Fifteen Weeks to go

Week three of the year and the regular cycle of opinion polling is back to full speed, with the first ComRes and ICM polls of the year. Almost all the regular polling companies have now reported figures from 2015 (we’re only waiting for Survation and ComRes’s telephone series).

ComRes/Independent on Sun. (15/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 3%
YouGov/Sun on Sun. (15/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%
Populus (15/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (16/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7%
Opinium/Observer (16/1/15) – CON 28%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 20%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (18/1/15) – CON 29%, LAB 28%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 11%
Populus (18/1/15) – CON 35%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%
TNS (19/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (19/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
ICM/Guardian (19/1/15) – CON 30%, LAB 33%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%, GRN 9%
YouGov/Sun (20/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 10%
YouGov/Sun (21/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (22/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 17%, GRN 8%
Populus (22/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%

The horse race remains extremely tight between Labour and the Conservatives, with most polls showing them within a point or two of each other, generally with Labour marginally ahead of the Tories. The UKPR average now stands at CON 32%(-1), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 7%(nc). The Green party’s rising support got a lot of attention this week because of their double digit figures from Ashcroft and YouGov, but there has not been a sudden step change in their level of support, it’s been on a steady increase since last year.

Scottish polling

This week we also had two Scottish polls from Ipsos MORI and Survation. Both continued to show a solid lead for the SNP in Westminster voting intentions. MORI had SNP on 52%(unchanged) to Labour’s 24%(up one). Survation had the SNP on 46% (down two) and Labour on 26% (up two). Both would still translate into an SNP landslide in Scotland come May.

Week Three

Every general election seems to start with the political parties putting out a flurry of announcements at the start of January, and then running out of steam a bit. This week’s political news has been rather bitty.

  • The reporting of the Chilcot Inquiry has been put back until after the general election, we can expect to see some polling on that at the weekend.
  • Peter Mandleson criticised his own party’s mansion tax proposals. Nationwide the idea of a mansion tax has extremely wide support – in September YouGov found 72% support for a tax on properties over £2million pounds. Criticism of it from within Labour tends to come from London, where it is less overwhelmingly popular, but still gets the thumbs up – YouGov London polling last August found 49% of people in London supported a “mansion tax”, 18% were opposed. Amongst London’s Labour voters 61% supported the idea.
  • The government announced that they would after all introduce legislation on plain packaging for cigarettes before the election, something that has previously been in and out of the long grass, and was seen as one of those policies that the Conservatives had put away as part of “cleaning the barnacles from the boat”. Generally speaking there is public support for the proposal – YouGov polling for the Sunday Times in July in 2013 found 58% of people supported compulsory plain packs, 26% were opposed. YouGov polling for Ash in 2014 that included a picture of an example of a plain pack found 66% of people in support, 10% opposed.
  • Finally the debates debate rumbles on, with the broadcasters making a new proposal to include the Greens in the debates… but also to include the SNP and Plaid, so that the format becomes two debates between seven leaders, and one debate between just Cameron and Miliband. Including all seven leaders was actually the most popular single option in the YouGov/Sun on Sunday polling last weekend, chosen by 35% of people. Between them though 49% of people preferred one or another of the options including fewer leaders.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. All are still predicting a hung Parliament. Note that Steve Fisher has made some substantial changes to his Elections Etc model in order to treat England and Scotland separately, and hence reflect the increase in SNP support in Scotland

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 283(nc), LAB 278(-3), LD 23(-3), SNP 41(+5), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 278(+1), LAB 286(-3), LD 28(+1), SNP 34(+2), UKIP 3(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 269(-4), LAB 289(+9), LD 27(+3), SNP 38(-8), UKIP 4(nc)


270 Responses to “Fifteen Weeks to go”

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  1. @all with regards Scottish local by-election results.

    I agree that Kirkcaldy East is an interesting marker of opinion but I wouldn’t read too much into any local election results.

    For example the next Scottish local by-election is likely to be an Independent gain from SNP in a Westminster seat that is a key Labour / SNP marginal.

    The remaining non independent votes may be slightly more Labour than SNP.

    It won’t indicate anything beyond some specific local issues and will be a poor indicator of the likely result in May.

  2. @Amber Star

    “You LOL’d too soon. I have one child, no grandchildren and no car, therefore I now plan to comment extensively and exhaustively on population control. ;-)”

    FFS – can’t you breed!

