Monday tends to be the busiest day of the week for polling (not least because phone polls are mostly conducted across the weekend). We have four polls due today: Populus, Ashcroft, YouGov and ComRes. ComRes’s poll tonight will be in the Daily Mail, who seem to have taken over ComRes’s phone polls from the Independent, their host since 2006.

The twice-weekly poll from Populus has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6% (tabs here). This is their first poll of 2015 not to show a Labour lead.

The weekly poll from Lord Ashcroft meanwhile has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8% (tabs here). This is his largest Labour lead of 2015 so far, and UKIP are sharply down – 11 points is the lowest UKIP have recorded in an Ashcroft poll. The online/phone poll contrast in terms of UKIP support seems to be alive and well, with the last three phone polls from MORI, ICM and Ashcroft giving UKIP scores of 9, 9 and 11 respectively, but online polls continuing to show them in the teens.

UPDATE: Here are tonight’s other two polls. ComRes in the Daily Mail have figures of CON 34%(+3), LAB 32%(+2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 13%(-4), GRN 8%(+1). The two point Conservative lead is the largest ComRes have shown since 2010, and their UKIP score is the lowest since last Spring. Meanwhile YouGov in the Sun have topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%.

Putting today’s four polls together we have one Labour lead, one Tory lead, and two polls showing the parties neck-and-neck – all perfectly in line with normal sample variation around the parties being pretty much neck-and-neck, probably with Labour just ahead. Note the UKIP picture though – all the regular phone polls have them at their lowest score for some time, and 13 points is equal to YouGov’s lowest score for them this year. The trend is difficult to discern given the wide variations between different pollsters, but looking at the average of the February polls so far UKIP do seem to be down slightly.


364 Responses to “Monday’s polls – UPDATED”

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  1. So it was interesting after all.

  2. Anthony

    Is it polling companies that come up with a neutral question or do the contracting publishers write the questions ?

  3. FPT @Richard

    “Ashcrofts polls have always seemed quite volatile. He had this to say last time

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2014/07/ashcroft-national-poll-story-far/

    I think the main message is don’t look at one poll, look at the trend.”

    ….

    Problem with Ashcroft national poll is that there is no obvious trend.

  4. Bramley – a more complicated question than you’d think.

    Essentially it’s a back and forth process that continues until you are both happy. The client is happy it fits their needs, the pollster is happy that it’s fair, balanced, not leading and so on.

    Within that there is a scale from clients coming along with questions they’ve already written and then the pollster amending it, to clients coming along with no questions but something they’d like to find out and asking the pollster the best way to approach it. Ultimately though both sides need to be happy – if the client isn’t, they don’t commission the question; if the pollster isn’t, we won’t run it.

  5. @ James (from previous thread)

    Any theories as to why Ashcroft’s national poll is quite so erratic?

    Has anyone actually tested whether they are more erratic that other polls? (This could be done by looking at the variability of changes since the previous poll across different pollsters).

    YouGov would certainly emerge as much more stable than the rest – largely because they are conducted with such regularity (meaning that there is very little time for real changes to occur between successive polls).

    The Ashcroft national polls are now amongst the smallest we have. This one started with just 1004 respondents and many are twice this size. This alone would increase the MoE by 50%.

    Beyond that I can’t help wondering whether there is a perception of variability just because of the increased hype associated with a new Ashcroft poll. Lord Ashcroft tends to send out tweet teasers in the run-up to publication and the UKPR corridors reverberate with anticipatory exchanges. Others just quietly release new polls without anything like the same amount of hype.

    Anyway, my view as ever is to take them all with a pinch of salt and savour only after a week’s worth of bubbling together with 20-30 other polls.

  6. Fun insight into voters’ perceptions of Nigel Farage, from Lord A’s focus groups;

    “…..some who regarded the party’s agenda as being too narrow treated him as a sideshow: “He’s a bit like your missus. He might have said something intelligent but you weren’t really paying attention.”

