Lord Ashcroft put out a new batch of constituency polls today, this time revisiting some Conservative -vs- Labour marginals that were very close the last time he polled them. The average swing across the seats polled is 4.4 from Con to Lab, the equivalent of a two point lead in a GB poll. This is obviously bigger that the position in most national polls, but I suspect it’s more of an England effect than a marginal effect – all the seats polled by Ashcroft were in England, and because of the collapse of Labour in Scotland the Con>Lab swing in England is actually bigger than in GB as a whole. Full details of the polls are here.

Most of the seats Ashcroft polled showed results that were pretty similar to the last time he polled them at the tail end of last year, with changes well within the margin of error. The only big shifts were Labour doing much better in Chester than before, the Conservatives doing much better in Worcester than before, and Labour doing much better in Southampton Itchen. I expect the last one is just a reversion to the mean after the previous Southampton Itchen poll produced figures that stuck out like a sore thumb – this poll showed a fairly typical swing in the seat, when Ashcroft’s previous Southampton Itchen poll had shown a very dubious looking swing from Lab to Con.

TNS also released a new poll today with CON 33%, LAB 32%, LD 7%, UKIP 17%, GREEN 4%, OTHER 7%. TNS typically show a significantly larger Labour lead than other pollsters, so the small Tory lead is slightly surprising. It may be a methodology effect – TNS seem to have dropped the weighting by European vote that they introduced earlier this year (though its introduction didn’t seem to make much difference, so its dropping really shouldn’t), and have started reallocating UKIP and Green supporters in constituencies that don’t have UKIP or Green

Finally, tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LD 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6% – so a couple of Labour leads from YouGov so far this week. For the record, today’s poll has Labour at their highest this year, UKIP at their lowest this year… but of course, all the normal caveats apply, don’t get overexcited about individual unusual polls, watch the trend across all the pollsters.


755 Responses to “Latest Ashcroft, TNS and YouGov polling”

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  1. More Polldrums

  2. Budget better be good – tonights papers saying 6bill up to 10bill giveaway now but not all tax goodies ,smart money is on reduced spending cuts to shoot the return to the 1930s fox.

  3. The Itchen result highlights my main problem with Constituency polling.

    Any interesting looking results that are out of line with national swing and/or predictable patterns like Lib Dem vs Con incumbent boosts are most likely down to a poll being at the edge of margin of error.

    Without repeating the polling it’s almost impossible for us to know whether individual very close marginal seats are actually behaving differently from the national swing or just a one off odd poll result.

  4. Can anyone give me a link to the tables for the ICM poll this week?

  5. @Laszlo

    An answer to your Ho question at end of last thread..

  6. Budget better be good – tonight’s papers saying 6bill up to 10bill giveaway now but not all tax goodies ,smart money is on reduced spending cuts to shoot the return to the 1930s fox.

    LOL. The Tories can’t out-immigrant UKIP & they sure as sunrise can’t out-spend Labour. ;-)

  7. In reality the polls are pretty much where they were at the start of the year. Neither main party appears able to gain momentum.

  8. once again Ukip down, Lab up. It would seem from recent YG polls that there is a bigger movement between Ukip and Lab than Con and Lab. Does any one agree?

  9. Anthony – when trying to establish how different the marginals are from the national picture should we not be comparing these results with the Ashcroft national poll and therefore comparing like with like?

    Over the period of the fieldwork the average ashcroft national poll showed a 2 point conservative lead, indicating a slightly larger difference between the marginals and the national picture than a comparison with all national polls.

  10. I’ve noticed a slight reverse of the “fracturing” trend in recent weeks, with the big 2 slowly gaining voteshare at the expense of smaller parties.

    Budget day tomorrow, should be interesting. We should also learn the latest unemployment figures and average earnings.

  11. Nigel Farage recently told the press/ public that UKIP would support a Conservative government; or am I wrong?

  12. Amber -Not trying to out spend labour they are trying to soften their nasty party(economically competent) image

  13. @amber star
    “LOL. The Tories can’t out-immigrant UKIP & they sure as sunrise can’t out-spend Labour. ;-)”

    But they have a “long term economic plan”!

  14. @ 7th of May this Year

    I was trying to be amusing; fail?

  15. Good evening all from Benington Hertfordshire.(Tomorrow Wokingham Berkshire)

    Looks like Labour have benefited from the Sturgeon intervention.

    #sturgeonbounce

  16. correction to my post at 10.45. greater movement between Ukip and Lab than Ukip and Con.

