The tabs for the weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times are now up here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%. The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday, and the four point Labour lead equals the highest this year, so it looks like it could be an impact from the Paxman interviews. Then again, YouGov spat out a single four point Labour lead in one of their daily polls earlier this month that turned out to be just random noise, so this is nothing that couldn’t just be random error. To have any confidence about whether anything actually has changed in terms of voting intention, we need more polling.

In the meantime, what does the rest of the poll show? Well, leadership ratings do also suggest an improvement for Miliband. Asked if they are doing well or badly David Cameron’s net rating is up from minus 5 last week to minus 2 this week. Ed Miliband though is up from minus 39 to minus 29, so a solid jump (that said, Nick Clegg is up from minus 47 to minus 40 without being in the interviews at all…). Miliband also rose in the Best PM question – up four points since YouGov last asked this version of the question in November last year, but still 12 points behind Cameron (when YouGov ask the question for the Sun it’s Cameron v Miliband v Clegg, for the Sunday Times Farage is also an option – don’t compare the two, they give different results).

On the debate question itself, amongst people who watched the debates 49% of people thought Miliband came across better, 34% thought David Cameron did. This is of course very much in line with a movement to Labour in the headline voting intention figures… but why so different from the ICM poll after the debate? Part of the answer may well be that people have had longer to digest it, think about it and be influenced by discussing it with other people. First reactions are extremely important, but they aren’t everything.

Another factor though is who watched the debate – the ICM poll was weighted to be politically representative (though even weighted, the poll still ended with a sample showing an 11 point Labour lead rather than Con and Lab neck and neck), but a debate doesn’t necessarily get watched by a representative sample of the public. People from one party maybe more likely than another to watch it. Looking at the YouGov data, 31% of people who voted Labour in 2010 watched the debate, only 15% of people who voted Tory…so the sub-sample of people who watched the debate was actually a very Laboury group of people to begin with. This highlights a methodological challenge for pollsters in doing things like debate polls, how do you weight the sample? Do you try to make it politically and/or demographically representative of the country as a whole, regardless of who is actually watching? Or do you try to make it representative of the people who are actually watching, regardless of the political skews that brings? The second is probably more methodologically purer – all you can *really* measure is what people who watch think, but given what the media want is just a crude “who won” verdict, would it be fair to start out with a sample that was stronger biased one way or another?

Anyway, time will tell if the Paxman interviews actually did or did not make any difference. On other matters, YouGov found 11% of people said they were voting tactically at the election. Amongst that (obviously very small) sample people were pretty evenly split between voting tactically against the Tories (40%) and voting tactically against Labour (37%).

In my weekly round up I mentioned some YouGov polling about which taxes would rise under a Labour or Conservative government, conducted before Prime Minister’s Question time, Cameron ruling out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruling out an NI rise. YouGov repeated those questions in this poll to see if they had changed. At the start of the week, 31% of people thought VAT would rise if the Conservatives won. Following David Cameron ruling out a rise in VAT, this is now…32%. At the start of the week 39% of people expected national insurance to rise if Labour won, but since Ed Balls ruled it out, that has changed to… 40%. A lovely illustration of how much of the politicians’ arguments, exchanges and pledges make not the slightest difference to public opinion.

303 Responses to “More from today’s Sunday Times poll”

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  1. @Andrew

    “For me, all that remains is to see whether UKIP voters are panicked into voting Conservative. At this stage I suspect we will see UKIP draw below 10%.”

    Why would they necessarily be “panicked” into doing anything other than what they’ve been telling to pollsters they are going to do for almost three years now? The froth element of the UKIP vote peaked around the time of the European elections and their late by-election victories, and those fly-by-night supporters have long since gone, but I’ve seen nothing to convince me that the hardcore 12-14% are going to be easily dissuaded into doing anything other than voting UKIP on May 7th.

    I think this 12-14% is fairly rock solid and they are quite prepared to see the Tories go under in the General Election. I don’t believe rescuing the Tories is really on their agenda at all. They are voters who have a deep seated disillusionment with mainstream politics of both left and right and I think they’re pretty determined to rock the boat at this election.

