YouGov’s first poll of the year is out tonight, with topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%.

YouGov have made a couple of methodological changes to start the election year. The first and most interesting is to include UKIP in the main prompt for voting intention. Prompting is something I’ve written about here many times before, most recently here. It’s tricky because it really can make a difference, yet there is no real way of knowing when it is appropriate and when it isn’t. There are instances when pollsters have overestimated the level of support for minor parties because they prompted when they probably shouldn’t have (YouGov & UKIP in the 2004 European election, and the Greens in the 2007 Scottish election), but go back to the 1980s and polls that failed to prompt for the Liberals & SDP tended to underestimate their support. It’s clear from history that you can both get it wrong by prompting when you shouldn’t, and get it wrong by failing to prompt when you should.

I’ve written before about the difficulties of making the judgement call on this. There is no obvious way of drawing the line – whenever I write about it in the comments section people make helpful comments saying “why not if the party is in third place” or “if the party is over x%” or whatever… but all these are utterly arbitrary – perfectly reasonable in themselves, but no help in getting it right. It’s not even clear what we should be looking for – it it a certain level of support, or a level of public awareness and familiarity, or a level of media coverage?

In the event however the difficult decision pretty much made itself. It’s something YouGov have been quietly testing on and off over the years, and it seems to be making less of a difference. Testing at the end of last year showed about the same level of support for UKIP in prompted polls as in unprompted polls. Presumably UKIP are established enough in the public mind for prompting not to make a difference, at which point the decision became a simple one. Note that the fairly low UKIP score in today’s YouGov poll – 14% – is not a result of the change, in our testing last year we were showing UKIP at around 17% when prompted, at at time when they were around 16%-17% in unprompted polls.

With YouGov shifting over it means three companies (YouGov, ComRes and Survation) now include UKIP in the main prompt, Populus, Opinium, Ipsos MORI, ICM and Lord Ashcroft polls do not. When ComRes made the switch they too seemed to show very little difference in levels of UKIP support (though their online polls seem to have made some changes to turnout weighting at the same time) but just because prompting doesn’t make much difference to YouGov polls, it does not follow that it won’t make a difference anywhere else – in particular, the impact of prompting may be very different in an internet survey with two pages to click through than in a telephone survey with a human interviewer. What is the correct approach for one sort of polling will not necessarily be the correct approach for another company’s polls.

The other change in YouGov’s methods is much smaller, a tidying up of the sample spec to try and reduce some of the oversampling and reducing the amount of weighting needed. The overall quota targets are the same and the weighting remains exactly the same so there should be no difference at all in the published voting intention figures. The only difference anyone might notice is in crossbreaks: YouGov have started to include ethnicity in the sample quotas for London, which may have an impact in the London crossbreak.

UPDATE: I somehow managed to miss the first Populus poll of this year this morning – figures there were CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. Tabs are here.


214 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 31, LAB 34, LD 7, UKIP 14, GRN 8”

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  1. On Council tax there is always the 1% option….

    £500 a year for a £50k house, £1,500 for a £150k house….£5k for a £500k house and £20k for £2m mansion!

    That would fully fund Local Government and let you cut Income Tax.

    Peter.

  2. The Scottish electionforecast figures (that people seem to attribute to unicorn in a strange case of plagiarism by proxy) are of interest for the differences between the current figures and the Ashcroft poll, (and the revised figures based off the data). We’ll get a lot better idea of how the various seats lie the poll. That’s the beauty of data based predictions, the more data you get the better the predictions will be. There will be differences between Ashcroft and UNS, going out and getting that data is a lot better method of prediction than hoping ones gut improves over the years. Until you get the specific data, a data driven model will perform no better than UNS.

  3. thats odd, I thought this was a topic discussing the latest yougov polls. I seem to have clicked on another scotland/snp topic by accident.

  4. @ Couper 2802

    I thought one of the best areas for Labour support was London. So the move by Murphy to highlight the flaw in the mansion tax plan – in that it disproportionately effects London seems a stupid move.

    The above is the sort of stuff that makes the SNP look like they’ll scrape the bottom of any barrel in their efforts to make a partisan, anti-Labour comment.

    Really, what would be the point of Labour proposing a mansion tax, if they didn’t want their activists to tell people about it?

  5. Skippy

    Are you referring to Wales, Scotland? or London, Scotland?

