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

Projections

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. It was 10 weeks to go, a week ago. :-)

  2. So projections all currently showing Con having the most seats….but only just.
    This creates the potential for a constitutional crisis. If Con have the most seats but cannot form a working majority with Lib Dem and DUP then Lab having finished second may be able to form a majority Govt with SNP support. Finishing second should not mean that party becomes the major partner in Govt in my view.

    Does anyone think either Con or Lab would try and go it alone as a minority Govt?

  3. Top ten most noticed news stories this week

    https://twitter.com/PopulusPolls/status/573809515923120128/photo/1

    Death of Becky 36%
    None 21%
    ISIS 12%
    Election debates 4%

    Rest at 1 or 2%…..

  4. It is interesting that Election Forecast and Elections etc have moved in opposite directions, even if the result predicted is similar.

  5. @AW

    “Debate debate” is too repetitive. Debate-gate is more original.

  6. Are the Ashcroft national poll figures correct? I seem to recall them having con/lab the other way around.

  7. What about it being Debatearate; a combination of debate and irritate.

    Peter.

  8. As a long time Lurker I feel compelled to post.. at the end of the day the government should be allowed to decide if they wish to debate not the media. The media are there to be impartial not to control what happens. [Snip – can I stop you before we get to a “BBC bias” discussion, it’s something that never ends up anywhere except a rather pointless partisan back-and-forth – AW]

  9. Or debate-bait : a temptation for UKPR posters to get all excited on party lines.

  10. Mikey – “Does anyone think either Con or Lab would try and go it alone as a minority Govt?”

    I do. It’s less messy for both than complicated coalitions.

    Though it will be harder for Lab to pull it off than Con.

    The Cons have the advantage of having got through most of their legislative program in the current parliament, so they can coast as a minority govt, waiting for the optimum moment to call a new election to gain a majority. They have taken care to raise a lot of money so can easily afford to fight two elections.

  11. Ah, I’m thinking of Ashcroft’s 8000 strong poll, but fieldwork here ended 28th Feb.

  12. @MIKEY

    It won’t be a constitutional crisis. If you can secure a parliamentary majority then you can be invited to form a government. Being the largest party has no constitutional significance.

  13. @Mikey

    Labour could possibly run a minority as the SNP won’t vote against on a confidence vote but they might not be able to get much done. The Conservatives probably not as they may not survive a confidence vote. It really depends on the final arithmetic but the fact the SNP/PC will vote against Conservatives but not Labour on confidence gives Labour an advantage.

  14. Oldnat,

    I am entirely unexcited by the idea of debating debates or debating the debates about debates. Frankly, I think of the debates much as I think of the National Lottery: the National Lottery is a tax on not understanding probabilities and the debates are a punishment for getting your political information from television in 2015.

  15. As is PMQs, I’m afraid. You’d get a better to-and-fro by looking at Labourlist and Conservativehome on a Wednesday, and just as good a sense of what this week’s hot button issues are.

  16. @candy.. yes but only the Tories as the largest party as they would just carry on. Labour couldn’t IMHO

  17. Why is this excluded?

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/National-poll-tables-March-2015-LAM124A.pdf

    The poor chap goes to all that trouble with an 8000 sample size and it has to be the most under-reported poll of the week (albeit much of it conducted last week).

  18. Bill Patrick

    They might be OK if both the media and the politicians were allowed no say in how and when and where they were broadcast or who speaks for the party.

  19. As I mentioned a while ago, EVEL could solve any political problems if the Lib Dems were on board and the numbers added up. It could just be an informal arrangement.

  20. @Bill Patrick

    Lol!

    The debate about the debate has nothing to do with the substance of any purported debates but with the politics of the same. So regardless of your position on substance, what you really need to address is the eternal debate: to be or not to be? That is the question!

  21. I find it interesting that while the polls show a small Labour lead if anything, the four forecasts that AW mentions all give a small Con majority in seats.

    I thought that because the Boundary Commissions recommendations did not go through, that there was supposed to be a small bias in favour of Labour. In other words, on equal votes, Labour would get a few more seats than Con.

    So what’s changed? Is this a side effect of the apparent Labour wipeout in Scotland, or is it something else? Do the forecasters all have last-minute pro government swing built into their models?