    Time will tell, though. I could be mistaken.

  2. @Andy Shadrack

    That’s fascinating (the 1993 Canadian election).

    Can it really be so simple that making fun of someone’s face caused the Conservatives to drop from 35% to 16% in just 45 days? Surely there must have been more to it than that – voters tend to think about stuff that affects their own situation, and while they may feel sympathy for a politician being made fun of, it doesn’t personally affect them.

  3. @crossbat

    yeah – id go with along with that.

    Tory attempts to win back the kippers may start to get hysterical but I think the potential for further squeezing is limited. Anyone who reads comments sections in newspapers will have come across the visceral hatred the hard core kippers have for cameron and co – not to mention a high degree of bunker mentality – the polls are rigged, the media is telling lies, everyone i know is voting UKIP, we will win over 100 seats etc.

  4. @Mikey

    “Labour are far from home and dry. Its still neck and neck.”

    Keep telling yourself that….

    While I would agree that Labour are far from home and dry, it’s certainly not neck and neck. The seat distribution, according to the UNC prediction on this same website, is for the Tories to get 250 seats and Labour 309. The Tories have a lot of ground to make up, and the question is, does anyone seriously think they can?

  5. @ Peter C

    Electorates don’t do gratitude. I remember my mum’s uncle saying when i was ten, “look at churchill, the ‘grateful’ British people turned him out on his a*se in ’45”.


    Then again, as you and I know, Peter, Churchill carried a lot of baggage in those days. He was not as idolised then as he is now. A lot of working class people were still angry with him for the role he played in breaking up the General Strike of 1936. And Attlee was the one who embraced the Beveridge Report, that eventually led to the NHS. In addition, Attlee’s Labour also beat Churchill’s Tories in the 1950 election, and won more votes than Churchill’s Tories did in 1951. But due to that anomaly of votes to seat distribution, Churchill’s Tories won more seats in 1951, even though his party got less votes that Attlee for the third election running….

  6. @Little Red Rock

    ‘Pollsters are always telling us, quite properly, not to get too excited about a single poll. And Yet Peter Kellner, possibly the best known pollster in the land has changed his prediction from Con on 297 seats to Lab on 297 seats more or less overnight.’

    I’ve never been impressed by Kellner…he seems to be a Tory cheerleader. The UNC prediction on this website is Tories 250 and Labour 309.

  7. Michael

    We will see. The current polling average has Labour just 1 point ahead. They have yet to have a consistent run of polls in the New Year which shows them ahead. YouGov had Con 2 points ahead a few days ago.
    I believe they are neck and neck although Lab may just be edging it.

  8. Crossbat
    Yes, UKIP supporters in my experience have no truck with the Tories. That’s apart from defectors of course!

    The majority of them were never Tory voters anyway, though ex-Tories are probably the largest group.

    As I said in a post yesterday, I think they are likely to pick up many second places in the Midlands and North, in areas where the tories are a toxic brand.

  9. In Anthony’s introduction I was struck by the fact that anti-Labour tactical voting was nearly as likely as anti-Tory. Traditionally we have been used to the ABT vote going to the LibDems in certain places. The ABL vote might well go to UKIP in the north,


    The tory press have shot themselves in the foot. By creating a bogeyman hopeless, king of the nerds character who couldn’t tie up his shoe-laces, they have set expectation so low for Miliband that he can only improve his ratings when he gets more exposure….


    Correct, This was predicted on here some weeks ago and it is a crucial factor if not thee crucial factor in the GE.With the leaders having so much exposure from now on voters can now make their own minds up. As Labour had a slight lead with Miliband generally perceived as hopeless, you would think their poll levels would rise as Miliband’s ratings rise, as surely they must…unless of course he makes an enormous mess of things in the campaign.

  11. @ Peter C

    “258 is not a prediction it’s a lower range. I have said the Tories should get 270 or thereabouts for a while. Whereas I see 258 as being as likely as 280… As for 295 that’s pie in the sky for reasons I have rehearsed ad nauseam…Dave is not coming back to number 10 and that’s been my view for 3 years now”

    My sentiments exactly….

