The Christmas polling break is over. Opinium have the first poll of 2015 out tonight, conducted for the Observer. Topline figures are CON 32%(+3), LAB 33%(-3), LDEM 8%(+2), UKIP 17%(+1), GRN 4%(-1). The poll has a sharp drop in Labour’s lead, down six points since a fortnight ago, but the previous poll was that rather incongruous seven point Labour lead, so part of the change will just be a correction after an unusual poll.

Note that fieldwork for the poll was the 30th Dec to 2nd Jan, so included New Years Eve and New Years Day. There isn’t actually any real evidence that doing fieldwork on bank holidays when many people are out doing stuff produces odd results… but I’m a bit wary of it. There are examples of polls done on bank holidays producing very odd results, but there are also examples of polls done on perfectly normal days producing odd results and polls done on banks holidays producing normal looking ones.


372 Responses to “First poll of 2015 from Opinium”

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  1. Dammit. The mighty Spartans throw away a two goal half time lead against a little known team from a small suburb in Birmingham and then the first poll of the year only gives a 1% Labour lead.

    Still, onwards and upwards no doubt. The Opinium poll was taken over the Bank Holiday when most of the Darby and Jones clubs were closed. Most Tories stuck at home.

    :-)

  2. CROSSBAT

    Supporting a losing insignificant football time and Eds labour party certainly go together.

    Its not to late for a New Year resolution . It will make you feel better.

  3. Returning again to discussions about ‘swing back’.
    During the period 1930s-1980s, most people interested in politics were deeply attached to one or other of the parties, were inspired by its vision, and joined in large numbers, and virtually all voted. Media coverage was about Lab vs Con, with minimal coverage for Liberals, so if either party lost support, there was really only one place for the voters to go (or vice versa). Add to that the ability of govts to pull economic levers in the hope one would bring about a change that resulted improved VI, and then to choose the time of the election at a time when opinion polls were looking favourable, so swingback was virtually inevitable.
    Since about the 1980s there has been a slow increase in the number of political parties getting enough media coverage for voters to choose between. Media coverage has become less deferential so things politicians could get away with in the past, they can no longer (partly also because of libel law being tightened up meaning threats of libel action no longer hush things up in the way they did). Traditional media are vastly less relevant, with much more news and comment being distributed through social media (etc).
    Now voters identify less strongly with their favoured parties, Lab/Con/LibDems don’t inspire them with a vision, govts have less economic levers to pull and now no choice over when to call an election. If a party gains support it may well come from ‘did not vote’ or smaller parties, if a major party loses support, it isn’t very likely to go to the other major party.
    Most of the causes of (the appearance of) swingback have gone, or been considerably weakened. So, all told, swings might happen between now and May. But the logic that they will almost certainly (or even most likely) result in significant swingback to the Tories vs Labour looks tenuous from here.

  4. Wow.
    I hope we can continue to use this thread to discuss European tarmac finishes.

  5. @Penn

    Aghhhh… Surely not. A Tory AND Small Heath supporter? How can two such major character flaws be combined in one person?

    Beyond hope and redemption, I fear.

    :-)

  6. Just thought of another Tory and Small Heath supporter. Karren (Barroness) Brady.

    I think I rest my case.

    :-)

  7. I’m always dubious about Opinium’s polling because of their small panel size and lack of political (or equivalent) weighting to correct any bias within it. And unlike MORI they don’t seem to use as many demographic factors to match up the population. In this case there’s also the fact that they decided poll over New Year – fieldwork was 30 Dec to 02 Jan according to the tables:

    http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/sites/ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/files/vi_30_12_2014_0.pdf

    So if nothing else we may have the best possible record of how hangovers affect VI.

    But as with other polls, it’s the relative movement and the wider pattern that is interesting. The previous poll was at the top end of Opinium’s usual range and this is at the bottom, though no doubt the usual suspects will be cheering/dismissing the opposite way round from a fortnight ago.

    Opinium always seem to show a lower Green VI[1] and I wonder if this is due to their wide age ranges meaning that 18-25s are under-represented in their data. One thing they do do however is regularly do leadership ratings for all four Party leaders including Farage (only MORI also do this).