  7. Thanks !

    I belong to a site where the question has often been mooted about the target audiences/media slant & pollsters.

    Good to read it’s a two-way process & ComRes won’t just be churning out the kind of ‘should we point & shout at people whilst taking their benefits away’ kind of questions so beloved of their new contractors. :/

  8. A Cross-comparison of same day voting in the London 2014 European election and London borough elections shows a voting pattern oscillation as follows:

    Labour 36.7% – 37.3%
    Conservative 22.5% – 26.3%
    UKIP 16.9% – 9.4%
    LD 6.6% – 10.6%
    Green 8.9% – 9.7%
    Other 8.4% – 6.7%

    Observations:

    1. The Labour and Green vote shares are relatively stable between the two elections which both used FPTP

    2. The up and down oscillation in the UKIP and LD vote is highest at 44.4% and 37.8% respectively and that for the Conservatives 14.4%

    3. In contrast the oscillation in the Labour vote is 1.6% and for Green 8.2%

    4. Almost completely missing from current polling data is the size of the “Other” vote that oscillates by 20.2%, which was significantly underestimated in the European election.

    Measuring these kind of tangible oscillations in voting patterns versus polling modelling, in my humble opinion, will tell us far more about what is happening in the electorate than modelling using 2010 weighting.

    My concern with all current polling is that as an election nears some people do get less firm in their opinions and if pollsters, like ICM, are arbitrarily assigning “don’t know” a 2010 party value that is automatically going to push the LD and Conservative vote share up and suppress UKIP and Green support – which was almost non-existent in 2010.

    I do not doubt there is an oscillation going on as the pollsters have clearly identified soft support for all parties, even if determination to vote is higher. The significant differences between the pollsters and between polls, however, tells me that some of the modelling is wrong as I do not believe an electorate can be as volatile as is being shown.

    The oscillation between polls and pollsters between February 13th and now is as follows:

    Labour 31% – 36%
    Conservative 28% – 36%
    UKIP 9% – 18%
    LD 6% – 10%
    Green 5% – 8%
    SNP/PC 4% – 6%
    Other 1% – 2%

    What do we do, split the difference?

    Labour 33.5%
    Conservative 32%
    UKIP 13.5%
    LD 8%
    Green 6.5%
    SNP/PC 5%
    Other 1%

    Well from my perspective the above figures are about as effective as some of the pollsters current weight modelling and might be whole lot closer to the truth than what is being published.

  9. Before posting my last comment I should have reread the Electionforecast team blog I gave a link to at 9.01am.

    That posts a plot comparing the variances of the different pollsters/commissioners. From that it looks as if the Ashcroft polls probably don’t suffer from higher variability than other polls of a similar size.

    In that case we are probably just imagining that they are more erratic than the others.

  10. You know what gets me about Rifkind and Straw?

    They didn’t check the “company” that approached them.

    In my own company, every single time we are approached by a new potential client, we do some quick checks to make sure it’s a genuine organisation and not someone trying to scam us, gain commercially useful info etc.

    I’m utterly astonished that two ex-Foreign Secretaries didn’t have the brains to to do this. I’d have hoped that they were a tad less naive when they were in post.

  11. @ Andy Shadrack

    What do we do, split the difference?

    Nope. Not a good idea.

    Splitting the difference given undue weight to the outliers, and it is better to place more emphasis on the rest. Better to follow @ Statgeek’s methods which exclude outliers. Alternatively, it wouldn’t do much harm if you just went for the median VI value for each set of polls you choose to examine.

  12. @ Unicorn,

    Wow. That just shows you how wrong our perceptions of things can be, even here on UKPR where we like to think we’re rational and objective. I was absolutely certain Ashcroft’s polls were more volatile.

