Last night’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. The one point Tory lead is actually the first for twelve days. Usual caveats apply of course, it’s well within normal sample variation and is a single poll.

The Sun also have some YouGov polling testing out the potential of the Conservative’s attack on the risk of a Labour/SNP deal, which in recent days appears to have become the dominant thrust of their campaign. Results are here. As all my regular readers will know, questions saying “will X make you more likely to vote Y” are essentially rubbish – if they work, you’ll see it in the topline figures. This was an attempt to measure the potential for a message, to gauge how many people might agree with the message itself, as only then can they be persuaded by it. Essentially it went through the various steps and assumptions of the Tory argument, to see how many people were open to it – kicking out those people who actually quite like the idea of an SNP deal, don’t think it would actually happen or would still prefer it to the Tories.

So, about a third of people are already voting Tory, so it doesn’t matter if they buy into the narrative or not, they can only vote Tory once. Next there is whether or not people actually think a Labour and SNP deal is a realistic option – 39% of people, including most Labour voters, think there either won’t be a hung Parliament or that Labour would not enter into any sort of agreement with the SNP. Then there are 8% of people who think that a Labour government with SNP support is likely, and would be a good thing, the Conservative argument will fall flat with them. Finally YouGov asked the remainder if they’d prefer a Conservative government to a Labour-SNP deal and took away those 6% respondents who thought a Labour government reliant on SNP support was a bad thing but would still prefer it to a Tory government.

Take away all those groups and YouGov were left with 8% of the electorate who think a Lab/SNP deal of some sort is likely AND think this would be a bad thing AND think a Tory government would be preferable BUT are not already voting Tory. That’s actually a significant chunk of people and is presumably the voters who the Conservative party are targetting with their current campaign – they are mostly made up of don’t knows, Lib Dems and Ukippers, the message seems to have very little potential to move people directly from Labour to the Tories. The challenge for the Tories is how many (if any) of that 8% of people they can get to go that one step further and vote Tory. The early weeks of the Tory campaign didn’t seem to have any effect on voters at all – this message does at least seem to have potential for them. Whether or not they manage to translate it into votes remains to be seen.


456 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 35, LAB 34, LD 7, UKIP 13, GRN 5”

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  1. 1st?

  2. There’s an interesting Alberto Nardelli piece in the Guardian on how the Tory focus on the SNP is principally focused on taking back votes from UKIP, especially in Lab/Con marginals where a fall in the UKIP vote could give the Tories a win. In that respect, I can see it as a plausible strategy, at least.

    The really interesting thing between now and election day is whether they have anything else, any rabbits out of hats, or ways of clawing back votes from anyone other than UKIP. At the minute it seems to be about bringing out the ‘big guns’ but having them reiterate the ‘SNP bad’ message.

  3. Magpie as its just about polling I am going to risk automod and post it as its defo worth a read and then discussion.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/22/the-conservatives-final-roll-of-the-dice-win-back-the-ukip-vote

  4. Magpie. That’s bang in line with what we found here – UKIP voters are the biggest group of people open to the message (though whether John Major is the voice to appeal to Ukippers? Hm)

  5. Certainly excpect the Blue’s anti-SNP war drum to continue to beat, and I expect them to begin to pull away in the polls over the upcoming days. That 8% is hugely significant, will be interesting to see if Labour will be able to get off the back foot and minimise potential damage.

    I don’t think I’ve been this excited over an election in years! Bravo to all!

  6. Seems to have more potential with Kippers than Lib Dems. 62% of Lib Dems don’t think Labour would do a deal in the first place.

    I’m really sceptical about this kind of poll. It’s similar to the recent “tactical voting” questions in the full Scottish polls. You’re invited into scenarios that may or may not happen, asked to focus on one party and then follow a number of associated steps.

    It seems to me like the famous Yes Minister sketch. You would have to feel like an idiot to give anything other than the ‘right’ answer to the final question.

    At best it marks out the maximum potential for that kind of movement.

  7. Anthony Wells

    That makes sense. To start with I couldn’t see what they were trying to do, but I think there is a logic to it. However, as you point out, it’s quite a complex task to triangulate the exact voters you need (and not lose voters from UKIP to Labour at the same time).

    If I were a Tory strategist, I’d also worry that the SNP line is eating up days that could be spent pushing the ‘economy’ line – if there is to be any broader 1992-style swingback to them, it seems more likely to be a last-minute gut feeling on the economy that does it.

  8. It’s probably the best they will get. It handily allows them to scare people again just as Miliband was being perceived as less of a liability. If they tie it with a positive Conservative message on the economy. “We’re doing well, don’t let McMiliband ruin it” then that’s probably the best they can hope for the next few weeks.