    It is noticeable that there has been a rather rapid decline of of this recently. November to December was fairly consistently down in both:

    Opinium 29% / -17 (33% / -6) [-6 / -11]

    MORI 33% / -20 (38% / -6) [-6 / -14]

    Approval / net score (previous month) [drop]

    and this latest Opinium doesn’t really much recovery – up to 30% / -14 [+1 / +3]. However UKIP’s VI doesn’t seem to have suffered much and most of the decline seems to be from non-supporters.

    However it does emphasise that even the most tabloid-driven voters (UKIP supporters) don’t see everything in terms of leaders, much as the media would like them to[2]. It also illustrates how the sort of personalised attacks we have started to see on UKIP individuals may be ineffective in reducing their VI – most supporters won’t care or will be reinforced in their belief that the powerful are out to get them.

    The now-departed(?) Pressman used to describe how a media conspiracy would operate to do down both Labour and UKIP[3] and hope enough votes flow back to the Conservatives. This sort of polling suggest how hard that will be in terms of UKIP, though it may be more effective in preventing further defection to them.

    [1] Populus show similar, but their inertia effect artificially reduces Green, SNP and to some extent UKIP.

    [2] I have long suspected that those working in the world of the Press with its insecurity, arbitrariness and over-powerful hierarchies with contempt for the rule of law, wish to impose their own model on the rest of the country.

    [3] There remain rumours that the Express Group might support them (Private Eye reckons it’s because it may be the only way Desmond can get a peerage), but suspect it unlikely, even though they would be the best match in terms of their readers.

  8. @Crossbat
    There’s always the third way. The stripy way :) The lad Berahino is a walking justification for a sensible immigration policy.

  9. Younger people (more likely to vote Labour) more likely to be out of the house, whilst older people (more likely to vote Tories) are more likely to be to home over Christmas.

  10. @Roger M

    You’re taking a sledgehammer to a peanut there, but a pleasure to read as always. I was struck by this:

    “…. it does emphasise that even the most tabloid-driven voters (UKIP supporters) don’t see everything in terms of leaders, much as the media would like them to….”

    I wonder if the general disillusion with “the political class” (which I don’t believe exists btw) is the cause. If you really believe that all politicians are thieves and paedophiles and one is as bad as the other then if you want to vote you may, in despair, have to base your vote on ideas rather than peronalities. Some people might consider that progress….

  11. Postage Included

    “Peronalities”

    Argentinian progress? :-)

  12. The Independent report on pollsters predictions (linked to by Richard, above), is interesting, but note the closing paragraph in that report:

    “Health warning When The Independent on Sunday carried out a similar exercise in April 2010, at the start of that year’s election campaign, eight out of eight pollsters predicted a Conservative overall majority.”

  13. @ON

    Oops.

    There are a few Peronalities about of course, Farage and Salmond being the two most notable….

  14. @Postageincluded

    I think that ‘general disillusion with the “political class”‘ to which you refer affects the big parties more than the ‘niche’ ones. People are fed up with the way in which their (ahem!) leaders seem so unable to enthuse anyone about anything, and are so timid about upsetting any of the media barons.

    This might lead to people starting to vote for whomever seems to have ‘a bit of character’ – not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but some historical ‘characters’ turned out not to be so good long-term.

    More generally, it occurs to me that as we look forward to the GE we need to remember that (at least) two questions are asked of the voter at any election. On this site ‘Given the realistic choice, whom would you want to be in government?’ is generally assumed to be the important one. But there is another question which is connected but rather different, and it is this: ‘Whom would you like to represent you in parliament’?

    I grew up (politically speaking) in a strongly LD voting area. There was never any chance of the LDs forming a government, but large numbers preferred to vote for someone who, they felt, would truly represent them (their values etc.), rather than vote for a candidate from the two obvious choices for government.

    This will need to be borne in mind when we look at the Greens, UKIP, the SNP and, possibly, Plaid Cymru. If people prefer to vote for someone they feel would genuinely represent their views, rather than for someone who genuinely stands a good chance of being in government (or even elected!!), then we are in for an interesting time. Personally I’m not sure the high Green, UKIP and SNP figures will hold; but they may. And the closer we get to May 7 the more the pressure will be on the two (or three) large historic parties to reach out beyond their bedrock support to ‘others’ – at the risk of alienating said bedrock support and potential voters who come from the opposite side politically speaking – in order to gain enough votes to secure a strong place in the race to form a government.

