Nine weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls – just the regular weekly, twice-weekly and daily polls this week.

Opinium/Observer (26/2) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (27/2) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Populus (1/3) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (1/3) – CON 34%, LAB 31%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (2/3) – CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (3/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (4/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (5/3) – CON 31%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Populus (5/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

There was a little group of polls showing the Conservatives ahead at the start of the week, provoking some speculation about whether or not we were seeing some sign of movement. By the end of the week though we’d had five polls showing Labour leads, two showing a draw, three showing Tory leads. For now, at least, the UKPR polling average continues to show a one point Labour lead – CON 33%(+1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc).

Sub-national polls

YouGov had a London poll earlier in the week showing topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 5% – a five point swing to Labour since the general election. I wrote more about it here.

We also had a batch of Ashcroft constituency polls which I discussed here. He polled four Conservative held seats in England and Wales and a fresh batch of Scottish seats. The first lot of Scottish polling Ashcroft did which concentrated on Labour seats in areas that voted YES. This set were more evenly spread across different areas of Scotland, but showed the SNP surge also happening in NO voting areas. They included polls showing the SNP ahead in Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, ahead in Charles Kennedy’s seat and just a point behind Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire.

Week 9

  • The week began with reaction to Labour’s tuition fees policy. A lot of the reactions to it in the media were critical, claiming out that because graduates who earn low wages don’t pay off their loans, it would only really benefit better off graduates. As ever, it’s perceptions of a policy that counts – and YouGov polling at the start of the week found that, while more people thought it would help better off graduates, 32% of people still thought it would help out graduates earning a low salary, and overall people supported it by 49% to 31%.
  • UKIP announced their immigration policy, with Nigel Farage surprisingly rejecting any form of cap or limit in favour of a general reduction. More polling on that to come, but again, remember that people don’t necessarily pick up on the details of policy. In the same way that many people will simply have picked up that Labour will cut tuition fees, the details of UKIP’s immigration policy probably don’t much matter – most voters will just be aware that UKIP are generally in favour of cutting it.
  • And the debate debate may finally be nearing its endgame. The Conservatives wrote to the broadcasters saying Cameron’s final offer was to take part in one, seven-way debate in the last week of March. The broadcasters wrote back saying they would still do the 7-7-2 debates in April without him. I wrote about the potential polling impact of the debate debate here – the weekend polls on Sunday will be our first opportunity to see if it actually has had any effect


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection (note that May2015 have got a problem with their site, so the figures below are the corrected ones they should be showing). As usual, everyone is projecting a hung Parliament, though all four are now projecting the Conservatives to have the most seats.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 286(+7), LAB 278(-5), LD 22(-1), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 286(+1), LAB 280(+4), LD 24(-3), SNP 38(-1), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 276(+6), LAB 271(nc), LD 23(-3), SNP 55(-1), UKIP 3(-1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275(nc), LAB 271(nc), LD 26(-1), SNP 52(+1), UKIP 4(nc)

381 Responses to “Nine weeks to go”

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  1. Yougov have asked a series of questions on the debates.Cameron gets the blame and 55percent think the debates should go ahead without him.

    Their normal questions on the economy show clear if gentle signs of movement towards belief the economy is improving for my family (tho its still negative).

    You would think this is bound to affect VI sooner rather than later.

  2. CANDY – “Non Scots regard the SNP as essentially malign”

    The majority of Scots also regard the SNP as malign and will do their best on election day to send them home to think again.

  3. Do we have polling evidence to support Candy’s assertion re the attitude of non-scots to the SNP?

  4. Good morning all from a nice and sunny Giffnock.

    I watched a little part of the Scottish Labour Party gathering this morning (think it was from yesterday) and it was quite 1980’s in nature.

    The big red curtain in the background and MP’s up on the stage shouting very angrily (it makes good viewing). If someone watching this wasn’t up to date with British politics then they would probably get the impression Alex Salmond was the guy in number 10.

    The hall was not even full when Murphy got up to speak and it only seats around 400 so that alone shows the crises for Labour north of the border.


    Thanks for the cross breaks updates. Some movement on the YG polls but nothing that would have NS pressing the panic button.

    Should be interesting to see what the polls show next week after the Labour gathering in Edinburgh.

    The majority of Scots also regard the SNP as malign and will do their best on election day to send them home to think again.

    I presume you’re taking that “majority” from Prof. C’s latest poll of polls from 22 February, which gives SNP only 45% of the vote for Westminster.

    Given their recent and current alliances with the Greens, I suspect that the Green 4% would not go so far as to call them malign, but you may be correct that a majority of the 51% who support the 4 unionist parties [UKIP, LD, Con & Lab] regard them as malign.

    If just 2% of that 51% plan to vote that way for some other reason then you’re wrong.