  13. @Unicorn

    Thanks, do you have a link for what you are looking at? Their website is quite messy. Is it this

    http://www.electionforecast.co.uk/graphics/2015_house_effect_plot.svg

  14. @ Unicorn

    Do you agree that weighting using the 2010 election party values is problematic leading up to the 2015 Uk election, given the changes in Scotland, the 2014 European and various local government elections?

  15. @ Andy,

    Weighing to 2010 has to be a better idea than weighing to an election with 35% turnout.

  16. @Anthony

    “Ultimately though both sides need to be happy – if the client isn’t, they don’t commission the question; if the pollster isn’t, we won’t run it.”

    Reputation v Income…which is strangely topical. :))

  17. @ Spearmint

    Look at my post from 1.50 PM February 23rd and ask yourself if a comparison of local government elections between 2010 and 2014 shows a massive rise in voter support for UKIP and a significant rise in support for Green, whether the methodology currently being used is wonky.

    Surely if turnout goes down then the value for all parties should go down too?

    But when three parties values go down and two parties values go up, does that signify a change in voting pattern?

  18. @Lefty

    “They didn’t check the “company” that approached them”

    Indeed. I mean the companies might have been secretly procuring machine parts to make a large gun.

    Doh!

  19. LEFTY

    They both say they did.

    It isn’t clear however what the nature of the checks was. One of them ( can’t remember which) said they “had a website”. Well no sting worthy of the name is going to forget to set that up.

  20. @Leftylampton

    “You know what gets me about Rifkind and Straw?”

    What gets me is that this is now the third time that MPs have been caught out in this way – by the same paper! You’d think some of them would be on a guard just a little bit when people they’ve never heard of come soliciting their services with a large carrier bag.

    I’m starting to think that they all might be denser than even I imagine.

  21. Ashcroft polls are always all over the place showing stupid results either way.

    I really don’t take it seriously any more.

  22. Before posting my last comment I should have reread the Electionforecast team blog I gave a link to at 9.01am.
    That posts a plot comparing the variances of the different pollsters/commissioners. From that it looks as if the Ashcroft polls probably don’t suffer from higher variability than other polls of a similar size.
    In that case we are probably just imagining that they are more erratic than the others.

    all clever stuff, but are you saying that yougov polls show as much “variability” as Ashcroft…? just looking at the ranges of the VI for all the parties this year shows this isn’t the case.

    you’re over subtle, unicorn.

  23. @Andy S

    No one doubts voting patterns have changed, but the reality we don’t know how to accurately quantify it reliably.

    Different pollsters have different answers, but we won’t know until the election who is correct.

  24. @Skippy – I’m inclined to agree with that. It can’t just be all about the sample size.

  25. So with less than two and a half months to go we still have no idea who will end up as the largest party in the UK.

  26. ANDY SHADRACK
    The Labour and Green vote shares are relatively stable between the two elections which both used FPTP

    Was that a typo or am I missing something?

    The European election was vanilla d’Hondt with fixed party list.

    The London local elections were plurality system.

    I know FPTP is a term oft used here, but I’ve never understood why, given that no “post” exists before counting the votes, even then it is usually irrelevant because few “winners” ever reach 50%, and when a tie occurs it is resolved by a coin toss or tosses.

  27. Regarding checking who they were meeting, I think that is a stunner for me. I get asked to meet lots of people, and I never go without doing some basic checks on the individuals and who they claim to represent.

    Basic stuff, but if you are an MP, it would be essential for all manner of reasons – not least security.

  28. does anybody else think the bus carrying swingback and crossover as gone over a cliff ???

  29. I’d still say Ashcroft was volatile especially when compared to YouGov and Populus.

    You have to go back to November with YouGov to find a 4 point lead for either side. Ashcroft we have had two this year in different directions (making them doubly volatile!). And that is with YouGov producing 6 times as many polls as Ashcroft.

    Some of it may appear more volatile than it is because he has Tories and Labour switching leads regularly on what may be just a couple of points difference but even so….