    :-):-)

  3. @MrNameless

    Most UK viewers are unfamiliar*r with the Nat/Green leaders, and might mix them up.
    ___________________________________

    Good point Mrs R doesn’t really do politics but says she really likes Mrs Sturgeon and says she will vote for her, every time she pops up on the Telly. Only problem is we live in the home counties…If they somehow don’t discuss Scotland in particular I think we could see some really odd results as the less politically engaged try and figure out who this nice lady is that they want to vote for.

  4. Hi. Perhaps the media-savy here can clear something up for me. I have an idea that broadcasters are supposed to apportion air time to political parties according to formula of some kind. Does this mean that if DC lets the great debates go ahead without him he can claim back that airtime elswhere?

    And in what sense can the final debate between Miliband and empty chair (or tub of lard perhaps) be called a debate? I always thought it took two at least.

  5. On polling, I was amused to see the report of an ICM poll in the Graun that included this:

    ” The survey found that more people engage with politics online than in other ways: 28% of voters have commented online in recent months”.

    This as proof that Rushbriger’s idea for an online debate was a goer. The fact that it was an online poll wasn’t mentioned….

  6. SUE

    @”There are loads of good (libertarian even) reasons to move away from fossil fuels and conserve energy usage.”

    This is so true.

    But we are incapable of it. We will use every drop until it runs out.

  7. SYZYGY

    I think we are in general agreement about this, judging by your last post, especially your last paragraph.

    Crossbat11

    Tried setting quota’s, and failed, my 3 children have produced 9 grandchildren!

    :)

  8. @Shevii

    I think population control is a little more complex than “having less children”. The core of the strategy must be to identify the factors that lead people to have lots of children, and then mitigate them. In that sense it’s to some extent comparable with climate change and indeed environmental policy generally.

    For me (as a layman, I have no particular knowledge) it seems there are at least three drivers. Religious/cultural practice, economic insecurity and the natural urge of immigrant communities to grow and thereby make their presence less precarious. There are all kinds of tactics that could be employed in pursuit of this, some much less palatable than others.

  9. Before I go and indulge in a little gentle infanticide this afternoon, thereby making my small contribution to slowing the population growth in this hideously overpopulated island (discounting my own children, of course, who thoroughly merit their existence), I was taken with this comment from a BBC political reporter about the forthcoming election campaign: –

    “One can’t help fearing though, based on what’s happened so far, that the campaign will be a bad-tempered affair played out in front of one of the most sceptical and anti-politics electorates in the Western world.”

    A justified fear, I think, already being borne out in the early battles of this pre-campaign phoney war, and it may well explain the current polls. It also plays into my sense that the less the electorate see of the mainstream parties, and particularly their leading personalities, the better it will be for them.

    Accordingly, if I was either Cameron, Clegg or Miliband, I’d be doing all I could to scupper the live TV Debates, making as sure as I could that one or other of my rivals took the blame for them not taking place. So far, Cameron has been painted as the faint heart and if Miliband has got any sense, he’ll keep it that way. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I don’t think Miliband has got anything whatsoever to gain from the debates.

    On the other hand, the smaller parties, including Cleggie’s mob, are desperate for the debates to happen. This is another very good reason why Labour and the Tories should be seeking to avoid them, despite what they may be publicly saying.

    All good political chicanery, and none the worse for that and the arguments that these stage-managed, rehearsed, abysmally chaired and soundbite infested charades will add anything to the quality of political debate is absolutely risible.

  10. CROSSBAT11

    Re your last paragraph on the subject of the debates, I totally agree, and sincerely hope that they don’t happen.

  11. @TOH

    “Tried setting quota’s, and failed, my 3 children have produced 9 grandchildren!”

    Expensive at Christmas time, I would imagine! My two sons have no grand-children yet, at least none that they’ve told me about, but I’m looking forward to the day they do.

    Mind you, if they go beyond two, I shall have to take the necessary action. Contrary to Neil A’s rather drastic approach to stemming population growth, mine is a little simpler and involves two house bricks and a short sharp shock!

    :-)

  12. @Robert Newark

    The Times of course has made it up. The Green Party policy on the monarchy’s residences is that:

    “A settlement of property held by the current royal family shall be made, to divide it between that required for the private life of current members of the family and that to be public property.”

