The static campaign

The defining feature of voting intention in this election is how little it has moved. The graph below shows the UK Polling Report polling average for each week so far of 2015.


Things haven’t been completely static – at the beginning of 2015 Labour did still have a consistent tiny lead that faded towards a real tie over the first couple of months. There has been a genuine drop in support for UKIP and the Green party, albeit one that is no more than a point or two, rather than a really tight squeeze on their votes.

The broad picture though, especially over the short campaign, is one of no movement. This is not necessarily unusual – the huge ups and downs of “Cleggmania” in the 2010 election were not typical. Most historical election campaigns don’t show lots of movement (and I suspect some of that we did see is just the legacy of campaigns when there were far fewer polls, so a couple of outliers could more easily create the impression of movement when there was none).

Is there still time for a change, or are we doomed to have election result around about where we are, with the Conservatives and Labour pretty much neck-and-neck? Somewhere between one-in-six and in one-in-five people have postal votes, and many will already have voted, so they cannot change their mind any longer. Between 10% and 20% of people depending on the poll say they don’t know how they will vote, though some of this will be people who won’t actually end up voting but don’t want to say, and some of it will be people who don’t want to give their voting intention to an interviewer (“shy voters”). While it varies greatly depending on how you ask the question a further chunk of people who do give a voting intention say they may yet change their mind before they vote.

There are definitely plenty of people who say they may change their mind between now and May 7th… but I suspect this overestimates the volatility of the electorate and that most respondents who say they still might change their minds won’t do so, they just like to think of themselves as fair minded people who will consider all the evidence before making their mind up to vote for the party they were probably going to vote for to begin with.

Polls are, as ever, just snapshots of opinion now. They can only quantify what respondents themselves know – they can’t tell how respondents might react to, say, the party leaders Question Time Special next week, any as yet unknown and unexpected events in the final eleven days, or people genuinely recoiling one-way or the other at the very last minute. Realistically though, nothing has done anything to substantially change the polls in the last seventeen weeks and the parties are starting to run out of time for anything else to come along.

1,017 Responses to “The static campaign”

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  1. Richard

    UKIP at 7% was obviously wrong.

    The chart at the top of this thread shows the position best IMO.


    I think Brenda can probably keep Friday morning free for “Cash in the Attic” I know it’s a big favourite of hers.

  2. @couper2802, oldnat & barbazenzero

    Thanks. I know a lot of rUK posters on here profess disdain for the minutiae of Scottish politics, but I must say I find watching a rapid paradigm shift in operation fascinating. I don’t think there’s been another in UK politics in my lifetime – the change from an essentially binary to multi-party system in the UK has been glacial by comparison, taking over half a century so far.

    As you say, BZ, the failure of the LDs to fall back on their Liberal, federalist credentials post-referendum is puzzling. You’d think Ming Campbell, Charlie Kennedy et al would be aware of the possibilities, but I guess the party had been captured by its metro-elite by then. Species that fail to adapt to changing circumstances soon become extinct.

  3. LRR

    “…and we go live now to Sylvia Hermon’s dining room for the coin toss that will decide the result…”

    Yesterday somebody (Roger Mexico?) said that if neither Lab nor Con could form a Gov, then the mantle would be handed to SNP as third party. This got me wondering whether the process would continue, ending in a 3 way slugfest between Lady H, Gorgeous George and Caroline Lucas :-)

    Seems to be wishful thinking amongst the blue tendency at present. As far as I can see, not a shred of evidence to support anything but a no-score draw

    Why has Ukip vote doubled – from 7% two wks ago to 13% – in ICM? Change outside margin of error. YouGov Ukip on 13% 2 wks ago / 14 last nt%

    Interesting.Survation also showed a jump (doubling) of the UKIP vote on the 17th and then another rise on the 24th, taking them to 18% in their poll.

    Most of these voters seemed to be Labour switchers, hence the 29% low score for Labour in that poll.

    If ICM are showing a similar mini surge for UKIP then maybe they are coming up.