  30. @NottsDave

    You may hace spoken too soon! We have a ComRes phone poll this evening for the Daily Mail.

  31. @BARBAZENERO

    It was an error to state both were FPTP and I was thinking of an earlier post at 1.50 PM Feb 23rd where I compared 2010 and 2014 local government election results.

    What I have observed is that by looking at recent election results you can to some extent predict where the parties might place, but not nessarily the exact percentage they will obtain.

    I am quite frankly extremely sceptical that LD are ahead of the Green Party and that UKIP support is a s low as some pollsters are claiming.

    There are also huge variations in support among the parties depending, especially, on what part of England ones is looking at.

  32. I think Unicorn was saying Ashcroft is no more volatile than other polls with a similar sample size

    Looking here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2015_United_Kingdom_general_election

    ICM and Ipsos Mori are the other 2 pollsters with a sample size of 1000.

    And ICM was the big outlier last week….

    So I think the lesson is – look at the sample size, small samples are more likely to throw outliers, so definitely ignore single poll with apparent big changes if the sample size is only 1000.

    Rather do what Ashcroft seems to be doing – average them out

    Lord Ashcroft [email protected] · 1h1 hour ago
    Average of the Ashcroft National Poll 2nd February to 23rd February CON 31.8% LAB 32.2% LDEM 8.2% UKIP 14.0% GRNS 7.8%

  33. Another shambolic outing for Ed Balls today.This man alone will lose the election for labour.

  34. Embarrassing for Rifkind and Straw. Don’t know what’s worse, but Straw asking for £5k per day I found excruciating to watch. No doubt Rifkinds rate is similar.

  35. Good Evening All from a stormy south coast.

    Greens and UKIP will benefit, I think, from anti politics mood, made worse by Straw-Rifkind.

  36. @Ann In Wales

    He’s got away with it so far. Maybe it’s got to the stage that people payno attention to him anymore so it no longer matters.

  37. Good evening all from a windy and drenched East Ren..

    The news on Rifkind and Straw is boring. Both have said they have done nothing wrong. Both parties will come out and condemn them but empathize that they have done nothing wrong..chapter closed.

    The polls are boring too. Ashcroft can’t tell a MOE from a MOT which clearly his polling is lacking.

  38. @Democracy

    Yes, the Telegraph takes today’s Razzie for the worst reporting on a poll.

    The also did a headline last week on the TNS outlier.

    Lesson I guess is don’t buy the Telegraph if you want the correct facts.

    But I think we learnt that last week anyway from Oborne’s comments, and from the comments in Alan Cochrane’s book

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q-KdBQAAQBAJ&q=fiddle+opinion#v=snippet&q=fiddle%20opinion&f=false

  39. ANN IN WALES

    “Another shambolic outing for Ed Balls today.This man alone will lose the election for labour”
    ________

    In real life away from politics people say he is actually quite a clever man.

  40. ANDY SHADRACK
    I am quite frankly extremely sceptical that LD are ahead of the Green Party and that UKIP support is a s low as some pollsters are claiming.

    Fair enough. That seems reasonable to me. I was just concerned that the results might not have been from the elections you listed.

    I imagine that there must be some difference in the way an average voter approaches the two types of election if only because tactical voting would be pretty ineffectual in d’Hondt, so the similar numbers for Lab and Green may indicate party rather than individual candidate preference is more important to those two groups of voters.

    I can just about imagine that, for whatever reason, a voter might want a UKIP MEP to get a better deal in the EU for the UK and a Green councillor to help preserve the local environment, which would explain some of the differences, or perhaps a 2010 LD voter might choose to vote UKIP for Europe [to give the LD leadership a kicking] but vote LD for a local councillor perceived to have done a good job saving the local library.

    Neither would be the norm, I suspect!

  41. Straw and Rifkind may be buried by the last episode of Broadchurch. Guilty or Not Guilty?

  42. @NottsDave

    “does anybody else think the bus carrying swingback and crossover as gone over a cliff ???”