  13. Does anyone know of a site where one can go for a non-partisan discussion of polls?

    ;)

    More seriously, if the Greens are outperforming their 2014 trends then modelling using an adapted version of the Electionforecast model suggests that this shifts a new bunch of Tory/Labour marginal into the battleground. These seats include Bristol North West, Calder Valley, Leeds North West, Norwich North, Nuneaton and Worcester.

    All of these would stay with Labour if the Greens drop back to their 2014 trend level, but pass over to the Tories if they continue to perform as they have been recently. If they do even better, then a new batch of marginals is sucked into the battleground.

  14. ETIENNE

    No they haven’t. They feature quotations from NB in an interview with the paper.

  15. @Unicorn

    ‘Does anyone know of a site where one can go for a non-partisan discussion of polls?’

    :) but please don’t go. Not only am I intrigued by your models but I also love your fascination with making sense of the numbers.

  16. Postageincluded

    On polling, I was amused to see the report of an ICM poll in the Graun that included this:

    ” The survey found that more people engage with politics online than in other ways: 28% of voters have commented online in recent months”.

    This as proof that Rushbriger’s idea for an online debate was a goer. The fact that it was an online poll wasn’t mentioned….

    Actually it wasn’t. If you look at ICM’s article:

    http://www.icmunlimited.com/media-centre/polls/digital-debate

    it does say it’s “An online poll from ICM on behalf of The Guardian”, but it you look at the tables they’re labelled CATI (ie telephone) and the poll details (fieldwork and sample size) match those of the monthly ICM.

    What the Guardian doesn’t say is that while “Live TV debates between leaders” were supported by 75% to 21%, “Live online debates between the leaders, using social media sites like Youtube[sic] to include the views of more voters than the TV debates last time” only got 62% to 32%. Still enough to make it worthwhile, but not universal enthusiasm.

    The most popular option was including Bennett and Farage (60%), Cameron v Miliband only got 9%. Clearly people see the debates as being about the Parties not potential PMs, whatever the media would like, with their aversion to anything that can’t be celebritised. The poll was before the announcement including PC and SNP, but 70% agreed that “Any serious party putting candidates up across Britain[sic] should be included, irrespective of size”, which would veto both of them, though leaving enormous queries over what a ‘serious party’ is.

    You’ll be pleased to know that the 28% who are said to have commented online in the last six months aren’t cluttering up CiF or even UKPR. The actual option was actually “Commented online, via social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc.”, so it may have been just writing “Cameron is tw*t LOL” on your mate’s FB page. I actually suspect there is also an element of exaggeration as 8% say they have “Phoned a radio or television show” and 8% have “Written to a newspaper”, which would make most local versions of both a lot busier than they are. I suspect at best a lot have clicked an arrow on Mail online. And 46% say “I have not discussed politics within the last six months”.

  17. Crossbat11

    I was taken with this comment from a BBC political reporter about the forthcoming election campaign: –

    “One can’t help fearing though, based on what’s happened so far, that the campaign will be a bad-tempered affair played out in front of one of the most sceptical and anti-politics electorates in the Western world.”

    Interesting, isn’t it, that the blame is put on the electorate rather than the politicians or those who report them? With no awareness that that attitude might reveal where the problem actually lies.

  18. Roger Mexico

    “And 46% say “I have not discussed politics within the last six months”.”

    One wonders what they meant by that, since 38% of the wee Scots sample said that too – which would be a little surprising!

    Doubtless the lady in the Co-Op this morning who was loudly complaining that the Council hadn’t gritted the pavements, and she had to use the grit they had provided in handy bins, thought she wasn’t discussing politics either. :-)

  19. @ Syzygy

    Thanks. Not planning to go anywhere…

    I imagine the problem is that most contributors are only interested in polls and projections because they a more fundamentally engaged in politics itself and in a sense it seems artificial to exclude the wider debate. But that’s AW’s policy and so I try to comply with his preferences. (That said, I hsve just contrived to add yet another post that has nothing at all to do with polls. Sigh.)

  20. @Unicorn

    Don’t be so strict on yourself.

    Hang out loose for a bit ;-)

  21. Unicorn

    With regard to your questions last night, I think Anthony updates the tables manually, though the calculations will be automated to some extent. I know in the past he has said he can only do the update from home and he often can only find the time at the weekend. So it may be up to a week or even more before a new figure is produced. As you may gather from his commentary, he’s not a great believer in the ‘poll of polls’ concept and only produces one because others will do it even worse if he doesn’t.