    A widely held view has been that more Ukipers would return to Con than would return to Lab, but recent YG polls would suggest otherwise.

  17. Alan Christie

    As an Englishman I ask who is Sturgeon? I don’t imagine that many outside Scotland know what she has said.

  18. @tony cornwall

    In tonight’s yougov poll we have:

    Lab +1
    Con +1

    Green -1
    UKIP -1

    So this time it could be greens going to labour and UKIP going to Cons. Or it could be all margin of error and none of that happened.

  19. @ Unicorn

    Thanks.

  20. @AW

    You suggest that the larger-than-expected swing to Labour may be an ‘English effect’ (rather than – say – an indication that something slightly different is happening in marginal seats). While don’t have good data to tease apart these two hypotheses, I would suggest that there is at least a modicum of evidence against your suggestion.

    The ElectionForecast team carefully update and adjust their database using regional crossbreaks as well as national polling figures. Given this, I would have expected their adjustments in these eight seats to have tracked English VI changes. The fact that they systematically underestimated the recent drift to Labour suggests to me that the changes in these seats may go beyond English (or even regional) drifts.

    If so, the marginal seats may be behaving differently after all.

  21. Shadrack
    The centre right voters going green is, I have been told, a common syndrome in northern Europe. German friends have alleged the pattern of national Christian Democrat local Green is explained by nimbyism?
    Explaining his green-friendly policies, a centre right mayor in Germany told me he lived in an ocean liner city. The voters are like the passengers on a luxurious ship. They want the servants but they don’t want them to have cabins like them and they don’t want anything which destroys their peace.

  22. @ Mikey

    In reality the polls are pretty much where they were at the start of the year. Neither main party appears able to gain momentum.

    I think that is more or less true.

    But CON have gained perhaps 0.75% since the turn of the year. Possibly a little bit more than that. (But then they had dipped a touch at the end of 2014 so it may mainly just be recovering from that little dip).

  23. So, UKIP meltdown begins and guess who appears to be the main beneficiary?

    Labour, of course!

    I know it’s likely to be a bit of an outlier, and no doubt contradicted by yet another poll in 24 hours time but, as one of my all time favourite UKIP posters is often prone to say:

    It is a bit of a laugh though, isn’t it?

    :-)

  24. Squeezeback continues ;)

    Candy (fpt)
    Found a really interesting article by Nate Silver on how he models his American predictions:
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-the-fivethirtyeight-senate-forecast-model-works/
    One thing that stood out was the way he rated pollsters based on their previous accuracy. Do any of the UK modellers do the same, or do they treat all polls the same.
    He seems to adjust for house effects too – but doesn’t say how he deals with pollsters who change their methodology.
    And he uses other things too that appear to be specifically American, such as fundraising in a particular state and congressional approval ratings (which we don’t have, though I suppose we could use how much a party is liked as a proxy).
    All in all, there’s more that goes into his predictions than simple polls, which our modellers seem to concentrate on to the exclusion of everything else.
    Thoughts?

    The danger with this is that it puts you in danger of overmodelling. It’s possible to overmodel and still get the right result (Morecambe theory, as we’re now calling it) but it can give you crazy results in the future. Personally I think Silver overmodelled in 2012 and got lucky. Tthe Princeton Election Consortium model run by Sam Wang, which uses polls alone and no other factors, made similar predictions to Silver and has a similarly successful track record. Wang and Silver had a bit of a spat last year:
    http://politicalwire.com/2014/10/02/nate-silver-rebuts-sam-wang/
    http://politicalwire.com/2014/10/06/sam-wang-factchecks-nate-silver/

    This quote from Wang’s reply might be interesting to you:
    How does the PEC approach eliminate pollster bias?

    Of perhaps greatest interest is the fact that on Election Eve in 2012, PEC called every close Senate race correctly – 10 out of 10. Silver is protesting against a model that has consistently matched or outperformed his own calls since he came onto the scene (see 2008, 2010, and 2012). PEC does this in a different way than the FiveThirtyEight method of detailed analysis of pollster “house effects” and “fundamentals.” The FiveThirtyEight approach can work in the right hands, but is laborious and mostly converges with a simpler polls-only approach in the closing stages of a campaign.

  25. TONY CORNWALL
    Alan Christie

    “As an Englishman I ask who is Sturgeon? I don’t imagine that many outside Scotland know what she has said”
    ______

    Well I’m in England visiting relatives who are English and they all know who she is and for someone who claims not to know who she is you do however know that she is a she and said something!!