    Anthony reckons that, despite the UNS projection, we are in ‘Hung Parliament’ territory. There will be many in the Labour, LD and Conservative leadership who are very nervous as we go forward, and many among the Greens, Kippers and SNP who are rather excited about the possibilities. And, IMO, this is an excellent situation.

    And a Guid New Year to one and all!

  15. @John B:

    “I grew up (politically speaking) in a strongly LD voting area. There was never any chance of the LDs forming a government, but large numbers preferred to vote for someone who, they felt, would truly represent them (their values etc.), rather than vote for a candidate from the two obvious choices for government.”

    I grew up politically in a very different context – in apartheid S Africa, when the Nationalist grip on power seemed rock solid, and the official “opposition” not much better. The only MP that I could respect was the only MP for the Progressive party, the redoubtable Helen Suzman. I and many of my young friends worked extremely hard over many years, just to elect some like – minded people to sit alongside her. That situation strikes me as similar to the position of young greens today.

    It took something like 15 years to get those additional MP’s elected, but the record shows it was worth it.

  16. Richard

    Thanks for the link. I liked the Independent’s health warning!

    When The Independent on Sunday carried out a similar exercise in April 2010, at the start of that year’s election campaign, eight out of eight pollsters predicted a Conservative overall majority.

  17. @Richard

    Thanks for posting the link to the different pollsters’ projections. Their figures give some hints about how each of them are thinking about likely swings and changes over the coming months.

    For what it is worth, here is my abbreviated commentary on each of the statements.

    ComRes – nothing changes before May except modest Swingback or incumbency benefits for LibDems

    YouGov- SNP bubble pricked but not Ukip’s. Some Swingback to LDs

    Ipsos MORI – no commitments that give a clue about their thoughts on trends

    Populus – swingbacks for LDs and SNP. Hedges bets on Ukip Swingback

    GFK – swingbacks for all parties

    Survation – a strange projection, in my view. Bears a fairly strong resemblance to today’s Electionforecast Nowcast. This effectively implies that they expect nothing to change between now and the election. Odd…

    TNS – effectively no prediction offered.

    Opinium Research – like today’s Nowcast except SNP and Ukip bubbles pricked

    ICM – Swingback for LDs and SNP top out at present level, but otherwise present trends continue

    Lord Ashcroft Polls – no projection offered

    Summary: Realistically or not, most of them expect the SNP to implode or at least fade. Almost everyone expects the LibDems to do better than their current polling figures indicate. No one is expecting to see a Tory surge like that still being predicted by Robin Hood. I don’t entirely understand their optimism for the LDs and I can’t help wondering whether they are in tune with the post-referendum mood changes in Scotland.

  18. SQUEEZED MIDDLE ‘
    @”Younger people (more likely to vote Labour) more likely to be out of the house, whilst older people (more likely to vote Tories) are more likely to be to home over Christmas.”

    I thought “weighting” corrected the demographic imbalance in a given sample.

    ………….otherwise OP results would be completely random & uninformative………….??

  19. @Postageincluded
    “I wonder if the general disillusion with “the political class” (which I don’t believe exists btw) is the cause.”
    Do you disbelieve in “the political class” or in the disillusion? Why do you think something you disbelieve in can be the cause of anything?

  20. Given that well over half UK legislation emanates from Brussels (in reality Berlin), the result of the GE is only particularly critical with respect to whether there is a Con-led govt that can enable a real vote in 2017 on secession from the German-led EU. Therefore the more UKIP MPs there are the better from this perspective, ideally to form a Con-UKIP coalition (preferably with a more Eurosceptic PM than DC). There is an interesting article on German domination of Europe at:

    h ttp://en.youscribe.com/catalogue/tous/germany-s-fast-hold-on-the-european-continent-2518158

    A strong SNP presence at Westminster would be undesirable from the above perspective, given the long-standing Germanophilic attitude of most Celtic nationalists, even between 1933 and 1945, who seem to prefer to be autonomous vassals of a German-dominated Europe than rule from London.

  21. daodao

    Yeah! Bloody Manx!

