Six weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (19/3) – CON 36%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Survation/MoS (21/3) – CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%
Populus(22/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (22/3) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Mail (22/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Times (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (24/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Survation/Mirror (25/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (25/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Panelbase (26/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Populus (26/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

It’s been a busy week in terms of voting intention polls – ComRes have now moved to weekly polling for the Daily Mail, Survation did two ones (one for the Mail on Sunday and one for the Mirror) and we got the first UK poll from Panelbase. Five of the polls showed dead heats between Labour and the Conservatives, there were three Tory leads and six Labour leads. The bigger picture remains one of the two main parties being neck-and-neck, but there have been slightly more Labour leads than Tory ones in recent polls, so the UKPR polling average this week has Labour one point ahead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1).

Scottish and London polls

ICM had new Scottish and London polls out this week. In Scotland they found Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(+1), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 6%(nc), SNP 43%(nc), UKIP 7%(nc), GRN 3%(-1), changes are from their previous Scottish poll in December. At 16 points ICM show a slightly smaller SNP lead than some other companies, but there is no significant change from their previous poll, suggesting its something methodological rather than a narrowing of the SNP lead.

This morning ICM had a London poll for the Guardian. Voting intentions for that were CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%, GRN 8%. That represents a four point swing from Conservative to Labour since the general election – the equivalent of a one point Labour lead in national polls – so again suggests that the swing in London is much the same as in the rest of the country.

Week 12

  • David Cameron ruled out standing for a third term as Prime Minister. Unusual not because of the content – if he wins he was widely expected to stand down at some point after the European referendum anyway – but because he said it, out loud, to a journalist. In terms of public opinion 55% of people said Cameron was right to rule out a third term, 18% wrong. A majority of supporters of all parties – including Tory voters – thought it was the right thing to do. 21% of people said it made them think better of Cameron, 9% worse of him, but for the majority of people it made no difference to how they viewed him.
  • The final PMQs of the Parliament was dominated by exchanges on ruling out tax rises. Asked before Cameron ruled out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruled out a National Insurance rise, at the start of the week YouGov found 43% of people expected tax to go up if Labour won, 29% expect it to go up if the Conservatives win. Under a Labour government, 43% expected income tax to rise, 41% expected fuel duty to rise, 39% expected national insurance to rise… but only 22% expected VAT to go up. Under a Tory government 34% expected fuel duty to rise, 31% expected VAT to rise, 29% expected NI to rise and 25% expected income tax to rise.
  • The debate debate finally came to an end with an agreement to have four events: a Paxman interrogation of Miliband and Cameron; a seven-way debate between Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Uncle Tom Cobley and all; a debate between the five opposition parties and a Question Time special with Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, one after the other. The Paxman interrogation took place last night. An ICM poll straight after the debate found people thought Cameron came out better than Miliband by 54% to 46% – we will have to wait until the weekend to see if it has any impact upon either voting intentions or perceptions of the leaders. Over the last five years Cameron has consistently had better ratings than Miliband, so in many ways a performance that’s pretty even has the potential to help Miliband far more than Cameron. As ever, time will tell.
  • The physical mechanics of the general election have started to kick in. Yesterday Parliament was prorogued, on Monday it will be dissolved and the writ issued and we’ll be off. The start of the formal campaign means various bits of regulation kick in, including the broadcasting restrictions requiring coverage of the main parties and spending limits upon the parties.


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team are doing fortnightly predictions, so nothing new from them this week). Three of the models continue to show the Conservatives with just a few more seats than Labour, but Steve Fisher’s prediction from Elections Etc now has them 35 ahead of Labour. This is due to a methodology change rather than a move in opinion – Steve’s model for predicting the vote shares in England & Wales remains unchanged, but he’s no longer assuming such a big drop in SNP support in Scotland, and has rejigged how he translates projected votes into seats based on Ashcroft and YouGov polling (it’s explained in more detail here.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 296(+12), LAB 261(-17), LD 21(nc), SNP 47(+6), UKIP 5(+2)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 26(+1), SNP 38(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 273(-4), LAB 271(+3), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 5(+2)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(nc), LAB 269(+1), LD 25(nc), SNP 53(-1), UKIP 4(nc)

367 Responses to “Six weeks to go”

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  1. Old Nat, 11.03pm
    On the first hand in the referendum campaign, you are said you wanted to keep ‘our queen’ and her family as head of state in Scotland, yet in this post you state, “they may be more useful dead”.
    Could you please clarify your party’s views on this both for the electorate and GCHQ!