  6. Having looked at Unicorn’s list of Scottish seats I am very confident indeed that at least 30 will be won by parties other than the SNP – even in a worst case scenario from a non-nationalist perspective. In reality, I believe the SNP will be very fortunate to reach 20 seats in May.

  7. @Allan

    I didn’t think to look at O&S. TBH I thought it was Lib Dem unless they hit lower than 3%.

    @Unicorn

    “these are not *my* figures and so nothing to do with what *I* think”

    No bother. I was just questioning the data, rather than the person. :))

    For what it’s worth I rule out nothing when it comes to polling up this way. If in 2001 someone had predicted the happenings of 2007, 2011 an now what might be a bit of a happening in 2015, few would have believed it.

    @Oldnat / Skippy

    The problem with all these threads is that no matter what seems to happen elsewhere, until they get into OM territory without Scotland, Scotland’s VI is topical. So in that sense, I blame the English. :p

  8. GRAHAM

    “Having looked at Unicorn’s list of Scottish seats I am very confident indeed that at least 30 will be won by parties other than the SNP ”

    ” I believe the SNP will be very fortunate to reach 20 seats in May.”
    _____

    Who wins the remaining 9 seats?

  9. SKIPPY
    thats odd, I thought this was a topic discussing the latest yougov polls. I seem to have clicked on another scotland/snp topic by accident
    _____

    That’s okay you’re more than welcome to join in.

  10. @Graham

    Dare I ask, but is that based on polling data, a methodology no one but you is privy to, or something else?

    I could say the same of SLAB (20 seats would be lucky) and would likely get shouted down by others, but I would be saying it from a perspective of current polling trends.

    Political Betting had the SNP on 28.5 to 30.5 the other day. That’s way above 20 seats. Today’s poll suggested 46 seats, and all the other polls for the past 2-3 months have been similar, with one or two rare exceptions.

    UNS cannot predict that 46 is going to happen, but even a non-betting man (like myself) would fancy the SNP to get above 20 seats, based on current polling. For current polling, I still favour 40 (+/- 5).

  11. AC
    I am referring to different scenarios – worst-case from a non SNP perspective – and realistic more likely outcome.

  12. GRAHAM
    AC
    I am referring to different scenarios – worst-case from a non SNP perspective – and realistic more likely outcome
    ______

    I know that but looking at all your scenarios there is still 9 missing seats?

    What have you done with them? Maybe STATGEEK stole them for his charts? I don’t know??

  13. @AMBER

    Its less telling people about it and more the openly saying they are taxing a region of the UK. There will be those who come under the mansion tax in Scotland but his insecurity in wanting to say he’ll raise finance through taxation has spoilt this one.

    If it was a fight picked over a stronger policy then I’d say good good but as is hes picked a fight over a policy that seems based on the SNP more than anything.

    The Holyrood policy should not be linked here; instead he should be saying vote Labour and you’ll see Holyrood budgets improve on health as they are planning to tax the wealthy. Thats a good thing to campaign on, not anyone elses fault the party smudged it.

    Anyway I think Abbott will take the bigger hit in the long-term, daft thing for her to stick the knife in. Watch the right turn the entire mansion tax into a regional political issue.

  14. @Statgeek

    I am making my own judgement and relying on little else!
    Nevertheless even today – without any swingback that may or may not arise – I consider it unlikely in extremis that the SNP would win seats such as : Orkney& Shetland – Ross&Skye – Dumfrieshire – Inverclyde – Glenrothes – Kircaldy – the 2 Paisley seats -Berwickshire -Edinburgh E/N/SW – NE Fife -Ayr &Carrick-,Central Ayrshire –

  15. AC
    I am suggesting that in a worst case scenario the SNP could win 29 seats with other parties 30
    A more realistic outcome imho would be SNP 20 – Other parties 39.

  16. GRAHAM

    “A more realistic outcome imho would be SNP 20 – Other parties 39.”
    ____

    You see you got there in the end. ;-)

  17. I am making no predictions for the SNP because with a fairly even distribution of votes the SNP has a sort of national tipping point.

    Below even a relatively high level of vote the SNP get very few seats but just a few percentage points more and it turns into a flood.

    So I’ll go for a spread. Success will be!

