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 Xmas to ” the most influential minority in Britain today” – the respondents to online polls!

    Online survey responders tend to have stronger opinions than the population in general. Taking Financial Optimism as an example online survey responders are 1.65 times more likely to answer ‘much better’ than the population on the five point scale of much better, better, same, worse and much worse, and less likely to say ‘the same’.

    While this could just indicate that they are more optimistic, this in itself is interesting. But they are also more volatile in their views. This complicates matters, as it means that simply taking a single ‘snapshot’ of the online survey population can be misleading.

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

    Perhaps you’re right. Murphy’s reputation is more Blairite and centrist, which paradoxically gives him some flanking protection to go leftwards without appearing too scary to more centre right voters.

    It’s going to be a fiendishly difficult trick to pull off, and he may well be looking primarily to try to unite an anti SNP coalition in those seats Labour needs to defend.

  3. I hope everyone is settling down to an enjoyable festive period. Politics is now suspended, possibly just as well for some.

    Yesterday saw some further evidence to puncture any excess Tory confidence, with the sharp downward revision of GDP now meaning Osborne will almost certainly miss the growth target he gave in the AS. Record current account deficits, and the fact that the GDP shortfall was in part due to lower than anticipated investment doesn’t give great Christmas cheer – investment fell by 1.4% in the third quarter, meaning that yet again, it’s consumer spending leading the recovery, and sucking in imports. This is not sustainable, and whichever government takes over in 2015 they will have been left an unsustainable legacy.

    We also saw retail surveys showing a 50% increase in retailers in financial stress, despite apparent good sales, and house purchases dipped last month to below 100,000 for the first time in a year.

    But earnings, jobs and prices data – possibly the more electorally important stuff – looks good (very good, in parts).

    It’s like the truffles in the wood are being eclipse by the snowdrops. A fascinating few month ahead, economically and politically.

    All the best and have a great festive season.

  4. @OldNat – The problem is even worse for qualitative interview respondents (inc. focus group participants). They are highly opinionated and hopelessly unrepresentative of the general population (unlike online survey respondents, who are merely somewhat unrepresentative in some ways).

    Yet the statistically illiterate (I’m looking at you, trendy marketing execs) insist on extrapolating their views up to the general population, and then dismissing all market research when the qual turns out to have been wrong.

    *scowl mutter grumble*

  5. In this season of goodwill, here’s what our party leaders have to say in their Xmas messages…

    “David Cameron has stressed his pride in the UK’s “Christian values” in his annual Christmas message.

    The prime minister said “giving, sharing and taking care of others” at home and around the world was something the UK could be depended upon for.

    Deputy PM Nick Clegg said the values of love, hope and charity expressed in the Christmas story were “universal”.

    Labour’s Ed Miliband urged voters to choose “generosity and inclusion” in the looming election battle next year.”

    (Dunno if a Xmas message has ever affected polling, but then, what would people think if they didn’t do one??)

    Anyways, Merry Xmas everyone…


    ” (Dunno iif a Xmas message has ever affected polling, but then, what would people think if they didn’t do one??)”

    That’s what I always think about leafleting at election times. I’m not sure how many people actually read the leaflets or take notice of them; the problem comes if you don’t put one through people’s doors at all. “We never hear from….” It’s more to ward off the negative than a positive positive (as it were).

    Anyway, A very Happy Christmas to everyone. See you after the festivities.

  7. I do wonder if in its previous heartlands of Scotland and Wales, Labour is suffering from being seen as the establishment?

    FWIW, I suspect that this is very much what is going on; it’s certainly been part of the SNP narrative which paints Labour and the Tories as the same, and both Tories. Which may lead to a partial explanation of what is happening in the polls – and also that the traditional ‘swingback’ is actually going towards Labour.

  8. I am on a train so this will have to be quick. Merry Xmas to all those who post here below the line, and a special thanks to Anthony wells, without whom we’d have to air our opinions unasked to our longsuffering families. Thank you to you all, and merry Xmas!

  9. It must be difficult for those outside Scotland to fully appreciate two things.

    Firstly, that for many people (myself included) the referendum campaign was the most – indeed the only – really invigorating political event of our lives. We will not let it go easily and if that means voting SNP in May then so be it.

    Secondly, there is a visceral fury at the Labour co-operation with the Tories in the referendum campaign. Jim Murphy makes that much worse given his own behaviour.

