Back now, and ready to go through the rest of the Sunday polls apart from the voting intentions and pick out some of the more interesting findings:

  • YouGov’s poll for the Sun on Sunday asked about tactical voting (it didn’t actually use the term, as I think many people use it to refer to different things. It asked if people were voting for their first choice, or a different party that would beat a party they disliked from winning). 77% of people said they were voting for their first choice, 11% tactically. A word of warning about interpreting this – 8% of Tory voters said they were voting tactically, 11% of Labour voters, 12% of Lib Dem voters, 11% of UKIP voters… but we don’t know if that means 8% of Tory voters are voting Tory for tactical reasons, or that 8% of would-be Tory voters are actually going to vote for someone else for tactical reasons (or a mixture).
  • The YouGov Sunday Times poll had a number of questions on British Muslims and on terrorism. People were split over how well integrated British Muslims are into British society and the extent to which they share British values. 46% of people think the majority or almost all British Muslims share British values, 46% of people think that only a minority or hardly any British Muslims share British values. 42% of people think that most or the majority of British Muslims are well integrated, 50% think a minority or hardly any are. UKIP voter’s attitudes towards British Muslims are far more negative than supporters of other parties – 73% of UKIP supporters say most Muslims don’t share British values, 79% say most British Muslims aren’t well integrated. Nigel Farage’s comments about areas of Britain being like ghettos with sharia law were rejected by most respondents – 33% though they were broadly true, 41% thought they were false. 75% of UKIP’s own supporters believed them.
  • There was a particularly interesting immigration question in the Sun on Sunday poll, essentially asking people to choose between a multicultural approach and an integrationist approach. Slightly to my surprise a multicultural approach was the more popular – 36% thought it better that immigrants leave their own cultures and traditions behind and integrate fully into British culture, 48% thought it better than immigrants retain and celebrate some of their own cultures and traditions.
  • Going back to the terrorism and surveillance questions in the Sunday Times poll, just over half of respondents (52%) thought that the security services do need more access to the public’s communications in order to fight terrorism, 31% thought they already have all the access they need. A similar proportion (53%) would support requiring internet and phone companies to retain users data for 12 months and provide it to the security services on request, though by 51% to 35% people think accessing someone’s personal communications should require the consent of the Home Secretary. While people think accessing personal communications data should require the consent of the Home Secretary, when asked whether they trust the authorities to use the information they obtain responsibly they actually trust Ministers & the Home Office less than the police and the intelligence services. 50% trust the police to use the information responsibly, 63% the intelligence services, 45% the Home Office, Ministers and civil servants.
  • In the ComRes poll they asked (via my old favourite the agree/disagree statement, grr!) whether people agreed with the statement that “Ed Miliband is using the issue of the NHS for his political advantage, not because he cares about it”. 49% of people agree, 26% disagree. That looks bad, but I have my doubts about questions about politicians’ motives. I suspect they largely just reflect a general cynicism towards the motives of all politicians, rather than opinions about particular politicians or decisions. YouGov asked a very similar question in their Sun on Sunday poll, but asked it about Ed Miliband AND David Cameron, and got answers that were almost the same. 46% thought Ed Miliband was using the NHS for political gain, 19% doing what he thought was best for it, 20% both equally. 48% thought David Cameron was using the NHS for political gain, 15% doing what he thought best for it, 19% both equally. As you’d expect, in both cases supports of the Conservative and Labour party both thought their own leader was doing what was best, but the opposing leader was just using it for political reasons.
  • The debate over the debates rolls on, and so do poll questions about it. Opinium asked about whether particular leaders should be invited – 61% think the leader of UKIP should, 46% the leader of the Greens, 30% the leader of the SNP, 23% the leader of Plaid Cymru. The current proposals for debates between Con, Lab, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders was supported by 37% of people, opposed by 31%. YouGov in the Sun on Sunday asked people to pick from some possible combinations. The most popular individual option was the widest, the Lib, Lab, Con, UKIP, Green and the SNP and Plaid. This was picked by 35% though, so while it was the most popular single option, 49% favoured a narrower option – 20% favoured the proposed Con, Lab, LD & UKIP, 17% Con, Lab, LD, UKIP and the Greens (but not the two nationalists). 12% supported an even narrower option, excluding UKIP. In their Sunday Times poll YouGov found people still think David Cameron should take part even without Natalie Bennett – if she is excluded 31% think Cameron should refuse to take part, 52% think he should take part anyway. However, asking about the other side of the deadlock, if Cameron refuses to take part without Bennett 52% think the broadcasters should call his bluff and invite her, 28% think the debates should go ahead without him, 8% think the debates should be cancelled.