    Can anyone think of a way Labour could counter it?

  9. “Certainly excpect the Blue’s anti-SNP war drum to continue to beat, and I expect them to begin to pull away in the polls over the upcoming days. ”

    I have lost count of the number of times people have expected the tories to “pull away in the polls” over the last 18 months.

    It’s never happened, but who knows in the last 15 days? hope springs eternal.

  10. StephenW – best way of countering it is probably to talk about something else that catches the media’s attention.

    So for example, while did Grant Shapps edit his wikipedia entry is an incredibly Westminster bubble story, it does seem to have moved the story on. Yesterday the media was all “SNP propping up Lab warning!”, today it is all “Michael Green. Ha! Ha!”

  11. To summarise the article

    Nardelli says its a 36.7 per cent strategy to win back old friends.

    There are 10 seats where tories are within five points of labour and ukip is still polling over its national average

    Halesowen and RR
    Amber V
    Nuneaton
    Stevenage
    Norwich N
    Crewe and Nantwich
    Ipswich
    Keighley
    Northampton N
    Croydon Cen

    There are at least seven others where Tories are within 5points and ukip polling less than nat average.

    High Peak
    Brighton Kemptown
    Harrow E
    Milton Keynes S
    Wirral West
    EalingCen and Acton
    StocktonS

    And Cannock Chase tory,lab and ukip within 5 points of each other.

    Tories need all 18

    But

    70 percent of ukippers have made up their minds

    Nicola is popular.

  12. @AW
    You’ve got to admit “Michael Green. Ha! Ha!” is the funnier story.

    I’m beginning to quite like Grant Schapps. He’s good value.

  13. MAGPIE

    @”If I were a Tory strategist, I’d also worry that the SNP line is eating up days that could be spent pushing the ‘economy’ line ”

    I think thats incorrect.

    The two strands gel nicely. so you now here Cameron following his Labour=economic chaos with ” and now in addition we have ” SNP=even more spend & debt.

    It blends the Con economic argument with a fairly blatant Eng Nat style response to Scottish Nationalism.

  14. Stephen W

    Ideas for Labour…

    1) Ignore it and try to project positivity to counter the negativity?
    2) Wheel out David Miliband to say he’s totally fine with the Ed thing (good distraction device, but a bit shameless)
    3) Respond with some counter-triangulation to tempt Labour-leaning Kippers in those seats?
    4) Wheel out Gordon Brown in a last-ditch attempt to claw back some Scottish seats. (But I think the voters would say ‘fool me once…’
    5) Come up with some other ‘game-changer’ like going further on rail nationalisation (might cut both ways though).

    I think a mix of 1) and trusting that if the Tories talk about nothing else for 15 days it won’t look great is probably the best they’ve got. But if the polls do actually start to move on average, then who knows what fun and games we might see at the last minute.

  15. Am still a little confused as to why people think the vote may move due to the attack line of Labour being in the control of the SNP when it has not moved them in two weeks plus. Seems an age now since we first had the pictures of EM in AS pocket. Is it like crossover, an act of faith?

  16. The SNP can have a maximum of 59 seats: yes they will- justifiably so- have an influence on the next parliament but they cannot call the shots.

    For example they can snipe about Con plus Lab plus LD plus DUP Plus UKIP renewing Trident but that’s where the majority of (UK) voters are undoubtedly positioned.

    All a voter has to do is think for a short time about the charge of (some, not all) senior Conservatives concerning the ‘danger of the SNP’ to understand its paucity.

    Let’s also remember that 37% of registered voters in Scotland bothered to turn out and vote for independence.

    This feels like truly desperate stuff from CCHQ.

    But why? They could not get a majority against possibly the worst post war PM (certainly the worst campaigner) with every conceivable advantage at their disposal. Why should they expect to get one after 5 years of austerity and the deficit not cleared as they guaranteed it would be?!

    Andrew Neil today has tweeted in an exchange with TM about the Tory campaign being “useless”…

  17. I think the anti-SNP line is resonating but I’m not sure this poll was so good for the Tories.

    “YouGov were left with 8% of the electorate who think a Lab/SNP deal of some sort is likely AND think this would be a bad thing AND think a Tory government would be preferable BUT are not already voting Tory”.

    So to achieve the sort of 4%+ increase in their vote the Conservatives really need to pull properly ahead they need to persuade more than 50% of people that this factor alone outweighs all of the other reasons why those people are not already voting Tory (economy, immigration, NHS or whatever else it is).

    Strikes me if you asked questions like finding out how many people think Tories have best policy on the economy but aren’t already voting Tory, you’d find more than 8% up for grabs.