  5. @magpie,he is assuming he will keep his seat,I think all he is saying he will try to work with the largest party first,there is no guarantee this will result in another coalition,he just said it was the legitimate right of the largest party to get first dibbs.
    Hard to argue with that logic.
    If the polls are to believed,the only winner might be the ballot box,which gets to be wheeled out again a short space of time.

  6. By popular demand, more thoughts on Scottish polling: Curtice’s poll of polls interests me on three points-

    (1) The Scottish Greens may increase their vote by a small amount (in absolute terms) but they don’t seem to have had any sort of take-off.

    (2) UKIP don’t like doing well either, though they look like improving on their miniscule 2010 vote.

    (3) The Tories are almost exactly where they were in 2010, and look like increasing their absolute number of votes in Scotland for the third Westminster election in a row, so the SNP has come almost entirely at the expense of the Lib Dems and Labour. The “Tories are slowly dying out in Scotland” narrative has been refuted, for now at least, and it interests me that even at a time of austerity and at their peak as a party, the SNP can’t gain any more ground against the Tories. Nor have they done so at Westminster for nearly 20 years, so it is unlikely they will ever get any more of the Scottish centre-right vote, though they haven’t lost any of it yet in spite of moving more towards the left on some issues.

  7. “Con = 287
    LDP = 25
    UKIP = 3

    What would the DUP do?”

    The other question in this scenario is what do the 4-5 most left-leaning Lib Dems do. Would Andrew George or TIm Farron be a safe bet to do what Clegg says or would they attempt to keep the Lib Dems out of the mire?

    couper2802, oldnat & barbazenzero
    Thanks. I know a lot of rUK posters on here profess disdain for the minutiae of Scottish politics

    Now that is a little unfair methinks. We have all been following the Scottish posts with interest, including those which stray into the .minutiae’. Maybe last night went a tad too far with discussions of pot holes and council tax to hold most rUK .members interest however …….. :)

  9. Mibri,

    Fair point though given the combination of that statement and ruling out any kind of deal which is propped up by the SNP suggests he is very strongly hankering after a Tory coalition again.

    Of course it may just be political positioning to try to avoid losing votes to Tories in marginals, but it still feels like a stronger message than he needs to send out on which way he leans. I guess he may also think that his realistic choice is a Tory coalition or, if that isn’t possible, some kind of abstention or C&S rather than a coalition going the other way.

  10. @Magpie,]
    maybe you can help me ,has Ed M completely ruled out any C&S deal with the SNP,is he really daring them to vote down a Labour minority government queen’s speech? if so,Clegg would be free to side with Labour assuming they are the largest party.
    If Con are the largest party,then he will undoubtedly IMO go with the tories and say back me or sack me.Being in government is far more preferable than doing nothing surely.

  11. @magpie
    ” I think it’s odd of Clegg to be backing himself into a corner when there is a pretty good argument in this scenario that going with Labour would provide a more stable government.”

    I think it’s predictably dull that posters continue to expect this of Clegg but don’t question when other parties rule out partners.

    Guess what, if the SNP offered to support a Tory-led government that was also provide a more stable government.

    Why are the SNP ruling it out? Because many of their voters and target voters don’t want to see it happen. Why is Clegg ruling out working with the SNP? The same bloody reason. Yet the SNP aren’t criticised for being choosy in who they’ll work with, and the LDs are!

    We constantly see Clegg-bashing because he’s done something EVERY OTHER party leader has done. And don’t give me this rubbish that supporting PR means the Lib Dems should go with anyone. The SNP and UKIP also support PR yet they are happy to rule out working with Tories and Labour respectively, but they don’t get criticised, only the LDs do.



    thanks, very intersting.

    The tories only hope of governing really is 300plus seats, id say lib dem ukip deals are surely impossible?

    then again who knows, what follows an election such as this! With the labour and tories level and an overwhelmingly snp scotland it amounts to a kind of impasse however you slice it up. to ignore the snp will be impossible if they win 50 seats wont it? well it will be if you want to save the union, ….i think there maybe a domesday “break up the union to ensure tory govt plan” in some peoples minds. These are things that were unthinkable 5 years ago.