  22. @Dave: I don’t see any issue with that logic? It’s entirely possible for someone to both not believe in the Christian God and believe that people’s love of the Christian God leads them to join the priesthood, for instance.

  23. @ Daodao

    “Therefore the more UKIP MPs there are the better from this perspective, ideally to form a Con-UKIP coalition.”

    Without taking any stand at all on your expressed goals (as I try to comply rigidly to the UKPR policy of non-partisanship), I think you may be wrong in your assumptions above.

    I haven’t yet completed my runs of Ukip projections and their effects on the VIs of other parties, but I expect to find that for each Ukip gain there is a corresponding Tory loss. If so, ‘more UKIP MPs’ would not bolster Con + UKIP totals, and might instead tilt the balance (further?) in the direction of Labour emerging as the largest party (probably scuppering the chance of any 2017 referendum at all).

    Also, turning to the second part of your comment, have you thought of the possibility that a large SNP parliamentary presence might actually *increase* the probability that a referendum takes place. Under this scenario, the SNP back a referendum on the calculation that the vote will be to leave the EU. That then justifies a call for a new IndyRef, within a couple of years – offering the party the prospect of achieving their core ambitions a generation earlier than might otherwise be feasible.

    But I shoudn’t be encouraging non-partisan comment….

  24. UNICORN

    What a bizarre post. Are you hoping that no-body actually reads the link to the pollsters projections?

    For my sins I actually subscribe to the Indy on Sunday and none of the pollsters is predicting that the SNP will “implode” as you claim.

    In fact of the six who say anything at all

    two (ICM , Survation),predict 30 or 30-40 seats for the SNP,
    two (Comres , Populus) say 20-25 or 20
    two (YouGov Opinium) say small gains or 16 seats.

    “Implode” looks like your own wishfull thinking. I note that Sporting Index now has a mid point of 30 for SNP seats.

    When in doubt follow the money!

  25. I was watching the film King Arthur on Sky last night. I was left wondering who UKIP supporters would have wanted to win. The Anglo-Saxon (English) invaders or the native British. Hard call there I should think!

  26. @ Crossbat

    I feel your pain. Some severe swingback in the second half at Blyth Spartans.

    Had swingback not happened and had Blyth still been sponsored by Viz Comic and had the FA had a sense of humour and reversed the decision not to allow the “Drink beer.. Smoke fags” Viz slogan on the Blyth shirts then I think Villa fans could have lived off that one for the next 10 years.

  27. @DAODAO: “Given that well over half UK legislation emanates from Brussels…”

    Not remotely true. The best estimate is around 15%:

    http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2009/06/what-percentage-of-laws-come-from-the-eu

  28. @Daodao

    Firstly I don’t really think the Conservatives will be in a position to form either a majority government, or be close enough to 326 to form a coalition or other such arrangement with UKIP because the seat totals will be insufficient. If they did, I do wonder if they will ever get to such a position, governing alone or otherwise, where an in-out referendum is actually offered. It would only take a few non-eurosceptic Conservative MPs to make this even more difficult than it might be anyway.

    The other thing worth pointing out is that for a large portion of the electorate, continued membership of the EU under terms as present or with deeper and tighter ties is either welcome, or not really a big issue. Perhaps these people are not much bothered who makes the laws, as long as they are not too restrictive and they have a reasonable standard of living.

    As for the 2010 result predictions – they did not really anticipate the effect of the TV debates. This time, they should be better prepared.

  29. @Unicorn

    ICM’s representative predicted 14% for the Lib Dems. That stood out as an ‘eh?’ moment.

    Given that at the last batch of polls they were on half of that, and every time they have campaigned on anything since 2010 (above councillor level), they have been fairly punished.

    Short of a Con or Lab wobbly that leaks voters to Lib Dem, I can’t see them getting much above 10%.

  30. Here’s some nifty / sleekit (delete as appropriate) campaigning from Nicola Sturgeon:

    http://news.stv.tv/scotland-decides/305256-poster-showing-tartan-seats-at-westminster-urges-voters-to-back-snp/

    “First Minister calls on No voters to back SNP at general election”

    “The SNP hopes to turn the green benches of Westminster tartan with the help of No voters who back “home rule” for Scotland.”