  2. Ladbrokes currently have the following for LD seat bands:

    21-30 ……5/4

  3. @ Statgeek

    This looks like it might be the fix for your issue but maybe taking the back-up etc. is more trouble than it’s worth to you.

    There’s a work around – but it sounds similar to what you are doing already by manually resizing the charts. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  4. David in Oxford

    GCHQ don’t need any clarification – they have access to everything that everyone says online anyway.

    The electorate aren’t much concerned about what anyone on here says – unless they are standing for elected office.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Brenda extends her existence to avoid any possibility of an embarrassingly letter writing prince succeeding her.

  5. MOG: “Nobody I know is proposing to vote UKIP.”

    Nobody? Maybe they’re not admitting it to you (and the pollsters!)?

  6. I see that the FT are leading on business being terrified of a SNP-Labour government, which might bring in “socialism”.

  7. Old Nat
    Exactly, so say where you stand on the issue. And if ‘Brenda’ and her eldest son and extended family is an enathma to your party, just say so.

  8. @raf

    I just see their campaign and message as more likely to sway undecided voters. Could be completely wrong, but you don’t need a very big swing to get the Conservatives to 300 seats – and the same is true for Labour of course.

  9. @David in Oxford,

    First rule of UKPR. Noone is here as a representative of their chosen party.

  10. Prof Howard

    I saw that FT headline too.

    The really worrying thing is that these apparently deluded incompetents who don’t recognise reality are running some of the top FTSE companies.

    It doesn’t bode well for their ability to run their companies, other than into the ground.

    Personally, I’d like to see a bit more socialism in the SNP, and a helluva lot more in Labour.

  11. Millie

    The bookmakers are influenced by the polls. I reckon the polls at this stage are misleading. In particular, it is reasonable to assume many UKIP supporters will not admit to the pollsters they intend voting UKIP because they do not want to be unfairly branded racist. I also think at least some of the polls could at this stage be rigged to create the illusion that UKIP support is far less than it is.

  12. David in Oxford

    Second rule of UKPR – recognise when a comment is light-hearted, as Alec’s original one was, as were the responses.

  13. @oldnat

    Are you really labelling the people who run some of our top companies as “deluded incompetents” just because they don’t like your party? What a ridiculous comment. Do you think they got those top jobs by being incompetent? And this after you said Prince Charles would be “more useful dead”.

    What is the point of these unpleasant comments? Try and do better.

  14. @ Prof Howard

    I see that the FT are leading on business being terrified of a SNP-Labour government, which might bring in “socialism”.

    Do you think the electorate will believe them? If they do, the FT may have helped Labour &/or SNP.

    The electorate seem to be in favour of the NHS, publicly owned railways & utilities (especially water), a living wage, affordable rents etc.

  15. To All:

    Now we are in the election campaign proper, it will be more important than ever for people to adhere to the Comments Policy.

  16. Neil A
    Agreed, but call yourself Old Nat, and spout on SNP policy, leads one to believe that it is not apolitical at all, then make a post at 11.03pm suggesting it would be better if all the Royal Family was dead, I am sorry, but this **** needs to be brought down slightly. You do not make comments like that at any time and it should have been moderated.
    On a UKPR front, I see the stats like everyone else, Cons on 295 to 300 with a comfortable government including the 30 approx LD’s and the DUP. If the SNP think to control the election, the answer is to wipe out the British Royal Family, they are in goo goo land. Look back at the post. The Daily Mail would have a field day.

  17. Hmmm, heads of large corporations are “incompetent”? Well, let me see.. Thinks back to the banking crisis…… enough said!


    “Do you think the electorate will believe them? If they do, the FT may have helped Labour &/or SNP.”

