As well as today’s GB voting intention polls Survation have released a new poll of Thanet South commissioned by the UKIP donor Alan Bown. The poll shows Nigel Farage with a nine point lead over the Conservatives in second place, full topline figures are CON 30%, LAB 26%, LDEM 2%, UKIP 39%, GRN 2% (tabs).

The poll is broadly in line with Survation’s previous poll in Thanet South, which was conducted back in February and showed Farage with an eleven point lead. However, it contrasts with the ComRes poll of the same constituency earlier this month which showed the Conservatives, UKIP and Labour all neck-and-neck.

I wrote about the differences between the ComRes and Survation polling in Thanet South earlier this month here. In short there are some obvious contrasts between the two companies approaches – how they deal with don’t knows, for example – but neither are obviously doing anything wrong, so there is no particularly reason to think one or the other is right. I guess in two weeks we will know who is ahead in Thanet South and how tight the race really is (though even then, we’ll never know for sure how tight the race is right now, or how tight it was in early April, or back in February.)

613 Responses to “Survation poll of Thanet South”

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  1. “Libya speech is probably the first real gaffe for EM of this campaign”

    @ Rich

    Would agree with this. Labour haven’t had things all their own way, but this is the first self-inflicted wound I feel.

    Perhaps these things are more likely to happen when you’re outside your comfort zone. I’m sure macho foreign policy speeches are completely at odds with Ed Miliband’s instincts.

  2. @amber
    “What’s less clear is whether this had any impact on seats or whether it’s just the blues piling votes up on their home ground.”

    I’ve been thinking about this too. I’ve made comments in the past about Labour piling up votes in London, and the “wasted” votes in Scotland. @catoswyn has also talked about Red Dem votes potentially piling up in the wrong seats.

    But what about the Tories? Well the Tory “home ground” is clearly Rest of South. There is no specialised regional polling for Rest of South. The best resource I know of is @statgeek’s averages, but I believe these are taken from crossbreaks. They’re averaged which removes most of the crossbreak weirdness but crossbreaks lack the demographic weighting etc of proper polls.

    Anyway, with that caveat the monthly averages show:

    – the Tory increase in Rest of South is smaller than their UK average.
    – their biggest increases are in Midlands & Wales and the North.
    – they are static in Scotland and London.

    Those are some efficient gains from the Conservative party but we’ll only know for sure with more constituency polling. Labour have also made gains in Midlands & Wales and the North – but not as much as the Tories. However the charts only go back 6 months so if it’s enough of an improvement on 2010 Labour could still take many of those marginals


  3. Catoswyn

    Yes, thats what I said in the post before that. It could be interpreted as trying to ‘prove’ an outcome which you want, particularly because, even if you can come up with a scenario under which that is proved, it doesnt explain the other polls which showed a similar result.

    So, it begs the question which I said above: interesting, but the point is…..????

  4. @james peel

    The England swing has become misleading in my opinion. To see how misleading it is, see my post above, and then have a closer look at London. Monthly average of crossbreaks put Labour on 40%. The actual London polls put on ~45%.

    Then think about the effect that has on the rest of the regions

    I’d love to know if the Tory vote is similarly warped in the crossbreaks

  5. @ AdamB

    It might be the case however if you are going to try to discount any one poll due to reasons such as this then you probably have to do the same for all polls in order to try to draw any meaningful conclusions.

    Why don’t you actually read my comment before manning the gun-ship? I said that the adjustment might be justified.

    I also speculated about the potential impact on seats. To clarify my closing speculative point: Does ComRes marginal polling have the same type of adjustment? Does ComRes constituency polls have the Tories doing better than other firms’ polls of the same marginals?

  6. @Amber Star

    There’s a certain brute logic that says shy tories should be disproportionately more shy the less conny the seat. Would expect them to be more in safe lab seats than safe con….

    On the other hand, hasn’t it been more like shy lab (and mebe ukip) the last 6 or 7 years?

  7. @ Omnishambles

    Good points. For me, this election has been marked by the fact that polling firms & academics seem much more interested in forecasting the outcome in seats rather than just % of vote.

  8. I thought it may be helpful to look at polling on Libya.

    Yougov did a poll in Feb 2015

    When it comes to the military action taken by Britain in Libya,which of the following comes closest to your view?

    Britain should never have gotten involved – 32%

    Britain was right to get involved, but it should have been more involved in helping Libya rebuild afterwards 30%

    Britain was right to get involved, and right to leave after the initial military action 13%

    Don’t know 25%

    And as Roger said earlier, it was the UKIPpers most opposed.

  9. @Cloudspotter
    “it’s not my call. It’s the polling.
    Try unclicking the ‘include Ashcroft polling’ box on the May 2015 website and see what happens to Labours seat numbers.”