    “The general election of 2015 is different. It provides an opportunity for us to unite as a country.”

    “In this campaign, we can all be on the same side – the side of making Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster like never before.”

    Cheeky! :))

  31. Surely the Sun, Mirror and Sport offer a comments section for followers of 24 overpaid, semi-literate tarts kicking a ball about.

  32. Anyone seen the Green Party poster?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6R_zYDCEAEdvFY.jpg:large

    I like the B-roads.

  33. @Scotslass

    In the post you object to I expressed no views of my own, but I am sorry if I stepped on your toes.

    As it happens, I stand by the SNP-related part of my summary – which to remind you was that “..most of them expect the SNP to implode, or at least fade.”

    Bear in mind – if you will – that today’s Electionforecast Nowcast has the SNP standing at 42 seats right now, and my own (Continuing Trends) projection the other day was for them to get 56 seats.

    In summarising the pollsters’ position (relative to where things stand right now) then I think it is perfectly accurate to say that they are expecting SNP support to implode (where they see the number of seats dropping from 42 to 16 or so) or, alternatively, to ‘fade’ (where they predict a modest drop to 30 seats or so).

    At no point did I say that anyone was predicting SNP drops since the last election. It is just that the commentators seem to be in agreement that the current heady level of support will have faded come Election Day.

    If you read to the end of my comment you will see that I even expressed reservations whether they had got it right in tuning into the Scottish political mood.

    In short, I think you have totally misinterpreted my post.

  34. @ Statgeek

    “ICM’s representative predicted 14% for the Lib Dems. That stood out as an ‘eh?’ moment.”

    Yep – agreed. Note that today’s Electionforecast projection has them at 13.6%.

    So. It could be that the ICM spokesperson buys into their regression-to-mean account.

    The (simplified) story here is that the LD VI is about 15 points lower than it was in 2010, so r-to-m ‘automatically’ gives them back about half of this (say 7%).

    So, 7% (current VI .. -ish) + 7% (r-to-m) = 14%

    That was part of the point of my earlier post: to get a clue of the kind of thinking that underpins their projections.

  35. @UNICORN
    In the light of whom they are very largely destroying, you will find a forest of ostriches, bums in the air and heads in the sand. The supporters of the opposing party will continue to post anti SNP sentiments right up to the last second on May 15th. I do hope that the kind of vicious vitriol reserved for the LD’s 5 years ago, is not forthcoming for the Scots Nats.

  36. ROLY

    I understand that the official game specifies 22 tarts-plus a bloke for them to scream at & roll about in front of, when an opposing tart makes their boots dirty.

  37. Roly – nothing lke broad brush is there?

    There are many LP supporters on here who have not posted anti-SNP sentiments and in fact a lot of us have recognise how good politically AS has been and I have stated in the past that I wish Nicola Sturgoen was Labour and not SNP.

    Expecting a decline from the current SNP height is not anti-SNP and in fact some SNP posters themselves have said they expect some reduction.
    Whether small middling or large is more debatable.

  38. @Unicorn

    “In summarising the pollsters’ position (relative to where things stand right now) then I think it is perfectly accurate to say that they are expecting SNP support to implode (where they see the number of seats dropping from 42 to 16 or so) or, alternatively, to ‘fade’ (where they predict a modest drop to 30 seats or so).”

    Strange, given that the SNP will go from 6 seats to 16-30 seats and that’s seen as a ‘fade’. Are we talking VI fade, or seat concentration preventing the VI from realising the UNS predictions (UNS fade perhaps)?

    Personally, I have predicted 50 seats, but that was me having a fun attempt at a prediction. If I had to really predict the SNP seats and not having a clue as to how much UNS is off the mark, I would say about 40, plus or minus five.

    I’m fairly sure they will get more than the Lib Dems, based on current polling.

  39. Another poll another decline in the Labour VI.

    I still predict a total collapse of Westminster Labour in Scotland and the Tories to become the largest party in 2015.

    The Lib/Dems are finished as a credible opposition.

  40. ROLY
    “you will find a forest of ostriches, bums in the air and heads in the sand.”

    Well, that at least explains why they are opting for the squeezed bottom.

  41. Statgeek,

    Of course, the Greens would be the first to show up in their cardigans and cagoules to lie down in front of the machinery.

