Eight weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (6/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
Opinium/Observer (6/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
Populus (8/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (8/3) – CON 34%, LAB 30%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (9/3) – CON 35%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (10/3) – CON 33%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (11/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (11/3) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (12/3) – CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%
Populus (12/3) – CON 29%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%

After two months of very little movement there is finally some sign of a shift. YouGov’s daily poll seems to have flipped over into showing a Tory lead – four of their five polls this week showed a Conservative lead. Populus is still showing a Labour lead, as did the monthly Ipsos MORI poll this week, but it’s the underlying trends that count and, for now at least, the UKPR polling average puts the Tories into a tiny lead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc).

Scottish and Welsh polls

YouGov also produced Scottish and Welsh polls this week. The Welsh polling is here, and had topline Westminster figures of CON 25%, LAB 39%, LDEM 5%, Plaid 10%, UKIP 14%.

The Scottish polling is here and has topline figures of CON 18%, LAB 27%, LDEM 4%, SNP 46%, UKIP 2%. The SNP lead is down two points since the previous YouGov Scottish poll at the start of February, but remains at a formidable 19 points.

The Scottish poll also included some questions designed to tease out how effective Labour attempts to fight the SNP with a “vote SNP get Tory” sort of message. The short answer is not very. Essentially, for such an approach to work SNP voters would need to believe that returning SNP MPs really would make a Tory government more likely, would need to think a Conservative government was significantly worse than the alternative and would need to consider avoiding a Tory government as more important to them than the opportunity of returning lots of SNP MPs. All of these requirements are quite weakly represented amongst SNP voters – only 27% of SNP voters buy the argument that more SNP MPs will make a Conservative government more likely and while 38% of SNP voters think a Labour government at Westminster would be better for Scotland than a Tory one, only 15% think there’s “much” difference, and 49% think there’s little difference at all. Finally, even if SNP voters did think that returning SNP MPs would make a Tory government more likely, by 46% to 31% they’d rather have a Tory government and lots of SNP MPs than a Labour government and not many.

Week 10

  • The debate debate was still rolling at the start of the week, but has thankfully now faded out a bit. The rival bid to host the debates online by the Guardian, Telegraph & Youtube have said they they would host a five way debate before the end of March, so meeting David Cameron’s demands on timing. Otherwise there has been no further progress
  • There was debate earlier in the week about whether the government should commit to the NATO target of 2% spending on defence. YouGov asked about Defence spending last month and found 49% think we should spend more on defence, 16% less and 20% about the right amount. Defence spending is an interesting subject as it does at least divide opinion. Most spending issues are really one way streets – the vast majority of the public think spending on things like the NHS, policing and education is a good thing and would like more of it, it’s just a case of what governments can afford and how they fund it. Equally opinion polls asking what should be priority for cuts always find overseas aid top of the list. Defence is one of those few issues where there is both a significant chunk of people who think spending money on it is a bad thing that should be cut, and a significant chunk of people who think it is a good thing that should be protected. Welfare is another.
  • Nigel Farage got into a row over discrimination laws – appearing to say that UKIP would repeal discrimination laws, but later saying he meant only laws on discriminating on the grounds of nationality. When it comes to discrimination on grounds of nationality, I expect we will find most people agreeing with Nigel Farage – there has not been any polling on what he said yet, but looking back YouGov found in 2011 that 51% of people thought companies should prioritise British workers, even if there are better qualified foreign workers. What may be less good for UKIP is if the political row around Farage’s statement damages the party’s already somewhat shakey image on racism – last month ComRes found 44% of people agreed with the statement that UKIP were racist, up from 32% last year.
  • By the end of the week the main political issue appeared to be how many kitchens Ed Miliband has. I think it’s fair to say that’s the sign it hasn’t really been a huge news week. Onwards to…
  • Budget week. The budget is on Wednesday, one of the few big set pieces we’ve got before the election that we can reasonably assume most people really will notice, and which does have the possiblity to actually shift votes. As I say most years, people are often too ready to assume that the budget is an opportunity for the Chancellor, when often it’s a bullet to be dodged – there are plenty of instances of budgets damaging a government and not that many of them providing a real boost. Nevertheless, the timing means this is likely to be an extremely political budget and we shall see if it has any effect


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team’s projection should finally make it’s proper debut this coming week). All predict a hung Parliament, and all continue to predict the Conservatives winning the most seats.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 285(-1), LAB 279(+1), LD 22(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 288(+2), LAB 271(-9), LD 26(+2), SNP 42(+4), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 281(+5), LAB 263(-8), LD 24(+1), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 4(+1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 279(+4), LAB 265(-6), LD 27(+1), SNP 53(+1), UKIP 4(nc)

273 Responses to “Eight weeks to go”

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  1. No boundary changes since 2005.

    come on…we are better than that…surely!? there were quite extensive boundary changes between 2005 and 2010. scotland, for example, lost more than seats…

  2. @Couper

    On the top left of this page is Anthony’s Election Guide. Behind that there is a list of battleground constituencies for each party, starting with the smallest swing needed to win the seat. If you click on the Lab and Tory battleground seats you’ll get a good indication of where those seats could go.

