ;-)

  23. Ben – maybe, maybe not. Trying to get lots of stuff prepared for the election period.

  24. At the same stage in the last Parliament , the two polls conducted pre-Xmas 2009 were from Comres and Opinium. They showed Tory leads of 9% and 7% respectively – not all that far off the May 2010 outcome.

  25. Anthony

    I’m not going to defend Toby Helm who usually trots out the standard Westminster story with even less originality than other members of the Kings Cross mafia, but there is a bit of a feeling that the polls have been a bit more febrile than they were before the Autumn Statement.

    Now this may just be, as Number Cruncher has suggested, that the time of year means it’s more difficult to get decent samples and other factors, such as the increasing press attacks on UKIP may be a factor in the instability. But there could be something stirring, though we won’t really know till mid-January what it is, if anything.

    Meanwhile what has happened to today’s YouGov? Just four miserable pages with the standard trackers. Are the remaining questions nicely wrapped up in Red Boxes for distribution over Christmas? Or given their new Profiles do YouGov now think they know everything about everybody? I do realise that the West London Dinner Party questions may now have migrated to to the ES monthly poll (can’t have those plebs outside the M25 telling us what to think), as evidenced by the latest investigation of the location of Peak Hipster. But it’s still a pretty poor turnout considering the equivalent YouGov last year had 13 pages[1].

    Incidentally the latter results remind us just how much has changed:

    Con 34% (today 32% -2)

    Lab 40% (34% -6)

    Lib Dem 9% (6% -3)

    UKIP 11% (15% +4)

    SNP/PC 2%[2] (5% + 3)

    Green 2% (8% +6)

    BNP 1% (0% -1)

    Other 0% (0%)

    [1] Admittedly they included one of those questions so abstruse that the prologue took up a full page and a load about Nigella Lawson that were arguably sub judice, clearly in bad taste and certainly pointless as the main reaction was ‘meh’.

    [2] Cross-tab had the SNP third on 23%; Lab 39% Con 26%, LD 10%.

  26. My perception is also that there has been a re-establishment of a small Lab lead over the past week, after this had previously dwindled to next to nothing at the beginning of December. You can’t pick up shifts within a month with monthly averages!

  27. Given that Labour is generally seen as nier than the Tories, should we expect to see a move towards Labour when there is less political ding-dong in the news? Certainly I thing I’ll be looking out in early January.

  28. @Graham

    Interesting Graham. So using my mathematical model on these polls, 5% will be the lead for Labour in May, thus securing [them] a handsome majority!!

  29. @AW
    Well, there seems to be one dissenter, who believes Labours polling lead has grown over the last few days. For myself, like it or lump it, I listen to your opinion. In this case, I must say I quite like it, even though left to my own rather suspect polling skills, I would have thought Labour really were doing better. Anyway, thank you for the usual excellent round up.

    If I dont post again before the big day, MERRY CHRISTMAS one and all.

  30. Christian Scmidt and others.

    Who actually says “Labour are nicer than the Tories”. There are certainly millions like me, who think Labour are not very nice at all.
    Furthermore, I (yet again) remind those who think anything is in the bag, that your prospective PM, is crushingly low in the popularity stakes. All these “models” that certain posters have, will of course factor that little matter in. Wont they?

  31. So that’s Toby Helm told.

  32. My comments are a bit tongue in cheek, but I too get the feeling that there may be an increase in the Labour lead, after more or less neck and neck for a while (I do know that feelings are much inferior to real statistics).

    I sense there may be a little bit of a change in the media narrative, and it may have become more positive towards Labour. Also as we now seem to have entered the election campaign proper (no room for speculation about when the election will be any more), Labour seem to be geting an equal airing to Con and LibDem. I have long held the (probably unfounded) view that the more coverage Labour get, the more positively they are regarded.

  33. …having said that (ie, what I just said) this website has indicated a Labour lead increasing. Those figures on the right recently showed an average one-point lead and a Labour majority of ten; now they’re showing a two-point lead and a majority of 12.

  34. The one poll that stands out like a thumb at the moment is the December Ipsos/Mori pol showing a 3% Con lead.

    The best predictor of future voting intention is not demographics but past vote. So bear in mind that the split between 2010 recalled vote isn’t controlled for by Mori. This was an implausible 271 Con, 203 Lab and 121 LD, implausible as it would be consistent with a 2010 GE result of 41% for the Conservatives.