    We shall see in 2015 but I suspect the polls in Scotland as they are currently will not be too far off the mark.

  10. I was not really aware of there being Christmas messages from politicians, and I think nobody is really too interested in what they have to say. I do wonder why they bother.

    Anyway, just before I start eating, drinking etc, I’ll wish you all a Merry Christmas. See you in a few days.

  11. @ Scotslass

    Secondly, there is a visceral fury at the Labour co-operation with the Tories in the referendum campaign.

    It depends on who you ask. At least 55% are not furious about it. And some of the other 45% are quite sanguine about it; they’ve even continued to be members of LiS or joined LiS post-referendum having realised that they ‘got carried away’ during the referendum but are now pleased that Labour worked to keep the UK together. Should the oil price fail to recover over the next four months, there may well be more people who feel this way.

    Regarding “visceral fury”, people who feel like this aren’t doing themselves or their cause any good. The Yes campaign did well because of its positive spin; “visceral fury” & bitterness doesn’t seem like a winning strategy to me.

  12. Best wishes for a Happy Christmas to everyone on UKPR. Many thanks to Anthony for his excellent work during the past 12 months.

  13. @Amber

    If we’re quoting percentages, that’s 55% of those who voted, and not all the ‘No’ voters are non-SNP, and some of the ‘No’ voters voted ‘No’ in the belief that ‘The Vow’ would be fulfilled.


    Yes, I too have a feeling that the SNP will still have a good VI come May. I have a feeling that while Murphy might pull a few folk back to Labour, he’ll also alienate a few away.

    It’s an interesting situation that Labour are (supposedly) trying to shift left in England with Miliband, and have elected a leader in Scotland that’s seen as more right than his leadership election opponents.

    In theory, the large party that honestly shifts back to their original side of the spectrum and gives up the centre ground will lose this election, and probably win the next, but will be stronger for it, and less divided. Will Labour go left, and give the Conservatives the election, but beat back the SNP, Greens and Lib Dems, or will the Conservatives go right, give Labour the next term, and out-kip the kippers?

    No to both, but I think both need to come up with a long-term political spectrum re-think. They all seem to be trying to claim the centre as folk move away from it.

    My humble opinion etc etc.

  14. @Scotslass
    “…Secondly, there is a visceral fury at the Labour co-operation with the Tories in the referendum campaign.”

    There may well be. But it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Labour the LDs and the Cons are unionist parties; the SNP and the Scottish Greens are pro-independence. Where there is a referendum campaign on independence those in favour will coalesce as will those against. It may make for odd alliances but that’s how referenda work.

    It does not mean that Lab, Lib and Con are unionist for the same reasons. Far from it. In fact the Tories were very quick to agree the referendum rules with the SNP and allow the vote to take place on AS’s timetable as they believed it would fatally damage Labour’s chances of winning the GE.

    As for Labour, it believes in using the machinery of the state to deliver outcomes that favour the weakest and poorest in society. To do that you need a large state. Splitting off parts of the UK makes this task harder as the state loses the benefit of economies of scale to deliver these outcomes.

    Therefore the argument that is popular at the moment north of the border that Labour will not be forgiven for allying with the Tories to defeat independence is not based on reason.

  15. “[In Wales] Labour is suffering from being seen as the establishment?”

    Why on Earth would anyone view them as anything else in Wales? They’ve been in office there for nearly 20 years!

  16. There’s a bit of a weird (to me) Telegraph article on the BES and ethnic minority voting

    The article suggests ethnic minorities are deserting Labour in their droves but then goes on to show bar charts for both Labour and Tory that suggests both parties are losing voters from every single ethnic minority grouping compared to 2010.

    Now given that it seems like not many would have gone to UKIP and that the LD vote is so far down from 2010 it seems unlikely they have picked up votes from anyone, I don’t see how any of the other parties could have made up the slack.

    Anyone care to explain?

  17. Anyone care to explain?

    I can hazard a guess. 1997 & 2010 were actual election years; 2014 isn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any note in the article about what they’ve done regarding the people who are saying Don’t Know Yet because the election isn’t until next year.

  18. RAF

    “There may well be. But it really doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

    You aren’t normally so “Candy”-ish in your comments! :-)

    Because something doesn’t make sense to you, in your circumstances, doesn’t make it a universal truth.