  22. Statto – I always leave out polls that don’t have all the company’s normal bells and whistles. For example, if a company normally weights by turnout, reallocates don’t knows, etc, etc but doesn’t in one poll and doesn’t headline it I don’t include it, as we can’t tell what the final figures would have been if done “properly”. There was a similar TNS poll earlier this year and an Opinium poll last year that fell into the same camp.

    It often happens when the question has been asked just for crossbreak purposes, rather than to be published in it’s own right.

  23. Mikey – “Finishing second [in the popular vote] should not mean that party becomes the major partner in Govt in my view.”
    But it’s happened plenty of times in other countries who have more regular coalitions than the UK. What it means is that the two (or three, or four) parties making up the coalition *together* have more support then the alternative/s.
    The Labour Party polled almost a quarter million more votes than the Tories in 1951, but the Tories won more seats – and so they formed the next Government, with no ‘minor partner’ needed.
    We don’t form Governments based on the popular vote, after all – we do so on the basis of who has most supporters in the House of Commons. And before someone trots it out, the same would apply were there no parties too.

  24. Pete B – the Elections Etc and ElectionForecast projections at least are both based on models predicting a Conservative lead of a couple of points come polling day.

    The Guardian projection is based on current polls, so in their case the implication is that the system will give Con more seats for less votes.

    Can’t remember for May2015, and their site is showing the wrong figures at the moment so I can’t check. Unicorn will know.

  25. RAF,

    I’ll believe that there is public appetite for debates when attendence levels at election hustings match their levels of the pre-1950s era.

  26. Richard,
    Your post puts the debates,debate into perspective,I think.

  27. @AW

    thanks. I noticed there was no reallocation of don’t knows, or filters applied. Ashcroft himself more or less ignored it. What a waste of a sample!

  28. Mile of Sheffield
    Mikey was specifically talking about seats, not popular vote, so you’ve set up a straw man.

  29. Bill

    Time will tell. Not sure there is much more to say on it now other than that.

  30. ““Debate debate” is too repetitive.”

    Almost onomatopeic, then.

  31. I am sick to death of the debates debate about the debates. I am also sick to death of the broadcasters calling the shots in everything.
    All the leaders should get together and decide what they want to do, then tell the broadcasters what they are to do.
    The broadcasters ruined football years ago. It was always on a Saturday afternoon, now we have bloody football every day of the week. I’m sick of that too.
    In fact I’m so sick of it all I’m going to scweam and scweam and scweam.

    I’d say Roll on Christmas but I’m sick of that too but at least the debates will have finished by then. (Unless we are having another general election of course, which is entirely possible.

  32. Anthony – thanks for that. (And apologies for slipping into partisanship yesterday).

    I’m looking forward to the Green debate about banning cars which is supposed to happen this weekend.

  33. I’d be interested in some podcasting of hustings. I don’t know if it would help participation, but it would at least spread less disease than public meetings, and probably cost a bit less.

  34. Peter B –
    Oops! You’re right – my heartfelt apologies.
    First part of my comment still applies however . .
    “But it’s happened plenty of times in other countries who have more regular coalitions than the UK. What it means is that the two (or three, or four) parties making up the coalition *together* have more support [i.e. MP’s] than the alternative/s.”
    Personally I’d prefer a single party to have enough seats to govern alone anyway – and this coalition has scarcely changed my mind – but we might not be that lucky.

  35. Pete B

    I think you’ve misunderstood the point Mike of Sheffield was making.

  36. @Hawthorn

    It is interesting that Election Forecast and Elections etc have moved in opposite directions, even if the result predicted is similar.

    Part of the reason for this may be that the EF model is now moving into a phase in which there is a pre-planned progressive reduction in the weighting given to the regression-to-mean component of the model. On of the members of the team have posted a note on how this is handled here.

    What this means that from now on we can expect to see a steady reduction in the discrepancies to be seen in their ‘current polls’ and forecast lists. Effectively, if the EF form of swingback doesn’t transpire, the model,steadily reverts closer and closer to being a non-swingback model.

    Electionsetc handles swingback differently – basing its calculations on historical averages nine weeks out from the election, eight weeks out and so on.

    As with EF, the amount of future swingback should reduce from week to week until on May 6 there will be virtually no further swingback left to implement.

    There is no reason at all for the two different processes to kick in at the same rate. It follows that divergences of this kind are not unexpected.