    As to the weightings, despite what that wording might imply, they will be multiplicative rather subtractive. Because Anthony assigns a lower initial value to certain polls/pollsters (eg MORI because they don’t have political weighting), the daily increment will be smaller for such polls so they also drop out at 20 days (assuming no other polls from the same pollster). So the daily difference will be less than 0.05 for such polls.

  22. @Roger Mexico

    Who was putting the blame on the electorate? It seemed pretty much like a statement of fact.

  23. Unicorn

    FFS: your stats/swingback post was a good read.

  24. “We have a grandson coming for the weekend-much baking in progress !”

    Child labour eh? You can’t beat it.

  25. ICM had been even slower than usual in getting their monthly tables up and I hadn’t looked at them:

    http://www.icmunlimited.com/data/media/pdf/2015_jan_guardian_poll.pdf

    Recently the reallocation of DKs etc hadn’t made much difference, but it did this month. Figures before reallocation (after in brackets):

    Con 29% (30)

    Lab 35% (33)

    Lib Dem 8% (11)

    UKIP 12% (11)

    Greens 9% (9)

    SNP 5% (All others 7)

    PC 1%

    Other 1%

    I thought the details of what people would prefer in the case of no overall majority interesting as well. There wasn’t much enthusiasm among Conservatives for a UKIP coalition – 18% compared to 44% for Con-LD again (8% would even prefer Con-Lab).

    Labour voters would also prefer the Lib Dems (35%) but it wasn’t far ahead of Lab/SNP/Green (32%) (Con-Lab got 9% from them). And current Lib Dems are split pretty evenly on who to go with (Con 30%, Lab 27%).

  26. @Colin

    OK, ‘making it up’ is a little strong, but a joke in an interview doesn’t equal party policy.

  27. @Roger M

    Thanks for putting me right on ICM. I’d like to say I’ll read the small print next time, but that’s as believable as saying “there’s a cheque in the post”, so I’ll continue to rely on you for free.

    @ON

    Lovely story. The lady is a natural voter for the Yorkshire Party – no grit shortage there one supposes!

  28. Thanks ToH and Colin, what a relief it is to know that climate change is not a problem. If all those expensively-trained scientists had just asked you first, they would not have wasted their time and we could have saved a fortune.

  29. @Postage Included

    No, leaders who refuse the invitations do have a claim on “extra time” in compensation. Because they were offered time in the debate, and refused it.

    Conversely, all the ‘major’ parties not involved in the EM and DC debate are entitled to some extra party political broadcast time.

  30. “We have a grandson coming for the weekend-much baking in progress !”

    For someone concerned about population growth, baking new grandchildren seems most irresponsible. And I know children are baked because my parents explained my belly button as where the master baker had poked me and said “you’re done”

  31. @Jayblanc

    I suspect a typo “do” for “don’t” in your post, which wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

    Your point about compensation the other 5 parties is reasonable, but how, and how much. You can’t just give them extra PPB, where their pronouncements are unchallenged. And who wants a fourth debate with just the other 5? (Yes, I know everyone here would love that but I’m talking about REAL people, not us).

  32. Guy

    “We have a grandson coming for the weekend-much baking in progress !”

    For someone concerned about population growth, baking new grandchildren seems most irresponsible.”

    Au contraire, baking the rascals is a very cunning plan as it deals with food shortage at the same time.

    Mind you, I like children but couldn’t eat a whole one.

  33. @Colin @Etienne

    OK, ‘making it up’ is a little strong, but a joke in an interview doesn’t equal party policy.

    I’ve read the quote from Natalie Bennett, and translating that to ‘the Greens will put the Queen in a council house’ is shoddy journalism, being very polite,

    It shows a degraded level of journalism.

  34. ERNIE

    Absolutely!

    :-)

  35. @PI

    Equal airtime is only required during the short campaign for those who Ofcom rules are major UK parties (provisionally deemed to be Con, Lab, LD and Ukip).

  36. Imagine if Lab needed the SNP to form a Govt. Ouch.

  37. @CMJ

    “It shows a degraded level of journalism.”

    Is there any other level these days?

  38. @PI

    Sorry, Ukip have only provisionally been deemed a major party in England and Wales; with Con, Lab and LD major parties in GB.