    On numerous threads on this site, I have seen similar kinds of comments about the Lib-Dems going into coalition with the Tories, and breaking their Vow on University tuition fees.

    Individual reactions to political parties and political viewpoints are a complex mix of rational and emotional reasons.

    For example, my response to those who claim that their political choices are exclusively rational, is to consider that they are delusional.

    Neither proposition is demonstrably the case. However, the suggestion that any human voter can display Vulcan behaviours in political decision making seems inherently unlikely.

  19. @ Statgeek

    If we’re quoting percentages, that’s 55% of those who voted
    True, but that holds for both Yes & No; especially when you consider the electorates are different for 2015. So I’ll just keep using 55% because it conveys the point which I’m making i.e. More people voted No than Yes.

    …and not all the ‘No’ voters are non-SNP
    What % of No voters are intending to vote SNP for Westminster?

    … and some of the ‘No’ voters voted ‘No’ in the belief that ‘The Vow’ would be fulfilled.
    It has been fulfilled. The Smith Commission has done its thing & reported.

  20. The rot set in for Scottish Labour during the Blair years , albeit with a sympathy vote rally for Brown in 2010 after the personalised media campaign against him .

    Now that Miliband has embraced austerity and become Tory lite in the eyes of many , Scottish Labour is unlikely to recover . Even more so with Murphy’s baggage and a not exactly ringing endorsement from Scottish Labour .

  21. Amber @ Shevii

    Could be, but I’ll wait to see the papers emanating from the Conference on the British Election study, before coming to a conclusion.

    The teasers for each contribution look fascinating. (The newspaper, once based in Manchester, and unmentionable on here has a list.)

  22. chasglas

    “Scottish Labour is unlikely to recover”

    Current polling shows it as the 2nd most popular party in Scotland. Additionally (unless Miliband cuts it loose due to Murphy’s claim to make all the decisions, without reference to “London”) it will be given the coverage in the UK media due to a major UK party.

    The SNP is clearly dominant at the moment, but that will pass. Which party do you see as becoming the main rival to the SNP – and why?

  23. Of course the SNP will dip as the election approaches and in some parts of the country Labour will be second but they’ll have to be a very close second to be regarded as rivals .

    Miliband is a gift to the SNP , the Conservatives and LDs are out of the running so I don’t see much changing soon .

  24. Chasglas

    I hadn’t realised you were looking at such a short timescale as just the next few months.

    I agree that it is difficult to see how, even with all the resources of the TV media behind them, LiS could make sufficient of a recovery by May.

    A Bavarianised future for both Lab & Con could make a big difference to their prospects, and Murphy’s reputed lack of an philosophical basis for any political position, might make him the very one to do for Lab, what Murdo failed to do for Con.

    Getting elected as leader and then making a 180 degree switch is always more likely to be successful than doing it the honest way round.

  25. Teasers on papers from the BES Conference. Hopefully, they’ll appear on a format that we can discuss the issues on here.

    British Election Study conference – Summary

    Here are some of the main points from the British Election Study conference. Events like this don’t always generate big headlines but, to anyone interesting in voting, it was fascinating.
    Provisional research suggests that Ukip could cost the Conservatives up to 24 seat at the election, and Labour up to 12 seats, the conference heard. Professor Geoff Evans produced the figures during a Q&A. An alternative estimate was that Labour would lose six seats, and the Conservatives 20. But he stressed that these figures were based on research that was not complete, and he said he would not trust them yet.
    The SNP could beat Labour even in seats where Labour has a lead of up to 20 points, the conference heard. Dr Stephen Fisher said this was what the British Election Study data suggested. But Greg Cook, Labour’s head of strategy, questioned this, saying he thought there would be a shift back to “normality” in Scotland before the election.
    Fewer than a quarter of the people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 say they will vote for them again, the conference heard. Professor Andrew Russell produced the figure. Professor Philip Cowley said the Lib Dems would not fight anything like a national campaign and that their plight reminded him of the British forces in the epic massacre film, Zulu. Separate research suggests the Lib Dems could be left with fewer than 20 seats after the election.
    The Greens are better than Ukip at attracting support from people who did not use to vote, the conference heard. Professor Jane Green also said the Ukip vote would be easier to squeeze than the Green vote because people who have gone to Ukip from other parties might consider going back to them in 2015.
    Andrew Cooper, David Cameron’s former director of political strategy, said a hung parliament after 2015 would suggest the political system was no longer fit for purpose. He said, regardless of what the Fixed-term Parliaments Act said, a hung parliament could result in a second election being held. But even that might not produce a majority government, he said.
    Europe does not matter to Conservative supporters as an election issue, the conference heard. Professor Hermann Schmitt said, when you study what factors influence voting, for Conservatives Europe is almost irrelevant.