    You may be right. A tax on homes over £2m is something that will only affect the richest 0.5%. (such as these CEOs). It seems to be a popular policy with most voters. So the anxiety from CEOs about “socialism” may actually show to the other 99.5% that the tax is quite real.

  19. Omnishambles

    If these people genuinely think that Labour is a “socialist” party that will destroy business, then “deluded” would seem to be an appropriate description.

    But that was why I said “apparently”, because that isn’t what they think. It’s simply political posturing from an interest group.

    Why they want to present themselves in such a ridiculous way is a matter for them.

  20. Sorry Alec, Tom Pride, ex of this parish got there first…

  21. OLDNAT

    I think this is the first election in England where nobody is trying to “triangulate” anyone. EM is leftist, DC is right. There is more difference between the two than for a long time, and DC isn’t trying to appeal too far out of the Tory base, and EM is playing a leftist pitch as we saw on Thursday with his comments on socialism.

    In Scotland, I guess you could say that the SNP is triangulating Labour, if you believe that SNP under NS has moved leftwards.

  22. David in Oxford

    “Neil A
    Agreed, but call yourself Old Nat, and spout on SNP policy”

    I fear you are mistaken. Neil A does not call himself “Old Nat” and only occasionally spouts on what he thinks is SNP policy.

  23. @Simon

    I don’t think so.

    There are very few polls of individual constituencies.

    Bookmakers are primarily influenced by money placed, either directly through them or via other bookmakers. We are now at an interesting stage: a month or two ago, the number of individual bets on a particular constituency were probably quite small, so some constituencies did not even have a ‘book’ established. Now the amount of betting has become sufficient to establish a genuine market, and I think the odds probably now reflect bets placed, at least as much as ‘opinion’ garnered from polling and newspapers, etc.

    The Lib Dem constituency betting is interesting because it shows significant variation from standard interpretation of broad national swings. In other words, it is really very sophisticated. It is almost as if all the betting is being done by users of UKPR!

    Now it may be that senior execs in the betting companies are following the discussions on UKPR and adjusting their odds accordingly. But, I don’t think so. The reality is surely that the odds are determined, in the main, by bets placed by thousands of individuals all over the country.

    Who collectively have a sense of how things are in their locality.

  24. One must stop picking on Old Nathaniel, it upsets him greatly and makes for poor digestion……;-)

  25. @oldnat

    I think you need to read the article. Their main worry is about the SNP having influence on the government, and it’s well-justified for reasons explained in the article.

    But more importantly I think it’s wrong to declare someone “may be better off dead” – if your views on the Monarchy are that extreme I’d rather not hear them. If you’re going to claim it was some joke, remember that tone does not translate well on the internet.

    I don’t think there’s any more to say on the matter.

  26. Brian Nicholson


    I digest some posters (who take themselves too seriously) quite easily. :-)

  27. ProfHoward
    “EM is leftist, DC is right”

    One of the reasons that UKIP is doing well is because DC is not right (in either sense). Gay marriage and increasing Overseas Aid while nearly everything else is cut are not right-wing policies.

    Re the OldNat kerfuffle

    Everyone just remmeber that he is what is known in my part of the world as a ‘wind-up merchant’

  28. Omnishambles

    I’m sorry if you were offended. But if you read the comment properly you would have noted that I was saying that royalty can be more economically useful when dead.

    Richard III seems to make that point effectively.

  29. PeteB

    I take your point about UKIP etc, but there still seems to be a gap between DC and EM that is bigger than in recent times.

  30. Pete B

    As a student, I had a summer job at the Rowat Research Institute on a project analysing the retention of solid matter by cows from different types of grass.

    The research methodology required me to be a professional sh*t stirrer.

  31. Lol – very appropriate

  32. Returning to matters at hand do various statisticians and/or pundits on this list give any credence to this increase in LD values in the Scottish crossbreaks?

    A week ago (March 20-22) Populos had LD on 6% in Scotland and now (March 25-26) has them on 13%, while YouGov has them on 15%.

    This is turn, if you look at the YouGov crossbreak for England (March 25-26), the size of the Scottish polling numbers that is, is pushing LD values from 6 in England to 7 GB wide.


