ICM have released a new constituency poll of Sheffield Hallam, conducted for the Guardian. It shows Nick Clegg holding on to his seat by a margin of seven points over Labour when respondents are asked a voting intention question that includes the names of the candidates standing. Full details are here. As regular readers will recall, previous polling of the seat has shown a much tighter race with Lord Ashcroft’s last poll in Hallam showing Labour ahead by one.

So which poll is correct? Is Nick Clegg likely to hold his seat? The bottom line is while that this piece of evidence does make it look a little more likely that Clegg might hold on, we can’t really be confident what the true position is. The ICM poll had a sample size of 500, the Ashcroft poll had a sample size of 1000. Hence it could well be that there isn’t any difference at all between the polls, that it’s just normal sample variation around a small Lib Dem lead. Its also possible that there has been movement towards Clegg in the days between the two polls as the election looms and people consider a tactical vote.

However a lot has been made of the fact that while both polls had an effort to take account of people’s personal and tactical voting behaviour in their own constituency, they did so in different ways – Ashcroft asks a two stage question, asking people their national preference and then how they will vote thinking about the candidates and parties in their own constituency; ICM asked people the voting intention question including the names of the candidates standing in Sheffield Hallam. Both methods seem to have given a boost to the Lib Dems compared to a generic question, given sample variation and timing we can’t even be certain one did had more impact than the other, let alone which one is more accurate.

One can very easily make a case for one or the other method (Chris Hanretty has a good go here) but really that’s only theorising, we can’t know which way is better unless you test it against some actual elections, and at previous elections constituency polling has been a rare commodity.

In the meantime, Sheffield Hallam remains an interesting race. Normally the idea of party leaders losing seats is regularly drummed up but incredibly unlikely to happen. This time, while my personal expectation is that Clegg will hold on and this poll will probably end up about right, there is a least a non-zero possibility of him being ousted. We shall see.

880 Responses to “ICM poll of Sheffield Hallam”

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  1. @Ray,

    That’s because it was. :-)

  2. @ catoswyn

    Con 293
    Lab 260
    Lib Dem 32
    SNP 42
    UKIP 1
    Green 1
    Others 21

    A fellow Tory, made serious money in 1992, 1997, getting Conservative victory right, and 1997, he betted Conservative losing more than 100 seats. The other years no far off.

    He prediction is DC is PM, with small majority or couple short.

    I have decided to go against his prediction this time.

  3. @omni

    I agree that the Tories have over time reduced the marginals swing, just as the have in the last 12 months reduced the Labour lead in the polls to practically zero. But there’s been very little change over the last 5 months.

  4. Another gem from Lord A’s focus groups:

    But do people really hold the fact he went to Eton against David Cameron? “Yes! I went to Pangbourne and we played rugby against them and they cheat.”

    I did wonder if Michael Ashcroft would keep his weekly polls going after the election, but I suspect he will be doing so just for the lulz.

  5. @RICH

    “Funny how nobody is saying the polls might be under stated for the Cons. lol. Site bias? :-)”

    Quite right Rich. I’ve never seen TOH, Bluebob, Colin, AdamB amongst others say this. lol.

  6. @rivers10

    I didn’t mean to imply the Midlands have ALL the marginals, I am using it as an example.

    My point is simple: the Midlands is ONE of the areas where the Tories have lots of marginals, they gain more from improving there and not in the Shires with all their safe seats or Scotland where they can win only 2 or 3 seats max

  7. Adam B

    So correct me if I’m wrong but 3 polls today of which:
    – 2 put the Tories ahead, by 1% and 2%
    – the third puts the Tories at jointly the most favourable position as they’ve come up with this year.

    I think you have it slightly off:

    Today’s Survation: lab lead
    Today’s Ashcroft: con lead
    Today’s Populus: equal


    Today’s YouGov: equal (in today’s Sun)

    Basically neck-and-neck with no sign of swingback at national level.

  8. Rich

    And we said so, disproving your foot-stamping

  9. @RICH “Funny how nobody is saying the polls might be under stated for the Cons. lol. Site bias? :-)”

    Have a look at all the predictions Catoswyn is collecting. Considering the polls of polls on most sites shows a neck and neck race, very few posters on here have given Labour more seats.

  10. @Cloudspotter

    Your election night aide seems quite sensible. The only qualification I would raise to this is that your spreadsheet will probably become redundant before half of the marginals have been declared. That is, the flood of less marginal results will probably tell its own story long before your sheet is full.

    I have then applied that swing onto the rest of the marginals of the same type.

    A problem is to define ‘same type’. Other Party X / Party Y marginals in the same geographic region?

  11. cloudspotter

    “The Katie Hopkins effect perhaps?”

    For a split second I thought I was seeing crossover ;-)

  12. @ Rivers10

    Yes. But your point has already drowned.