  26. From Wales,
    But perhaps not next year.Happy xmas everyone.

  27. Wishing all my fellow polling obsessives a very happy Christmas. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with this strange fixation that other people are only concerned with on Election Day, if at all…

  28. Merry Christmas everyone. Hope Santa brings you all something you like.

  29. Amber and RAF

    Amber you may think that the Smith Commission fulfills the “vow”. I do not because it clearly does not match the claims of “near federalism” that Gordon Brown made and if the Westminster leaders did not want Brown to be their front man then they should have said so at the time.

    However that doesn’t really matter. Last week’s YouGov demonstrated that the vast majority of Scots ie all Scots Yes and No voters do not think so. Hence one explanation for the soar away performance of the SNP since the referendum.

    RAF you may think it irrational that every party which has combined with the Tories in the last century has suffered grievous long term damage in Scotland but it is a demonstrable fact – National Liberals, SNP in 1979, Liberal in 2010, Labour in the referendum.

    I only know that it is so.

  30. Merry Xmas one and all

  31. @ Scotslass

    I only know that it is so.

    No, you don’t. Because enough time hasn’t yet passed for you to “know” that the referendum campaign has done “grievous long-term damage” to the Labour Party.

    You may suspect this will be the outcome but you don’t “know”.

  32. Merry Christmas to all

  33. Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s to an exciting psephological 2015.

  34. Happy Christmas to all UK Polling Report contributors.

  35. Seasons Greetings to all UKPRistas from the Alps where members of Unicorn species converge over the winter solstice. Light sleety rain except around the peaks – where we choose to gather to avoid the hubbub of human encroachment.

    Sent via my Alicorn

  36. Happy Christmas Amber Star

    “I know that it is so”

    National Liberals disapeared, SNP in 1979 took 10 years to recover, Lib Dems 2010 about to be trounced, Labour from 2014 will go the same way but we shall see in the New Year..

  37. Ho, ho, ho boys and girls! Merry Xmas!

  38. Merry Christmas everyone.

  39. Happy Christmas and wishing you all the best. :-)


    Re Party Leader Christmas messages, you may find Pilgrim’s instant translation service useful:

    “David Cameron has stressed his pride in the UK’s “Christian values” in his annual Christmas message.

    = stuff the islamisists and UKPR. Vote Tory

    Deputy PM Nick Clegg said the values of love, hope and charity expressed in the Christmas story were “universal”.

    = backing the Tories was not a piece of self-serving cynicism. Anyway,show some gratitude. I expect to get a seat in the HoL and a leg up in the EC or the City, it doesn”t matter which.

    Labour’s Ed Miliband urged voters to choose “generosity and inclusion” in the looming election battle next year.”

    Inclusion, gottit?

  41. Happy Christmas to everybody. Best wishes for the New Year .

  42. Anthony – not sure if you are aware, but for some time now the UKPR site link takes you to a Nov 24th entry, rather than the latest post. It’s now done this on 3 separate computers (all using Firefox). I need to click on the headline banner to get to the current post.

    Anyway, hope everyone had a pleasant day.

  43. With no new polls around, I thought I’d have a look back at the latest Survation Scottish poll.

    They asked “Which of the following political parties would you seriously consider voting for at the next Westminster election?” – which seems to have been considered as similar to “how might you vote in your own constituency”.

    SNP voters : SNP 98% : Grn 31% : Lab 21% : UKIP 12% : LD 9% : Con 8%
    Lab voters : Lab 99% : SNP 19% : Grn 17% : Con 16% : LD 15% : UKIP 14%
    Con voters : Con 96% : UKIP 24% : LD 20% : Lab 18% : Grn 6% : SNP 5%
    LD voters : LD 91% : Con 47% : Lab 36% : Grn 36% : SNP 20% : UKIP 18%

    One might hazard a guess as to how SNP, Lab or Con supporters might vote in particular kinds of constituencies, should they decide to cast a tactical vote, but the remaining LDs look they might be a bit of a hotch-potch of very different political views, who might scatter in all directions when the starting gun is fired.

