Final polls of 2014

We now have the final YouGov and Populus polls of the year (possibly the last two polls of the year, unless something unexpected turns up). Topline figures are

Populus: CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4% (tabs)
YouGov/Sun: CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5% (tabs)

The YouGov four point Labour lead is interesting, coming as it does after that odd looking five point lead last week – normally I’d write something along the lines of keeping an eye on the next few polls to see if YouGov are picking up some movement towards Labour…but of course, the next few polls aren’t until January. In contrast Populus aren’t showing any such move, with Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck.

Before signing off for the year, I also wanted to flag up some new British Election Study analysis from Phil Cowley here, looking at where people put the parties on the left-right spectrum in Scotland, something I don’t recall ever having seen before. Essentially it finds people put the two main parties in Scotland in the same place ideologically, on a 0-10 left right scale they rate Labour at 4.1, the SNP at 3.9. Of course, averages don’t tell the whole story as different people see the parties differently – looking at Labour’s Scottish voters, they rate themselves as 3.4 on the left-right scale, the Labour party as 3.4 and the SNP as off to the right on 4.9. For SNP voters, they rate themselves as 3.6 on the scale, their party as 3.8 and the Labour opposition as off to the right on 5.3. Both parties’ supporters see themselves as left-wingers supporting a left-wing party against a more right-wing opposition.

And that’s it – I may do an end of year round up… or may just put my feet up. Either way, have a good Christmas.

120 Responses to “Final polls of 2014”

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  1. Merry Christmas Anthony!

    @All – A few weeks ago I mentioned a study into wisdom indices I’d read that suggested that they can be more accurate than VI polls, but couldn’t find the link. Anyway, I’ve found it now.

    should both take you to a PDF of the article. Abstract:

    “Most pollsters base their election projections off questions of voter intentions, which ask “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” By contrast, we probe the value of questions probing voters’ expectations, which typically ask: “Regardless of who you plan to vote for, who do you think will win the upcoming election?” We demonstrate that polls of voter expectations consistently yield more accurate forecasts than polls of voter intentions. A small-scale structural model reveals that this is because we are polling from a broader information set, and voters respond as if they had polled twenty of their friends. This model also provides a rational interpretation for why respondents’ forecasts are correlated with their expectations. We also show that we can use expectations polls to extract accurate election forecasts even from extremely skewed samples.”

    David Rothschild
    Microsoft Research and Applied Statistics Center, Columbia

    Justin Wolfers
    Dept of Economics and Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
    Brookings, CEPR, CESifo, IZA and NBER

  2. I like Prof Cowley’s comment –

    “perceptions of their positioning are seen through a partisan lens, in which what you think about your party helps determine what you think about your rival. Therefore some people might dismiss the data. (In which case, why have you read this far? Haven’t you got anything better to do?) “

  3. Merry Christmas Anthony!

    Re the YouGov poll I had a look at the tabs and three things jump out:

    – The lead based on unrounded figures was abound 3.2 points (vs 2 points on the nose in the weekend YouGov poll)
    – The Labour vote share was up TEN points among 18-24 year olds (12% of the sample, which gives a the 1.2 point Christmas present to Labour)
    – The response rate among that demographic dropped 54% compared with the previous poll. So not only is the entire change is down to the movement only in a crossbreak of just 80 people (MoE ±11 points), but I’d be surprised if such a drop were uniformly representative…

    Just as well YouGov (normally) poll 5 times a week!

  4. Fascinating analysis from Prof Cowley there.

    It really does seem that the “Irish Civil War” hypothesis from Lallands Peat Worrier that OldNat linked to last week may have some truth in future Scottish politics.

    Essentially it posits that it’s not the actual positions of the parties that matter in the SNP/Labour fight but people’s perceptions of the opposition’s position viewed through the lense of how they saw the referendum campaign.

    If true I think this makes it a lot more difficult for Scottish Labour to recover voting intention from 2014 Yes voters in the short-medium term.