  13. @Bill Patrick

    There does seem to have been some under the surface churn between SNP and Con. Ruth Davidson was highlighting opinion poll findings* that ~10% of 2010 SNP voters were intending to vote Tory. This represented the biggest loss of 2010 SNP voters, with only minimal amounts switching to Lab or Lib Dem.

    The problem with this analysis is that the same poll showed about 10% of 2010 Tories intending to vote SNP. The SNP and Con were within a few points of each other in 2010, so the two movements more or less cancel each other out.

    I guess the reasoning for these small movements would be the minority of pro-independence Tories migrating to the SNP, offset by some pro-union SNP voters going the other way.

    *I think this was from the last full Scottish poll by YouGov

    You’d think Ming Campbell, Charlie Kennedy et al would be aware of the possibilities, but I guess the party had been captured by its metro-elite by then.

    Campbell, perhaps, with his genuine Liberal credentials. He was one of the last to stop taking “home rule” seriously after 2005, but I suspect he’ll just follow the party line and become their leader in the HoL.

    Kennedy started as an MP in 1983 [same year as Campbell] but for the SDP, so has no Liberal background.

    Species that fail to adapt to changing circumstances soon become extinct.

    VE Day will probably confirm it one way or the other, but I still find it hard to imagine 25 or so LD MPs reconvening for the QS given the numbers in GB polls, but that’s what Lord A’s polling seems to tell us.

  15. @LRR
    Con = 287
    LDP = 25
    UKIP = 3
    What would the DUP do?

    Go with this coalition,he has already said a Euro referendum is a red line,this would be good for him in this case.would it be stable ? know idea,UKIP would not go into a coaltion with the Lib Dems,but might not be asked at those figures

  16. ‘ The “Tories are slowly dying out in Scotland” narrative has been refuted,’

    Bill Patrick

    What? When they have either one or no Westminster seats you don’t view them as died out. Yes, minor improvements in their vote from totally miserable to extremely dire can be found but that’s not refuting the Tories are dead idea, it’s a question of how high does a dead cat bounce…

  17. Mibri

    That’s how I read it – Miliband dares the SNP to vote down a Queens Speech. But thereafter I think there will of course be consultation with them (and other parties) on particular pieces of legislation.

    On Clegg, the danger is he tries to go into Tory coalition but can’t actually deliver the votes in a confidence vote.


    I’m not criticising Clegg for ruling out a deal with the SNP – but he seems to be going beyond that to suggesting he wouldn’t even support a Labour minority government that was getting support on votes from the SNP – that’s the bit that seems unnecessary. I don’t think he needs to send such a strong signal on whether he would back Labour or Tory.

  18. @ Magpie

    “I thought Sylvia Hermon would probably be Labour rather than coin toss.”

    Possibly. But if I were her I would definitely go for the coin toss and deliberately drop it. So we could have Adam Boulton and Robinson and several camera crews all scrabbling on the floor. Then I would let them all do their piece to camera announcing the result before brightly announcing, “best of three!”

  19. James,

    Yes, I probably should have said in net terms.

    One factor is that the centre-right SNP supporters I know are all long-time party members, and so they are unlikely to change unless the SNP straight up proposes moving to a communist state.

  20. Jack,

    Seats and votes are different things.

    I was also speaking literally, whereas you are speaking figuratively. These are also different things.

  21. I understand that losing seats in Scotland is a sore spot for some people right now, but it’s not the only thing going on in Scottish politics.

  22. Oh, and Mibri – I think C&S can work two ways – 1) the SNP give de facto support to Labour on confidence and supply but there is no formal deal. 2) The two parties sit down in advance and work out some kind of deal in return for C&S.

    I can’t see any real advantage in the latter for EM, and it would probably politically damage him – so I think it’s pointless for the SNP to demand it given that by saying they won’t prop up the Tories they have already effectively committed to version 1.

