14 weeks to go

Week four of the year we had the regular YouGov, Ashcroft and Populus polls, the first ComRes telephone poll of the year and the first 2015 GB poll from Survation – the first in a regular series for the Daily Mirror.

YouGov/S Times (23/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Survation/Mirror (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 23%, GRN 3%
Populus (25/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (25/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 9%
ComRes/Indy (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (26/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (27/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (28/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
Populus (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%

The polls this week continued to show an extremely tight race – every single poll had the two main parties within one point of each other, and unlike last week there were slightly more polls with the Tories ahead than with Labour ahead. The UKPR average though still has figures of CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(-1), as Opinium and ICM polls from last week are still contributing towards the average. For anyone interested in the differences between some of the polls from different companies, I explored them in this post earlier this week.

Welsh polls

There were also two Welsh voting intention polls out this week, the regular YouGov/ITV/University of Cardiff poll and an ICM poll for the BBC. Westminster voting intention figures for the two polls were:

ICM/BBC – CON 21%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, Plaid 12%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/ITV – CON 23%, LAB 37%, LDEM 6%, Plaid 10%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%

Week four

  • At the beginning of the week there was a lot of froth about UKIP’s NHS policy and the Green party’s policies on membership of extremist groups and a citizen’s income. It’s unlikely that either will make much difference for the simple fact that most people have no idea at all about what their policies are on such issues. For UKIP, the majority of people think they have at least a fairly good idea of what sort of approach they would take on immigration and Europe, but on other subjects people draw a blank. For the Green party 54% think they’ve got some idea what the Green party would do on the environment, but on everything else at least three quarters know nothing. It doesn’t necessarily stop people backing them, as broad perceptions of a party’s values, principle and competence are far more important than specific policies anyway. I suspect that maybe even more the case for parties who have no realistic chance of getting a majority and putting said policies into action.
  • As we passed the 100 days to go mark both Labour and the Conservatives put out new policies, Labour on the NHS, the Conservatives on welfare benefits. The Conservatives headline pledge to reduce the benefit cap to £23,000 was supported by 61% to 25% (including amongst Labour voters), even though people didn’t think it made people look for work. The idea of stopping housing benefit for young people was more divisive – 42% supported the idea, 40% opposed it.
  • The NHS is generally a rock solid issue for Labour anyway – last week they had a thirteen point lead over the Tories on which party people thought would handle the issue the best. Welfare benefits is actually much more contested ground, in the same poll 28% of people thought Labour would handle the issue the best, 28% of people thought the Conservatives would handle the issue the best.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. All are still predicting a hung Parliament, though Election Forecast and May2015 have the Conservatives catching up with Labour after a week of close polls.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 282(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 24(+1), SNP 40(-1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(+5), LAB 285(-1), LD 27(-1), SNP 32(-2), UKIP 2(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 280(+11), LAB 280(-9), LD 24(-3), SNP 38(nc), UKIP 5(+1)


299 Responses to “14 weeks to go”

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  1. Barbazenzero

    “which certainly led to some confusion in Scotland in 2007 between AMS and STV.”

    IIRC the Election study showed that the electorate coped admirably with the new STV system, pretty well with the Additional Members, but were confused with the archaic FPTP bit of the election.

  2. Barbazenzero
    There doesn’t seem to be any problem holding Euro elections and Local Authority elections on the same day in England which are on different voting procedures (I’m not sure about arrangements in the wilds).

    I quite like the Chartist idea of annual elections. The initial thought is that it would create even more short-term thinking among politicians, but perhaps if they thought there was a chance of getting back next year they might be prepared to follow more radical policies?

  3. Pete B

    Chartist annual elections?

    But that would mean politicians were in constant campaigning mode instead of ensuring good governance!

    Oh, wait ………….

  4. @Barbanzero

    “The Coalition” set the fixed-term at 5 years because it suited them to do it. It suited the LibDems because it deprived Cameron of the option of a “cut and run” election. In return the Tories got a 5 full years in government. There was no discussion of shorter terms because 5 years was the deal. And “deal” is the word. This wasn’t in any sense a considered constitutional improvement. It was, and is, a rough and ready political fix.

  5. OLDNAT
    IIRC the Election study showed that the electorate coped admirably with the new STV system, pretty well with the Additional Members, but were confused with the archaic FPTP bit of the election.

    Agreed. I never did understand what argument they had in favour of the mixed plurality/d’Hondt AMS, especially when the Jenkins commission had just reported. If you accept that a parliament should be representative locally, I thought that Jenkins’ AV+ was a pretty good idea, although I suspect LiS now wonder if pure STV would not have been better for 2007 and 2011.