    Here’s the LLPW article if people missed it last time:

  5. P.S. Merry Christmas everyone and have a great holiday period.

  6. Both parties’ supporters see themselves as left-wingers supporting a left-wing party against a more right-wing opposition.

    Remember this – you’ll want to use it when you’re writing 20-year retrospectives on The Scottish Tragedy.

  7. @AW

    Is there any chance of your updating the UKPR Polling Average before putting your feet up? Seems like a good point at which to do it.

  8. @NorthumbrianScot

    That seems to make sense in the short term i.e. up to May 2015.

    Beyond that, if Labour had most seats but without a majority, I think it would be very difficult for Labour to give ground to what would be perceived as special pleading from the SNP, for fear of giving rise to a backlash in England. The question is, would the SNP not support a minority Labour adminstration if its lines in the sand had been breached, in which case the government would fall and a second election would be held?

    If, leaving aside the SNP’s particular demands, the programme put forward by the minority Labour administration had been popular in Scotland, particularly amongst former Labour voters who had switched to the SNP in May, I think that a further realignment would then be on the cards.

  9. Well, it’s done for another year and no more polls to mull/fret over until the New Year. The politicians take a holiday too so, out of respect for them and my own peace of mind, I shall quit UKPR for the festive season and concentrate on some revelry, football and just a little religious observance instead. Some bracing walks in seasonally cold weather in the Worcestershire countryside would be wonderful too, and I look forward to seeing in the New Year, and celebrating my birthday, in the fine old city of Chester. Shamefully, I’ve never visited before.

    So, a Happy Christmas and New Year to Anthony particularly, and all those who either lurk or contribute to UKPR.

    Roll on 2015. I believe there is a date with destiny awaiting us all in May!


  10. Hey Mr Nameless……………..Looks like you’re running one hell of a campaign there in Sheffield Hallam

  11. Indeed we are. By the way, if anyone sees that graphic of the red and yellow bars on a black background showing the Ashcroft poll results for Hallam, ackowledge in your own minds that it was me who made that. Certain people (*cough*Artist Taxi Driver*cough*) haven’t been so kind.

  12. So, real Polldrums till the New Year then.

  13. By way of a gift to us at UKPR, I’m hoping Anthony will give us back the ‘report’ button he has whisked away from us at some point

    Merry Christmas one & all.

  14. Thanks to AW for another splendid psephological year.

    I think that all parties will be glad for a break. It is the deep breath for the GE Campaign, commencing in January.

    The Conservatives have to consider how they can lift themselves from being stuck at about 32% for an age, despite a less than convincing opposition at times.

    Labour perhaps have to stop the slippage of VI over 2014, and hope the possible blip upwards of recent days becomes more solid. They certainly look like being rolled over by the SNP, unless Jim Murphy can produce some rabbits out of hats

    UKIP and the Greens have to avoid being squeezed as they will come under increasing pressure, and hanging onto their current supporters as the big guns try to squeeze them will surely be their target.

    The Lib Dems? Perhaps being only a few months from their fate is a bright spot. They can build,renew and move on from this chapter, but I suspect before that they face a right old kicking. They can only hope that the public after this GE consider that enough punishment has been dealt to them.

    The SNP seem to be sitting pretty at the moment, and of all the parties in the UK they are probably the happiest.

    Anyway, all to play for in 2015, and season’s greeting to all.

  15. @BRAMLEY

    “By way of a gift to us at UKPR, I’m hoping Anthony will give us back the ‘report’ button he has whisked away from us at some point”

    It’s ok, Pressman hasn’t been around for a while….

  16. According to the Telegraph:

    Downing Street sources told The Times that David Cameron believes his rivals are making a concerted effort to remove Mr Clegg to make it harder for the Lib Dems to reach a deal with the Tories.

    I suspect that what we’re seeing is heavy hinting from the Conservatives that their voters in Hallam should vote tactically for Clegg – interesting given that it was a solid Tory seat till 1997.

    Whether it will work or not is another matter. While the Conservatives are nudged towards Clegg, Labour has Green votes to squeeze and also maybe UKIP. UKIP voters tend to loath the Lib Dems and may vote Labour to get at them.

