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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    Thanks very much; fascinating and, for some, disturbing, times.

    In 1979 Callaghan had much better ratings than his opponent, but she won!


    ‘Studying the bookmakers is again instructive.’


    Simon, whilst I have some sympathy for your suspicions I seriously doubt whether polls are ‘rigged’ as such. They are imo weighted, interpreted and commissioned partially. However the bookies do not have a horse in this race – so to speak.

    The dumb money may follow the polls, but the smart money goes in the opposite direction to the dumb money. Spread betting acts as a market corrective. And there’s a lot more smart money than dumb money because the people who are smart win more.

    So I’d advise you to steel yourself for the likely Ukip seat count of around five, but console yourself with the likely Ukip second place count of over 200.

    If indeed the Scot Nats get forty seats for their 3% of the electorate and Ukip get five for their 15% of the electorate we will be looking at a situation in which a Ukip voter gets 1/400th of the representation of an SNP voter. Doesn’t seem fair somehow.

    As to poll volatility , on a cursory glance it seems that the weighting actually produces more volatility than the raw data, which I would have thought would set alarm bells ringing about the basis of the weighting.

  3. A couple of observations from this long-range graph courtesy of Opinium

    – lowest UKIP score since Jan/Feb 2013 (from what I can make out)
    – Opinium haven’t picked up this Labour “reverse swing” that we’re seeing in the polling average. In fact, 33% is one of their lowest scores for Labour since Jan 2012.

  4. Opinium

    Scotland-Snp 37 -Labour 26

    England Tory 35 Labour 34

    Wales labour 39 Tory 34 Ukip 14

  5. If the SNP prop up a Labour minority and get nothing in return, they risk being destroyed at the next election. If they bring down a Labour government and let the Tories in they risk being destroyed at the next election. SNP hold less cards than they think.

  6. @07052015

    The Wales crossbreak looks wrong but the others tally other recent polls. How many people are included in the Wales crossbreak?

  7. “If the SNP prop up a Labour minority and get nothing in return, they risk being destroyed at the next election.”

    Maybe, but I’m not sure why. We need more research into the various reasons for Labour -> SNP switching.

  8. RAF,

    Barely any.

  9. “He said Miliband was leading a “bunch of hypocritical, holier-than-thou, hopeless, sneering socialists”.”

    Good grief, is this kind of comment acceptable from a PM ?

  10. Opinium Scottish Crossbreak
    Weighted results with DK/Refused removed 123

    SNP 47 38%
    Labour 33 27%
    Conservative 24 20%
    LibDem 4 3%
    UKIP 6 5%
    Green 9 7%


    Well “socialists” was a bit of a stretch . :-)

  12. They’re saying on Twitter that Cameron’s +1% positive approval is the first time a party leader has been positive since June 2010

    Kind of depressing if you think about it

  13. I should have said “main party” leader…. before anyone points out wildly popular Welsh, Scottish or Irish party leaders

  14. @Omnishambles

    I found it pretty strange that he seemed to have forgotten all about his three shredded wheat comment when Kay Burley was joking with him on Thursday.

  15. @ statgeek

    I note that your regional trend graph for Scotland shows a distinct narrowing of the SNP-Lab gap, with the SNP falling away from the 40%+ zone and Lab into the 30%s. If this trend continues, Lab are likely to avoid the widely predicted disaster (for them) north of the border.

  16. @martinw

    It looked like he was taken aback by the question and didn’t know what to say. What did she ask? Something like “Prime Minister, have you ever eaten three shredded wheat?”. Something along those lines.

    What do you even say to that? If that was me I’d just stare at her, roll my eyes and sigh audibly.

  17. Are Lab slowly closing the gap on the SNP in Scotland?

    Oh and well done Wales on a fantastic win in Israel.

  18. @Robin Holden

    We’ve discussed it on here before but the last time a party with most seats was unable to gain the confidence of the House and thus didn’t form the government was Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives in Dec 1923.

    The first Labour government under Ramsay MacDonald was formed in Jan1924 after the Liberals voted with Labour against Baldwin in a confidence vote.

  19. @RMJ1

    Your problem is a basic misunderstanding of how such agreements work in minority coalitions. “Propping up” a government, that is not supporting a vote of no confidence, doesn’t put through policies. This is done in loose agreements on an issue-by-issue basis and where the SNP very much has cards to play. Good luck to Labour getting through policies or budgets without SNP/PC support over Tory opposition. For that support, the SNP can and you may be sure will demand concessions.

    Some opposition I expect will be less successful. SNP/PC/Green opposition cannot out vote a probably Labour/Tory agreement on renewing Trident, for example but they will be seen by their constituents as standing up for their beliefs. To the surprise of many, as in the loss in the independence referendum, Scots sometimes seem to vote for parties that have at least tried to do what they said they would do, even when they failed.

  20. Mikey

    The Scottish Cross Breaks have been all over the place in recent days.

    Best to wait for a Full Scottish to come out.

  21. Regarding Ukip figures:

    Only 40% of 18-24 yr olds will be voting at the GE and Ukip picks up 12% from the youngsters.