  12. @michael siva
    “The Tories have a lot of ground to make up, and the question is, does anyone seriously think they can?”

    By “a lot of ground” you mean a 3 or 4% swing from their current polling average?

    “The UNC prediction on this website is Tories 250 and Labour 309.”

    You mean UNS. And you missed the most important thing about UNS. Quoting from that part of the website:

    ‘This is a crude measure and can result in some illogical and impossible projections – for example, if a poll showed Labour support dropping by 13%, as one poll did during Summer 2008, then a uniform swing calculation using those figures would project Labour getting less than zero votes in 48 seats. This is clearly nonsense. Such projections also ignore any regional variations, tactical considerations or variations due to incumbency effects of new MPs or MPs standing down.’

  13. Mikey,

    Take a look at this, my namesake….

    Tories 250

    Labour 309

    Lib Dems 19

    SNP 54

    The rest 18

    And aside from an adjustment for the unusual case of Scotland, this prediction has been fairly consistently predicting Labour winning most seats.

    One of the factors you have to consider is the issue of voters to constituencies. South England constituencies have the largest populations, and the further north you go, the trend seems to be that the number of voters per constituency declines. What this means is that if Labour and the Tories each have 34%, for example, that means that Labour will win more seats, because most of the Tory strength is in south England.

    Of course, Scotland going wholesale to the SNP has thrown a spanner in the Labour works, but that issue still stands. Remember, at the last GE Labour got 29% and the Tories 36%, and the Tories still weren’t able to secure an outright majority!

  14. @Omnishambles

    Yes, I do mean UNC, sorry for the typo….

    That’s exactly the problem with ALL attempts to discuss seat distribution. But this UNC prediction does have more of a logic to it than the other sites I’ve seen in the media, which seem very propagandistic to me. Also, this UNC prediction is more in keeping with what we can discern from historical trends, such as the 2010 GE, and so on.

    But if you want to grasp at straws, don’t let me stop you….

  15. UNS, UNS, UNS, not UNC!

  16. @ Candy

    The previous Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, was detested by much of the general public as we had gone through a gut wrenching “Free Trade” with the US election in 1988 and then two failed constitutional accords “Meech Lake” and the Charlottetown referendum – at which point the popular Minister of Environment, Lucien Bouchard, walked out of the Conservative Party to form the Bloc Quebecois.

    I think many Canadians were willing to give the red-tory Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, the benefit of the doubt, but early on in the campaign she made a gaffe, by stating that the middle of an election was not the time to discuss changing social programs policy.

    The Chretien Conservative tv ads, even though they were pulled within twelve hours of being aired, was kind of the icing on the cake.

    Canadians were already mad at each other over the inability to amend the constitution and keep Quebec in the country and mad at each other the decision to have “Free Trade” or not.

    And then this advert came along and it became the straw that broke the camel’s back as it were, a tipping point. And poor Kim Campbell and the Conservatives got the full ire of the voters, who looked at them and said you were in charge, look what a mess you have gotten us into.

    Two years later we came within a hair’s breadth of breaking up as a country, and it was not until 2011, when a quite ill Leader of the NDP (Labour) walked out onto a stage and threw his walking cane in the air, that the separtists were reduced to 4 seats federally.

    Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition, was dead from cancer within four months of the 2011 election. He was rambunctious, but quiet decent man who would show up at homelsss shelter at 2.00 AM in the morning with his wife to talk to people about their issues.

    Chretien told Blair and Bush that they were engaging in political “gamesmenship” and that he and Canada would have nothing to do with the overthrow of Sadam Hussein, and then went of tv and told Candaians what he had said and done, and the pollsters found a majority of Canadians were willing to back him.

    So I think voters do look at the underlying issues and if they feel a politician is doing their best under the circumstances they will cut them some slack.

    I found it very instructive that 20% of Londoners would let Bennett babysit their children, after she so obviuosly blew several media interviews.

    My father told me a story of canvassing for Churchill in the East End of London in the 1950’s and coming across a young couple who were emigrating to Australia for a better chance at life, but much to his chagrin would vote Labour before they left the country.

    I realize that the same party loyalty does not exist anymore, but do not underestimate the ability of a voter to frame an election in their best interest.