  42. @Shevii

    Indeed, I was looking forward to dining out on that Blyth result when I returned to work on Monday and rejoined my old Brummie work colleagues. I’d got some mileage out of City’s 8-0 home defeat at the hands of Bournemouth earlier in the season, and purchased many a box of After Eight mints to present to some of their hapless fans. Unfortunately they’ve improved somewhat since then and they’re tending to dine out more on me these days!

    Tark – your valiant attempt at triangulation will never work, certainly not when applied to West Midlands football. Politics possibly, but never the great game of football! :-)

    Rawnsley as interesting as usual in the Observer today. Pining for Tony it appears!

    :-)

  43. @ Statgeek

    “Strange, given that the SNP will go from 6 seats to 16-30 seats and that’s seen as a ‘fade’. Are we talking VI fade, or seat concentration preventing the VI from realising the UNS predictions (UNS fade perhaps)?”

    I think I made I clear at the beginning of my summary above that I was looking for signs concerning how the various pollsters were ‘thinking about likely swings and changes over the coming months’.

    With the SNP seat-counts you mention there would be a healthy improvement on their current representation and, at the same time, a significant ‘fade’ in comparison with the Electionforecast Nowcast, your own projection, my earlier projection using ‘continuing trends’. I don’t see anything misleading about using the term ‘fade’ to describe what (almost all) these pollsters say they expect to happen between now and May.

    I have no way of telling whether they are talkng about VI fade or UNS-related seat conversion problems. My own hunch is that the post-referendum SNP changes have been dramatic that the predictions would be comparable whether you use uniform or proportion models.

    In a few weeks’ time Lord Ashcroft’s new set of constituency polls should provide concrete evidence about the variation of change across the different seats.

  44. Statgeek,

    Thanks for the links to the SNP and Green posters. It is good to see that the noble art of the political poster is alive and kicking. Indeed, contrary to early predictions that such posters would become obsolete in the age of social media, it seems that the web has given them a new lease of life – allowing them to contact the parts roadside sites cannot reach.

    A good poster needs to have a clear and simple message, be humourus, bold – even unto the point of exaggeration – but still contain a grain of truth that can be immediately identified.

    By that measure I have to say that the SNP effort is more effective. While the Green poster is clearly simple, and fairly clear, it does seem counter-intuitive that a party generally seen as “anti-car” should use a road-sign as the core of its message.

    I look forward to some interesting images from the forthcoming campaign.

  45. I think that the SNP will do well in 2015. And I think this will potentially improve Scots’ view of UK politics. In making Westminster an important & desirable destination for their MPs, the SNP may be ‘rehabilitating’ WM – & London based politics – in the perception of Scottish voters.

  46. Talk of a German dominated EU seems oddly opposed to history and fact. The Germand supported the developments that led to the EU specifically to control them by joining with other European nations.

    It’s very hard to reconcile the views expressed upthread with actual events or facts.

  47. @Alec

    You have a very polite way with words….

  48. ALEC

    Draghi’s oft announced & much postponed intention to commence buying sovereign bonds is a classic example of the nonsensical imbalance between monetary union & fiscal sovereignty.

    Which bonds to buy ?-there aren’t any EZ Bonds-there are German Bonds & Spanish Bonds & Italian Bonds & ……….Greek Bonds-all with different risk profiles-and all representing divergent economic & fiscal conditions. Which ones does he buy?

    And the Germans will say no -you shouldn’t be doing this-again-when the ECB meet on 22nd January.

    It really does need to be one country to make any sense.

  49. I can see why come the election, Greens and UKIP voters might decide to vote for other parties which would be more likely both to represent their views and get elected. I don’t see why the SNP should do this. Nor do I see the other parties in Scotland uniting in order to stop the SNP.

    For these reasons and irrespective of the atmosphere in Scotland which still seems pretty fevered i fail to see why the pollster should expect the SNP vote to drop from its current total.

    I did ask Amber why this should be so and what arguments Labour might use to persuade SNP voters but at the time she felt that UKPR comments policy prevented her from saying. Personally I would like a fairer UK as well as a fairer Scotland so I would like the Scots to vote for that and support Labour. I am not sure they will be that altruistic.

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