193 Responses to “Gleanings from the Sunday polls”

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  1. More on how the polls are all wrong

    http://blogs.channel4.com/michael-crick-on-politics/opinion-polls-underestimated-tories-overestimated-labour/4749

    “The trends suggest there may have been a fundamental flaw in opinion polling in 2014 ”

    “The Conservatives got around 2 per cent more in real elections than the polls suggested they would achieve, yet equally Labour performed around 2 per cent worse in reality than polls forecast. The Greens also performed better when people actually voted than they had in polls beforehand ”

    Roger? Anthony? Is he right, or is he looking for some hope for the Tories/ spinning the bad polls for the Tories?

  2. @ Richard

    I think it is worth paying some attention to the ‘shy Tory’ argument.

    Unfortunately, the piece you cited doesn’t provide enough detail for others to evaluate the arguments. It seems that the Tories did better than predicted (and Labour worse) (a) in five by elections and (b) in the European elelctions.

    Concerning (a) I am perfectly prepared to accept that by election polls are “odd beasts” and shouldn’t be treated as accurate predictions of what will happen in the real poll. The preamble to the VI questions is typically worded with special reference to the by election itsell, and sometimes also to the circumstances triggering the event. This is so non-standard that it is probably not safe to generalise from these polls. Fortunately little use is made of such polls after the by election itself has taken place. So, I don’t think that pollsters and modellers are any any way misled by misinformation conveyed by such polls.

    A systematic bias like (b) could well be more serious. A question I would ask is whether pollsters use their standard corrections for likelihood of voting. European electons hav low turnouts and it may be that the turnout filter needs to be set differently in such cases. Labour polling respondents may not be quite so assiduous in going out to cast their vote. If the standard procedures are better adapted to General Elections, then it may be that the observed ‘shy Tory’ discrepancy would no longer be a consideration for May 7.

  3. people always say the polls are wrong when they don’t like what they see. I remember the republicans saying the same thing in 2012. It didn’t stop Nate Silver predicting every single state right. I wish we had someone of his acumen this side of the pond

  4. Richard,

    Crick seems to be assuming that even though Posters are well aware of these effects there continual efforts to address accuracy have had no effect!

    In addition as Anthony has often reminded us we all know that “if there was an election tomorrow” is an artificial question and that people’s views are actually different come Election Day.

    Six months out probably a third are still to decide if they will vote and how and it can still be near a fifth in the last week.

    So he seems to be saying the pollsters don’t know what he knows….but they do!

    Peter.

  5. Ashcroft seems all over the place: the idea that the Tories have lost around 15% of their VI between the last two polls doesn’t convince.

  6. Crick is by no means a Tory sympathiser, but he does like to make mischief.

    A look at the UKPR European election post-mortem (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/8845) gives me a Tory underestimation of 1.73 and a Lab overestimation of 1.5, which is less than Hayward is claiming. It also doesn’t account for the fact that most if not all of the polling companies have changed their methodologies over the last year.

  7. FUNTYPIPPIN
    Allan Christie
    .‘Not an activist myself but as young voter I would agree with this.‘
    ____
    “For some reason I’ve always assumed you were an older man so I think I owe you an apology”
    ___

    That’s okay it’s probably to do with my erudite comments. I’ll be hitting the mid twenties come June so I don’t know how long I can hang onto the young tag.

  8. Richard – no idea. I like Rob, and he normally talks some sense. I shall see what he has actually said, rather than the Crick version.

  9. @ Richard,

    Sounds like Hayward’s basing this estimate on the assumption that the general election electorate is identical to the European election and by-election electorates, which… lol.

    In the 2009 European elections the four pollsters who polled in the final week overestimated Labour by an average of 2%. In 2010 those same firms underestimated Labour by 2%. If he’d made his current assumptions back then, he’d have overestimated the Tory lead by 4% and predicted a Conservative majority for Cameron.

    With the rise of the smaller parties confusing the polling situation the polls may well be systematically biased, but anyone trying to extrapolate from the European elections to the general election doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  10. @ Richard

    Another point is that a serious commentator – knowing all about MoEs and so on – would be very reluctant indeed to draw any conclusions on the basis of just 5 by election results. A quick (and by no means comprehensive) check indicates that the Tory VI dropped (relative to prior polls) in at least the cases of Eastleigh and Heywood and Middleton. If the mean improvement includes drops in some cases, then there must be an awful lot of variability in these figures. That alone would preclude drawing any sensible conclusions from them.

    As I said above, I would take with a pinch of salt the by election part of the argument.

    I would want to have a closer look at the European election projections before passing judgment about any “shy Tory” effect there. But basing part of the case on by election data doesn’t give me any confidence that your commentator is treating the matter seriously.

  11. CROSSBAT

    Agree with your comment regarding young people and politics.