    These words from a recent speech by Lord A really resonate with me:

    “…people were already pretty fed up with the Labour government and had come to their own conclusion that Gordon Brown was not a particularly good Prime Minister. Their hesitation in voting for change was not over whether they could bear to live without Labour, but whether they could trust the Tory alternative. The Conservatives’ relentless attacks on Mr Brown were therefore not just ineffective but counterproductive. Every new assault was a lost opportunity to explain the Tories’ plans and reassure people about the party’s motives.”

    “…Why, then, is negative campaigning, especially the personal kind, so prevalent? I think it comes down to two things. First, attacking the other side is easier, not to say more fun, than putting across your own plans in a succinct and appealing way. And second, politicians and those who work for them love laying into the enemy. They relish the game, and that’s how the game has always been played. Once again, opinion research, if it is heeded, can be a reminder to try not to alienate too many of the spectators.”

    “…And when parties warn of the unintended consequences of voting for their rivals – “vote Farage, get Miliband”, or “vote SNP, get the Tories” – it can easily sound like this: “you people are clearly too dim to understand what you’re doing; once you pull yourself together and start paying attention you’ll be back voting for us”. Not necessarily a winning message.”

  17. Michael Siva

    My son spent a year at UNC, Chapel Hill in North Carolina which is nice at this time of year.

    Carolinians tend to be dubious about swinging, though.

  18. @michael siva

    Again, UNS is pretty much worthless. It makes more sense to look at constituency polling, regional differences and so on. That’s not propaganda it’s common sense, and even if it hurts your feelings those models are more logical than UNS projections.

    Moreover, the Labour advantage in population/seat ratio has all but eroded, because most of the population growth in the past several years has been in Labour strongholds such as London.


    So we’re now in a situation where similar voteshare = similar seat number for Labour and the Conservatives.

  19. For clarity, I meant constituency polling, regional differences, incumbency effects etc *in addition* to UNS not instead of UNS.

  20. The idea that Ukip voters will be panicked into voting Tory presupposes that they have a fear of a Labour government. I believe there was some polling that surprised people as to how indifferent Ukip voters were to either outcome. Indeed there are some of us who fervently wish for an SNP government propped up by Ed Miliband as the essential precursor to a Ukip victory in 2020.

  21. Barbazenzero
    Ludendorff Bridge/museum – thanks for info. May get there one day in gap between elections…

  22. @ Michael Siva

    I’ve never been impressed by Kellner…he seems to be a Tory cheerleader. The UNC prediction on this website is Tories 250 and Labour 309.


    I’m pretty sure Kellner is actually a LAB supporter.

  23. @David in France @ Michael Siva

    ‘he seems to be a Tory cheerleader’

    ‘I’m pretty sure Kellner is actually a LAB supporter.’

    To be fair, easy mistake. Peter Kellner is a New Labour supporter …. :)

  24. Good Afternoon All,
    The walk on Christchurch river bank was very nice today.
    Mr Kellner is married to Lady Cathy Ashton, Brown’s nominee for EU Foreign Affairs.

    I agree with pollsters that the race is neck and neck since Labour look set to win about as many seats from Tories as it is going to lose to SNP.

    The LD performance is going to be crucial.

    IMHO as they say.

  25. Not sure how much of this speculation about his boss’s allegiances Anthony will entertain, but for what it’s worth I’ve always had Peter Kellner pegged as a Blairite of the “If Miliband wins it proves the Project was unnecessary, that would cast doubt on some of my past political beliefs, therefore it must be impossible for Miliband to win” school.

    There’s a pack of these people in the commentariat and they’re always more confident of a Tory victory than anyone else, because they need to be. Conservative commentators can blame a Miliband victory on Cameron failing to take their excellent advice, so there’s a silver lining for them even in a bad outcome and they’re willing to consider the possibility. For the Blairites a Miliband victory poses a metaphysical crisis.

  26. Lord A is a Tory Peer and I am not not a Tory, but agree with much of the philsophy that Lord A talks about around campaigning and how to do it right, so does that mean I have a Tory bias too?