  7. @Hawthorn

    Rounding errors:

    These effects would matter a little more in a small-sample average like @Andy’s. But in the grand scheme of things they wouldn’t have much impact. For an individual poll rounding could shift a VI figure by up to 0.5% or (say) about a sixth of the MoE. So, errors of this kind would constitute just a modest component of the overall unexplained variation.

  8. ALLAN CHRISTIE. Good Morning to you from a sunny beach here.
    The races are warming up; there are several races in the UK GE contest; all very exciting, for politically interested people, anyway.

  9. @ Allan Christie

    The venue was the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The entire centre was used. The main speeches were in the Pentland Room, which seats 1200 (you can google it). I was a delegate &, having nipped out for a coffee, couldn’t get a seat for Ed Miliband’s speech because all the seats were taken & there were dozens of people standing at the back!

  10. Regarding to David Cameron’s recent speech demanding that Ed Milband rule out a coalition with the SNP: Isn’t this tantamount to an admission that the Tories have accepted they cannot win and it will be a hung parliament?

    Cameron wasn’t alone from the Conservatives making this demand (John Major did also) and I note somebody in the Question Time audience asked pretty much the same question also. I can’t for the life of me see why Miliband would rule anything out at this stage, for strategic reasons. It’s not as if the Conservatives have ruled out coalition with UKIP, the LibDems or indeed Labour (apparently!).

    However, the real story I am getting from all these comments is the gradual acceptance from the Government that even in the likely event of a hung parliament and Labour losing a load of seats in Scotland (which weakens their claim for a majority government), the likelihood is that the next parliament is likely to be dominated by more left wing parties – just in more varied forms than usual.

  11. CHRISLANE1945

    The races are warming up in the political arena and it rather puts Epson into the dull corner for excitement.

    The big question south of the border…will UKIP implode and north of the border, will the SNP explode onto the Westminster scene?

  12. That’s what I thought. It definitely had an impact earlier this week as I calculated that the two Conservative leads were only just over the .5 rounding point, although I agree it would be unlikely to have a major impact over 20 polls. I also think it needs to be factored into any confidence interval calculation.

    I still concur that the Conservatives have had an increase of around 1pp since the start of the year.

  13. Recent discussion seems more directed to politics and predictions than polling, but
    “the UKPR polling average continues to show a one point Labour lead ”

    Let us suppose that the two parties are now equal. Then on MoE each should show a roughly equal number of small leads, so that an average of polls would be expected to show zero.
    “each company has a tendency to show better or worse scores for each party. In terms of creating polling averages this risks skewing an average if one pollster does a lot more polling than their rivals.” says AW’s link. If one company has a systematic error that offsets the VI of one party, then that company will skew the average even if all companies poll equally regularly or some correction is applied for frequent polling.
    Systematic errors are only eliminated by averaging if different companies err in opposite directions.

  14. Allan Christie
    Your mate must be a bit dim as he appears to have turned up to the Barbican!

  15. I always get rather suspicious when people start posting as (former) something! In most cases it turns out to be anything but former and just a front to try and add credibility onto whatever they are saying.


    “Regarding to David Cameron’s recent speech demanding that Ed Milband rule out a coalition with the SNP: Isn’t this tantamount to an admission that the Tories have accepted they cannot win and it will be a hung parliament?”

    It’s called posturing. The arithmetic of the parliament in May looks like it’s set to be quite complex with no single party wining a majority.

    The fact that the polls (for now) are showing the SNP to be potential king makers and that hey have said they rule out any deal with the Tories put’s pressure on Cameron to ask EM if rules out any deals with the SNP.

    He needs a comfort blanked to chew on and so far EM hasn’t given him that.

  17. @ Catmanjeff: “What we need is a Spearmint Churnograph wotsit :-)”

    For a second, I thought you meant a Spearman’s Rank Order Correlation Coefficient. Haven’t calculated one of those since, oh, 1969? Whiff of madelines about it.

  18. Bit of a surprise that the TV debate coverage hasn’t seemed to make any difference to voting intention- even TOH felt there might be a short term impact.

    Yougov tables are up and public pretty much in favour of the deabtes and a comfortable majority for saying Cameron was scared. There was even a small majority for the Miliband being interviewed by an empty chair option.

    It felt like quite a few of the responses on this probably went along party lines so anti TV debates is not that far off the Tory Voting intention. In a sense this makes you question the unbiased nature of the general public to the issue itself. There’s only one party that doesn’t want it so to an extent their supporters don’t want it either- whereas the other 2/3rd of the electorate who support another party do want them as they think they will benefit their parties.

    I guess it is only the response of swing voters that matter.

  19. @Laszlo

    “the differences between the aggregates and distributions are so clearly visible in Statgeek’s forgotten voters (I think it was Statgeek … I forgot to bookmark it)”

  20. Anthony

    You missed a comment in your cull.