    I found the Scottish You Gov cross breaks to be pretty weird on a few days this week, so I am discounting them for the time being until a Full Scottish poll finds something has changed.

  34. Isn’t it accepted wisdom that crossbreaks are highly unreliable because of small sample size and the fact that pollsters only attempt to weight VI over the whole sample rather than a crossbreak?

    So they are interesting, but to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

  35. A week ago (March 20-22) Populos had LD on 6% in Scotland and now (March 25-26) has them on 13%, while YouGov has them on 15%.

    A week or so ago, there was a fair bit of publicity about well loved Scottish LibDems being at risk of losing their seats. I can only assume that Charles Kennedy’s fan club have all joined YG & Populus’s panels. ;-)

  36. Old Nat
    I did not think it was funny. And the comment about Richard iii is not how you phrased it in your original post, particularly when you mentioned ‘Brenda’s eldest son’, clearly referring to the Prince of Wales.
    Condescending, rude, and threatening. You should apologise and withdraw the comment.
    Good night.


  37. Prof Howard

    I’m not sure that Cameron is more right wing than previous Tory leaders, but there seems little doubt that Ed has tried to move Labour to a less centrist (New Labour) stance, and that makes it easier for the SNP to work with “his Labour Party than that of Blair/Brown.

    Again, I’m not convinced that “triangulation” best describes how the SNP relates to Labour in Scotland.

    Triangulation assumes central positioning on a single dimension of politics, whereas the SNP takes a radical stance on the constitutional dimension, and a more communitarian position on economic/social issues.

    That can be a difficult position to maintain in the longer term, and it will be interesting to see if Sturgeon can pull that off.

  38. Millie

    I agree the odds are determined by bets placed, but bets placed are influenced by the polls.

  39. “BTW I think Fisher *is* onto something, his seat share looks more likely than the others to me. But I agree with what Unicorn et al said about constantly tweaking your model.”


  40. “” think this is the first election in England where nobody is trying to “triangulate” anyone. EM is leftist, DC is right”

    I don’t think the con-ukip switchers would agree. Same Sex marriage, 0.7% international aid ring-fence, pursuing the green agenda, not promoting grammar schools would appear to them as triangulation….Dave is only right wing on cutting the deficit, and the purists would say spending has gone up every year, while the national debt has almost doubled in five years…it’s a potemkin style austerity….

    Dave also described himself as “heir to blair” and is basically a triangulator in many ways, carrying on the clinton/blair tactics. I don’t think he had any real commitment to same sex marriage, but he has been looking for a “clause 4” moment with which to tackle his base for ages. It backfired when much of that base went to ukip, and still hasn’t come back.

  41. on projections. Fisher has “tweaked” his model at least twice in the last 4 months.

    He has now gone out on a limb….he is either a genius or a fool. I think he’ll get egg on his face and we’ll laugh at his 296 tory seat projection, just as we scoffed when his “model” suggested in october that the tories would win 337 seats and 40% in May 2015.

    One or two people may still believe his initial “projection”, I don’t know. I think he’s been talking arrant rot from start to finish. This latest tweak seems particluarly dotty to me…but look forward t the actual result.

  42. I’d sort of expect the LD crossbreaks and poll results to be relatively volatile compared to those of UKIP, Labour, or the Tories, given that their remaining support is probably vastly more unevenly distributed and there isn’t an obvious single weight or crossbreak that pins down the seats they’re likely to hold this time. Unless a pollster weighted to ensure a balance of people polled who were living in seats controlled by the current parties (so ensuring that ca. 9% of your sample came from Lib Dem held seats for example) but I don’t think anyone does that, correct me if I’m wrong?

  43. “his “model” suggested in october that the tories would win 337 seats and 40% in May 2015.”

    October 2013 Fisher’s model suggested that the tories would get 337 seats in May. think PCrawford remembered this well and called it at the time.

  44. James Baillie

    “I’d sort of expect the LD crossbreaks and poll results to be relatively volatile”

    I’m sure that’s true of crossbreaks, where small numbers mean that finding even 1 or 2 extra supporters of the wee parties can boost their percentage.

