This morning’s Mail on Sunday had a new poll of South Thanet which they built up into a UKIP “covering up” an unfavourable poll showing them headed for defeat. ComRes have subsequently released the tables for the poll here, revealing it was actually commissioned by ChartwellPolitical, an agency founded by two former UKIP staffers.

First let’s cut away the Mail’s hyperbole – it’s really not a “LOSER POLL!” and doesn’t show Farage heading for a humiliating defeat. UKIP are one point behind the Conservatives, with Labour one point behind them – CON 31%, UKIP 30%, LAB 29%, LDEM 5%. Given the margin of error, one couldn’t confidently say which of the three parties are ahead. What it actually shows is an extremely tight race. However it’s significantly less positive for UKIP than the previous polling in Thanet South – a Survation poll back in February that showed UKIP ten points ahead, and it resulted in UKIP attempts to rubbish the poll and its methodology last night.

In terms of methodology, the poll is mostly done using the same methods ComRes use in their national telephone polls – same turnout weighting and filtering, same squeeze question, same treatment of don’t knows. There are two important differences between the way ComRes do their national and constituency polls though. First respondents were prompted with the individual candidate names, secondly the poll was NOT politically weighted (if it had been, it would probably have been better for the Tories to some degree, depending on how much false recall ComRes allowed for in setting targets).

Most of the criticism of the poll last night (including some from UKIP themselves) was frankly complete nonsense. I can only assume a lot of it was sourced from “what some bloke on Twitter reckoned”. To sum up, the difference isn’t because candidates weren’t named – they were. It isn’t because 2010 political or turnout weights were used – they weren’t. It wasn’t because people who are unlikely to vote were included – they weren’t. It wasn’t because ComRes reallocated people by 2010 vote – they don’t. The idea that the question wording mentioning “your local MP” favoured Laura Sandys seems somewhat stretched, given the question included candidate names and Laura Sandys wasn’t one of those candidates.

To look at the more substantive things people have asked though, the initial voting intention question in the poll found Nigel Farage ahead. What put him behind in the final figures was weighting by turnout and squeezing the don’t knows. Neither of these are strange and unusual, they are ComRes’s normal method and are perfectly justifiable.

Looking at turnout first, ComRes found that Labour and Conservative voters said they were more likely to vote than UKIP voters. In Survation’s poll in February they actually found just the same thing, and their approach to weighting by likelihood to vote is very similar to ComRes’s (there is a difference in how they treat people who are very unlikely to vote – Survation weight them down very heavily, ComRes exclude them. In practice this difference has minimal effect). The difference between the Survation poll showing a ten point UKIP lead and the ComRes one showing a one point Tory lead is NOT turnout weighting.

The other difference is don’t knows. In the Survation poll people who said they didn’t know how they would vote were ignored. In ComRes, they were asked a follow up “squeeze” question – how would they vote if they legally HAD to. For people who still didn’t give an answer, ComRes asked if they identified with any party, and took that as their most likely vote. In practice these squeeze questions helped Labour and the Conservatives, but didn’t squeeze out much in the way of extra UKIP support.

There is nothing at all methodologically “wrong” with this poll… but then, there wasn’t anything “wrong” with the Survation poll in February either. There are different methodological approaches, and there are good arguments to be made for and against them, but we don’t have the evidence to say which is right. More importantly, a lot of the difference here isn’t because of methodology… it’s just because ComRes found fewer Ukippers and more Labour and Conservative voters than Survation did. Perhaps that’s because UKIP have lost support since February. Perhaps that’s just normal sample variation. We can’t tell, we can only say that South Thanet may still be a tight race after all.

748 Responses to “ComRes poll of Thanet South”

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  1. @Albert
    Does anyone know how many SAFE seats have cons and lab right now?