    Seven seats and 500k votes, more votes and seats than last time.
    Twelve seats and 900k votes, more seats and votes than ever before (usually worth bragging about but not with expectations so high).
    Over 1m votes for the first time ever.
    More seats than Labour and More votes than Labour
    30 seats a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster.
    More than 1.4m votes, higher than Labour have ever had!
    More than 1.5m votes, higher than any party ever in Scotland.

    After that we’re into a cure for cancer that turns lead into gold!

    Peter.

  18. Goldman Sachs is predicting that the Conservative Party will win the UK general election in May, but said that the outcome is “more uncertain than any in a hundred years”.

    It said that while the likelihood of any party gaining an overall majority “appears low”, the Tories are “marginally more likely than Labour to win the most seats and lead the next government”.
    In a research note issued by the investment bank on Tuesday, analyst Kevin Daly said: “The outcome is unusually uncertain because party support is more fragmented than ever previously in the modern era.”

    Goldman said that despite the high level of uncertainty, it expected a strong economic recovery in the months leading up to the May 7 election to lend weight to the incumbent Tories.

    It also dismissed the threat of Ukip, noting that the anti-EU party only has two sitting MPs and that supporters may be more inclined to vote for one of the major parties when the general election comes around.

    “Given the demographic profile and past voting record of the majority of Ukip voters, these votes appear more likely to shift towards the Conservatives than to Labour,” said Goldman.

    Mr Daly also said the “unusually wide gap between the Conservatives and Labour in terms of perceived economic competence” echoed the situation in 1992, when the Tories defied the polls to claim victory.

    “This gap [in perceived economic competence] has played an important role in past UK general elections – most notably in 1992 – skewing the final outcome relative to opinion polling prior to the official vote,” he said.

    Goldman said there were some factors working in Labour’s favour, including a constituency bias that it estimated would boost its vote by 2-3 percentage points.

    It also suggested that should Ed Miliband perform well during the pre-election television debates, he could alter the perception that he is less “prime ministerial” than David Cameron. Goldman added that the decline in support for the Liberal Democrats was likely to have shifted voters to Labour, especially in marginal seats

  19. @Peter Cairns

    “On Council tax there is always the 1% option….

    £500 a year for a £50k house, £1,500 for a £150k house….£5k for a £500k house and £20k for £2m mansion!”

    Didn’t that (or something very similar) used to be called ‘The Rates’?
    I think I read somewhere that the two-stage move from rates to council tax had provided an enormous reduction in taxes on top end property in top end locations but I can’t find data.
    It does seem distinctly odd that a non-progressive flat tax on property values is too left wing for supposedly LOC parties.

  20. I only come here for the saltirical wit.

  21. Not that social media is accurate, but sometimes it’s not wholly wrong!

    The constituencies I’ve seen listed as having a pollin the field are –

    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
    Argyll & Bute
    Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale
    Ayrshire North & Arran
    Falkirk
    Edinburgh North & Leith
    Dundee West
    at least 1 Glasgow seat.

    If accurate, that should give quite a good Scottish snapshot.

  22. @LEFTYLAMPTON

    I only come here for the saltirical wit.

    ————————————————–

    :)

  23. Scottish snapshot?

    But no relevance to our National GE.

    Think British guys, they are the polls that count. Regional stuff is not robust.

  24. @Peter Cairns:
    The problem, of course, is what happens when one buys a £50k house and it suddenly becomes worth £250k because a highway went in. This sort of problem happens in the US, and though the issue was often farmland rather than individual houses in many areas. This was /really/ an issue back in the 70s (when inflation was galloping and the result was people getting priced out of their homes since the value of said house surged and pay didn’t keep up with it). Gentrification is a problem in such a case.

    I understand the principle of something like that adding value, but to offer my own example…I live in a house built in the 1950s that was my grandparents’ (it has had three owners: The builders, who lived here for about 30 years, my grandparents [my grandmother lived here from 1983 until she passed in 2008], and myself. I would very much like to live here for the rest of my life, and any improvement to the land value is really of no benefit to me in the foreseeable future. If something were to happen to trigger a land value spike in the area (it is hard to imagine what, though I suppose some sort of mass transit line going in a few blocks away would be a sufficient catalyst), my problem is that the added value to my property actually becomes a net /burden/ since now I have to pay tax on land value that I never plan to redeem.