    The Telegraph also says that:

    Mr Clegg is already spending two days a week there and when election campaigning begins in earnest it is thought he will have to spend a third of his time defending his seat.

    which is a fairly extraordinary plan for a Party leader during an election campaign. Though some may argue that the more Clegg stays out of them, the greater the chance the Lib Dems have of retaining their other seats.

  17. Phil – certainly, hoping to do it today

    Couper – see here:
    3% of current Labour voters see themselves as right of centre (though, 2% or 3% of people say almost anything). Of people who voted Labour in 2010, 8% saw themselves as right of centre.

    Bramley – forget about that. Plugin that I used for it had a rubbish interface, real pain to go through the comments en masse (and people clicked report on all sorts of things for no apparent reason). Looking for a better replacement.

  18. Not quite all over for 2014 polls:

    Survation. @Survation · 1h 1 hour ago

    Have we already had the last published UK voting intention poll of 2014? If you thought it was over… it’s not! More from us later tonight.

  19. Why did people vote Labour in 2010 and then SNP in 2011?

    I’m not sure that’s actually what happened. 2010 turnout was 63%, much higher than the 50% who voted in 2011. The 2011 electorate also included some people who don’t get to vote in UK general elections.

    IIRC, during the referendum campaign YouGov (& other polling firms) tried to find a sample of people who voted Labour in 2010 & SNP in 2011 but continually fell short of their ‘calculated’ target. From data which I’ve seen, there’s actually a lot of voters who only voted in one or other of those elections, rather than voting in both but for different Parties.

  20. @Couper, OldNat, Amber

    Anecdote is not data but I am a 2010 Labour, 2011 SNP voter, I’ll tell my story but it probably sheds little light on motivations of other similar voters.

    The strange thing is on a BES type survey I wouldn’t identify myself with either Labour or SNP.

    Traditionally I would usually call myself a Lib Dem and certainly for me voting for a progressive, centre left, Pro PR, candidate is important and I have voted for a number of different parties and individuals over the years.

    In 2010 a combination of the candidate being to my liking (Mark Lazarowicz in Edinburgh North) and a general feeling that Labour had the better economic plan and Gordon Brown was unfairly being blamed for supranational issues led me to vote Labour rather than Lib Dem in a Lab vs Lib Dem seat. I also had concerns about Clegg being too enthusiastic to do a deal with the Tories which turned out to be prescient!

    By 2011 I was in Glasgow and was thinking about the record of the parties in the Scottish Parliament over the previous 4 years. In 2007 I’d never have considered voting SNP but I’d been pleased with what they done, especially on healthcare so was minded to support them in the constituency. (My regional list vote was a certainty for Patrick Harvie, one of my favourite politicians, even if I disagree with his policies about 75% of the time!).

    When I then came to look at the candidates in my seat I’d a choice between Cllr Stephen Curran for Labour who mainly seemed to be known for his goings on with married fellow councillors and being the son of Margaret Curran MP. For SNP there was a promising youngster by the name of Nicola Sturgeon who seemed alright.

    I was an undecided on the referendum who’s preferred option was a federal, Devo Max model but eventually voted No in hope of seeing progress towards my preferred option.

    I’m not yet certain how I’ll vote in 2015. I’m in a seat where SNP are unlikely to win, the Labour candidate is not to my taste, Lib Dems have no chance and I’ve not forgiven Clegg yet, a Green hasn’t stood previously and I won’t vote for Conservative or UKIP.

    So with all that said I’ll probably vote SNP in 2015 as being the best way to signal to Westminster my desire for further constitutional change (albeit short of independence).

    I’d probably be a better case study if I didn’t change seats between every election!

  21. “Phil – certainly, hoping to do it today”

    I’m going for 35/32/9 and a Lab majority of 22- we’ll see whether feeling the force is as accurate as hours spent on spreadsheets :-)

  22. They certainly look like being rolled over by the SNP, unless Jim Murphy can produce some rabbits out of hats.

    The left/right perceptions, as discussed above, are the core of the matter. People who view politics as being about governing from the left, rather than as a game to win or lose, might be quite sanguine about whether Scotland returns Labour or SNP MPs.

