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.


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. @Raf

    Ta! Seems likw the answer to my question is “They’ve got flexible enough guidelines to just wing it”.

  2. Rogermexico 1.25pm

    I believe it is the press that has condition us the public to be so anti politics and unreasonably critical of politicians.

  3. @Tony Cornwall

    “I believe it is the press that has condition us the public to be so anti politics and unreasonably critical of politicians.”

    True, and I think they go a long way to influencing the way politicians conduct themselves too. Accordingly, rather like a vicious circle, the press produce the type of politicians who cause the public to be cynical.

    I was never a great fan of Paxman’s “why’s this lying b*stard lying to me” approach to interviewing politicians, even though he became famous and popular for it.

  4. The thing about trying to make Cameron look like a coward from the debates is its clear as day he was being politically cynical and got his way in the end.

    It’s clear the other three parties were politically cynical to attack him rather than let The Greens appear.

    Who won? Cameron. Leaders need to be politically capable to get things done. Cameron has looked solid against an amateurish opposition in my view.

  5. tony cornwall

    I agree re the press.

  6. @Fraser

    I wouldn’t put it that way.

    That DC probably doesn’t want debates in any form is clear. However raising the Green issue as a smokescreen only took him so far. The broadcasters have now called his bluff. He will have to find another excuse now.

    The other parties have not objected to the Greens.

  7. The England only polls imply that Labour is performing rather better there – where virtually all the marginals are – than the the national data has been suggesting. ‘Neck and neck’ in England would represent a Con to Lab swing of 5.7% .

  8. @Unicorn,
    Many thanks for your statistical analysis, and showing how parties are performing against trend.

    When do you recalculate trends, please?

    Is it every time you post to say how the party has been doing against trend?


  9. I think the new excuse/reasoning is that the debates are too late in April – he thinks they should be before the campaign proper kicks off.

  10. @ Unicorn

    “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….”

    Hmmm, not so straight forward in reality I’m afraid.

    There are no ‘Greenie’ types in Bristol North West and therefore won’t make jot of difference on the Labour/Tory vote. It’s mainly made up of Working Class Labour voters and Middle Class Tory voters. The Lib Dem vote has all but collapsed in Bristol.

    If the Greens are to take votes off a party in Bristol, it will be at the expense of the Lib Dems. All the middle class Liberal/Labour voters are congregated in the upwardly mobile Bristol West constituency. Here the Greens have a real chance of taking gaining votes in Bristol and even taking a seat ….off the Lib Dems!

  11. @ Ben Foley

    “When do you recalculate trends, please?”

    I haven’t recalculated any party VI trends (other than SNP) since November 21. This means that I am using a shorthand when I refer to them as 2014 trends. In practice they are, a little under 11/12 of 2914 trends.

    In principle my preference would be to avoid recalculating trends entirely. I see them as a kind of beacon to see how things are going and for this reason it is important that they remain stable.

    Up to now there has been little reason to recalibrate. As I noted, the two larger parties are still ‘on trend’ and the others are deviating by relatively small amounts.

    If dramatic events caused big VI movements (e.g., Clegmania in 2010) I would just acknowledge that they ground rules have changed and that all trend-based projections are no longer to be trusted.

    Right now, the position is that we are still heading for VI distribution close to the one I described in late November.

  12. Tomorrow’s YouGov according to various on Twitter:

    Lab 32
    Con 32
    UKIP 15
    Lib Dem 7
    Green 7

    Around about the new normal.

  13. For those assuming that the DUP would support the Tories –

    “It turns out, in fact, that Mr Robinson, leader of a profoundly right-wing party, one wooed relentlessly by Mr Cameron, would have no problem doing “business” with Labour. There is, says the DUP man, “no question” about that.

    Officially, this would amount to no more than the sort of confidence and supply arrangement envisaged, for now, by Ms Sturgeon. But at least one unnamed DUP MP told the Daily Telegraph the other day that “we wouldn’t rule out a more formal coalition”. Mr Miliband, visiting Northern Ireland, meanwhile spent most of a morning with Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster group leader.”

  14. WES.
    Thanks for the twitter news.

    How much more towards the Tories will swing back go?

    How low will the other parties go in VI?

    Dead heat.

  15. Oldnat

    There was an interesting piece in the New Statesman with Nigel Dodds heavily criticising Tory economic philosophy.

    By the way there is an even more interesting story on Exaro News. *mock surprised look*

  16. @OldNat

    I guess that’s the difference between the DUP and the UUP, who really are/were the Tories in NI.

    The DUP may be further to the right of the UUP but they have no natural GB party of affiliation.

  17. cl45

    “How much more towards the Tories will swing back go?”

    As they have been on 32% for a very, very, very, very l o n g time you will need to explain again how you analyse VI as having swung BACK towards them.