    According to the Yougov Nowcasts, so excl NI

    Safe Conservative – 177
    Sale Labour 221
    Safe LD 13
    Safe SNP 29

    Included in those ‘safe seats’ are the following seats that had a different party MP in 2010, so you can decide if these are really ‘safe’

    Safe Conservative – 1 seat
    Somerton & Frome – from Lib Dems

    Safe Labour – 15 seats
    – From Conservatives – 8 seats

    Cardiff North,Macclesfield, Lancaster & Fleetwood,Wolverhampton South West,Hendon,Brentford & Isleworth,Stroud,Plymouth Sutton & Devonport

    – From LD – 7 seats
    Bradford East,Redcar,Cardiff Central,Manchester,,Withington,Hornsey & Wood Green,
    Brent Central,Norwich South

    Safe SNP – 24 seats
    From Labour – 16 seats

    Ochil & South Perthshire,Linlithgow & Falkirk East
    Kilmarnock & Loudoun,Inverclyde
    Glasgow South,Glasgow North
    Glasgow East,Glasgow Central
    Falkirk,Edinburgh South West
    Dundee West,Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East
    Ayrshire North & Arran,Ayrshire Central
    Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock,Aberdeen North

    From Lib Dems – 8 seats

    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey,Gordon
    North East Fife ,Edinburgh West
    East Dunbartonshire,Caithness,
    Sutherland & Easter Ross,Argyll & Bute
    Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine

  2. @MATT M
    i saw that .My point has always been not the whole 13 % but a third of that figure is 3-4 percent of UKIP’S share.Personally 2 percent maybe enough to be by far the largest party.I am also slightly sceptical about this poll given previous surveys have shown 7 out of 10 UKIP voters leaning Tory.
    It all depends where these voters are,it is the marginals the Tories have to get the UKIP vote to hold on.I just don’t see many Tory voters defecting to Labour so the UKIP sway from Con is larger than this poll suggests.
    Heh I can only tell you what I hear around me.

    Nicola can just interject when Murphy plays the ‘vote SNP and get Tory’ card.

    Quite possibly so, if Ponsonby doesn’t intervene, but the whole concept of a real debate is being dumbed down, IMO

    Willie Rennie’s a lucky chap. What are the odds on going last twice in a row? Also Jim Murphy’s luck continues to fray. Nicola Sturgeon succeeds him twice.

    Willie Rennie needs to be! Agreed re Murphy, who’s the only one of them standing as a candidate for election.

    BTW, anyone responding to me please feel free to use BZ.

  4. I think the largest party will have the first go, if it’s cons the only way for the opposition is an immediate motion of no confidence if they have the numbers, because Cameron is already PM and would try a minority government

  5. Polling Observatory (Rob Ford et al) have updated their prediction. Still showing a Labour lead, but much lower than their first effort.

    Lab 276 (-9)
    Con 271 (+6)
    SNP 49
    Lib 27 (+3)
    UKIP 3
    Others (ie Plaid, Galloway, Bercow) 6
    NI 18

  6. @Albert.

    It doesn’t work like that. Cameron remains prime minister until he no longer has the support of the house – so he gets first dibs on stiching together a majority for confidence and supply or a coalition. It was exactly the same in 2010 with gordon brown.
    If he the arithmetic is against him – i.e if lab + SNP have more than 320 mps – he resigns and the baton is passed to milliband. If milliband cant then assemble a majority then we have another GE.

    Of course the tory supporting elements of the media will cry foul if the conservatives have more mps – but that is the poltical system we have.

  7. Yes if Lab and SNP have a majority Cameron will probably resign immediately.
    But if they don’t he will try to stay like Brown

  8. I think that a second GE is the best case scenario for the Tories, and one that they might win outright. In an odd way, I think that a Tory minority/coalition government or even a small Tory majority is better for Labour than Labour being unable to form a government but the largest party, because Labour would ideally want a fair bit of time to build up funds for another GE, as well as to rebuild a bit in Scotland.

  9. @Barbazenzero

    I agree. The debate last week was surprisingly good because there was some genuine competition, and the moderator stepped on the relatively few examples of multiple people talking at once. This sounds more stilted; a bit like the Paxman / Burley show.

    Think I’ll be watching football instead.

