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. Thanks Anthony as ever.

  2. Frankly, I would rather Labour had a 5 card flush in Sheffield, than see Clegg re elected. This from a Tory fanatic.

  3. I think Tories will sweep Clegg back in to Sheffield Hallam.

    Tories in Sheffield no that if Clegg loses his seat a coalition becomes increasingly untenable.

  4. Illustrates how significant naming the candidate is & begs the question why no pollsters bother day in day out?

  5. Tories may decide this election – just as long as they don’t vote Tory! :-)

  6. Vegas Seagull

    Final candidate nominations don’t happen till relatively close to the election1

  7. Surely the attention given to the seat could make an upset MORE likely as those who would usually not bother to go out and vote think it would be worth upsetting the apple-cart – students may just set their alarms and make sure they vote rather than forget.

    If I was NC relying on Tory votes then I wouldn’t be at all confident.

  8. Apparently they didn’t sample student halls of residence.

  9. The devil, as they say, is in the detail of the ICM poll. Whilst the Guardian has majored on the Tories saving Nick Clegg, in fact even Labour are -1% once the candidates are named, as are the Greens and even UKIP. No wonder second guessing election results and trends remains endlessly fascinating!

  10. @ Roland

    Looking at the figures, they will need a Royal Flush. It can happen. They had the first three cards just right. Waiting for the open ones now (for a few hours …)

  11. NC is safe, Tories realise we need him and enough will
    vote accordingly to save Nick.

  12. Every poll in Sheffield Hallam has shown NC doing better than the previous one.

  13. Yougov poll expected to be 34 each

  14. ADRIAN B

    My thoughts as well. On Sunday before election the G reported an opinion poll in Michael Portillo`s which suggested he hasd only a 7% lead in what was a we seat. Laboiur activists then poured into constituency in last few days and poor Michael lost to Stephen Twigg on election day. Given todays endorsement by a certain celeb popular younger people, I just wonder whether this might be real close result?

  15. Some very bad jackets on Tom Bradby’s The Agenda tonight.

  16. All ready for the Twitter …

  17. Lab and Con tied on 33

  18. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour and Tories are tied: CON 33%, LAB 33%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%

  19. Nearly got it right – 33% each
    That would be an interesting result on the night!

  20. All these Tories voting for NC – and if the maths is right he’ll no doubt go into coalition with Labour. You have been warned ;-)

  21. Cons can’t string a series of yougov leads together. Sure this fav will be forgotten after tomorrow’s Ashcroft

  22. Clegg will hold his seat. Tories will vote him in.

  23. Comment on YouGov poll:

    Interesting to see that Lib Dems are up somewhat in recent polls. Other than that the top two continue to be neck and neck, consistent with recent polls taken together.

    Only two YouGovs for swing back to happen in, now.

  24. LD’s into double figures, I suggested this might happen! Will we overtake UKIP?

  25. The panel on Bradby’s Agenda doesn’t seem to be particularly well balanced. Is it always like this?

  26. I can’t really imagine party leaders (other than the current Scottish female set) tweeting like this –

    @RuthDavidsonMSP Loving the yellow anaglypta wallpaper in my hotel, where I was asked, on arrival, if I drove ambulances in Ft William

    Watch and learn, guys.

  27. It would be funny if Labour nicked Nick’s seat.

  28. Polldrums polldrums polldrums

  29. People are saying “Clegg will jump into bed with Labour now”, but would he even be party leader or would a Lib Dem seat total of around twenty force his resignation?

  30. Illustrates how significant naming the candidate is & begs the question why no pollsters bother day in day out?

    VEGAS SEAGULL – Up until the 1970s they only named the candidates and not the party on ballot papers.

  31. Well, that more or less settles it. Coupled with the trajectory of the Ashcroft polls, this has more or less nailed on that Clegg will hold his seat.

    Could we be moving back towards the 1950s system where Liberal candidates in the north were often given a free run at some Labour marginals, as a sort of anti-socialist coalition (e.g. Bolton West)?