    Also the broadcast requirement is not for “equal” airtime but for each major party to be given “due weight”. Section 2.5 of the Ofcom consultation states:

    “…broadcasters will not necessarily allocate an equal number of PEBs, or give equal editorial coverage, to all the major parties in any given election campaign. Similarly, they will not necessarily allocate an equal number of PEBs, or give equal editorial coverage to all the other parties in any given election campaign.”

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/major-parties-15/

  39. @ RM

    Thanks again for your further and very useful clarifications. It seems that the adjustments are rather more complex than I had assumed and – by your account – slightly different from the description given.

    Personally I think that agreeing about some sort of weighted average is indispensable and to me it seems that Anthony’s weighting adjustments are well-chosen. All models have procedures for combining new polling data with the existing evidence base and Anthony’s methods are more transparent than most.

    He may not be enthusiastic about posting these figures but it is a good thing he does so if only to prevent everyone having to deal with a competing array of slanted averages posted by the various vested interests.

  40. “Mike Smithson [email protected] 3h3 hours ago

    Wikipedia has new polling table – ENGLAND ONLY – where CON led by 11.5 at GE10. 3 pollsters now providing this data”

    https://twitter.com/MSmithsonPB/status/558986078825484288

  41. @ Crossbat

    FFS – can’t you breed!

    I think not – but I could get a car… ;-)

  42. @ Crossbat

    So far, Cameron has been painted as the faint heart and if Miliband has got any sense, he’ll keep it that way. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I don’t think Miliband has got anything whatsoever to gain from the debates.

    Almost exactly what I was thinking!

  43. @Bantam

    Congratulations to Bradford City. What a superlative win at Chelsea (I’ll leave you to console your fellow Tory and Chelsea fan, Ken. :-))

    @Amber Star

    “I think not – but I could get a car… ;-)”

    I hope you took my reference to” FFS” in the way that it was intended. It was a play on a comment made by another poster that annoyed me. I thought I’d re-cycle it in jest!

    :-)

    As for the TV debates, it always delights me when I discover you and I are on the same wavelength on particular issues.

  44. @Statgeek

    Those England Only polls provided by Smithson are interesting. Labour lead in 3, the Tories in 4 but there’s not much in any of them, suggesting, a bit like 2005, that things are more or less neck and neck.

    Seems to me that, as far as Labour are concerned, this election in May is going to be won or lost (or drawn even) in Scotland. Mind you, if the Tories can’t carry England, and bearing in mind their weakness in Scotland and Wales, how on earth are they going to win a UK wide election?

  45. Northumbrianscot

    It depends entirely on the by election.

    For example one of which I am familiar in Aberdeenshire late last year looked good for the SNP because in was an easy gain from the Tories, not so good because the SNP vote didn’t increase, but good again because those who know the detail understand there were in effect two SNP candidates as one of the well supported independents was an SNP activist!

    However, the Kirkcaldy East result looks very strong for the SNP as it comes in a ward where the outgoing SNP councillor had been subjected to huge criticism and Labour insiders at national level had been briefing an expected success, including sending a huge contingent of MSPs to the election on Thursday.

    Thus the big swing to the SNP tends to support the evidence of the opinion polls and has strongly influenced commentators.

  46. @Crossbat 11

    The Ashcroft polls in MS’s tweet seem to be way out of line with the rest.

  47. @ Crossbat

    I did :-)

  48. ERNIE

    On the contraray-“Climate chamge” is a problem.

    It always has been. Arguably through the geological eons , it & the tectonic geological changes with which it has been associated, have shaped evolution itself.

    If we cannot adapt-we will perish, as so many species before us have.

  49. @Raf

    “The Ashcroft polls in MS’s tweet seem to be way out of line with the rest.”

    Yes, I thought that too. He’s got the Tories 4% and 8% in the lead in his two polls. If you took those two out of Smithson’s selection, then it looks even better for Labour. The Ipsos/Mori that shows the Tories 5% in England is, I suspect, that outlier that had the Tories 6% ahead nationwide.

    What appears to be the case now, following the SNP surge in Scotland, is that if you get a poll showing Labour ahead or neck and neck, then they’re leading in England by anything up to 5% (ComRes).

    Accordingly, Labour’s performance in Scotland is now key to the overall UK election result in May.

    No pressure then, Jim Murphy!

  50. @Raf

    I was going to add that those England Only polls underline the extent to which UKIP have nobbled the Tories in England.

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