    It quite patently has not. As has been pointed out many times VI has moved AWAY from Labour without having the slightest effect on the Tory VI.

  18. @R&D

    And…Labour are no longer losing VI.

  19. Roger Mexico/Unicorn
    (Re: the UKPR poll masher)

    I wonder if it would be easier in the long run to automate the poll tracker? It could use someone else’s feed like the one on UK Opinion Bee (don’t click if you don’t like big ugly walls of JSON) or scrape the Wiki page.

  20. Whoops – didn’t put the link in there.

  21. @ Paul Bristol

    I put my hands up and admit that I know very little about the Bristol NW constituency. You may well be right that the Greens are not in a position to tip the balance one way or the other.

    I’ll summarise the calculations and you can assess the weakest steps in the argument.

    First, I start the projection by using the Electionforecast VI figures. I then use 2014 trends to adjust these figures for May 7.

    Today’s Electionforecast Nowcast for BNW has the Tories on 29, Labour on 32 (with LDs on 9, Greens on 12 and Ukip on 17). Continuing trends push Labour down towards the Tories by May, but leave them slightly ahead as long as the Greens stay on trend. My post a little earlier today was pointing out that the Green VIs are moving above trend levels. This boosted support must come at the expense of some other party. If Labour suffers more than the Tories, then this could tilt the balance. (Another factor could also be a local drop in Ukip support as the election approaches. This might give the Tories a little extra support.)

    Any step in these calculations could well be shaky. But the main point is that there are finely-balanced seats in which the current Green upswing could in a sense have the casting vote.

  22. @ Funtypippin

    “… automate the poll tracker?”

    Much more secure to have it compiled and overseen by an expert, avoiding the risk that it might be hijacked by vested interests.

  23. Lab/Con ties seem to be common these days. Conservatives reliant on someone (anyone) draining a chunk of support away from Labour. Because – there’s no Lab/Con (only) undecideds. They’ve either decided, or gone elsewhere.

  24. “By the way there is an even more interesting story on Exaro News”

    “I believe it is the press that has condition us the public to be so anti politics and unreasonably critical of politicians.”

    If Exaro news is correct and the political class cover up for paedophile MPs like Smith, Morrison and all the rest as a matter of course thus allowing them to keep preying on children’s homes for 30+ years after they were first caught then the public view of the political class is nowhere near as low as it ought to be.

  25. Will the defection of Amjad Bashir help or hinder Tory VI?
    Answers on a postcard.
    I suppose whether the ‘extremely serious’ allegations against him turn out to be, ahem, extremely serious or extremely bo**ocks.
    Anyway, brings a bit of fun to our sad little lives.

  26. Rosie and Daisie.

    Good Evening to you.

    The gap between Labour and Tories has gone; in days gone by we used to refer to this as swing.

  27. The gap between Labour and Tories has gone; in days gone by we used to refer to this as swing.

    I think we have been here before…. :-(

  28. In “days” gone by there were two main parties. If the gap closed it was because votes swung BACK. That is why the term was coined [and I am older than you and remember times gone by even further back]

    They haven’t done during this parliament.

    This is not just a matter of pedantry it is a simple and incontrovertible fact.

    I’ll say it again for you: the gap has not closed because votes have swung from Labour to Tory. It has closed because voters are seeking alternatives.

  29. ROSIE and DASIE

    Thank you for the explanation; more voters have switched out of the Labour fold than they have from the Tory fold.

    Thus the Labour lead has vanished.

  30. CHRISLANE1945

    I think you need remedial stats classes.

  31. I know, let’s all have heated debate about what swing-(back) is, the last 5 or 6 times have been such fun.

  32. cl45

    “Thank you for the explanation; more voters have switched out of the Labour fold than they have from the Tory fold.”

    And ta very much for yours.

    Mind you, I already knew that: in fact my “Low top/High bottom definition of Tory VI has regularly pointed out the fact that they have lost remarkably little over nearly five years.

    All I have been pointing out is that it is simply not logical to refer to diminution of the Labour lead in terms of traditional “swingback” – but you must, of course, do as you please and I promise not to mention it again.

  33. PI

    “I know, let’s all have heated debate about what swing-(back) is, the last 5 or 6 times have been such fun.”

    Oh…. rite-o:

    Swing-back is when votes swing BACK from one party to another, having initially swung the other way.

  34. As a member of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland I was delighted to see Ed Miliband coming to North Belfast & meeting with Nigel Dodds. I was also very encouraged by Ed’s commitment to review Labour policy on fielding candidates in NI – something the DUP might welcome as it would strengthen NIs position in the UK and take votes from the left leaning nationalist parties.