    Between 75% – 80% of over 60 yr olds will be voting and Ukip picks up 21% from this age group.

    Perhaps ‘omnishambles’ could get out his abacus and enlighten us, please?

  22. Is this the same opinium whose 3% lead for the tories was described as a “budget bounce”

  23. @J.R.TOMLIN

    Don’t be silly, I understand perfectly how these things work and am probably one of the few here who have had to make such a situation work. The supporting party, not mine, were crushed at the next election but their only option would have been to change sides for which they would also not have been forgiven.

  24. Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,959 GB adults aged 18+ from 24th to 25th March 2015.

    I didn’t see anyone noting this (Tuesday to Wednesday). I suspect some may have been erroneously thinking this was a post ‘debate’ result.

  25. @david

    My abacus tells me that older people being more likely to vote will help UKIP

  26. @Mikey

    “Are Lab slowly closing the gap on the SNP in Scotland?”

    Not in the Opinium Crosbreaks they’re not.

    Last week was 32 Labour 30 SNP.
    This week is 37 SNP 26 Labour.

    That’s a 7 day swing of 6.5%.

    Extrapolating that movement continuing to May 7th I predict SNP will be on 80% and Labour on 2%…

    Maybe better to wait for a proper Scottish Poll!

  27. @ RMJ1,

    If the SNP prop up a Labour minority and get nothing in return, they risk being destroyed at the next election.

    They really don’t. If they don’t get concessions it’s obviously Labour’s fault- what can their voters do, punish the SNP by switching back to Labour?- and if the government does happen to pass something Scots like the SNP will try to take credit for it. Given the quality of their spin operation and the fanatical loyalty of their supporters they’ll almost certainly succeed.

    Like all the other parties, they’re standing against the alternatives, not the Almighty. They don’t need to be magnificently successful, they just need to be more appealing than Labour.

    The one thing that potentially could screw them up is that Con-Lib-DUP pact scenario, because depending on the numbers it might prove “Vote SNP, get Tory” true. That and voting down a Labour government are the only real risks for them.

  28. Thank you for your insight ‘omnishambles’.

    Like many others I am puzzled by the very even figures of the main parties, as opposed to the volatility of UKIP polling.

    If you look in detail at age – profile and local constituency polling in the 40 – 50 Ukip marginals you get a very different picture from the broad-sweep national figures.

  29. @Colin – “Well “socialists” was a bit of a stretch . :-)”

    A good laugh at that.

    However, I too am deeply unimpressed by some schoolboy name calling.

  30. Prof Howard

    Absolutely. The SNP lead has been so high that I think it likely Lab will reduce it a bit but by how much remains to be seen. They have a huge hill to climb.

  31. @Millie – 6.32 pm

    Agreed that it is going to be an interesting situation. I suspect that the outcome will be dependent on the number of LD MPs remaining after the election. If there are say 25+ MPs then I suspect that the the party will stick together and dependent upon the bias of the remaining MPs, become a centre left or centre right party prepared to lose some support from the other side of the centre. If there are less than about 20 MPs then I can see the party splitting into the old Liberal and SDP parties – probably mainly along geographical lines

  32. The main things the SNP will want to do are twofold:


    On Constitutional matters they will look to deliver Smith and then demand more powers. They might get Smith Plus but they’ll reach a point where Labour says “no more” before reaching Devo Max. That’s fine for SNP as I suspect a Devo Max referendum will be their big Holyrood 2016 Manifesto pledge. Obstructive Unionists/Unelected Lords/Tory Press etc will all be grist to that political mill.

    On Financial side of things some people seem to think SNP need to demand big lumps of extra money. They don’t and won’t.

    The way the Barnett Formula works to receive more money for Holyrood the SNP need to persuade Labour to spend more in England on relevant Barnett departments: Health, Local Government and less on non Barnett ones: Defence (Trident) etc.

    Some of this will be popular with English Labour voters. If SNP propose spending £5Bn on English NHS instead of Trident either that happens (and SNP get £500m Barnett consequentials) or it doesn’t (and SNP get to say we suggested £500m for the Scottish NHS but Ed Miliband gave Glasgow some new Nukes instead…

    Either way that’s a win win for them.

    Point is there’s no need to demand extra for Scotland. You just demand extra for England and the extra Scottish money flows north automatically.

  33. On balance the polls seem to make Labour and Conservative neck and neck or Labour slightly ahead. Why then do all the projections put the conservatives on most seats? Is it because a) they believe that on past evidence voters will swing back to the devil they know b) they have factored in constituency or regional differences that produce this result c) some combination of these things or d) do they introduce some other factor altogether?

  34. “On balance the polls seem to make Labour and Conservative neck and neck or Labour slightly ahead. Why then do all the projections put the conservatives on most seats?”