    Kellner and Anthony Wells are doing a job as pollsters and unless they are purposely rigging their polls, which I doubt, the debate should be about whether the methodology for the 2015 UK GE, that pollsters are using is the correct one.

    I happen to think there are problems with the methods, but we will not know that until the election is over.

    In the interim, if anyone has ever served in government, they know it is a miracle government works at all, never mind conspiring to do x, y, z.

  27. @chrislane1945
    “The LD performance is going to be crucial.”

    Damn right

    Wilson’s shock Feb 28 1974 victory was aided by the Liberals taking ‘tory votes’ though not many seats.
    Labour’s vote share fell in comparison with the June 18 1970 GE (England lost the World Cup Quarter Final v West Germany) on the previous Sunday).

  29. Mike Smithson – ComRes phone poll due at 22.00BST TONIGHT. Previous ComRes phone poll showed Con and Lab level at 35%.

  30. Does anyone know when the next full Scottish is scheduled?

    Wasn’t there supposed to be a full Welsh today?

  31. @ Andy Shadrack,

    The issue with Kellner isn’t his polls, which I think most of us except for the Ukip-suppression conspiracy theorists believe to perfectly legitimate. (I’d say the same of Ashcroft, although I know his polling is slightly more controversial here.) The issue is his editorials, which always seem to predict extreme swings to the Conservatives on the basis of it’s-not-quite-clear-what.

    Some of this is just down to him being a professional pollster and knowing things about historical elections- the Conservative fundamentals on everything but their party brand are strong, there usually is a minor but robust incumbency effect, triangulation was a successful strategy in the past four elections- but given the mounting evidence that these factors don’t apply at this election as strongly as they have in the past, you’d think he’d at least be questioning his prediction by now. And he doesn’t seem to be.

  32. @ChrisL
    Yes the LDems performance in Con-LD marginals could decide who gets most seats. There is a hatful of potential wins for the Cons on a not much larger swing between the parties. I think Unicorn has been pointing this out for a while.

  33. Andy Shadrack

    With regard to candidates, AndyJS doesn’t seem to have to have updated his spreadsheet with them yet, but there does seem to have been a recent burst of announcements for the Lib Dems and according to Sharon who also monitors these things here:

    The latest numbers are:

    Lab 630

    Con 638

    Lib Dem 624

    UKIP 612

    Green 565

    PC 39

    SNP 59

    TUSC 96

    So it looks as if the Lib Dems will get as near to a full slate as possible and UKIP will do the same except for Scotland.

  34. ALISTER1948
    May get there one day in gap between elections…

    You’re welcome, and note that as well as road and river access, there’s also a cycle path along the left bank there. Some quite good local wine there, too, albeit usually little on the sweet side.

  35. @Andy Shadrack

    Thanks for that. You’ve inspired me to google for more info, and I came across the following paper:

    which says that 1993 was the first year that the Bloc and Reform parties made a breakthrough in seats. We can substitute SNP and UKIP for those two in our own upcoming election. Reform is now in govt isn’t it, having gobbled up the Conservatives, and the Liberals have been reduced to a regional Ontario party.

    So that election completely balkanised Canadian politics, and in the long term vanquished the two main parties. Makes me nervous about the fate of UK politics if we follow the same pattern.

  36. Incidentally Information Central for candidate selection is probably this thread on the Vote UK Forum:

    Where AndyJS, Sharon and others pool information and news.

  37. Prof Howard

    “Wasn’t there supposed to be a full Welsh today?”

    I think the post said Monday – so might be available tonight.

    btw I’ve now caught up with this morning’s Marr programme, and Robinson seems a little more flexible than you previously suggested.

    “In the first instance, constitutionally, we will want to go to the party that has won most seats, but we wouldn’t be averse to speaking to the party that comes in 2nd place.”

    Unless there’s something different in the DUP constitution, I’m not sure what he means by “constitutionally”!

    Many thanks.
    I have heard, somewhere here, that LD’s think they are doing ok in the contests with the Tories, but not Labour.

    Hello, it has been a long time.