    On a separate point, the DUP currently has 8 MPs but hopes to retake Belfast East – taking them to 9. To protect Belfast North they may do a deal with UUP, which could secure Fermanagh South Tyrone for UUP. Add in Ladu Hermon & you have a bloc of 11 unionists that could do a deal with Lab or Con – potentially getting Lab off the hook with the SNP or helping Con having to reach out to UKIP to prop up another Con/Lib coalition.

  35. @R&D

    Not heated enough. Are you poorly again, Paul?

  36. @ ChrisLane

    “The gap between Labour and Tories has gone..”

    Have you just been dozing off in your armchair and woken from a reverie? Whatever terms might be applied, where did you get the impression that the gap had gone?

    The average of all polls since Jan 1 has Labour still ahead by one point. Anthony’s polling average – weighted to favour more recent polls – shows exactly the same thing.

    As I said earlier, both parties still continue to follow their 2014 trends. If nothing changes these pattern, then May 7 will find Labour a couple of points up on 2010 and the Tories about 4 points down – producing the hung parliament everyone is talking about.

    Dont’t worry. Very little happened while you nodded off…

  37. pi

    I am never heated. Sometimes a bit surprised.

  38. More swing-low than swing-back?

  39. @R&D

    Haha, I’m the opposite. A dear friend told me about 40 years ago that I was the least surprisable person he’d ever met, and I’ve seen a few things since then. On the other hand I’m always heated, whatever the subject. Or at least I’m too lazy to type if I’m not.

    Interestingly Wikipedia has a page for “Swing (United Kingdom)” since it seems we mean something different by the term to everybody else. And it seems we don’t all mean the same thing even here.

  40. Now this is what you call a poll. I’m sure Anthony would approve of the methodology…:

  41. Norbald

    That I guess rules Sunday People out of general relevance as they are just ever so slightly out of kilter with other polls?

    Just out of interest Ukip knocked on the door today again and I assured them of my vote (as I do also to the Tories who are the only others who come here). I am in Mark Reckless’s Rochester area. No other parties seem to bother here

    I’m pretty sure the Tories will recapture this seat come May

  42. Today’s YG Scottish crossbreak

    SNP 43% : Lab 25% : Con 14% : LD 7% : UKIP 9% : Grn 2%

    Mean of last 16 YG Scottish crossbreaks

    SNP 41% : Lab 27% : Con 17% : LD 5% : UKIP 6% : Grn 4%

  43. Defo signs in sundays yougov of move in approval ratings on economy ,dc,respondents living standards in tthe future.

  44. NEIL A
    “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”

    None of which has any statistical proof that I know of. I think you’ll find if you look around at FPA and similar well researched sites, that lowering the population growth is directly correlated with education, urbanisation and related awareness of and access to contraception.

  45. Old Nat

    Thanks for those crossbreak figures. There is, it seems to me, an increasing need for much more specific figures regarding regional variations – or even variations between specific seats – in Scotland.

    For example, are we to assume that the SNP were already close to being ‘maxed out’ in the north east, and that additional support is therefore from the central belt? Are we to surmise that Labour, whilst apparently doing badly in the old heartlands are doing fairly well in suburban areas?

    And another question: how widely distributed are those who participate in the polls? Is there any evidence that more polling takes place in those seats deemed to be marginals/likely to change hands (though looking at the Scotland Votes site that would mean all but about 15 of the Scottish seats?

    Thirdly – and aimed at folk in the south – are the Scottish figures being taken seriously (and not just dismissed as ‘impossible’ or ‘silly’) by the Westminster party leaders and the party memberships in the south?

  46. John B

    “Are we to surmise that Labour, whilst apparently doing badly in the old heartlands are doing fairly well in suburban areas?”

    We had better hope that Ashcroft does a good job on his constituency polling!

    Presumably “boots on the ground” do make a difference in constituencies – or parties wouldn’t bother!

    In that context, the leaked “name & shame” list from the new Lab Gen Sec in Scotland may shed some light on your question.

    Most active CLPs –
    Edinburgh East, Midlothian, Kilmarnock and Loudon

    Least active CLPs –
    Glasgow North West; Glasgow South; Glasgow South West; Inverclyde; Central Ayrshire, Paisley and Renfrewshire South; Paisley and Renfrewshire North; Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East; Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill; East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow; and Lanark and Hamilton East.

  47. I’ve just had a look at the Sunday People poll. Very interesting. If 22% of Sunday People readers do vote Tory then they will walk it.

  48. Sorry, misread that, that was their supposed 2010 score, a little hard to believe. Interesting that Labour are actually down a little on 2010 which is also hard to believe.
    I haven’t read the paper since my dad died. He was somewhat to the left of the communist party.

  49. @RMJ1

    I suspect that poll is worth considerably less that the paper it is printed on.

  50. @CMJ

    How dare you. The Sunday People seems a very reliable and unbiased source to me. So to poll its own readers and be proud of the fact that that is what it is doing seems very worthy to me and one in the finest traditions of impartial polling.

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