    Yes the indy ref did engage with young voters and you only have to look at the 12,000 who turned up at the Hydro to watch and take part in one of the debates.

    People from all walks were engaging in conversations all over the country because each person knew that their vote would count.

    Too often younger and other people don’t take part in the political process because they don’y think they represent them or my vote is just wasted.

    Maybe if politicians could visit Schools together in a non partisan way and engage with younger voters then all could bold well for future generations but until then I’m afraid politics is seen for the elite and dinosaurs.

  12. Frankly Ashcroft’s national polls do make me wonder whether his constituency polls are equally flawed.

  13. @ Graham,

    I believe they’re done by different pollsters, so if they’re flawed they’re probably differently flawed.

    And it’s a little unfair perhaps to say his weekly polls are flawed. As far as I know there’s nothing systemically wrong with them, they’re just volatile to the point of being completely uninformative when taken individually. Which is more or less what you’d expect, given the sample size.

    Populus, on the other hand…

  14. SCOTSLASS
    Allan
    Great post at 12.10 am. I actually took it at face value!
    It seems that the celebrations at Labour HQ at only loosing 20 or so seats to the SNP under Panelbase have been muted by possible loss of 40 or under Survation!

    Those finding refuge in a “trend” should note that the Survation survey is three days later than Panelbase. In other words the “trend” might be a doubling of the SNP lead in three days!

    Alternatively we might just sensibly conclude that the SNP have a double digit lead, are set to cause a revolution in Westminster Parliamentary politicsand that, under the new dynamic leadership of Jim Murphy, Labour is set to achieve the impossible – less seats than Ian Gray managed in the Scottish Parliament.
    __________

    You have summed it up in a nutshell. Bravado and hysterics, er sorry Happy were the buzz words at labour HQ when the pbase poll came out.

    I think the expectations are so low now with Scottish Westminster Labour that if they win between 10 and 20 seats in Scotland then disaster had been adverted.

    Personally I still think Labour will pull back a lot of the SNP’s lead over the next couple of months and Westminster is Labour’s playground in terms of Scottish seats but I reckon they will get a big dent on polling day.

  15. “It didn’t stop Nate Silver predicting every single state right. I wish we had someone of his acumen this side of the pond”

    The best predictor in the states is ethnicity so all you need to do is figure the percentages of Rep/Dem for each ethnicity in each state and do a head count.

  16. “After last weeks outlier…” This one looks no better! Greens up to 11%, Lab AND Cons below 30%.
    I get the impression the pollsters haven’t got a clue. UKIP and Green surges, have really messed up their models.
    29,28,9,15,11. SNP 5%.

  17. Allan Christie

    Did you see this survey?

    Since the referendum, 25% of respondents joined a political party and 25% took part in campaigning or political activity
    35% campaigned for either a “Yes” or “No” vote and 38% went to a campaign event
    79% said 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in Scottish, UK and council elections
    More than 84% agreed with the decision to lower the referendum voting age
    Nearly two-thirds accessed online or social media material from the official campaigns, while broadcast media was their most popular source for information

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-30837608

    Incidentally, my pupils (mainly SNP/Lab) always rated Annabel Goldie (one of our list MPs) highly, when they went on visits to the Scottish Parliament. She was good at not talking down to people – a trait that other politicians should copy.

  18. Interesting factoid: the last time a poll reported both the Conservatives and Labour below 30% was 1981.

    So either there has been a sea change in the political landscape, or Ashcroft’s poll is whack, or both!

  19. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the link. When younger people are approached and invited to take part in politics then I’m not surprised they become more active.

    Annabel Goldie does seem the down to earth type and when she used to do her St Andrews first aid at Celtic home matches I think even the fans warmed to her.

    If the lower the voting age for the GE then more younger people will get involved with politics and find its more than just a X in a box.

  20. 07052015

    Apologies that our correspondence came to a abrupt end yesterday morning. Family and work both got in the way. Thanks for the link anyway.

  21. @Hoofhearted

    So, if the pollsters haven’t got a clue what should they do about it?

  22. AW – you write above (first para.):

    77% of people said they were voting for their first choice, 11% tactically. A word of warning about interpreting this – 8% of Tory voters said they were voting tactically, 11% of Labour voters, 12% of Lib Dem voters, 11% of UKIP voters… but we don’t know if that means 8% of Tory voters are voting Tory for tactical reasons, or that 8% of would-be Tory voters are actually going to vote for someone else for tactical reasons (or a mixture).

    Is there no way of asking this sort of question in such a way as to clarify what is, after all, rather an important issue?

  23. “if the pollsters haven’t got a clue what should they do about it?”

    Add ethnicity

    http://quarterly.demos.co.uk/article/issue-3/537/

  24. @Allan Christie –

    “I’ll be hitting the mid twenties come June so I don’t know how long I can hang onto the young tag.”