  10. @couper2802

    ”I also hope someone can pick up Murphy on the way Scotland is funded, that is as a % of spending not taxation. It doesn’t matter how much tax we raise from mansions or bankers if spending is cut, Scottish block grant is cut.”

    This is a fair question to raise, although perhaps it would be best for the SNP if it is not.

    Such a question to Murphy automatically leads on to a return question to Sturgeon on the SNP proposal for Full Fiscal Autonomy, at which point all the other parties have an open goal available to them to attack the SNP on what will be portrayed as ”Austerity-Max” plans. When NS has been pushed on the subject of FFA at FMQs she hasn’t handled it particularly well in my view, resorting to some bad-natured hectoring, when put under pressure on the issue of how to maintain spending levels in the face of reduced revenue.

  11. @couper2802

    Sorry Couper I submitted before I had finished. I failed to add that while I am personally sympathetic to FFA in a number of ways, especially if part of a Federal arrangement, my point was that tactically I don’t think drawing attention to it is a good move for the SNP at this time and pushing Murphy on funding could do just that.

  12. James

    They’ve got Galloway to win? I understood that was unlikely.
    Those numbers look realistic.

  13. Does anyone know who did the Sporting Index poll of 5000 on April 2nd?

    Con 33.5
    Lab 30.0
    UKIP 13.7
    LD 11.7
    Green 5.2

  14. @Roll a hard six

    You might be surprised there is a very easy comeback on FFA which maybe Nicola is saving for this debate. I am not going to say what it is because this is a polling site and Murphy or his friends might read this site.

  15. @couper2802

    Sadly I will not be able to watch the debate live, so I shall rely on you telling me after!

  16. @Bantams

    Is that a poll of punters or a representative sample if the general UK population.

  17. @ RAF

    Not sure which is why I asked. I was looking at Election Calculus and they considered it valid enough to list with our regularly discussed polls, big sample as well.

  18. The undoubted star of the debates so far has been Julie Etchingham.

    I like Bernard Ponsonby, but he has a hard standard to live up to now – and STV chickened out of giving him more than 4 to handle, while Etchingham controlled 7 with consummate ease.

  19. @MIBRI My point has always been not the whole 13 % but a third of that figure is 3-4 percent of UKIP’S share

    This poll (from a couple of years ago, but UKIP had 12% at the time) has similar results. Kippers here even say they’d marginally prefer a Labour govt.

    If all ex-Tory Kippers change to the Tories, then that would be significant, but it would be a bit of a shock, and also more than a little unusual if there wasn’t a similar exodus of ex-Labour Kippers.

    Out of interest, where did you see the 7 out of 10 figure?

  20. Jack Sheldon
    “Israel/ Middle East a big issue for Jewish voters and LAB/ Miliband seen as weak on it.”

    I wonder if in fact the jewish voters see Lab / Miliband as ‘strong on it’ and that’s their problem? After Syria, it depends how you define ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ – if you follow me.

  21. @Cloud spotter

    That’s just my guesswork. Their estimate is a total of 6 seats in GB for anyone who isn’t Con, Lab, SNP, LD or UKIP. I’m guessing they mean 3 Plaid + Bercow + Lucas + Galloway.

  22. Lord Ashcroft tweet earlier today:
    “Quite something politics. From calling UKIP “fruitcakes and closet racists” Cameron appealing to them now to “come home””.

  23. @BristolianHoward

    I think the Jewish support for the Tories will be due to Labour’s recent support for Palestinian statehood. There was a debate / vote in Parliament not long after Sweden decided to recognise Palestine. The vote passed in favour of recognition but did not force the government to do it.

  24. @BristolianHoward

    Just saw your post of earlier this morning. Shame you missed the game yesterday but I fully understand the reasons. Besides, you had a bit further to travel than me and anybody who gives the M5 a wide berth on a Bank Holiday is a wise man!. For me, it’s a nice little jaunt through country lanes from Redditch to Kiddy via Bromsgrove, Dodford, Chaddesley Corbett (Bathams at The Swan), Mustow Green and Stone. On a good day, it’s 25 minutes if I avoid The Swan!