    Fear not, for Robin Hood will rescue it. He hasn’t ventured out of the psephological forest for a while, although I thought yesterday’s Opinium poll would have tempted him into a foray. His dwindling band of men on UKPR would have appreciated another “it’s all over bar the shouting, I tell you, and I’m always right, so don’t argue with me and I’m just going out to campaign for a Labour victory, although they’re destined to lose and the Tories will win, just look at the 1955 election…” tirade. I would have done, anyway. I miss the gaiety he always provided this ever grateful nation

    Robin Hood, Robin Hood, crossing over the glen
    Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his swing-back pen
    Feared by TNS/BRMB, loved by the Ipsos/MORI
    Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

    He called the greatest pollsters to a website on the screen
    They vowed to help the people detect late swing
    They handled all the trouble on the English political scene
    And still found plenty of evidence that Miliband was a complete ding-a-ling.

    Chorus

    He came to UKPR with a feather in his cap
    A fighter never looking for a fight
    His swingback model was always ready and he kept his predictions sharp
    He used them to cast, pure, unadulterated psephological light*

    (* there was another word that rhymed with “fight” but I thought better of it.)

    Come back Robin, I miss you.

  43. @ Crossbat11

    Brilliant :)

  44. Re the Ch4 sting, it’s worth noting that 8 MPs approached did not reply : 1 said not interested : 1 dropped after saying s/he would check them out.

    Regardless of any moral issues, I find it amazing that the checks on the “company” were so perfunctory. It would seem obvious to employ an agency to check on the people involved.

    Is it simply a reluctance to share the considerable fees?

  45. RAF,
    Just watching it now but haven’t got the faintest idea what it is all about.Doesnt
    help that we have missed several episodes and that I nodded off during this one.Shall I guess,David Tennant did It?Whatever it is.

  46. @Unicorn

    “Alternatively, it wouldn’t do much harm if you just went for the median VI value for each set of polls you choose to examine.”

    (Gameshow host voice) And now there’s a even more to choose from, with Min, Max, Median, Mean, Mode and Range.

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/polling/periodic-averages/average-median-mode/

    …but all of those calcs include any outliers. At the UK level, the differences are minimal, so short of a hung parliament (cough) it doesn’t tend to matter.

  47. I think that what we see is pretty much how things will be. There has been no significant change for some time(Lab always ahead cca 1%). I think voters have decided by now what they want, more or less. Debates etc. won’t change anything much now.

    Which means, in the end, that Cons are toast. Looks like it will be Lab+ x govt. The only question is, what/who is x?

    Last time, Cons had 6%+ lead at this point, even then, no OM in the end. It is clear, or should be, to everyone, that they will go.

  48. Ann in Wales

    Agree with you about the Ed Balls-up. Don’t usually watch Parliament live but by chance. Osborne ate him for breakfast, or as it was this pm, brunch. How could EB have stumbled into such an obvious elephant trap ? The recent FT analysis had already revealed that Labour had a much better record than the Coalition in tackling corporate tax avoidance, but a notably inferior one on avoidance by wealthy individuals. Balls was clearly part of the Labour team that chose to target companies not individuals. That decision was doubtful, but it beggars belief that he then launched a high-profile attack on the Chancellor On the exact topic where Labour in general, and Balls in particular, have such a poor record. No wonder Ed Miliband wanted Alan Johnson in the job. He should have fired or moved Balls months ago. Labour are fortunate that the edited version of the Parliemtaey exchange didn’t show how badly EB performed. If it was a boxing bout the red would have stopped the fight.

  49. @Rich

    I think Rifkind asked for £5-£8K per half day so Straw @£5K/day is a bargain.

    At least Straw acknowledged he had a day job that ought to take precedence.

    For me though, it’s to be expected of a Tory – free market and all that. Doesn’t make it acceptable but doubly unacceptable for a Lab MP.

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