    A long time yet from where most of us are sitting.

  25. One Ashcroft poll doesn’t make a summer, but I won’t be the only Green celebrating that 11% – the first time a poll has had Greens above 9% in more than 25 years, iirc.

    I had been wondering what was happening, with the great surge in Green Party membership, and why it didn’t seem to be reflected in the polls – but it looks like it is coming through to some extent, with Greens average (mean) at precisely 7% in the last 10 YGs too.

  26. @Ben Foley

    It’s always risky to celebrate individual polls. The chances are the next one will go the other way and people will take pleasure in goading you.

    Moreover, there is no *need* to rely on individual polls when the Green VI is on a statistically reliable upward trend. The evidence is there in the pooled numbers.

    For genuine LD crossover (as opposed to YouGov-only crossover), though, you’ll have to wait until March 2nd. Just 42 days to go for you.

  27. WES
    @Allan Christie –
    “I’ll be hitting the mid twenties come June so I don’t know how long I can hang onto the young tag.”
    __________
    A long time yet from where most of us are sitting
    ________

    Must be amongst dinosaurs.

  28. Allan Christie

    “Must be amongst dinosaurs.”

    Well, that’s what Johann thought. :-)

  29. Allan Christie,

    I wonder how you’ll be when you’re old (e.g. 26).

  30. Just noticed that YouGov overestimated the Greens in the Euros last May.

  31. Re the question of opinion polls being wrong:

    (1) I am pretty sure I know what evidence he’s basing this on
    (2) I am continuing to investigate/assess
    (3) It’s going to be a long night… Time for a coffee!

  32. Apologies if someone posted it above and I’ve failed to spot it, but Prof. C has a new thread on the Survation poll at http://blog.whatscotlandthinks.org/2015/01/labour-still-mountain-climb-new-survation-poll/

  33. ALAN

    @”If they did their work properly, they would already know this about you and not knock on your door!”

    And this is an achievement in the development of dialogue with the voter?

    I am merely tempted to hope that when their data mines collapse under the weight of their own hubris, the social “scientists” involved are sacked ,after they are required to explain why so many thousands decided to behave as they should not have behaved.

  34. “Interesting factoid: the last time a poll reported both the Conservatives and Labour below 30% was 1981.”

    Of course the last time was 1981, that was when the SDP surge was at its height.

  35. @ Andy JS

    From an established pollster, yes. However there was a OnePoll for the Sunday People during Cleggmania that had CON 27 LAB 23 LIB 33

    This is probably the first poll that has every party below 30%

  36. Thanks for all the replies on the Rob Hayward story. I’ve tried to find more detail, without success so far. This story covers it in a bit more depth towards the end. He also has something to say about Scotland right at the end of the story.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/19/green-party-takes-lead-over-lib-dems-opinion-poll

  37. @NUMBER CRUNCHER

    I remember it well. Unfortunately your commentary is a tad inaccurate.

  38. SPEARMINT
    Populus, on the other hand…

    How did you get the strikethrough to work?

    I’ve tried both the s…/s and u…/u HTML tags here s number of times with conspicuous lask of success.

  39. lack!

  40. Well, there we have it, more or less on cue. Our first poll in this Parliament with both Labour and the Tories below 30%.

    The only trouble is that it’s an Ashcroft poll and, therefore, very likely to be a piece of psephological fiction.

    :-)

  41. @COLIN
    “I am merely tempted to hope that when their data mines collapse under the weight of their own hubris, the social “scientists” involved are sacked ,after they are required to explain why so many thousands decided to behave as they should not have behaved.”

    Indeed. Many analyses rely on the subjects not being changed by being analysed. That is a dangerous assumption since the analysis will change how they are treated. I recall that two decades ago, party canvassers used to come around my street every election, knocking doors. Eventually, they got strategic and focused all their resources on marginal constituencies to the almost total neglect of safe and unwinnable seats. I would not be surprised that the current softness of the VIs of the major parties is partly attributable to their neglect of huge swathes of the electorate. If they were unhappy with “You only come around election time”, they’ll detest you if “You don’t come around at all!”. I think national parties need to be national, not marginal campaigning organisations if they are to have a long-term future.

  42. @ UNICORN
    Yes, I know. …I did say one Ashcroft poll doesn’t make a summer….
    I have also been aware of the statistically reliable trend you have revealed, and iirc last time you compared vs that trend, Greens were actually beating it. I also suspect that recent positive and greater coverage of the Greens (eg of membership surge) will feed through into even higher VI, further beating the trend, with most pollsters (but not those that weight everything so it looks as much like 2010 as they can get away with).

  43. FEWMET

    Thanks

    Its all rather cynical isn’t it ?

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