    The reason being, the SNP are perceived as being a Party of the left by their supporters, therefore SNP MPs can’t do anything which would enable a Tory government. So, what are they going to do? Take a ‘principled’ stand on Trident & prevent a Labour government from governing? What would that achieve? A Tory government which is more pro-Trident is the most likely outcome of any manoeuvres of that nature.

    So really, what do the SNP have with which to threaten Labour? “Do what we want, or we’ll go back to being perceived as ‘Tartan Tories’ in Scotland by bringing down a Labour government.” That doesn’t seem like a particularly strong negotiating position to me.


    I, too, am impressed with Patrick Harvie. I,too,reject many of his party’s policies.

    My reading of the research into health inequalities in Scotland suggests that the detailed policies proposed by research cannot adequately be implemented by the current and future powers a Scottish parliament is likely to have.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  24. @Statgeek FPT.

    Coatbridge Chryston & Bellshill

    Well you have to consider 3 bits of evidence. Firstly the 2010 result but also the 2011 and referendum results.

    In 2011 the constituency was split between Coatbridge & Chryston (Lab 52%, SNP 41%, 2,741 Lab majority) and Uddingston & Bellshill (Lab 46%, SNP 43%, 714 majority.)

    So it’s closer in 2011 but still looking like a Labour hold.

    When we then look at the referendum results:

    North Lanarkshire Zone B which covers Coatbridge and Chryston had 30,065 Yes votes and 26,903 No votes.

    Zone C which has the smaller Bellshill and Viewpark sections of the seat had 25,795 Yes and 27,685 No.

    Combined Zones C & D give us 55,860 Yes voters and 54,588 No voters so this is a majority Yes area the constituency lies in.

    If we look at some of the Survation numbers then both the 2011 numbers and 2014 numbers point to an SNP win.

    If SNP get 83% of the 2011 SNP vote and 25% of the 2011 Labour vote (which Survation suggests) then SNP win.

    Equally if SNP get 81% of the Yes vote and 10% of the No vote (as Survation suggests) then SNP also win.

    So I’m unconvinced Coatbridge is a safe Labour seat on those polling numbers.

  25. Has there been any analyses done on target green seats? I’d be interested to see the chances the Greens have, if any, outside Brighton Pavilion.

  26. With thanks for your hard work & insightful analysis of the past year.

  27. AW
    Thanks for this excellent site which is always pretty civilised if not always non partisan – I plead guilty to being an occasional offender – and a real pleasure at nearly all times.
    A Merry Christmas to you and all who sail in the SS UKPR.

  28. Change on the ukpr polling average is interesting. labour lead back to 3 points, when it was only 1 about six weeks ago. that tallies with my perception. certainly the autumn statement wasn’t the “game changer” that tory supporters were hoping for.

  29. “…certainly the autumn statement wasn’t the “game changer” that tory supporters were hoping for.”


    Well, there’s always the budget…

  30. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to regulars, occasional posters and lurkers alike. Like Crossbat, I too will be taking brisk walks in the Worcestershire countryside although with less of an eye on the football. 2015 promises to be interesting on UKPR, although I suspect that we’re seeing the broad outline of the GE result already.

  31. Surely even Ed Miliband isn’t naive enough to do an informal, let’s keep the details to ourselves deal with an experienced parliamentary operator like Angus Robertson, assuming of course that he is neither demoted nor overruled in negotiations by backseat drivers.

    Equally, surely there’s zero prospect of the SNP agreeing to be junior partners in a 2010-style formal coalition. The things they want from this parliament they should be able to achieve informally (and in the event that they can’t, far easier to blame Labour from opposition benches than government ones).

    And then it dawned on me. Miliband may be naive, but he isn’t an idiot. If the SNP do as well as the last quarter’s polls suggest, and yet Labour are the largest party, then the SNP’s decision on whether to continue to abstain on English laws would be the difference between Labour being able to get the majority of its business done, and needing to make deals with all sorts of parties from day to day.