    Well I tend to follow the VI crossbreaks over a period of time. Labour across all pollsters are averaging over 4% and recently close to 4.5% in E&W.

    I don’t take Ashcroft’s CVI polling too seriously. I admire what he is trying to do but I don’t think it’s that reliable. We would need a range of pollsters to do such polling consistently to be able to determine the true situation.

  10. Well I’m a bit of an idiot I pressed submit too early. It’s easy to the check if the Tories are similarly warped regarding London

    The answer is ‘no’. For the Conservatives the London polls roughly agree with the London average monthly.

  11. Omnishambles

    Agree with what you say and that annecdotal info appears to show that the Labour vote will be less efficient this time. The London poll released earlier today showed sizeable gains which Labour appear to have made in London since 2010 in terms of share of vote however all those extra votes will probably only yield a couple gains from LD and potentially 3-5 from Con.


  12. @Richard

    I think EM’s speech was aimed at Kippers. The Tories pitched their SNP argument at Kippers, hoping they would join the blue corner. EM’s just trying to remind them why they deserted the Cons in the first place.

    And it has dominated the news agenda. Scotland has disappeared from view.

  13. @Amber

    What’s puzzling about ComRes is that the impact of their count of 2010 others and DNVs is so variable, whereas I would have thought that any routine “shy Tory” or whatever adjustment would have a more consistent effect.

    One week adding net 20 to the Con total, before that 3 to Labour, before that 10 to Con, before that 15 to Lab. Bizarre changes within a small subset but with a big impact given that the sample totals typically are of under 700 likely voters, which can more than explain by itself why their poll lead varied by 4%.


    Why when I’ve posted a lengthy and detailed post must you just dismiss it along the lines of “he would say that, wouldn’t he?”.

  14. @Adam B

    Lab will win at least 8 seats in London. Possibly 10. I don’t think London fits any wasted votes theory.

    The swing to Lab in London is 5-6%. The swing to Lab in E&W varies, but if we take recent YG’s (not yesterday’s as that was unusually high) it’s around 4.5%. The Tories are going to lose a lot of seats to Labour by the standards of most GE’s. At least 40 and possibly up to 60.

  15. Its media management thats to blame-not for the first time a speech is trailed in advance with a line but when it comes to it no sign of it.

    Its purpose in part was to put a stop to english votes and tax etc and it seems to have achieved that.

    You need to judge EM on the words he actually used not the pre speech spin.

  16. Looks like the Miliband speech was over-spun though.

    From BBC live feed:

    “Labour is “furious” the row over Libya has dominated the headlines today, says our deputy political editor James Landale. Ed Miliband had hoped to set out his “credentials as a future world statesman”, he says.

    But the Tories are also furious at what they see as a personal attack on the prime minister, he adds.”

    I suppose you could argue that if they hadn’t spun the speech so hard, it would have been overshadowed by the Tories pledge on EVEL (again, a Scotland-related issue).

  17. ADAMB

    Maybe a bit higher seat tally in London…. c.10 maybe.

    Not my area though so not sure how it will shake down. Personally think Simon Hughes may be under real threat for the first time because of the bedroom tax (he has a higher than average amount of council housing in his area).

  18. @Rich – take that you didn’t watch Milibands, merely digest this spin via the Mail? No such premise I’m afraid and what a potential PM can’t comment and disagree on foreign policy?

  19. Sometimes a ‘gaff’ is the only way to shift the media from a subject which is taking lumps out of you.

    The Tories did it with the Trident/ Brother feud which got the media to move on from Non-Doms’ tax; Labour may have done the same today.

    Whether either was a deliberate ploy, we don’t know.

  20. @James

    Labour achieved their objective. Now the campaign can move onto other issues.

  21. @Omnishambles

    You might also consider the MAD history line charts:

    They don’t respond too quickly to changes, so what you see as today’s data (Recent MAD Polling) is the MAD of the most recent 30 polls. It’s a reasonable look at the past three months though.

    Caveats: Only YG polls…crossbreaks etc.

  22. @RAF

    Yes, in terms of changing the agenda, it seems to have worked. And it also looks like he is on the side of public opinion, so I can’t see it hurting him.

    For me personally, I wanted to see if he was another in a long line of PM’s who have been quite eager to get involved in wars. I think other people have mentioned that Iraq is still an issue for Labour voters on the doorstep, meaning they plan still plan to stay home rather than go vote.

    Not sure I got my answer. He seems to be more cautious about getting involved, but then the statements on wanting to fix Libya made me think he may get involved there.

    The daily mash had a good summary of how I think many people feel about the whole thing.