  39. With the DUP I think the bigger issue is that they’re making an EU referendum a red line for C&S. Labour won’t offer it, so they’re pretty much out as pact partners (although they might be persuaded to abstain in a confidence vote).

  40. Are any OMRLP candidates standing this year?

  41. I’ve been playing around with 2010 results in relation to the poll for this thread.

    I’m sure some of our statistical experts can point out errors in my methods, but the results were interesting.
    I worked out the mean votes per seat in 2010 and SD for each of the main GB-wide parties down as far as the Greens. Then I adjusted these figures based on the latest poll. I got a predicted SD for this time by multiplying the new mean by the 2010 ratio of SD to mean for each party. (That’s the step I’m most dubious about). Finally, I worked out how many SDs each party was from the average winning vote in 2010.

    Con and Lab were 1 SD short. Green 3, UKIP 4 and LibDem 9! This suggests that CON and LAB are neck and neck (surprise, surprise) and that Green are slightly more likely to get a seat than are UKIP. LibDems according to this have no chance of retaining any seats at all.

    In reality of course, I would expect the LibDems to retain a few seats, but it does throw further doubt on what seems to be the current theory that they will retain 25-30 seats.

  42. @ChrisLane1945

    Hi Chris. Hope you are keeping well.

  43. As the snp get closer to holding the balance speculation continues on what role for Alex Salmond..

    The Spectator says there was no speaking role for him at the Snp spring conference .Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she will lead Westminster negotiations with Hosie .

  44. Just switched on and picking up the various topics.

    Peter Kellner is an ex-journalist with the New Statesman and still writes articles for the Fabian Society, he’s as left-wing as they come – so is his wife.

    Concerning the correct methodology in presenting polling evidence: Less than one in fifteen voters saw the leaders TV interviews. Very difficult to find a formula to accurately assess people’s views there.

  45. @ Andy Shadrack

    In the interim, if anyone has ever served in government, they know it is a miracle government works at all, never mind conspiring to do x, y, z.

    That is very true. Government is a bit of stumble in the dark. Essential. But a bit of a bluster.

    Dont let that persuade you that there are not more powerful and shadowy forces at work however. There are. Ministers may come and go but the City remains. As does the defence sector.

  46. As to Ukip suppression…

    The Yougov raw data were; LD 84 – after adjustment 112
    Ukip 250 – after adjustment 193

    Now I fully understand the reasons for this adjustment and that it worked in the past. Just find it hard to believe that it will this time.

    The polls are used to support the narrative that a Ukip vote is a wasted vote.

    Do all my friends vote Ukip?… about half… and none of them conform to the stereotypes presented here.

    Will Ukip win 100 seats? nope about five… but are more likely to win ten than the zero theThe Daily Telegraph head up their political section with – if the bookmakers are to be believed.

    Are the mainstream media biased against Ukip? You’re joking right?

  47. CANDY.
    I am well thank you, and enjoying the GE race, and my 38th year of school teaching!

  48. @CL
    I think the LD position has deteriorated further and the Cons have slightly improved since Lord As constituency polls were done. They will be some of the seats to watch, amongst many others, on election night.

    Others I’m going to watch are at the balance point between Con and Lab.
    For example, Loughborough or Cannock Chase, both in the midlands. If Lab get those I think they will be the largest party. If Cons hold onto Nuneaton and/or Ipswich I think Cons will be the largest party.

  49. Spearmint

    “With the DUP I think the bigger issue is that they’re making an EU referendum a red line for C&S. Labour won’t offer it, so they’re pretty much out as pact partners (although they might be persuaded to abstain in a confidence vote).”

    I don’t think the EU issue is very important to the DUP, I recon that isn’t really a red line. In fact they haven’t mentioned a referendum as a red line.

  50. Laszlo / Raf
    I’m not sure it’s appropriate to bring Phil Woolas up in this discussion. Statgeek’s question was about statements of the form ‘Don’t vote for the Tories, they’ll put up VAT, they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again’. Whatever you think about the probability of that, it’s completely different from what Woolas did. Woolas claimed (among other things) that his opponent was deliberately courting the Islamist extremist vote and photoshopped him into a photo of some armed police to make it look like he’d been arrested.

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