    Given that we’re at the halfway point between Indyref and the start of the GE campaign proper, it’s reasonable for the SNP to assume that the polls just might be accurate. So it’s no coincidence that they have at this stage asked a lowly PPC to float the idea of SV4EL now, to see whether they could get away with using that as some sort of bargaining chip.

    The irony being that if the SNP were effective in such a situation – in influencing laws that have no impact on Scotland so as to secure disproportionate kickbacks for Scotland from the governing party – it would be English Tories demanding that the Scots be kicked out of the union, and Scots concluding that they’d be fools to leave.

  32. ““…certainly the autumn statement wasn’t the “game changer” that tory supporters were hoping for.”


    Well, there’s always the budget… ”

    or the PM’s final election broadcast……………………………..

  33. Have a wuffing great xmas everybody.

    Rosie, Daisie and Dad.

  34. Happy Xmas Rosie, Daisie and your dad :)

  35. They think it’s all over… well it is now (Christmas polling not the GE)

    Survation/Daily Mirror Westminster (chg vs 3 Nov)
    LAB 33% (+2)
    CON 30% (+3)
    UKIP 21% (-3)
    LD 10% (+1)
    OTHERS 6% (-3)

  36. Here’s to an exciting if nail-biting New Year.
    Best wishes to all (yes, all… well, almost all) – from a long-term lurker.

  37. Don’t trust that Survation poll – look at the Scottish cross break

  38. Merry Christmas everyone!

  39. And here we see Labour’s lead bobbing upward again, the trending towards parity 2-3 weeks ago seeming to be gone. I think the Conservatives ought to be doing better than this if they are looking for an OM. It may well be that they achieve parity or end up 1-2% ahead of Labour… but that’s what they need now to convince they are heading in the right direction.

    The last budget before the 2010 election seemed a bit of a damp squib, not gaining any serious attention. Any tax cuts need to be seen rather than talked about.

    I will add my thanks to Anthony for providing this excellent website for us to read about and chew over polling.

  40. ChrisHornet

    Given that we’re at the halfway point between Indyref and the start of the GE campaign proper, it’s reasonable for the SNP to assume that the polls just might be accurate. So it’s no coincidence that they have at this stage asked a lowly PPC to float the idea of SV4EL now, to see whether they could get away with using that as some sort of bargaining chip.

    It’s not new. I’ve pointed out here before that there were some interesting remarks from Salmond in an interview he gave to Newsweek last month:

    [Salmond] argues he could use SNP votes at Westminster to support policies that help not only Scotland but northern England, where people also say a remote political establishment in the comparatively prosperous southeast has not dealt with them fairly.

    “It’s likely there is a potential route of progress through Westminster, which has not been the usual circumstance before. Who knows, there might be one or two things we can knock off for the good citizens of Liverpool and Newcastle, because they badly need a champion of some sort.”

    […]“Listen, is England going to be safer in my hands or in the hands of this coalition government or of Nigel Farage? Much safer in my hands. I’ll do my best.”

    So, the SNP might well decide to support English-only legislation that they liked. You can always make some sort of case out that there will be some sort of effect on Scotland – which is true because of the way finances are tangled up.

    EV4EL was always a fantasy – unless you have separate parliaments there’s no way to split them reliably. Apart from the fact that you can always tweak legislation to make it look all-UK, if there are any disputes between the English and the all-UK bits of Parliament the all-UK bit is always going to have the power to overrule them

    It’s also worth emphasising as well that the SNP pledge with regard to the non-support of the Conservatives will only extend to votes of confidence – even there they may still have the option to abstain. Of course legislation that benefits Scotland will be voted for, whoever puts it forward.

    In reality I suspect there will be a lot of manoeuvring and the SNP will try to get unpopular things passed by other people (bonus points if Lab and Con together). Of course if something is popular in Scotland but not England they’ll still back it, but actually that won’t happen that often (and if it does maybe they should be different countries).