  23. @Amber Star
    Whether either was a deliberate ploy, we don’t know.

    Hmm…I think we do ;)

    There was no way EM was going to blame DC for the drowned migrants. The Tories responded to a speech EM didn’t make.

  24. RAF
    I think EM’s speech was aimed at Kippers.

    Personally can’t see anything that would attract UKIP voters in Ed’s speech.

  25. @Richard

    I haven’t seen anything from EM that suggests he believes I’m the Blair Doctrine. I suppose what he was saying was that he wouldn’t intervene in any but the most extreme circumstances, but that if he did he would accept the responsibility of having a plan. The main thrust of the speech was a commitment to multilateralism.

  26. All polling shows a significant swing in English marginals to Labour, of around 4.5% on average. That’s enough for Labour to win 60 seats.

    Perhaps they will underperform and local factors will ensure that swing is not uniformly distributed, but there is no polling evidence at all which suggests anything other than a significant Con -> Lab swing where it matters.

  27. @ Phil Haines

    Thanks for taking the time to elaborate regarding ComRes seeming to make a random, rather than a systematic, adjustment. Very strange!

  28. Phil

    My question was simply: even if your (very detailed) analysis suggests that there is a possibility that one poll has some questions around its conclusions, what does that matter when there’s another 3 polls in a similar time frame showing that same lead? If that poll showed one party say 6% ahead when no others had that party more than 3% ahead, then it would be more pertinent

    Its comendable that you spent the time going into this level of detail but I was left thinking…..even if it was right, so what? Its within the MOE as all recent polls, bar one I think, have been.

    (tin hat on)


  29. @Catoswyn

    Let me clarify. It was aimed at stopping and SNP news-indiced Ukip exodus to the Tories. Farage had already blamed DC far more directly for a lack of planning in the region.

    ‘seems to be more cautious about getting involved, but then the statements on wanting to fix Libya made me think he may get involved there.’

    I took him to mean that once one is involved then it is wrong to walk away and leave the social and infrastructure in total chaos. This is a tendency that those who ‘go to war’ have always had. We have always been better at the battle than at the peace.

  31. RAF

    Ah, I see….

  32. @catoswyn
    “We have always been better at the battle than at the peace.”

    That’s not really true. The Sierra Leone intervention in 2000 was a textbook example of a military intervention done right, preserving stability.

    Of course no one remembers that because it went so well, everyone remembers where we got it wrong e.g. Iraq

  33. Catoswyn

    Only reason I said that it would be up to 5 was very simplistic rather than any detailed analysis: I looked at the London constituencies this morning and counted up the number were the Tory majority was less than 10% of the electorate. On that basis a swing to the second place party last time 5% would make the Tories lose all those seats, however given that the Tory vote (from the poll earlier) seemed only down slightly so maybe them losing a huge chunk of votes isnt right. You’re right though, its probably more than I said….in my mind when I posted that I thought the total was 6 when I counted it this morning but it was in fact 10…


    Interesting Ashcroft piece. He suggests that the Conservatives are holding up rather better against Labour in marginal seats than the national figures suggest for instance.

  35. @statgeek

    Yes, thanks. I get the feeling these are mostly right (e.g. look at Scotland), but even with MAD you get that disagreement with the performance of Labour in the actual London polls.

  36. @ Dr. Mibbles,

    Well, that’s not quite right- the Ashcroft polling consistently shows Labour slightly underperforming their E&W swing.

    It’s just that the swing suggests around fifty gains so even a slight underperformance won’t be enough to save Cameron- he needs either a shift in the polls or a massive underperformance.

    @ Adam B,

    Some polls are intrinsically more questionable than other polls. Survation and Populus have known issues with their weighing, TNS has mysterious but likely issues, ComRes and Ashcroft are very volatile, and Panelbase is completely untested in England and Wales.

    So polls from those firms probably do bear closer scrutiny than say, a YouGov or an Opinium.


    Maybe I should have said ‘often better at the war than the peace..’ Would that do it? That was my impression of conflicts. However I am always willing to be corrected by someone who knows more than I do.

  38. “‘often better at the war than the peace..’”

    Armies tend to be yeah. Trouble is trying to administrate the region after the fighting is known as ‘conquest’, and frowned upon.

  39. Posters/Campaigning #anecdotes#

    Right, I’m going to say it…………………….I miss election posters in people’s windows, it doesn’t feel right without them.

    South Yorkshire, Rotherham, former colliery ward:-

    Just had a walk down to the chip oil, through my estate and skirting the edge of the WWC estate a stones throw from the former pit. Prior to 1994 I would have been looking at the pithead gear poking over the rooftops most of the way. Posters? Nil, zip, nada.