  37. @Bill Patrick
    “RAF,
    I’ll believe that there is public appetite for debates when attendence levels at election hustings match their levels of the pre-1950s era.”

    Not many TVs in the pre-50s era. You can watch from home these days. Or online.

  38. Should the tories have a drop in VI due to the debate debate it could be called the debate debit.

  39. @JimJam

    And if the debates don’t happen the situation could be described as the democratic debate deficit.

  40. Unicorn

    Thanks for the explanation.

  41. “So projections all currently showing Con having the most seats….but only just.
    This creates the potential for a constitutional crisis.”

    Not much of a constitution then, is it?

  42. The UK has no constitution.

    It will be a grab for power with only a few options possible.

    Con need to get near 290 to form a coaliton with anyone. And they will be v v unlikely to govern as a minority. (They’d lose the first confidence vote).

    Lab need to get as close as possible to 280/285 and shake hands with the SNP.

    At the moment it will be the latter.

    If things improve for Con it will be a LD/CON coalition again….

  43. But won’t the other parties be reluctant to have a confidence vote because of shortage of funds to run another campaign? So we could end up with an impotent government.

    That would suit me, I always think the biggest mistake governnments make is that they have to keep DOING things.

  44. When politicians refuse to debate(a substantial part of their job description) then the public will find that very weird.

  45. RAF,

    One of the many unexpected negative consequences of legalising TV broadcasting in this country was the loss of a large part of our political culture, and the spontaneity & engagment involved in the culture of public meetings, political discussions within trade unions, and of course party organisations. (Politics was sometimes discussed at Conservative & Unionist Association meetings before the 1950s, though usually not excessively.)

    On an unrelated note, I’ve noticed a number of people (not on here) calling Kezia Dugdale “Kezock Dugdale”. There was in fact a St. Kessog, which may be the source of the confusion, but probably isn’t.

  46. @Mikey – “Finishing second should not mean that party becomes the major partner in Govt in my view.”

    Firstly, hello, not sure I’ve conversed with you before. The gist of your post seems to be that something happening that you don’t like equates to a ‘constitutional crisis’.

    It doesn’t – it’s how our constitution (in so far as we have one) operates. Given the numbers on all four of the election forecasts, while Labour is marginally behind on all of them, it’s very doubtful that Cons could form a stable majority and much more likely Lab would.

    Were the gap to be a few seats wider, that could well change, so it’s touch and go, but no constitutional crisis either way – just the normal functioning of our democracy in admittedly abnormal circumstances.

  47. @David in France – “The UK has no constitution.”

    Yes we do. It’s just contained in a variety of laws and customs, rather than a single, defined code.

  48. @ David in France,

    .And they will be v v unlikely to govern as a minority. (They’d lose the first confidence vote).

    The DUP and Ukip definitely and the Lib Dems probably have no interest in forming a coalition, so if Cameron remains Prime Minister it will most likely be as the leader of a Conservative minority government.

    His difficulty, as you say, is that he needs around 290 seats to make it at all feasible, more if the Lib Dems fall below 30, and there’s no sign as yet that he can deliver this.

    To take for instance the worst-for-Labour projection, Elections etc, and giving the DUP ten seats to be generous:

    286 C + 22 LD + 10 DUP + 3 Ukip = 321 = nope!

    278 L + 40 SNP + 3 SDLP + 3 Plaid = 324 = yep!

    They don’t even have to bother Galloway or Lucas or Lady Hermon.

  49. Pete B,

    It reminds me a bit of John Stuart Mill’s argument for social freedom: if you let people be free, then they will try all sorts of innovations that will be beneficial. He gave very little, if any, consideration of whether or not there were harmful social innovations (this was before Pol Pot, the 1930s, or the Hippie movement) and whether innovations tended to be harmful or beneficial, and how to best screen them.

    Similarly, people can focus too much, at times, on having “effective government”, without considering that effective ability to do the wrong things is a bad thing. The National Government of the 1930s was tremendously effective in pursuing appeasment…

  50. @Robert Newark – “All the leaders should get together and decide what they want to do, then tell the broadcasters what they are to do.”

    They have, all except Cameron.

    Also, living in a society where politicians tell the media what to do isn’t quite the ideal that most British people see as their favourite option.

    I would interested to see which side of the Leveson debate you were on?

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