  23. LRR

    That would be such a perfect denouement.

  24. @Magpie,thanks,there is also the possibilty the SNP abstain from a queen’s speech vote and can say that Labour refused to meet their demands and their principles came first thus still protecting Holyrood.
    Nothing would suprise me at the moment.
    I think that is why 285-290 seats will see DC stay in number 10 for a bit longer at least.

  25. It is reasonable for Clegg as the leader of the Liberal Democrats to speak first to whichever party has most seats. But if Lab + SNP > 323 it would be pretty pointless to speak to the Conservatives for very long.

    If Labour are the largest party then the decision is easy.

    Where he has a difficult decision to make is when he has to choose between an fragile Con led government and a more stable Labour led government. Not least because he will have to determine how stable or unstable each option is and that may not be easy.

    I wonder how ethical

  26. @Magpie

    If you look at Miliband’s rent changes and stamp duty changes neither apply in Scotland why would the SNP bother voting on them?

    So if the right wing block is bigger than the Labour block and SNP/PC don’t vote then Miliband can’t get it through.

  27. Scratch that ” I wonder…” I decided I didn’t wonder after all.

  28. BigFatRon
    @funtypippin – that LD 8.1 (down 0.1) looks a bit odd when the last week’s poll numbers are: 7,8, 7, 10, 8, 9, 8, 9, 8, 8, 9, 8, 9? Although it’s probably me missing something on how you do the calc…
    I’ll have a go at explaining this.
    Firstly, I use the last 20 polls, although in this case that doesn’t make a massive difference to the end result.
    If the model just took the median (the univariate median, which is what most people think of when they think of the word median) of each party’s results I’d get something like:
    Con: 33
    Lab: 34
    Lib: 9
    Ukip: 13.5
    Grn: 5
    Oth: 6

    I’ve made those numbers up but the point is that I could only get numbers that are multiples of 0.5.

    What I’m doing is a bit more complicated than that. Instead of taking separate medians for each party, I use the geometric median. Essentially, I take each poll as a single point (in 6-dimensional space, with each dimension corresponding to a party’s VI), plot them, and then find the point where the sum of the distances between that point and all of the other points is as small as possible.
    This point is the geometric median.
    The main consequence of this is that in the univariate median, the VIs we get for each party are independent of each other, whereas in my geometric median the output for each party depends on the results for all of the other parties. I believe that this gives us a better idea of how things actually stand. The downside is that it becomes a bit more difficult to visualise (and code) since we usually only experience the world in 3 dimensions.

    Of course, there is another possible explanation – that I’ve buggered up my code somewhere along the way. If anyone wants to look through my code it’s open source (and MIT licensed) – – and I always appreciate feedback/contributions.

  29. Four more Ashcroft seat polls being published

    Cannock Chase
    Castle Point
    Great Yarmouth
    Great Grimsby

    All look bad for Ukip

  30. Aschroft national poll

    CON 36%,
    LAB 30%,
    LDEM 9%,
    UKIP 11%,
    GRN 7%

  31. The ICM England only scores seem to suggest a swing of 2% only, which is less than implied in the marginals polling.

    Interesting to see also the perennial ‘party X and y% doesn’t look right to me’.

    As we learned from 2010 last night, there are polls, and impression of polls.

  32. @magpie
    “I’m not criticising Clegg for ruling out a deal with the SNP – but he seems to be going beyond that to suggesting he wouldn’t even support a Labour minority government that was getting support on votes from the SNP – that’s the bit that seems unnecessary.”

    But he’s giving the Conservatives the same treatment, he doesn’t want to be involved in a government that’s supported by the SNP or UKIP. It’s because association with either of those parties turns off the voters he wants to attract.