  41. Alternatively, a minority Labour government that had just lost a swathe of seats to the SNP might just decide that it wanted nothing to do with the SNP trying to call the shots by negotiating on a vote by vote basis. And then Labour would just try and put its programme into legislation, and if any significant parts of it were voted down respond by instigating votes of confidence. It would do so in the knowledge that if it lost such a vote in the absence of SNP support, it would have the opportunity of a rerun to try and regain some of those seats lost in the Central Belt to a party that had just voted down a left wing government.

  42. Any guesses as to the split of that 6% for combined Green/SNP/Plaid/Respect/Other Others with Survation?

  43. The Survation poll is compromised by them making a mess of their reallocation again:

    They have reallocated all of the undecideds and refused back to their 2010 Party (plus an extra 10 for luck for the Conservatives). As it happens it leaves the integer percentages unchanged (though obviously not if you look at the decimal places):

    Con 30%

    Lab 33%

    Lib Dem 11%

    UKIP 20%

    SNP 3%

    Green 3%

    There are some oddities though. The Scottish cross-tab shows 50%, SNP 26%, which suggests either miraculous powers from Jim-lad or a dubious sample It’s also small (74), weighted up, while at the moment Scottish quotas tend to be over-filled.

  44. I consider that it is significant that Salmond operated as leader of a minority Government for four years between 2007 and 2011 and made a success of it. He is the only political leader with that sort of practical knowledge.

    He is also a canny operator with a wealth of Westminster experience in much less promising circumstances than the SNP now enjoy.

    Finally it see it as significant that Robertson started out in politics helping Salmond get elected way back in 1987 while Salmond put him in charge of the successful Holyrood campaigns of 2007 and 2011. Those looking for a rift between these two will be disapointed.

  45. Roger

    Obviously a small and dubious sub sample since the sample dates overlap with the Suvation full Scottish poll published yesterday showing a 48-24 SNP lead. Perhaps they should have used that!

    Also since these sample dates there have been not one but two YouGovs with much larger sub samples and both showing big SNP leads in line with just about every other poll and sub sample.

  46. @Roger M

    Good spot regarding those 10 Conservative non-votes (or should that be non non-votes?)

    Without them, FWIW, the Conservatives would be on 29%.

    I agree though, Survation’s idea of reallocating 100% of don’t knows back whence they came is a nonsense.

  47. Surprising Survation Scotland crossbreak – Lab 48% – SNP 27%.

  48. @Graham

    That’s why a single cross-break is useless.

  49. Phil Haines

    I agree though, Survation’s idea of reallocating 100% of don’t knows back whence they came is a nonsense

    It’s not just nonsense, it’s not even what they say they are doing, which is reallocating weighted by a value of 0.3, which is reasonable enough. 30% of uncertain voters going back to their 2010 preference is plausible, 100% is not. I also suspect it was done manually and someone misread a ‘5’ for a ‘6’ which explains the extra 10. It’s not as bad as the previous two GB-wide Survations which re-allocated all over the place, sometimes at a rate of over 100% (they don’t reallocate on the Scottish polls at all).

    I wonder if Survation were the pollster that messed up Ashcroft’s leaders poll, which also contained 100% reallocations as well as the mis-weighting of the Doncaster poll by past vote that caused all the embarrassment. Actually the over-reallocation caused more misinformation on that poll than the wrong weighting, because without it Clegg was behind and Farage much closer than was claimed.

    In this case, because Survation don’t weight their own polls by past vote, that additional problem couldn’t happen. In fact the recalled vote matches the 2010 result fairly closely – a few too many Cons, but not as wildly out as most unweighted samples.

  50. Regardless of academic studies, internal “left/righgt” divisions seem destined to focus attention within LIs.

    Survation asked ” If the Labour Party committed to a major programme of renationalisation, including taking railways and utility companies back into public ownership, would that make you more or less likely to vote Labour at the next general election, or would it make no difference to your vote?” To that, 7% of those with a Tory Westminster VI would be “much more likely” to vote Lab, while a further 13% would be “somewhat more likely” to do so.

    Maybe Murphy was the right choice to attract these Socialist Tories to the LiS banner.

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