  25. @ Unicorn. According to Wales polls Labour is flatlining against 2010 while PC has shown a modest 2% increase. And although a 1450 majority looks small, its actually 6%and unless Labour was to acquire much of that increase from PC voters which looks unlikely both statistically and on the basis of the tribalism in that seat (the two parties hate each other in a way that would seem odd in many other parts of Wales), they (Lab) need a big increase in vote to take it; none of the Welsh polling predictors think this one is changing.

  26. @ Alan

    “The Scottish electionforecast figures (that people seem to attribute to unicorn in a strange case of plagiarism by proxy)..”

    With absolutely no encouragement on my part…

    In the original comment I made it clear where these figures came from and I have repeated this in another post since then.

    To everyone other than @Alan, please be accurate and fair in your attributions. The Electionforecast authors clearly put in a great deal of work to maintain their database and update the information on a daily basis and they deserve to be recognised for their contribution.

    The full source would be something like: ‘a subset of a Nowcast table downloaded at approximately 1am, January 6th, 2014 from:

    http://electionforecast.co.uk/tables/current_vote_by_seat.html

    But at the very least you should acknowledge where the figures come from.

  27. BARREL

    “Goldman Sachs is predicting that the Conservative Party will win the UK general election in May.”

    They akso predicted Brazil would win the World Cup last year………

  28. “The constituencies I’ve seen listed as having a pollin the field are”

    I see polls in the field quite often. Or did you mean Poles?

  29. lefty

    “I only come here for the saltirical wit.”

    Yes, I like a bit of juvenile Scottish humour meself.

  30. @Oldnat

    With Ming retiring, I’d have liked to see North East Fife. Had the boundaries gone through, it might have turned into a 3 or even 4 way fight. As it is, we’re expecting an SNP gain, but it’s a fairly Lib Dem-heavy seat, hence it would have been nice to see it.

    Having said that, if Danny Alexander’s seat is getting covered, it might be just as useful, and it will certainly help to see how Gordon might go.

  31. @Oldnat

    I know of a few people who have been polled in Glasgow Central (Sarwar’s seat), so it would seem that’s the Glasgow one.

    If that list is true, I would be very surprised that Gordon wasn’t polled.

  32. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Tories and Labour tied, Lib Dems still in fifth: CON 33%, LAB 33%, LD 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%

  33. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Tories and Labour tied, Lib Dems still in fifth: CON 33%, LAB 33%, LD 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%

  34. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Tories and Labour tied, Lib Dems still in fifth: CON 33%, LAB 33%, LD 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%

  35. First with the YouGov. That’s a first for me, I think.

    :-)

  36. National Poll (YouGov) 05 – 06 Jan:
    CON – 33% (+2)
    LAB – 33% (-1)
    UKIP – 13% (-1)
    GRN – 8% (-)
    LDEM – 7% (-)

  37. I’m on fire today.

  38. Damn you and your quick fingers…

  39. 3 yesterday, tie today all within moe.

  40. Anyone seen the YG poll?

  41. @NeilA

    “Damn you and your quick fingers…”

    Comes from years of pick-pocketing. Fingersmith was my nickname at school!

    :-)

  42. It’s now looking like the

  43. UKIP look like they towing some what.

    (Don’t tell @Ashley the Greens are still ahead of Lib Dems. It does upset him ;-) )

  44. Ooops what happened?

    Anyway what I was saying…It’s now looking like the Greens are heading for a permanent lead over the Lib’s, at least in the Yougov polls.

  45. CATMANJEFF

    “(Don’t tell @Ashley the Greens are still ahead of Lib Dems. It does upset him ;-) )”
    ____

    Poor Ashley lol

  46. CB11
    “where does that leave all us psephological soothsayers and economic forecasters??”

    Looking at trends, events and the price of oil dear boy, and watching out for new men who set their sales to the prevailing wind.

  47. #sales – sails.

  48. Well that is the lowest UKIP number since 5 Oct with Yougov, despite now being prompted.

    I wonder if that represents a real fall, or if that is the impact of improving the accuracy of ethnicity in the sample. We can see from the BES data that non white ethnicity is also a key determinant of a voter being unlikely to vote for UKIP.

  49. Number Cruncher tweeting that the latest YG has “the lowest YouGov VI for UKIP since 5th October”

    An interesting response to UKIP being prompted for!

    Could it be that, without prompting, some respondents looked at Con/Lab/LD and thought “None of them!”, then picked UKIP as the best known among “Others”?

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