    The argument is that if some of those Midland seats go, the Cambrian ones would do too. Wrong on all accounts.

    There’s also a little bit of expectations’ management is going too (they do it strangely, but just go back to 2010, and you will see).

  13. New thread

  14. @ Catoswyn

    Revised, forgot to factor in a few other points.

    Con 293
    Lab 260
    Lib Dem 27
    SNP 47
    UKIP 1
    Green 1
    Others 21

  15. Rivers10

    Labour may pick up as many as 10 seats out of 19 marginals in the RoS on current swings and recent Ashcroft polls.

  16. Unicorn

    ‘A problem is to define ‘same type’. Other Party X / Party Y marginals in the same geographic region?’

    I’m not going to use a regional swing as well, the number of seats would get a little too low, so I’m going to ignore the regional effect and hope it evens out.

    I have 6 marginal types:

    I haven’t included PC or UKIP as the numbers of seats will be too low.

  17. ASHMAN

    Got your prediction :)


    Have your prediction :)

  19. Rich

    There is no consistency in your argument. In one sentence you say you have never hear any of us on the left say there are outliers in Labour’s favour then when some of us point out that patently isn’t the case you say it was an outlier anyway rather than acknowledge your emphatic comment was completely wrong.

    The polls are neck and neck. Yet the majority on here including some of us on the left think the Tories will win most seats. Not everyone though is going to agree with your view and vice versa.

  20. From the comments policy:

    The comments sections on most political blogs is either one sided, or dominated by petty political point scoring and tired rehersals of party political spin. I wanted something else. Therefore the rule in the comments section is that all comments should be made in the spirit of non-partisanship, to try and welcome all people here to discuss polls and politics like adults with a shared interest, despite supporting different parties.

    That is why I enjoy reading both AWs insightful observations and many of the discussions on the threads. I have no idea or interest in what AWs political persuasion is and I cannot deduce it from what I have read.

    It’s only those who forget the principle of the comments policy and use it to promote their own persuasion or attack others that spoils it

    Writing about politics in a neutral way is not easy; reading it neutrally is even harder (if your perception is different to mine then obviously I ‘m neutral and your biased)

    You cannot blame AW for the political balance of comments (we are not a representative sample) but I hope we all try to stick to the spirit of UKPR as emotions will inevitably rise over the coming days.

    Sermon over.

  21. It seems to me, looking at the most recent polls and the election forecasts, that Labour will win the election. Yes, Labour will lose seats in Scotland but the polls and forecasts take this into account.

    Labour and the Conservatives look to be closely matched in forecast seat numbers. The Yougov Nowcast puts Labour slightly ahead. The predicted large SNP number of MPs who will not support the Conservatives is another reason why a Labour victory seems likely at this election.

    It is almost election day, and aiming to make a prediction, you are now almost at point blank range.

    It looks as if Labour will form the next government.

  22. My prediction
    Tories – 291
    Labour – 264
    SNP – 46
    Lib Dems- 24
    Others- 25


    Got it :)

  24. What do people think are the chances that Cameron will

    Claim to have the right to form a government as:
    a) he has the most seats
    b) he is the incumbent government
    c) Labour has no formal deal with anyone so cannot claim that the Tories will not be able to rule

    Now if he were to get away with that (possible) and put a queens speech to Parliament and lose on an amendment style no confidence vote

    Can he
    a) ask for a new election as the government has fallen (after 14 days delay?)

    b) advise the queen not to invite Milliband in and instead dissolve Parliament

    And what do people think would happen if Milliband WERE invited and declined on principle claiming to lack legitimacy but really for electoral reasons – presumably 2 week gap then an election?

    I like to idea of an SNP/Labour group voting Cameron back in as a castrated minority government followed by loads of Progressive Alliance defeats of the government and squashed and amended budgets

  25. P.U.P.
    No, No seems to be the answer

    ps New Thread

  26. @ Catoswyn

    My prediction. For what it’s worth haha! I’m only 19

    Con 292
    Lab 265
    Lib Dem 27
    SNP 47
    DUP 9 UKIP 2 Green 1 Others 7

  27. @ Norbold

    “Quite right Rich. I’ve never seen TOH, Bluebob, Colin, AdamB amongst others say this. lol.”

    Correct, because I never have.


    That was a very good forecast Christopher, I can tell by your SNP figure of 47 seats that you are Scottish but not SNP, good man.
    Personally Ithink the SNP will end up with 40 seats max. with a resulting increase mostly to Labour on your prediction,


    “Too much coffee today!”


    As if such a thing were possible…

  30. I’d like to start a new speculation on which seat will see the highest vote for the Monster Raving Loonies. We have no polling evidence to go on here, as Ashcroft is not interested in looneys.

    They are standing in 16 constituencies, but surprisingly not in Witney. I’d vote for Baron von Claptrap in Gower……

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