  18. Colin,

    I see that up to a point, but I don’t think they’ve really hit home with the ‘trust us on the economy’ bit as well as they could have. It seems to me like people accept they did OK, (and they’ve done a good job of blaming Labour for the GFC), but people also don’t feel that excited by promises of even deeper cuts, and they’ve blown the credibility slightly with all the uncosted promises. It’s OK winning a few Kippers back with a scare story, but they aren’t inspiring the middle ground to believe that they are a hugely better bet on the economy, which should have been an open goal for them.

  19. Stephen W

    Oh and I forgot:

    6) Counter the SNP scare story with a much stronger attack on the chaos the EU referendum will cause.

    Which is risky as it might lose a few Kippers, but could be effective against the ‘trust us with the economy’ line.

  20. COLIN

    Except the Tories are saying they will spend and extra £8bn on the NHS, free child care for all, subsidising the sale of HA properties, free apple pie, unlimited rice pudding etc etc. Oh, and not raise tax.

    As Tebbit points out, it could also lead to anti-SNP tactical voting in Scotland, thus saving Labour MPs.

  21. Arirang – “Strikes me if you asked questions like finding out how many people think Tories have best policy on the economy but aren’t already voting Tory, you’d find more than 8% up for grabs.”

    actually Danny Finkelstein wrote a good column based on some Populus polling doing just that a few weeks back. They did a similar thing – starting out with that, but then getting rid of people who prefered the Tories on the economy… but though other issues were more important than the economy, preferred the Tories on the economy, but could never vote for them, etc. They got 2.4% of people up for grabs with that approach (though I really would caution against putting too much weight on the direct comparison – it wasn’t done an identical way)

  22. @ Magpie

    A week ago several people on here said the Tories were in panic, who is panicking now?

    I said at the weekend we were having problems on the doorstep down here in St Ives with LD’s saying they were switching to Tory because of the SNP possible link up with EM. No change in that.

  23. I think the new Lib Dem line “public sector workers have suffered enough” would be a good line for Labour to play as well.

    After all the Tories are throwing out uncosted electoral bribes (doubling free childcare, giving money to 1st time buyers etc etc etc) left right and centre, so why not labour??

    And as a public sector worker myself, I can tell you that seeing those bankers who caused the crisis continuing to get huge bonuses while my pay has been held below inflation since 2008 makes me quite cross! Certainly cross enough to consider shifting my vote!

  24. @Anthony Wells

    As you’re about can I ask a favour. Alec posted his ‘On This Day on UKPR in 2010? post last night and got stuck in auto-mod. It’s a widely appreciated feature of the run-up. Could you let him out please?

  25. ROB SHEFFIELD

    @”All a voter has to do is think for a short time”

    But most of them don’t. They absorb messages of one sort or another ,from all sorts of stimuli-not all of them are from a specific political source.

    So if you can make something stick-like the SNP will run the country meme-or Cons will destroy the NHS meme-no amount of logic will shift it.

    The question asked is-how many voters will absorb this one-and then vote accordingly?

    So far as Labour’s defence is concerned, I would have thought that saying the SNP will be a disaster when you’re campaigning in Scotland; then saying they don’t matter when you’re campaigning in England might look a bit unconvincing.

  26. ” The challenge for the Tories is how many (if any) of that 8% of people they can get to go that one step further and vote Tory.”

    What percentage of any group are generally ‘floating voters’? If 10%, then it might easily be 0.8% (1%) of the group above. So will have little effect on its own.

  27. ANDREW111
    “I think the new Lib Dem line “public sector workers have suffered enough” would be a good line for Labour to play as well.”

    Well it would be nice to see a new sentiment about public sector workers. However it did make me smile that Nick Clegg said the wage rises should be at least in line with inflation as inflation is currently about 0%.

  28. BANTAMS

    What is there to panic about?

    We deal with polling here, not dodgy anecdotes from canvassers.

    Surely it should be the Lib Dems who are panicking at losing yet more seats. All the Tories are doing is taking seats from their most likely partner in government.

  29. I agree with AW on how Labour should respond. It’s a simple fact that the “SNP threat” is a weak spot for Labour given the likely parliamentary arithmetic, so they need those voters who might be susceptible to it to be thinking about something else.

    IMO, though potentially effective, the Tories talking about this and only this for two weeks is likely to get a little monotonous and I’m sceptical about its ability to move votes without being combined with a more effective positive message.

  30. Thanks Anthony. Very interesting as always.

  31. @Bantams

    I didn’t mean those suggestions that seriously. My main point (from the Labour point of view) is that all EM can probably do is keep plugging away as he has been and to be happy that the only decent weapon the Tories seem to have is this one.