    But I disagree that the plurality system Westminster is currently wedded to is archaic, dating as it does only from 1872. Although public polling as carried out previously had the problem of coercion by employers, landlords, etc., the public tally of votes cast did allow for meaningful tactical voting simply by voting near the close, as well as long counts.

    The same or better information could be provided now electronically and maintain anonymity, but the electoral process was never intended to benefit us hoi polloi.

  6. Barbazenzero

    “…but the electoral process was never intended to benefit us hoi polloi.”

    I’m aghast! Who on earth can it be for the benefit of then?

    That seems like too many prepositions in a row, but I hope you get the gist.

  7. PETE B
    Chartist annual elections?

    I’m with OLDNAT there.

    POSTAGEINCLUDED
    This wasn’t in any sense a considered constitutional improvement. It was, and is, a rough and ready political fix.

    Agreed, with the emphasis on fix

  8. @ON

    Just so. It doesn’t really matter what the maximum term is, what matters is that it’s fixed or not. The game-plan of a Government that can choose the election date is to run the country for a few years, hopefully not making too much of a mess, and then call the election when things are looking up. Under a fixed-term this reverses. Now governments have to manipulate the economy and anything other pie they have their fingers in so that trends are looking good on election day. If that means turning down the gas on the hob so that the kettle doesn’t whistle to soon, so be it. If it wins the election what does it matter that we’ve delayed recovery for 3 years? If Waiting times at hospitals go down at the right time does it matter that to achieve that you wasted billions on reorgaisation?

    I’d rather give the goverment, any government, the choice of election date, and let them offer me some last-minute bribes, than have them spend 4 or 5 years trying to tweak the figures for the last month.

  9. Barbazenzero

    Fair enough. 1872, when the progressive Education (Scotland) Act passed, was in modern times.

    The 1870 Education Act in England, fossilizing class distinctions, represents archaic thinking (now resurrected like Doric columns outside suburban homes).

  10. @Barb

    “Fix” as in “swindle” rather than “mend”, I’d say.

    Could also be as in “I’ll fix you good and proper” if that doesn’t sound too papal;)

  11. @ON
    Lol to the Doric columns. It’s funny because it’s true. Which is also why it’s not funny.

  12. @Hoof Hearted

    ‘one poll is not a trend.’
    I think that is fair enough as far as the lead is concerned, but Labour – and the Tories – appeared to be edging up this week so we will have to see whether labour’s 35% is a continuation of that. The drop in Tory support to 32% is perhaps more surprising – and,again awaits confirmation.

  13. PETE B
    Who on earth can it be for the benefit of then?

    The political parties, perhaps. They were just becoming something recognisable today as a political party at the time.

    Volume 3 of Trollope’s Doctor Thorne has a wonderful chapter on a pre-1872 election – see http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=gdMBAAAAQAAJ

  14. Postage Included

    Thanks – though I suspect Scots are more likely to appreciate why Doric, rather than Corinthian, columns were more appropriate for the former English Education Secretary.

  15. OLDNAT

    Fair comment re 1872 vs 1870.

    The 1870 act did create the board schools which Sherlock Holmes praised in the 1894 Memoirs, although both he and Conan Doyle would be shocked that in 2011 Albermarle County school board in Virginia banned A Study in Scarlet for being ‘anti-Mormon’, if the grauniad is to be believed.

  16. Need to be up early tomorrow to see a glorious Brit (or a lowly Scot) in tennis action.

    Nytol.

  17. Pete B

    Is there a reason why votes for the devolved administrations can’t take place at the same time as a UK election?

    None legally but the last time they tried to run two different elections on the same day in Scotland, it was a disaster:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6637387.stm

    Scotland may be the only place in the world that that has four different electoral systems for different levels of government[1], mainly due to the Blair government’s habit of deciding on such systems based, not on democratic principles, but whatever they felt would suit their short term political needs.

    In actual fact a lot of the problems in 2007 were actually because they decided to automate the count and it was a disaster. But it has meant that since then everyone has been very wary of having two at the same time.

    [1] First Past The Post for Westminster, Mixed Member System for Holyrood, Single Transferable Vote for local elections and Closed Party List PR for Europe. Mercifully the Scots escaped the madness of directly elected mayors, which would have given them number five.

  18. I say we go for fixed terms of 12-months and force politicians to be really inventive and work their backsides off to get re-elected.

    Stuff the argument of “they wouldn’t achieve very much in 12 months”. Excellent politicians would.