    Thinking of the UKIP insurgency in this neck of the woods, I would have expected to see something. When there is a political earthquake – LD by-elections back in the day, Galloway, SNP surge – there is often a certain zeal involved which often leads to masses of posters/signs.

    Conclusion? Who knows. If the bruvvers are preparing to give Labour a kicking they are being very quiet about it. I will explore further over the weekend and report back.

    Lastly, my neighbour tells me there was a 6-strong UKIP canvassing team on the estate today (including, we think, the candidate himself). I will report back if any posters appear over the weekend.


    @”I took him to mean that once one is involved then it is wrong to walk away and leave the social and infrastructure in total chaos”

    Indeed -and the International community didn’t. They helped Libya actually achieve a democratically elected government.

    …at which point EM said ” “This is an important moment to recognise the National Transitional Council and their role in taking Libya forward and we’ve got to be led by them. It’s very important that Libyans determine their future.”

    I’m interested in James’ post. If that BBC quote is correct :-
    ““Labour is “furious” the row over Libya has dominated the headlines today, says our deputy political editor James Landale. Ed Miliband had hoped to set out his “credentials as a future world statesman”, ” , then it is a wonderful lesson in the art of statesmanship.

    Lesson 1:- Have a track record of consistency if you want to be credible.

    Lesson 2:-Don’t try to be an International ” Statesman” two weeks from a GE if you didn’t learn Lesson 1.

  41. ChrisLane1945

    I trust you explained to your sixth form class the long and fairly unproductive history of constitutional reform in this country. :-)

    The left may agree to have a constitutional convention but getting the separate parties to agree on the outcome and pass anything meaningful in a hung parliament with a hostile Lords will be…a challenge! (and I speak as a passionate advocate of constitutional and electoral reform).

    Of course the irony is that governments with big majorities shy away from reform because they have bug majorities and it doesn’t suit them to lose their advantage. Whilst governments with small majorities / minorities can’t get the legislation through even though they might like to.

  42. Good heavens-what an amazing coincidence.

    DT reports ” Ed Miliband has hired a leadership consultancy during the election campaign “

  43. @catoswyn

    Well yes that is correct for any country, especially for expeditionary warfare on the other side of the world, the war is usually easier to win than the peace. Not trying to be pedantic, it’s just that most people aren’t aware that Britain has proven it can “win the peace” – in fairly recent military history as well. So while caution is always necessary, the pendulum of optimism/pessimism about military intervention has clearly swung too far towards pessimism. After 2000 Blair was overconfident and it resulted in disaster, nowadays we have become too pessimistic and forgotten this stuff can work.


    Thanks for that. Good point.

  45. William Hague was on the BBC today. If the subject hadn’t been so serious, it would’ve been comedy gold.

    Hague: Ed Miliband is wrong, we did have a plan for Libya.
    Interviewer: Did it work?
    Hague: We had lots of plans around diplomatic relations, elections, oil and such like.
    Interviewer: Did any of them succeed?
    Hague: Not as such, no.
    Interviewer: So you had plans but they failed?
    Hague: I suppose you could say that.
    Interviewer: Okay, thank you Mr Hague.

  46. Colin @ 17.17

    Colin – you’re reaching. The transistional Council in Libya on it’s formation is a snapsot in time. What about after?

    In Iraq there was the election amidst the violence that resulted in ‘democracy’. Sometime later, things fell apart and the violence got worse.

    This ‘two faced/hypocrite/clueless Ed’ stuff got done to death online at the time. It made no difference then and won’t now.

    Is it possible Ed is trying to goad Dave into that debate?

    Posters/Campaigning #anecdotes#
    Right, I’m going to say it…………………….I miss election posters in people’s windows, it doesn’t feel right without them.

    There is a distinct lack of them here too. Maybe they’ve just gone out of fashion the way things do. Maybe UKIP hasn’t the budget for them countrywide?

  48. “The Tories are going to lose a lot of seats to Labour by the standards of most GE’s. At least 40 and possibly up to 60.”

    couldn’t agree more. it’s going to be ugly.

    About ed’s speech on Libya, it did knock the snp thing off the headlines which wasn’t a good thing for labour…like fallon’s “ed the backstabber” riff a couple of weeks ago knocked off non-doms as an issue in the headlines.

  49. @Amber Star

    And there was me thinking that William Hague was an international statesman who not only learned Lessons 1, but Lessons 2 to 100 as well!

    Thinking back to the Libyan crisis, wasn’t Hague also the statesman who told us confidently and solemnly that Colonel Gaddafi was well on his way to Venezuela whilst the Libyan leading was safely ensconced in Tripoli?


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