    In November Mori also found a 3% Con lead, but the 2010 recalled split then was 257 Con, 203 Lab, 150 LD, which by contrast isn’t a split that should raise many eyebrows. Had the December sample been similarly balanced, that 3% Con lead would have been eroded.

  35. Happy Christmas to you Roly.The next five months are going to be interesting alright !

    Thanks Anthony , for bringing things back to earth as usual.

  36. @Roland

    “one dissenter, who believes Labours polling lead has grown”

    More than one, I think. And those statements haven’t been based on belief, but on the numbers. I think it would be those claiming there *hasn’t* been a recent shift who would be the one’s relying on belief.

  37. @ROBIN
    So are you accusing AW of favouring the Conservative party with his short analysis? As I said up page, I had expected that Labour had indeed gone in front a bit. I was happy to read AW’s analysis, because he knows a smidgen more about polling than I do.

    As for the numbers of dissenters, I hardly need you to tell me that if this board were the Alamo, the Tories are the Texans and Labour supporters are the Mexicans. Why do you think I go about in a Davy Crockett hat.

  38. @Roly

    “If I dont post again before the big day, MERRY CHRISTMAS one and all.”

    That was a big “if”, wasn’t it? A likely adieu at 1.36pm, then two more posts in the last 50 minutes.

    I thought you were a man of your word!


  39. @CB11
    Definitely a man of my word. You can trust me, I am a Tory.

    (The truth is, I did not expect so many “your wrong Anthony” comments)

  40. ROLY

    Looks like The Alamo was about 15 to 1.

    Wondering whether Rorke’s Drift is a better comparison?-one you might feel more at home with too :-)

  41. Roland
    I went to Texas earlier this year and wondered if they would appreciate me in a coon-skin hat but I am afraid that like here younger people don’t know the story very well.

  42. Colin
    I wasn’t going to go there

  43. BARNEY

    Its finding the combination of the right sort of numbers, the intensity of the opposition , and a victory to the minority.

    A sort of combination of Thermopylae & Samson & Goliath .-Needs more research :-)

  44. On Scottish social media…

  45. I found AW’s blog post factual.

    It’s too early to say whether there has been a genuine spike in Labour’s lead. Regardless of the actual lead though, Labour supporters will probably be encoraged that Lab are polling closer to 34-35% that for some time across a number of polls.

  46. Not a great surprise if Labour’s numbers are up. Every day lately seems to have another story of how the NHS is having difficulties, and crucially not only in certain papers but across TV news bulletins. Today’s headline is ambulance response targets possibly being extended.

    Yougov’s economic confidence tracker also has economic confidence down to the second lowest of 2014 here https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/12/19/consumer-confidence-falls-run-christmas/

  47. More likely than not Anthony is right.

    Obviously in the last few days things have looked better for Labour but enough poll watching on here over this parliament tells me there are plenty of times like this where there looks to have be a change over a few days and it just turns out to be a random positive for one side based on normal statistical variations.

    On occasions a few polls pointing in a particular direction do turn out to be genuine movements but most of the time they aren’t. All you can say is that Labour will be marginally more happy in that it seems unlikely that the Tories are gaining and there’s an outside chance (but only an outside chance) that those few polls might be genuinely pointing to a change in Labour’s favour.

  48. Yes, Anthony is right.

    The majority of polls in the last week have shown between a Labour and Conservatives tie and Labour ahead by 3 (and half of them between a tie and a Labour lead of 2). But as usual it was those that differed significantly that got all the attention.

    Of the 12 polls for which the fieldwork was carried out between December 12 and 19th:

    – Six were in line with the recent range between a tie and Lab+2 (all conducted online)
    – Three of the 6 that weren’t, were phone polls and a fourth wasn’t past vote-weighted
    – One (Thursday’s YouGov) is completely out of line with the the other four YouGovs this week
    – The other (TNS) has atypical weights (2010 past vote proportions skewed far more towards Labour than other pollsters) and a huge proportion of 2010 non-voters, who are very Labour this month having been very Tory last month

    Phone polls are considered more reliable by some, but remember, if people aren’t home to answer their landlines, even ICM can come unstuck.

    Here’s my writeup and pretty graphic:


  49. @Andyo (1.57)

    “I sense there may be a little bit of a change in the media narrative, and it may have become more positive towards Labour.”

    Rather than being more positive towards Lab (never likely to happen !!), I would suggest that the media are becoming more negative towards Con. IMO this has had the effect of boosting lab support. @Ed’s comment at 3.26 is a good example of negative government comment which will surely help Lab.

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