  26. @Alec

    My thanks for that analysis. After reading it I doubt we’ll get as far as the white elephant stage if the Tories are re-elected – they will quietly drop the plans on just those grounds. Announcing it serves only political purposes. First, to raise the profile of the Greens (bad for Labour and LibDems). Second, if Labour were to win in May they would be stuck with the project and would find it harder to drop. It’s the renewable energy equivalent of the Millenium Dome.

  27. Tenuously related to the subject of the Budget – the new £1 coin design has been chosen. A 15 year-old won the competition. This is what our new £1 coins will look like:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9b2c7216-cccf-11e4-b252-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Ughi8z3T

  28. @Northumbrianscot

    I certainly agree that you can’t do much with an individual constituency poll.

    But what can be interesting is when a bunch of them together show a pattern.

    Some of today’s seats were last polled by Ashcroft in September or October (though one or two were more recent). Since then Labour’s margin has dropped from 3-4% down to close to zero at the moment.

    If marginal seats were behaving in the same way as others (uniform swing) you would expect the national swing to reappear in this new batch of seats. In fact, the swing seems to have been in the opposite direction. Not just in an individual seat or two. But over the batch as a whole.

    Surely that makes constituency polls interesting and worthwhile, doesn’t it?

  29. Below is a 2015 YG CUSUM (including tonight’s data)

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzTTW1ecy-NDU3ZEYnF4b1FfU0k/view?usp=sharing

    There is a trend for the Conservatives and Labour – they are both gaining VI from smaller parties.

    There are two zones marked ‘a’ and ‘b’.

    For the Conservative VI, period ‘a’:

    Mean – 32.4
    95% CI – 32.1 to 32.7

    Period ‘b’:

    Mean – 33.7
    95% CI – 33.2 to 34.2

    P value from T Test – <0.001

    Null hypothesis = the VI data for a and b is the same
    Alternative hypothesis = the VI data for a and b is different

    Labour ‘a’:

    Mean – 32.7
    95% CI – 32.3 to 33.2

    Labour ‘b’:

    Mean – 33.6
    95% CI – 33.2 to 34.0

    P value (T Test) – 0.010

    Null hypothesis = the VI data for a and b is the same
    Alternative hypothesis = the VI data for a and b is different

  30. Highest Yougov poll forLlabour this year on 36%.. Peter Kellner is predicting a 5% Tory lead at the GE…wonder if he made this calculation when the Tories appeared to be making their long awaited breakthrough a week or so ago?

  31. OMNISHAMBLES
    Tenuously related to the subject of the Budget – the new £1 coin design has been chosen. A 15 year-old won the competition. This is what our new £1 coins will look like:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9b2c7216-cccf-11e4-b252-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Ughi8z3T

    Dear lord, it’s monstrous!

  32. @CMJ

    There is a trend for the Conservatives and Labour – they are both gaining VI from smaller parties.

    Your 2010 ID plots may show this, but surely this inference can’t be drawn from the CUSUM plots. The data are just as compatible with (say) only Labour gaining from the smaller parties, and the Tories gaining exclusively from Labour. On this hypothesis, as an illustration Labour may gain 3 points from the minor parties but lose two points’ worth of their longer-standing support to the Tories.

    Under these assumptions your statement above would be false.

  33. CB – LIFO effect?

    Just one poll.

    Tom – worth reminding people that only one of the major pollsters did not forecast a Cons OM at the start of the 2010 GE campaign.

    They are experts at measuring opinion not on how opinion might move.

  34. …”LOL. The Tories can’t out-immigrant UKIP & they sure as sunrise can’t out-spend Labour. ;-”

    This is the tories/osborne’s problem- too many clever tactical moves with zero strategy…how he can claim to be some kind of fiscally prudent iron chancellor and then chuck the goodies round is beyond me…people don’t fall for that cr*p….

    the ashcroft poll was devastating…

  35. My impression of the trend is that it is currently neck and neck, after a week or two of the Conservatives doing well and them now falling back a bit.

    Bit too early to say the UKIP vote is falling. As for Greens, they don’t have that far to fall so difficult to detect such a thing.

  36. @Funty

    “Dear lord, it’s monstrous!” Looks like the Threepenny bit is back and probably worth about the same as it was in 1968.