    For the “proper” polls – whether London, Scottish, GB, or UK – it’s less likely, but still a strong possibility that seats which are “different” from the main sample are likely to be less represented.

    It’s the point that I regularly make about O&S. It is historically different from its neighbouring constituencies in its voting pattern, so views there are likely to be drowned out.

  45. I’ve been looking at the ICM instant reaction poll on the Paxo and Kay Show again. The tables are now available on their site:

    unlike the Scottish poll, which still isn’t there (even the December one is missing!) and you need to track down Tom Clark’s Scribd files.

    Anthony said that the sample was biased to Labour, but it’s actually subtler than that. The sample wasn’t heavily pro-Labour in terms of how people voted in 2010 – it was actually weighted so that would be compensated for[1]. What was slanted towards Labour was the current VI of those in the sample:

    Con 28% (29)

    Lab 38% (40)

    Lib Dem 6% (5)

    UKIP 14% (13)

    Green 6% (6)

    SNP 5% (5)

    PC 2% (2)

    Other 1% (1)

    (DK/Ref 12% (11))

    (Second figure in brackets post debate VI)

    As you can see there were very few people saying they had changed their minds. But the way in which Labour ‘converts'[2] seem over-represented in the survey and presumably those who watched. This suggests that many people were tuning in as much to confirm or question their new allegiance as to to decide what it should be. Indeed ‘converts’ in general seem over-represented. This explains why there are fewer Conservatives as nearly all of their vote also supported them last time, plus perhaps a few tactically voting Lib Dem and now reverting.

    It’s often said that these debates only appeal to the partisan. It’s true that most who watch will be partisan, but that’s because most voters are. But, as work on the 2010 debates as shown, many undecided and floating voters use them to make their decisions[3], based not just of some leadership beauty contest but also on the policies being proposed.

    [1] ICM seem to have done the same as to their normal polls and weighted to targets based on 2010 adjusted using recent polls to allow for false recall. It doesn’t make a lot of difference but normally you would expect too many people remembering they voted Labour and too few Lib Dem. Oddly the opposite is true in this sample.

    The biggest difference in weighting is that those who voted for any of Con/Lab/LD in 2010 were considerably down-weighted, by just over a third, and non- or minor Party-voting voters upgraded. This may be a mistake as those uninterested in voting would hardly be likely to tune in in the first place, but it doesn’t alter things between those three Parties.

    [2] That is those who are now saying they will support Labour but didn’t in 2010. Some presumably will be new voters (under-25s were very under quota and had to be upweighted by a factor of four), but many will be ‘Red Dems’.

    [3] You can see this in YouGov polling on the debates, where the ‘residue’ – those who didn’t appear in the Con/Lab/LD/UKIP columns and so were DKs or small Party supporters – were balanced more in favour of them than average.

  46. Roger Mexico-

    Thanks. An intriguing, thoughtful analysis.

  47. @ Millie

    Reference your points about the betting markets. May2015 have an interesting write about the fact that betting markets often prove remarkably accurate in forecasting results. The article is from the 15th January and is titled ‘5 Things The Betting Markets Suggest which Polls Don’t’.

  48. @Roger Mexico

    The ‘bias’ in the sample group may well be explained by the fact that the “debate” was in London where most recently ICM (and indeed last month YouGov) found a Lab lead over the Tories of precisely 10%.

  49. So I”ll leave tonight with these thoughts.

    Latest Populos poll Table 2 page 3:

    Unweighted LD value against 2010 voter rememberance 36.9
    Weighted value 42.1

    Table 3 page 4:

    Unweighted value 40.4
    Weighted value 46.6

    That is an upweighting of 26.3% on the original unweighted value.

    So a GB wide value for LD instead of being 9, without the upweighting becomes 6.633.

    And that value figure is much closer to the average found in the 110 Ashcroft constituency polls.

    I guess we will find out who is right in about six weeks


    That is how I read it even at 300 Conservatives there would not be much of a majority for a coalition/ CandS arrangement. Plus I suspect the Liberals would be asking a high price if they were to support a referendum on the E.U. Not sure Cameron could deliver on that, he has quite a few back benchers who will not be that amenable to supporting some of the measures the Lib Dems would be asking for in return.

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