  19. 07052015

    For those thinking there wont be a coalition and there will be two elections this year – take time to read Chris Huhne the rules have changed.

    Well the Huhne piece is nearly a year old (Smithson’s always desperate for material on a Saturday), but people on UKPR, especially Anthony, have been pointing out the consequences and the radical changes brought about by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act ever since it was proposed. Indeed I wonder how much discussions on places like here contributed to way in which the Bill ended up mainly replicating the Scottish system rather than the rather odd proposal that Clegg and co originally came up with.

    So Huhne’s point about the difficulty of amending or repealing the Act has been made many times before. Basically if you can put a coalition together to get such a Bill through both houses of Parliament, you can probably get a majority to govern, so you really don’t need to have another election.

    It’s possible that enough Parties would be deluded enough to think they could all increase their strength, but even then it might be in their interest to give the PM back the power to call an election. For example, even if the polls showed that Conservatives and Lib Dem would both gain seats, it would not be in the Lib Dems interests because if the Tories got enough seats for a majority, the Lib Dems, even with more seats than before, would lose influence. So the only government that is going to repeal it is going to be one with a reliable majority in both Houses.

    It’s also worth pointing out that a majority of the public think that fixed-terms are a good thing:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/2qik25ohr5/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-121214.pdf#page=5

    though they are split over the period they should be for. Most MPs don’t like them though and I wonder if YouGov doesn’t either as there is a certain manipulation in the coverage there has been (including the placement of the question above).

    Huhne’s other point, that minority government is not possible under the current act, though is just nonsense and ignores loads of counter-examples such as Scotland 2007-11 (and technically since) and Canada. I suspect like most ex-pols he’s being an egotist and deciding because a formal coalition was what he helped set up in 2010, there must be no other way of doing things.

  20. Oops! In the fourth para it should be “even then it might not be in their interest to give the PM back the power” to even begin to make sense.

  21. Barney Crockett

    But [the SNP] do pose particular difficulties for potential partners because they can’t under any circumstances want a UK government to succeed. They want the UK to break up.
    Anyone working with them has to face the charge they are working with an organisation that wants to break up the country which must be a bit of an albatross.

    I think this is wrong for two sets of reasons. First, as has already been pointed out, the SNP do not want to damage their reputation in Scotland. If something goes wrong anywhere, they don’t want it pinned on them, and they simply don’t have the supporters in the media to be able to assign the blame to Labour and/or the Conservatives, whatever the truth of the matter. So the best option is to try and make things go right and maintain their reputation for competence. Unless you think that Scots voters will regard anything dreadful happening to the English as a plus, it’s the only way to play it.

    Second, even if Scotland and rUK had become separate countries, something bad happening in the latter is probably going to impact the former too. It’s not a zero-sum game and this is even truer when they are still joined. Of course is also the reason that the SNP will (and have) given for voting on English-only matters. So again good behaviour is the only sensible strategy.

    Mind you, if you really do believe that “an organisation that wants to break up the country” is an impossible partner in coalition, you probably shouldn’t look at Sinn Fein in that distant place called Northern Ireland.

  22. Good poll for Labour after a good week for Tories, but could be an outlier. We shall have to wait and see.

  23. Today’s YG Scottish crossbreak
    SNP 47% : Lab 22% : Con 18% : LD 4% : UKIP 6% : Grn 3%

    Mean of January YG Scottish crossbreaks
    SNP 42% : Lab 27% : Con 18% : LD 5% : UKIP 5% : Grn 3%

    Weekly mean scores in January YG Scottish crossbreaks
    SNP 41%, 42%, 41%, 44% :
    Lab 27%, 27%, 28%, 27% :
    Con 16%, 16%, 18%, 20% :
    L_D 6%, 4%, 5%, 3% :
    UKIP 7%, 6%, 4%, 3% :
    Grn 4%, 3%, 4%, 3% :

    There has been a rise in the SNP and Con VIs this week – but whether they have any significance ?????

  24. Opinion Cons +4 is very positive for Cons bearing in mind AW’s last piece.

  25. Here is this week’s YG VI by 2010 voter ID:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzTTW1ecy-NDRm5LWDlqZTdBWFk/view?usp=sharing

    It looks Conservatives and Labour are both pulling in support from the smaller parties.

    The squeeze has begun?

  26. @OldNat

    Thank you for your work collating the Scottish Crossbreaks.

    The remarkable thing is how little variation there has been in January despite them being a fundamentally volatile source.

    I wonder if it would also be worth collating from the crossbreak the number of Don’t Know / Would Not Votes. Had a look at a couple of polls from January and this seems stable too.