    Rovers much the better side yesterday and 3-0 didn’t flatter them. I had to rack my memory, but I don’t think I’d seen the Rovers play since I went down to Eastville to watch the Villa in an F.A. Cup tie circa 1980. Gary Shaw got the winner for Villa, I think. The two clubs have been in separate divisions for over 40 years now.

    As you say, we ought to meet up for a private conversation one day to discuss politics and all things Bristolian. I get the lefty republican angle, but not sure about the Orange Book! Much common ground though, I expect.

    The bar at Kiddy Severn Valley Railway station for a pre-match pint of Bathams is about as good as it gets for a meeting point, but we missed that one, I’m afraid. Can’t see a Rovers return to Kiddy for a very long time.

    There’s always Wembley Way on May 30th when the Villa are there for the Cup Final, I suppose!


  25. Are Jewish voters much different in their VI than people of similar demographic characteristics in their home regions?

  26. Strange quote from Farage on the BBC live feed.

    “UKIP leader Nigel Farage is relieved he’ll never have to make a decision about using nuclear weapons, says BBC political correspondent Robin Brant.

    He told the BBC it was “ridiculous” to ask him if he would ever authorise their use as “that won’t be my decision after May the 8th”. Mr Farage was speaking at an event in Dudley in the West Midlands about his party’s defence policies. He said it was “right to have the deterrent, expensive though it is”. ”

    I know the chance of UKIP winning the general election is vanishingly small, but I don’t recall other leaders of a major party (as UKIP now are in E&W) taking such a flippant attitude to becoming PM.

  27. @RAF

    There is a very similar tweet that goes the rounds about Labour asking Yes voters to go back to voting Labour.

  28. The tables for the Survation Jewish VI are up here

    If you look at the 2010 vote, there is little change from 2010 until now, so any conclusions that Labour are losing the Jewish vote, or that we can expect big swings in some Constituencies would seem to be baseless on my reading.

    See page 7 of the tables.

  29. @James & Cloud Spotter

    I would think rather than predicting a Galloway victory it’s more likely Polling Observatory are forecasting either a Plaid gain in Ceredigion or perhaps a second Green seat in Norwich South or Bristol West

  30. I am sceptical of the notion that Israel policy is a particular driver of Jewish voter preferences. It is of course higher salience for those voters on average than for voters of other backgrounds, but the results for seats with large Jewish populations like FF&GG and Hendon do not show a particularly notable divergence from seats that are otherwise demographically similar to them. If anything I would say they are somewhat more Labour leaning than I would have guessed.

  31. I have Jewish family and live in a very Jewish constituency… Israel is absolutely very high on the agenda of most Jews with Labour’s policies on Palestine extremely unpopular. Similar results to 2010 among Jews of course means that the CONs are doing disproportionately well with them given that nationally there is a CON>LAB swing.

    It is also worth pointing out that Mike Freer, the sitting candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, is Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel and popular among Jews.

    Hendon is, of course, somewhat different. It is a very diverse constituency far from all of which has a large Jewish population. But I feel the Jewish issue which I know Matthew Offord is campaigning very hard on could make it closer than current polls suggest it ought to be.

  32. @Jack Sheldon

    I agree that Finchley and Golders Green is very unlikely Labour target for the reasons you state.

    However, I would expect Labour to take Hendon. I don’t know much about the Labour candidate there this time, but clearly I doubt he is likely to be as explicility supportive of Israel as the previous Labour MP Andrew Dismore. Also as you say, Hendon is more diverse than Finchley and Golders Green.

  33. @Jack

    It is probably the lack of support for UKIP (2%) that means the Conservatives are holding up better in that poll (they haven’t had the same leakage there as Conservatives have had nationally)

  34. @Raf

    The Labour candidate for Hendon is… Andrew Dismore

  35. Couper

    That FFA comeback. Will it be based on conventional economics, or in economics that everyone from Greirge Osborne to Paul Krugman pointed out the flaws in like back last summer?