  44. In the absence of new polling evidence, please forgive me if I return to the old issue of Swingback.

    As far as I am aware, this has been championed here largely by @Robin Hood most specifically in a long piece posted on UKPR on July 7th:

    In this piece, he wrote:

    “The latest poll of polls shown on the front page gives the Conservatives a lead of -3%. On this basis the ‘swing back’ implied by historical precedent would be enough to give them a +7% lead in the May 2015 General Election, on a par with May 2010. This would once again ensure them a plurality (though not an overall majority) of parliamentary seats.”

    Later in the same post he set out detailed calculations showing that at a point ten months out from the election date there has been an average swingback of 5.02% from Labour to the Tories. Unfortunately (and unlike Stephen Fisher) he didn’t make any projections about the timing with which the anticipated swingback should manifest itself. Did he expect to see a steady erosion and then reversal of the Labour lead? Or, on his analysis was it just as likely that the whole of the shift might occur in the last month or two?

    As it happens we are now just a few days short of the half-way point between the date on which he made his projections and the date of the GE. By a nice coincidence it is still possible to write on this very day that:

    “The latest poll of polls shown on the front page gives the Conservatives a lead of -3%.”

    So, if we go by AW’s poll-of-polls, we see zero swingback over the first half of Robin Hood’s projection period.

    If and when he looks in again, I’d be very interested to hear whether he is still sticking by his early July projection (with its 7% Tory lead in the GE) or whether he would instead go with what I take to be the *logic* of his original argument and go for a swingback figure based on a new set of calculations of the historical swingback that occurred from *five* months out.

    Based on his original piece, I would anticipate he would opt for the latter (given that the argument is based on historical precedent). In that case I think he would have to acknowledge that swingback hasn’t panned out as expected over the past five months.

    PS: Apologies for inconsistent formatting. Unable to control this using a roaming device.

  45. @ Unicorn

    Very interesting; and do you know what Stephen Fisher’s model is showing now?

  46. @ Scotslass

    Last week’s YouGov demonstrated that the vast majority of Scots ie all Scots Yes and No voters do not think so [the Smith Commission delivered].

    I can’t find a YG Scottish poll from last week. The most recent I can find is dated 30th October 2014.

  47. Amber
    “do you know what Stephen Fisher’s model is showing now?”

    His most recent prediction is dated 19th December when Lab averaged 33% & Cons 31% so I would expect this to change if Labour’s lead continues to rise as it has done in the run up to Christmas:

    It still looks like being a very close election: the likelihood of a Hung Parliament is also up again, to 60% – its highest yet.

    Our central forecast is for a Hung Parliament where Labour are the largest party, with 299 seats to the Conservatives 289. The Lib Dems’ 31 seats in this scenario would be enough for a Lab-Lib Dem Coalition to command a slim majority, but not a Con-Lib Dem one.

  48. Amber Star

    You asked for reference to most recent YouGov on Scotland

    YouGov published in the UK Sun 14th December

    Sample Size: 1081 Scottish Adults
    Fieldwork: 9th – 11th December 2014

    Key findings

    1)on UK General Election 47-27 SNP over Labour
    2)on Scottish Parliament 50-28 SNP over Labour

    Both these similar to the week later Survation which was 48-24 SNP over Labour for UK General Election

    Key finding for issue under our debate was on Smith Commission for all voters

    14 per cent believe it went too far
    51 per cent NOT FAR ENOUGH
    23 per cent about right
    12 per cent don’t know

    Happy to be of help this Christmastide

  49. @Scotslass

    Well I can see where the pollster went wrong. Putting one of the options in ALLCAPS is bound to bias the responses.

    More seriously, how many of those 51% actually had any idea what was in the Smith Commission proposals? I suspect this in heading into the famous referendum type questions, where people always want a referendum regardless of topic.


    The CAPS were simply because that was precisely the issue under debate with Amber. I was surprise that she/he was not aware of the YouGov finding since Amber intervenes regularly on Scottish politics with fairly entrenched views.

    Of course, it is always possible to argue that any group of people are not well enough informed. However, it is not an argument often made in Scotland post referendum with 98 per cent registered and 85 per cent voting. There is a real political engagement here from a energised electorate.

    Anyone genuinely trying to understand the SNP surge since the referendum should reflect on that point.

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