    Similar to how the SNP, Greens, PC are positioning themselves as “anti-austerity” therefore won’t associate the Tories *at all*. LDs are just giving UKIP and the SNP that same treatment, one assumes to make their position clear and to win votes in the places they want to. If as many are saying the Con-Lib seats are easier for the LDs to win, it makes sense to rule out SNP (unpopular with most Tories) and UKIP (unpopular with most Tories).

  33. @ MAGPIE

    “I’m not criticising Clegg for ruling out a deal with the SNP – but he seems to be going beyond that to suggesting he wouldn’t even support a Labour minority government that was getting support on votes from the SNP”

    That’s the major point here, spot on!

    What the Lib Dems are doing is exactly what the Tories are doing, effectively trying to disenfranchise the SNP.

    In a parliamentary democracy that’s absolutely unforgivable.

    And whats more the part the Libdems are trying to disenfranchise will end up with MORE Mp’s than the Libdems.

    So who has more of a “right” to wield or influence power?!

  34. *party not part

  35. Let’s put that Ashcroft poll firmly in the bin

  36. Ashcroft poll = game over!

  37. Six points?? Well it’s all starting to get a bit tasty isn’t it!
    That’s high for the Greens though. Suspect a couple of those will go Red on polling day.

  38. Wow – that should please the Tories a bit more.

    11% for UKIP – outlier or a sign of the squeeze?
    7% for Greens – seems a little high compared to other polls.

  39. SMITHY

    Why? Have you any evidence to say it’s not a genuine poll?

  40. Blue Moby,

    Do you think that the SNP and Labour are unforgivable for refusing to work with the Tories?

  41. Smithy (402pm)

    Is that because you dont like the numbers?!?

    Is my prediction that this week might see the Tories open up a 1% lead coming true?!?!? (cue many replies from labour supporters!)


  42. Ashcroft just isn’t credible anymore – lab up 1% on 2010?! Very smelly poll and how can his marginal polls point to wider national swings than his national polls?

  43. I wonder if Ashcroft is using ICM now, by any chance? ;-)

  44. @bluemoby
    “What the Lib Dems are doing is exactly what the Tories are doing, effectively trying to disenfranchise the SNP.
    In a parliamentary democracy that’s absolutely unforgivable.”

    Are you trying to sound ridiculous or does it come naturally?

    The SNP, just like Labour and the Tories, have NO natural right to be in the government of the UK. If they can’t win enough seats then it’s up to parties to choose who they’ll be in coalition with.

    No one is disenfranchising the SNP. Their MPs will be elected to the Commons just like everyone else.

    In the event of a Labour-led government, are you going to whine about Tory MPs being disenfranchised?

  45. Terrible poll from Ashcroft. What on earth is this guy doing? That poll belongs in the shredder.

  46. Well, either Ashcroft is wasting his money on his national polls, or wasting his money on his constituency polls.

    I think I can guess which ones are the waste of money.

  47. @ James,
    i knew about Castle Point edging more blue now as I live there,feeling has been growing anti UKIP as the tory message has been getting through vote UKIP get SNP,also the candidate and his mate are quite unsavoury.Be interesting now if the UKIPpers in the marginals start to drift back to their respective parties,which could favour tories.
    Grimsby seems against what everyone was being told,so that is really bad news for UKIP.

  48. Smithy.

    Not so fast

    It’s within 3% of 33/33. So it doesn’t meet my definition of an outlier. It just has both parties, and therefore the gap at the outer edges of MOE.

    This is not my nomination for outlier of the week.

    However, I would be happier if Ashcroft’s national polls were a little more mainstream since his marginal polling is so interesting.

  49. @adamb – not the reason and I pointed out the labour 3pt lead was iffy looking at some of the x-breaks. If you think the the Tories have lost just 1pt and lab gained 1pt since 2010, good luck to you.

  50. SMITHY
    Let’s put that Ashcroft poll firmly in the bin
    April 27th, 2015 at 4:02 pm


    I think we should all keep an open mind. Theire are number of outliers. The question is are these outliers telling us something, other than binning them.

    I think the sample are influenced by polices on the day, going positive or negative. We now need to factor that in

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