  36. @Jack Sheldon

    Serves me right for not checking! Lool!

  37. @LL

    Watch the debate.

    I am not saying she will go for the comeback tonight but I am sure she will at some point.

    BTW – FFA is a made up term by unionist in the same way as they changed nationalist to separatist. We know it as devo-max.

  38. @ RAF and Jack Sheldon,

    To be fair, it’s entirely possible that Andrew Dismore of 2015 is less supportive of Israel than Andrew Dismore of 2010. God knows I am.

  39. Will anyone say “I agree with Nicola “.

  40. Labour + SNP having a majority doesn’t mean Cameron has to resign unless Labour and the SNP formally enter into a coalition, which is highly unlikely. Just to remind you, following the 2006 Canadian federal elections , the Liberal Party together with the French separatist Bloc Québecois had exactly 50 % of the seats in the HoC, but the Conservative Party of Canada, with only 40 % of the seats, formed a minority government that lasted more than two and a half years.

  41. SPEARMINT (from previous poll)
    Cleggi is risen (LD 10%) – but on whose right – or left – hand sitteth he?

  42. In any case, I expect the post-GE combined Tory + Lib Dem + NI unionist seat count to be around 320, which will give David Cameron enough room to stay on as PM for quite some time before a motion of no confidence is carried in the Commons (the only viable alternative now to trigger a snap election).

  43. MBruno

    Did Canada have an equivalent of the FTPA?

    2 Early parliamentary general elections (1) An early parliamentary general election is to take place if— (a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (2), and (b) if the motion is passed on a division, the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats). (2) The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) is— “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.” (3) An early parliamentary general election is also to take place if— (a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (4), and (b) the period of 14 days after the day on which that motion is passed ends without the House passing a motion in the form set out in subsection (5). (4) The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) is— “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” (5) The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(b) is— “That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” (6) Subsection (7) applies for the purposes of the Timetable in rule 1 in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983. (7) If a parliamentary general election is to take place as provided for by subsection (1) or (3), the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (and, accordingly, the appointed day replaces the day which would otherwise have been the polling day for the next election determined under section 1).
    3 Dissolution of Parliament (1) The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th working day before the polling day for the next parliamentary general election as determined under section 1 or appointed under section 2(7). (2) Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved.

    Not that it greatly matters. A minority government can continue in office as long as the main opposition party is too feart to force them out.

  44. Anyone with a UK IP address or VPN wanting to watch the STV debate later might care to try it out in advance as you need to create an account or login with Google+ etc before you can watch.


    Also, anyone with an Android IPTV should make sure that Chrome is up to date,

  45. Actually anyone can watch the STV debate with the 4 Scottish Leaders if you are interested. They are removing the restrictions that prevent those outside the UK from viewing the debate.

    For more information.

  46. What channel is the debate on?

  47. With a legislation such in favour of minority governments, because gives opposition parties only two weeks to make a new government, I’m surprised that Brown resigned.
    I think Cameron will not resign.

  48. @MBRUNO
    ‘Labour + SNP having a majority doesn’t mean Cameron has to resign unless Labour and the SNP formally enter into a coalition, which is highly unlikely.’

    But they would combine to defeat Cameron on the Queens Speech and a Confidence Vote. At that point Cameron would resign if there was no prospect of putting together a majority.

  49. OldNat: not exactly. As far as I understand, in 2007 the Canadian parliament passed an amendment to the Canada Elections Act determining that, except for an early dissolution of oarliament, federal elections must always be held on a fixed date, namely “the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year after the previous poll”. The Governor General, who represents the Queen in Canada, may still dissolve parliament though and call a snap election at any time, typically when asked to do so by the PM.

    The only practical effect of the 2007 Canadian act was therefore to reduce the maximum duration of a parliament, which used to be five years. It didn’t abolish the royal prerogative of dissolution in the same way the FTPA did in the UK.

  50. It is also my understanding that ITV will be showing the STV feed of the debate so it is available to those who can access ITV, especially in the Scottish Borders area.

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