  3. RAF
    What’s noticeable, even by me, is that the target seat lists table does not include a section for SNP and nor for UKIP?

    Times are changed I suppose.

    I also noticed that the payback above a 5% swing to Labour is very poor for them.

  4. CHRIS LANE1945

    One poll does not make a victory; many twists and turns ahead.”

    Really? And there was me thinking it was all over. It’s a good job you’re here, Chris, to put me right.

    Still, I see another 35% tonight…..

  5. @David Welch

    To those who have commented that the YG Scotland poll should have given a third preference choice to SNP voters, of having in May a large number of SNP MPs together with a Labour government, there was no point in YG asking about an impossible situation.


    On May 8th, and subsequently, a Labour government supported by a large number of SNP MPs is a highly likely outcome, and no amount of bluster will discount that option.

  6. @RAF

    I see Ross Skye & Lochaber is their 3rd safest – so forget what I said about Lib Dems keeping their 5 safest seats. I am going to go through and apply UNS with Lib Dems on 8% and see which party gains most.

  7. @Brian @David

    I think you may be missing the point about why they did not give that option.

    See Anthony’s write up above
    “The Scottish poll also included some questions designed to tease out how effective Labour attempts to fight the SNP with a “vote SNP get Tory” sort of message”

    They deliberately did not give that option as they were testing what people would do in a squeeze to see if the current Labour messaging was likely to work or not.

    Thanks, I talk to myself here, to keep calm and carry on.

    OPINIUM Poll being tweeted. Level pegging in England; so a 5.7% swing being posited

  9. @ Couper 2802,

    The Lib Dems are contesting over 600 seats. If they get ~5% in the ones where they are not competitive, it’s entirely possible for them to get 45% in the ones they’re defending and still have a national average of 7%.

    Obviously in real life it’s going to be much more patchy than that and I think the Lib Dems are massively over-optimistic about their chances, but the point is, their terrible national polling doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have a problem winning seats.

    The SNP are only on 4 or 5%, after all.

  10. @BristolianHoward
    What’s noticeable, even by me, is that the target seat lists table does not include a section for SNP and nor for UKIP?
    Times are changed I suppose.”

    The swings required for Ukip to win any seats other than the 2 the currently have are huge.

    I agree that when AW compiled the lists he did not envisage the SNP position at this stage to be as strong as it is today. They also need huge swings for most Lab seats but are likely to achieve at least some of those huge swings.

  11. David Welch

    It’s also the client (in this case the Times) who decide the questions – not the pollster.

  12. Do we get a YouGov/Sunday Times poll tonight as well?

  13. @Crossbat
    After last week’s freak results, you cannot argue that we’re not good neighbours. Well done today. Talk at the Labour spring event at the ICC was of little else.

    So a few Lab leads now. Reversion, MOE, or a slight move back to the figures wecwere getting the last few months? Crosby is running out of time.

    To those who have commented that the YG Scotland poll should have given a third preference choice to SNP voters, of having in May a large number of SNP MPs together with a Labour government, there was no point in YG asking about an impossible situation.

    Doubtless YouGov asked the questions their paymaster [the Thunderer] told them to ask.

    A Lab minority government with SNP C&S is still one of the more probable outcomes in May, whether Lab get 0 or 40 Scottish seats.

  15. Richard – I did wonder when anyone was actually going to bother reading the explanation for it! ;)

  16. I don’t normally predict polling results, but I deduced, from AW’s round up,that tonight’s YG ST poll has a Con lead. As he knew what this poll contains, when he wrote it on Friday evening, any Labour lead would have moderated the tone of that report just a tinge, I would assume.

    We will see how well he has stonewalled later. I’ve just reflected on the word tinge. We used to have a contributor Tinged Fringe. .

  17. Andy Shadrack

    “Do we get a YouGov/Sunday Times poll tonight as well?”

    We do – and not only that, tomorrow you get my exciting summary of the last 3 weeks YG & Populus polling in Scotland as well! (saying just what it did last week, and the week before, and …..)

  18. New thread

  19. @Old Nat
    @David Welch

    It is amazingly kind of YouGov and the Times to pay for questions to help LiS determine whether their strategy is working. There was also a question on the NHS which is devolved but has been the subject of a LiS campaign.

  20. @ BristolianHoward,

    No, there’s a target list for the SNP. It’s right here: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide/region_scotland/ ;)

  21. @ Couper 2802,

    To be fair they need a lot of help.

  22. Thanks to those who put me right on who sets the questions in YG polls commissioned by newspapers.

    And to Richard, I comment that I did read AW`s paragraphs on Scottish polling. But I felt he didn`t bring out the significance of the 31% who preferred not to have a large number of MPs of the party they were intending voting for.

    Surely it is very unusual for a third of a party`s supporters two months before a GE not to want that party to win as many seats as possible.

  23. @ Anthony, Richard,

    I read it. I’d have thought Roger Mexico would have read it too – hence me being baffled by his sneering & calling me “silly” for picking up on Anthony’s ATL comment. Shifting some of that 31% from SNP to Labour could be key to the 2015 GE.

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