  32. I’m thoroughly underwhelmed with this banging on abut the SNP – but Sturgeon as some Jock dominatrix might sink in through constant repetition, in the same vein Kinnock was the welsh windbag when I was a nipper. The twitterati may have moved on, but my local newsagent stocks the People’s Friend. Indyref didnt go down well with the kind of folks who take annual coach tours of the Glens from the back of Frankley Services. But as AW says, Dave’s probably got their vote anyway.

    It’s harder to know what else that 8% want to get them into the Tory camp. A different leader is probably not the answer CCHQ would like, and I suspect they are wishing now they hadn’t pedalled gay marriage quite so hard, now that robust majority is off the cards. It’ll be interesting to see what the strategists come up with.

  33. @Statgeek

    “What percentage of any group are generally ‘floating voters’? If 10%, then it might easily be 0.8% (1%) of the group above. So will have little effect on its own.”

    That’s a very good point.

    My feeling is that we’ve had at least a year and a half of election campaign already. Voters who haven’t made up their minds by now will probably be too exhausted to walk to the polling booths.

  34. @Bantams

    Give up. Who is panicking now?

  35. Out canvassing last night in Quorn (loughborough constituency) very good question asked by a resident that I thought I would leave with you.

    The SNP won’t vote for Trident, tories will. Bill passes.
    The snp will vote for zero hour contracts. Tories wont. Bill passes.

    What policies will the SNP/Tories unite on to bring down a labour government?

  36. @Rob Sheffield
    @Magpie

    The Lab-SNP issue is brought about by poor tactics from Labour. EM seems to be taking advice from Scottish Labour and it is wrong headed, he should look at the position of LiS and wonder if he should be taking his tactics from them.

    From the start EM ruling out coalitions, deals etc at the behest of LiS gave SNP far too much relevance on the UK stage. All EM needed to say:

    SNP are only standing in 59 seats of course they will be able to vote for their manifesto in the HoC but the idea they can exert very much power is ridiculous.

    If pressed on balance of power etch he can say ‘If we do not get a majority of course we will be able to govern as most of our policies would command majority support’ Trident (Tories) 50p Tax (SNP etc)

    Of course he didn’t because LiS gave him bad advice, the problem is Labour’s own making.

  37. The Tory mantra on a possible Labour/SNP deal hasn’t made much headway yet on the ole VI but as pointed out it could start to persuade some kippers to go back to the blues and then there is that 8%.

    If the Tory line of attack does start to resonate with voters in England then Labour are going to be in real trouble because the more the Tories resonate in England the more the SNP resonates with voters in Scotland.

    I’m quite liking the saga surrounding the minister for sock puppetry. We need a bit of sleaze and theater in this election.

  38. I think there’s very unlikely to be many voters flipping between Lab and Con in the last couple of weeks.

    As such the election will be decided by how well each party can squeeze the others. If we take the poll above as being accurate then potentially the Cons still have 8% of the electorate to fight for – On current polling if Cons can squeeze UKIP below 10% then they will likely be the largest party.

    I agree however that if you’re not part of the target audience the message is going to get very dull if we have to endure another couple of weeks of it.

  39. Couper2802

    I agree no-one should take advice from Murphy. However 1) at the start of the campaign they might still have had hopes of turning Scotland round and I can see why they wanted to counter the idea that a vote for the SNP was a vote for a more left-leaning Labour govt 2) it’s generally received wisdom that talking about what deals you will do after the election doesn’t go down that well with the general public 3) to political geeks the idea that you will do various deals in a minority government makes perfect sense but the tabloids would just run with ‘Ed to go into coalition with SNP’ regardless of the nuances.

    So, I’m not sure there is anything they could have done which would change it much. It’s a weak point and they are probably better off countering by attacking the Tories’ weak points and putting forward a positive message on other subjects.

  40. DarkArts

    Maybe that’s exactly what Labour should be asking the Tories. The whole defence scare story is based on the idea that the SNP alone can block Trident and other defence bills.

  41. The long term problem for the Tories is a demographic one.

    Around 500,000 people die in England each year, most from natural causes, ie old age and being that the older voter in England is more likely to vote Tory then you can start to see why the Tory vote ain’t going up that much,

    Sure there are natural Tory voters maturing each year but that is out done by the amount of old Tory voters snuffing it.

    I’m not quite sure DC can rely on just the M&S vote to save his bacon. He needs to appeal to younger voter, those in the 50 to 60 bracket which would fall into the Edinburgh Woolen mill and Cumbrian tweed bracket.