    My thinking though is that one way for the LiS vote to rise would be through an increase in certainty to vote amongst unsure Labour supporters.

    There is some evidence from Scotland only polls that current SNP supporters are much more certain about their voting intention than LiS ones. So I would expect we might see the Don’t Knows go down as the election approaches combined with a slight increase in LiS support.

    Equally the LiS inclined, but not sure, voters may be contemplating switching to SNP so a tightening might boost the SNP instead.

  27. @Pete B

    Sorry, my sarcastic tone in the final para failed to get through!

    If only someone had invented some kind of icon that could represent emotions

  28. Northumbrianscot

    I’m hesitant about reading too much into my aggregated numbers – initially I started doing it just to dampen down the “Ooh! The SNP is up/down 3 points from yesterday. It must be due to X.” stuff.

    Still, this is UKPR where (if only to annoy Anthony) we indulge in wild speculation on the basis of inadequate information, so ………

    The squeeze on the 3 minor parties seems to be pretty firm, and I can’t see any reason why it should loosen over the next 3 months.

    I tend to the judgment that most of the “Don’t Knows” won’t actually vote. Answering DK is the easiest way to ignore questions you aren’t interested in, and moving on to rack up another 50 points.

    What might be of more significance is the attempts by Con/Lab to consolidate the ABS vote in particular constituencies, and to refight the referendum.

  29. “The squeeze has begun?”

    If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen soon. Now is the time the war chests start opening and the big two’s activists (much more numerous than the other parties) start to turn out and campaign.

    The Lib Dems held a designated national campaign day in Sheffield Hallam a couple of weeks ago and got about 60 campaigners out. Labour had 66 in Bermondsey yesterday without it being a national anything.

    In early March about half a dozen Labour clubs, the Young Fabians and Tom Watson are coming over to Clegg’s seat as well. Meanwhile Grant Shapps’ Team 2015 members hire buses and pay for train tickets to ferry their troops around.

    These large organised campaign sessions are the sort of thing the smaller parties cannot manage as effectively for lack of numbers, organization, money or all three.

    There isn’t the well of different groups (especially well built student societies) to use as a mobile reserve in the case of UKIP and the Greens. Not sure how the SNP’s enormous membership will translate to active campaigners.

    There’s also the issue of targetting. The Greens are targetting 12 seats (one held), UKIP 30 seats (two held) and the SNP, well, 59 (6 held). So of the 631 contested GB seats, 532 are not receiving significant effort from the smaller parties.

    There are a couple of hundred seats receiving hard work from the big two, and that means in many places they can relentlessly attack the small party vote without receiving any response. For example, there are many places the Greens have some natural support but in which they aren’t trying hard – Lancaster, Loughborough, Sheffield Hallam, etc. I am sure such seats exist where the Tories can attack an undefended UKIP vote too (although as mentioned before by someone else, UKIP tend to campaign even in no-hope areas).

    Now the race becomes ever more tactically fractured into individual races. It’s going to be fun.

  30. Part of my rationale for thinking the smaller parties (Green and the UKIP in particular) will underperform relative to the polls is the flavour of the month response from people who will in the end not vote but for some reason dont wan’t to appear apathetic even to a stranger on the phone or on-line. (Maybe some prompted genuinely give an answer thinking they will vote this time but in the end don’t).

    There will be a vote Green get Cons and Vote UKIP get Lab/Cons squeeze campaign, of course, which will have some affect as well and perhaps some scrutiny of actual policies will have an impact.

    ON – are you calling the LDs the third minor party?

  31. Jim Jam

    Yes. The LD share of VI in January is slightly lower than UKIP’s.

    My guess is that, having already lost most of their voters to SNP/Lab, the remnant is now haemorrhaging to the Tories.

  32. Other points from latest yougov ,normal caveats

    Large labour lead amongst women 39-30

    Drop in dont knows to 12,14 has been normal

    Midland/wales figures very volatile-switching back and forth

  33. @CMJ

    Thanks. So there are 2010 LD voters now trying the Tories, following earlier posts showing that their contemporaries have tried almost every other party as well. These voters must have had incredibly disparate world views as they backed the LibDems last time round.

    Also most of the Tory improvement seems to come from long-term supporters who have been opting out rather than lending their support to other parties on a temporary basis. No sign that either part is attracting back any Ukip voters.