    Sorry to harp on about this but it seems to me that aficionados of double incumbency bonus would expect these marginals to have virtually no swing (well, 0.5% I think) so the fact that they have 4.5 means either that double incumbency is a myth (or counterbalanced by expenses effect) or that there is a bigger lab lead.

    Unicorn – explain why I’m wrong (as you usually do very eloquently!)

  37. @Unicorn

    Labour and the Conservatives are on the up.

    The smaller parties are down.

    The data clearly shows this.

    Whatever combination led to this, I think it’s irrelevant. What matters is the vote share at the end.

  38. what happened to the “yougov is good for the tories at the beginning of the week” rule? labour have had two 2% leads and we’ve barely reached wednesday…

    the gods of swngback need to hurry their chariots…

  39. There is a rumour in today’s StandardNews that Lib Dem Simon Hughes is retiring to Lords. He’s apparently not on LD candidate’s page.

  40. @James

    That was totally debunked as a hypothesis.

  41. Sue – if that happens his seat becomes a likely Lab gain.

    I would bet on him, and only him, just holding it.

  42. @ Unicorn

    When you state the null hypothesis, it makes a lot of sense. It would be nice though to see the confidence intervals rather than the p values (there’s a rather nice YouTube video on dancing p values (it’s on psychology, but the principles are rather relevant).

    I’ m not Bayesian – only that for a particular project I had to do (and familiarise myself with) a lot of Bayesian stat.

    It makes sense though for polling: you have a priori odds (2010 and what have you in between – which makes it rather subjective.). You have a set of data, and you test them against the prior one. Importantly, you don’t make any induction – the current data suggests that the a priori odds should be changed to X. The Bayesian factor is very helpful here (at least in comparison to the p value), because it can account of the magnitude of the change.

    Now it the current data, it is quite clear that there is simply not enough density that would suggest that we would have to change our a priori probabilities with a 90% confidence.

    Unimportantly, the Bayesian stuff is pretty good for testing different models (and pretty bad in testing slightly different models).

    The oddity is that everybody wants to test both the hypothesis and the data when it comes to election forecast, as if it was hard wired, but it is not possible at the same time.

  43. Conservatives in free fall – they’ve gone from a 4 point lead to a 2 point deficit in a week!

    @crossbatt11

    “So, UKIP meltdown begins and guess who appears to be the main beneficiary?
    Labour, of course!”

    That’s what I would have expected though – UKIP took support from both Con and Lab, but the Lab defectors are probably less strong than the Con defectors (whether the Con defectors hold till the end is the more interesting question)

  44. @Alec

    As an engineer I share your scepticism on the swansea tidal lagoon, however I think you have a order of magnitude error in your calculation

    Power from a water turbine
    P= efficiency * density of water *gravity * head * flowrate
    P= 0.8 * 1025 * 9.81 * 8 * 4340 = 279MW which based on your rough numbers seems well close enough to the claimed 320MW

    The design uses the same kind of turbines as you would get in hydroelectric dams where efficiencies of up to 95% can be achieved, and sea water is slightly denser than fresh hence 1025kg/m3 used.

    The reason for the low capacity factor is partly due to the monthly spring neap tidal variation. Basically it will only reach it’s 320MW output at the Spring tides for the rest of the time it will be operating well below this.

  45. @ Anthony Wells

    A post got into moderation. I don’t see any problem with it. It’s relevant, a response to Unicorn, and quite technical.

    It would be nice if it could be unmoderated.

  46. “So, UKIP meltdown begins and guess who appears to be the main beneficiary? Labour, of course!”

    we have had all these debates endlessly before.

    It was a consensus that as ukip rose from 4% to 11% from march 2012 till the beginning of 2013, these were tory voters largely….any increase over 11% was mainly, not exclusively, at labour’s expense.

    It was believed and predicted that as ukip went back down to 11%, those were soft ukip supporters going back to labour …so the ukip decline, if it happens, from 15% was likely to help labour as much as, if not more than, the tories…

    none of the data contradicts this hypothesis.

  47. “There is a rumour in today’s StandardNews that Lib Dem Simon Hughes is retiring to Lords.”

    Can I retire there as well, please?

  48. @Sue @JimJam

    Here is how people voted in Bermondsey and Old Southwalk in 2010 http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide/bermondseyandoldsouthwark/

    Labour need a 9.5% swing or thereabouts to take it.

  49. @ Raf @ JimJam

    ‘Labour need a 9.5% swing or thereabouts to take it.’

    Doesn’t that swing include Simon Hughes’ personal incumbency vote rather than just a national swing?

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