  42. The Tories would have more chance of this working if Alex Salmond was still in charge of the SNP, as he is much scarier than Nicola Sturgeon.

    Voters outwith EW&NI obviously know what they both look like, but in case anyone doubts that Eck is the real ogre of the two here is a picture to prove it

    http://pichost.me/1640555/

  43. Allan Christie,

    Put that way, the achievement of the Tories in this parliament in terms of maintaining their vote is quite impressive. Despite being an “austerity government” and facing their most serious rivals since early New Labour in the form of UKIP, they look like being only a little bit down on their 2010 vote share.

    I still don’t see Cameron being in office by this time next month, but I do think that the Tories are proving harder to kill off than people like Mandelson would have hoped in the late 1990s. This is particularly true in Scotland and Wales, where the decline of the Tories seems to have come to a pause, and even the biggest surge in the SNP vote ever can’t make a dent in it.

  44. @Allan Christie

    Your hypothesis rests on the idea that voting Tory is largely a cohort effect rather than an age effect, but it just ain’t true. Lloyd George was correct when he said: A young man who isn’t a socialist hasn’t got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn’t got a head.

    Tory voting among the old is not a fad of a single cohort of the old. On average, people become more Tory as they age and this continues to happen. Check out British Social Attitudes data over the years and you will see that since the BSA has been running, older voters are overwhelmingly Tory despite the fact that who is in the ‘older’ group changes over time.

  45. Apologies for pointing out the obvious, but stating that a Tory government is preferable to a Lab/SNP coalition in a forced choice question is not the same as wanting to vote Tory.

    This is one instance where I think polling has gone too far down the rabbit hole. The SNP ‘threat’ issue has been firmly in the news cycle for long enough to effect VI polling, and we’re not seeing any kind of movement.

    Also, 53% of respondents in that survey think a Lab/SNP isn’t going to happen or is a good thing. So it seems Labour have more to gain than lose from the Tories banging on about this rather obscure issue until polling day. It’s hardly capturing the public imagination, even if it does excite political journalists and polling geeks like us.

  46. @ Norbold & Hawthorn

    We’ll fight them on the beaches etc (St Ives, get it), we know we will have to rebuild again after the election, it’s a matter of hanging in there at the moment.

    No panicking though, we knew this was coming for a long time.

  47. @James

    “I’m really sceptical about this kind of poll. It’s similar to the recent “tactical voting” questions in the full Scottish polls. You’re invited into scenarios that may or may not happen, asked to focus on one party and then follow a number of associated steps.
    It seems to me like the famous Yes Minister sketch. You would have to feel like an idiot to give anything other than the ‘right’ answer to the final question.”

    I agree with you. The key here is how powerful a voting determinant is this “spectre of the SNP” bogeyman, now being pushed by the Tories? When poked for responses by a pollster, respondents do tend to answer fairly predictably, but how passionately do they actually feel about the subject in question? If these were unsolicited responses made in a focus group setting where voters were clearly saying, “That’s it, I was going to vote UKIP but now this Strurgeon woman is going to prop up Labour, I’m voting Tory now to stop it”, then it’s obviously a key voting determinant. However, I’m sceptical to be honest, and considering the Tories have been banging on about it for a week or more and the polls remain unchanged, my scepticism remains.

    I suspect UKIP voters have a whole range of reasons why they won’t be voting Tory on May 7th, and the spectre of SNP MPs exerting influence over a minority Labour Government might not feature very highly on their list of political priorities.

    My overall feeling [I’ll leave at the door, in line with the comment policy – AW]

  48. It occurs to me that the real losers in all the noise about the SNP have been UKIP and Nigel Farage. Instead of being at the centre of attention, as Farage obviously expected to be back in the autumn, he has been sidelined by the people whom he and others thought to be dead in the water after last September’s referendum. The ‘hug in’ between the three female leaders after the ‘challengers debate’ left EM looking slightly amused, but Farage looked furious.

    Nor, it seems, have Farage or Major learned anything from the past few years. It seems that they are quite content for the Scots to vote, as long as it fits their south of England assumptions regarding what is and is not permissible. It is quite possible that all they are doing is adding more support to the SNP bandwagon. No wonder Michael Forsyth is furious. And will anyone think that Farage’s latest outburst can do anything to help UKIP in Scotland? Why don’t these English politicians listen to their Scottish groundtroops before opening their ill-informed mouths?

  49. @Darkarts

    EVEL?

  50. One question that was missing at the end of the YouGov poll for the remaining 8% – “How likely are you to vote Tory to prevent a Labour/SNP coalition?” on a ten point scale or suchlike.

    THAT would have been insightful.

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