  21. SHEVII

    I’m a little surprised like you, but of course the row was still going on after the polling finished. If you look at the detail, whilst the other parties, apart from the DUP are in favour of the debates generally, when you get to the head to head debate with EM only Labour are in favour.

    As the Tories have calculated, it was worth taking a small hit. I understand there is now some possibility of ITV breaking ranks anyway and holding a & way debate in March as DC requested.

  22. Shevii

    I am not surprised that there has been no movement.

    The problem is one of undermining the Conservative narrative against Miliband rather than people suddenly changing their vote because they are unimpressed with Cameron’s stance. It makes it more difficult for the Conservatives to gain traction, so the impact could occur during the campaign proper.

  23. Morning all, a lovely sunny day for my birthday, and i must say i don’t feel as old as i am. Looking back on 75 yeras my generation has been very lucky in many ways. Celebrated our 53rd wedding aniversary last month so both of us are feeling chipper.

    As always the Sunday YouGov has interesting details, apart from the fact that the Tories have a small lead.
    The economic questions all show an improvement for the Government:-
    Government’s management of the economy now into positive territory at +2
    State of Britain’s economy improved to only -3
    Households better or worse has also improved to only -6
    I think these are all the best numbers by far the best for some time. I also think they are crucial to the result of the election.
    Finally, whilst I appreciate the YouGov polling finished before the arguments had finished I think the Tories will be reasonably happy with the questions on the debates especially “should there be a head to head between DC & EM”, for 42%, against 42% with Con, LD and UKIP voters all against. The “should it be empty-chaired if the head to head goes ahead without him” only showed 3% in favour.
    DC’s standing is unchanged from last week at only -6 whilst EM’s position has weakened by another 2 points to -48.
    All in all I would have thought the Tories the happier as it ends the week with all four academic foecasting groups predicting the Tories with most votes and seats.

    Have a good day all we are having a party. :-)

  24. TOH

    That wouldn’t stop the others doing an empty chair debate.

    In my opinion, turning up to only one debate would be the worst option of all for Cameron. That way he risks losing the debate and still look shifty and evasive.

  25. @Dave

    “Systematic errors are only eliminated by averaging if different companies err in opposite directions.”

    Systematic errors aren’t eliminated by averaging at all, technically. Averaging deals with random errors. If a poll has a systematic error then the system itself needs addressing.

  26. From one Howard to another: Happy Birthday.

  27. Con / Lab / Lib leadership ratings drop in Scotland at the same time:

    Cameron: -44
    Clegg: -66
    Miliband: -75

    No mention of Sturgeon, Farage or others.

  28. Happy birthday TOH

    New thread

  29. @Dave

    Systematic errors are only eliminated by averaging if different companies err in opposite directions.

    True enough in terms of absolute figures. But not so obviously true in terms of trends. If Pollster X has a bias then this may distort the polling averages, but provided this bias is stable over time there should be a degree of self-correction in trends.

    For example, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Ukip support has faded since Jan 1. Some pollsters are known to show higher Ukip VIs thwn others. But if you compare like with like then these biases should be filtered out in estimates of trends over time.

    That said, I can’t help wondering what purpose there is in this quest for precision in the polling averages. The exact averages matter very little in themselves as their impact is only seat after being diffracted through a seat-projection model. Other than the simplest (and most misleading) UNS models, these computational systems all make use of raw material that is much richer than the overall national polling averages. (The more elaborate models make use of regional variations, polling data from individual constituencies, and more besides).

    The published polling averages are nothing more than a rough approximation of what is going on and it is probably not worth getting exercised about whether these headline figures are a point or so out from time to time.

  30. @Bill Patrick, MOG, Pete B et all (early hours of this morning):

    Yes, I did mean to say the Thrilla in Manila. I have no idea why I referred to the Rumble in the Jungle.

  31. The average of polls show the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck, a situation which normally means due to the biased FPTP electoral system that Labour end up with a big majority of seats. Yet, the four estimates of seats shown under ‘9 weeks to go’, show Labour on average about 275 seats and Conservatives on average 285 seats. Is it down to the SNP not being included in the percentage figures but are included in the seats figures? If so it is a graphic indication of how 1 or 2 million Scots votes (whether they vote SNP or Labour) completely bias the electoral system for the whole of the UK which in total has twenty times that number of votes. When you consider that a few votes in marginal seats also sway the result disproportionately, it is no wonder that many people do not consider it worth the effort of voting, the vast majority of voters have no say in the overall outcome. A PR system of voting would not be much better since such a system would perpetuate coalition governments, the recent example of which has shown the squabbling, dirty tricks, back stabbing and unclear accountability that coalition government gives.

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