    I must say I too find the pricing quite puzzling. today’s opinium suggests a 4.75% swing from con to labour in england from 2010. this is a huge problem from the tories and, on a uns basis, would lead to the loss of over 50 seats to labour, on a uns basis. it is also consonant with the most recent ashcroft constituency polling which shows a similar 4-5% swing from con to labour in england….

    nobody seems to really engage with this or care. I bang on about it, but people just do the usual, the polls are wrong or there will be considerable swingback. What if the polls are roughly right, and there is no swingback?

  35. @Peter Bell

    I think you have raised a very interesting point when you commented on the possibility of the LD splitting into the old Liberal and SDP groupings.

    It made me wonder if some LD remnants might want to take the whip of the Progressive Alliance (SNP, Green, Plaid, SDLP) in order to secure the potential of more influence in the outcome of votes, especially in a minority government scenario.

    Having over 60 or even 70 seats representing all nations in the UK would be an effective voice in the House and in committees.

    Such a coalition would certainly increase the pressure for real change in rules, voting methods, allocation of committee chairs and membership and of course, put paid to the austerity agenda.

    An agreement such as Confidence and Supply between a Labour group of 260-280 and a Progressive Alliance of 60-80 would also provide for a stable government over the longer term.

    It would lead to a Progressive Block (Labour, LibDem remnants, SNP, SDLP, Green, independents, and possibly even SF) and a Conservative Block ( Conservative, LibDem remnants, UKIP, DUP) mirroring what is common in many European nations.

    I would be interested in the views of others on this.

  36. @ Peter Crawford

    Errr then that would mean you were correct all along?

  37. The SDLP have talked lately of voting with a Progressive Alliance of SNP, PC, Green. However, I think they would not break off from Labour fully, because otherwise Labour would have one fewer reasons to resist the NI Labour Members who want to stand candidates in NI.

  38. Bramley,
    He’s rattled.

  39. @peter crawford
    “nobody seems to really engage with this or care.”

    From my time on here, it seems a lot of people do engage with it and care. There are those who agree with you and think the polls will stay like this, and there are others who think there will be a swing favouring Conservatives, Labour or whoever. And there are those who have no idea…

  40. I suspect we’ll not go far wrong in this election by listening to Peter Crawford and Chris Lane:
    The polls are about right in general;
    Except the Lib Dems who are a bit high.

  41. @ Peter Crawford,

    Ed Miliband agrees with you: “We can totally win a majority!!!”

    (Which is probably not doing much to reassure voters about his numeracy, come to think of it…)

    Seriously though, I agree with you, it’s bizarre. Not all the models are swingback models either, and I don’t have a good explanation for what’s causing the disparity in the ones that aren’t. (Unicorn would be your man/woman for that.)

    Is it possible they’re over-predicting Con incumbency effects? According to the Ashcroft constituency polling they seem to be fairly low by historical standards, assuming you can accurately measure the incumbency effect with a poll that doesn’t mention candidates’ names.

  42. Regarding Lib-dem figures:

    Only 23% of people who voted for them in 2010 plan to support them this time. (British Election Survey).

    How bad does it have to get before Clegg goes? Presumably, Tim Farron then picks up the pieces and will be very wary of doing any sort of deal with the other major two parties.

  43. @peter crawford.

    Im with you. I dont get the built in assumption in the models that the tories will pick up more votes come the election. Theres now too many variables in the mix to predict anything based on past elections.

  44. Peter Crawford.

    I am very puzzled by it. I don’t understand why people expect a Conservative minority government, when the analysis you provide seems so accurate.

  45. Peter Crawford

    Perhaps it is Ed Milibands low personal ratings, which might lead punters to assume that enough people will switch away from Labour in the run up to the vote.

  46. @Colin – “Well “socialists” was a bit of a stretch . :-) and a big laugh from me as well as Alec! Exquisite layers of humour in that short post. Do it more!
    Question is, should they take insults as water
    off a duck’s back, or respond in a much more aggressive way?
    It would be fun to hear one if them say “take off your jacket and look me in the eye!” Given the shenanigans over the q&a interview non debate, “if he’s still in the building, come down and at least shake hands” would have made great telly, and possibly won a vote.

  47. @ Peter Crawford 7.52

    I still question the very term “swingback”. IMO what has happened in the past is little more (perhaps even nothing more) than the government of the day calling an election when the polls were moving in their favour. As we all know, this does not apply in the forthcoming election for which we have known the date for nearly 5 years. Including swingback in an election forecast for next May is imo. totally wrong.

    Good Evening to you.
    My own hunch is that the Cons will have enough seats to form a minority administration; this is not what PETER C is saying, I think.
    I have to say that I do agree with you that LD numbers look high; which helps to point towards a Tory Victory, as they will pick up most LD votes south of that line from the Wash to the Bristol Channel or the Tyne.

  49. @Bramley @Ann in Wales

    Tactically, an odd attack for DC. The media commentariat largely thought that EM handled the personal stuff better than the economic stuff. So why launch a personal attack? Seems odd. Unless Crosby believes that there is mileage in seeking to link the two. Even then, it’s a risky approach.

  50. The imminent YouGov poll was conducted entirely after the “debates”.

    However, people might want to read this before analysing the poll

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