    All very small numbers though…

  34. I have collated Scottish crossbreaks for each week this month. Below are the results

    Wk1; SNP 41% Lab 26% Con 16% LD 6% UKIP 7% Greens 4%
    Wk2: SNP 43% Lab 27% Con 16% LD 4% UKIP 6% Greens 3%
    Wk3: SNP 41% Lab 28% Con 18% LD 5% UKIP 4% Greens 4%
    Wk4: SNP 44% Lab 27% Con 20% LD 3% UKIP 3% Greens 3%

    So if anything is happening the minor parties are being squeezed and the Cons are creeping up.

  35. MRNAMELESS

    “The Lib Dems held a designated national campaign day in Sheffield Hallam a couple of weeks ago and got about 60 campaigners out.”

    There was no such national action day. What you are talking about is a LOCAL Sheffield Lib Dems action day, in the cold weather of early January. Believe me, if there is a national action day, I and many other members like me will be out there fighting for Nick Clegg.

    And the Lib Dems have been campaigning there all year round, year after year, rather than turning up at the last minute in a carpetbagging operation.

  36. Alright Mr. Winning Here, no need to be tetchy. I misunderstood. Although to address your snide implications, we’ve been working in the seat for years too.

  37. @OldNat

    Great minds I did exactly the same thing- collating the cross breaks. Remind you of anyone – ‘I have given the Scottish crossbreaks why hasn’t OldNat what does he have to hide’ – JM

  38. ON – that was always Chris Lane’s suggestion, as I understood it, that some of the ABLab element within the remaining LDs would move to Cons as the GE approached.

    Not in LD/Con marginals of course.

  39. Couper2802

    :-)

    My spreadsheet is set up to give the weekly means, though I thought I’d wait till I had a month’s worth before publishing them.

  40. JIM JAM:
    Good Morning to you, as I type on my lap top some A Level notes on Kant (strange lad).
    Yes, I think that AB Lib votes will slip to the Tories.

    SHEVII.
    Thanks for your note last night on here, concerning perceptions some people have had about Lib Dem voting intentions; many people feel concerned for Simon Hughes, the straight choice candidate.

  41. I was looking at East Renfrewshire Jim Murphy’s constituency, now with Murphy on 50% in 2010, it does seem very likely that Murphy will win but the Yes vote in that constituency was 38%. If the usual 85-90% of Yes voters vote SNP then the constituency could be a 3 way marginal caveats on turnout and the removal of the 16-17 year olds.

  42. COUPER

    East Ren will be interesting and although the Holyrood equivalent of the seat (Eastwood) excludes Barrhead and Neilston which are more Laboury areas the seat does contain the more affluent areas where the SNP came 3rd with 24% and Labour just under 40% and on the list the SNP actually came first with 34%.

    I still think JM will hold his seat but it will be interesting to see if any tactical voting happens

  43. mr n

    Re “squeeze”: that is the main reason I’ve have always assumed Con/Lab would share a minimum of 70%.

    There is nothing like a GE for focusing minds and I still feel that the ABT vote will revert to Labour in large enough numbers.

    FPTP is not fair and not my preferred option but it does damage smaller parties that increasingly get seen as irrelevant – and I think that this time the stakes will be seen as very high.

  44. Couper

    I think it’s always worth keeping an eye on the nearest equivalent Holyrood seat (in this case Eastwood – essentially East Ren minus Barrhead).

    2011 – Lab 39.7% : Con 33.4% : SNP 24.4% : LD 2.6%

    Add in the Labour/SNP votes from Barrhead and Murphy’s incumbency and media bonus : take away the undoubted (but unknown) Lab -> SNP swing : Add the square root of the first number you thought of :-) ……..

    I agree with you. A 3-way marginal is a distinct possibility.

  45. Allan Christie

    There’s too much group think on here today. :-)

  46. OLDNAT

    Great minds…. :-)

  47. New thread

  48. The LD share of the vote went up during 2010 campaign, so a smaller party got stronger and didn’t get squeezed, no reason why it will happen now, just look at the Greens, they are improving their VI. All of the smaller parties will be fighter harder than the big parties, especially against complacence incumbent MPs.
    Then the debates will give smaller parties exposure too, that they don’t normally get.

  49. HH

    “The LD share of the vote went up during 2010 campaign, so a smaller party got stronger and didn’t get squeezed, no reason why it will happen now”

    I think it important to look beyond figures: the LDs were seen, by many people at the time [as witnessed by their haemorrhage of support post-coalition] as being NOT Tory.

    That won’t be the case this time and at least some voters will not want to make the same mistake [as they might see it] again, with any of the “smaller” parties.

    I do the think the 21010 evidence points to a significant block that were totally fed up with Gordon Brown/Labour but were not enamoured by the Tories. I doubt if further, projected deep cuts will have altered that view.

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