  32. All square on YG 33/33. No Edstone effect (and surely sensible people realised there wouldn’t be), no Royal Baby Bounce (and surely sensible people realised there wouldn’t be).

    Tune in tomorrow to discover the effect of Russell Brand’s endorsement, EM’s storming speech at Citizens UK and the scuffles with Jim Murphy (prediction – zero impact from all of the above).

    Any idea which polls are out tomorrow or will everyone wait till Weds?

  33. I loathe UKIP, but if they do get a 12/13% vote share it will be a disgrace if they don’t get a single seat (Carswell excepted). It will be a bigger injustice than Lib/SPD’s return in 1983. 12/13% would be about 3-4 million votes, would it not? Surely no-one can be comfortable with that.

  34. Adrian B

    “(prediction – zero impact from all of the above). ”

    If only predicting the seat tally was so easy. :-)

  35. @bantams
    “LD’s into double figures, I suggested this might happen! Will we overtake UKIP?”

    So did I – but it’s later than I expected and isn’t “real” until it happens in more polls/in the election

    Yes I think the LDs will overtake UKIP

  36. thought that there was to be a YouGov poll every day up to and including Wednesday.

  37. In 2010 Clegg insisted on Brown’s resignation before they would consider a deal with Labour. Memories (when bitter) are long. Labour will doubtless reciprocate.

  38. @omnishambles, @bantams

    “Yes I think the LDs will overtake UKIP”

    Is this Lynton’s fabled crossover ;-)

  39. Good balanced panel on the agenda lol

  40. @ Brumble,

    The trajectory from the Ashcroft polls where… the lead went from 2% to 1%? That’s margin-of-error stuff.

    We have a range of polls predicting everything from a 10-point lead for Coppard to a 7-point lead for Clegg. We won’t know which is right until the night, although my own suspicion is that it will be close, with one or the other of them squeaking a win of a percentage point or two rather than five or ten.

  41. Miserable Old Git

    A railway carriage moment for Clegg. We can only hope.

  42. Silly comment of the day:

    I seem to recall reading over the weekend – possibly on one of the Guardian’s live-blogs – that the Party political preferences – i.e. of voters supporting those political parties – for the newest baby Cambridge were as follows:

    Conservative: Alice

    Labour: Charlotte

    Lib Dem: [I honestly can’t remember]

    UKIP: Victoria

    As such, have Kate and Wills signalled to the nation their political preference?

    [mashes tinfoil on head]

    On a more serious note, what effect do people on this thread think Brand’s endorsement will have on the 18 – 24 demographic’s voting intentions – assuming they registered in time.

  43. “Coupled with the trajectory of the Ashcroft polls, this has more or less nailed on that Clegg will hold his seat.”

    A touch premature, perchance? Given that all polls except February’s Survation have had results within MoE? And as Barnaby says, they didn’t (and technically couldn’t) sample the 4,200 students in Endcliffe and Ranmoor?

  44. NOPE do not think ukip will overtake libdems – sadly, as no fan of Ukip. I think they will do a little better than yougov suggest :(. Also think Clegg will hold his seat but will be close and not a good night generally for libdems generally.

  45. @Vegas Seagull

    Quite simple: If you do a daily random poll of all of Britain (maybe except Northern Ireland, where the principle: “who cares?” applies…), especially when you do a blind random one, you don’t know beforehand which consituency the respondent actually lives in.

    In addition to that, if your sample size is, say, 1,000 respondents all across Britain, with more than 600 constituencies you would get somewhere in between 1 and 2 respondents per consiituency, which is anything but representative and definetly nothing to build a mathematical/statistical prediction model on…

    In other words: it wouldn’t make any sense at all for any other than VERY specific constituency polls (like the Sheffield Hallam ones).

    Of course the problem is that if you don’t include the question after the candidates in your set of questions, for a prediction of the SEATS (not the %s of votes) you have to find a way to “house effect” this back into your calculus.

    Which is why polling in the UK when working to predict a #of seats usually uses the national swing in combination with incumbency bonuses.

  46. @Miserable Old Git

    If Labour need the lib dems though, I can’t imagine them insisting on his resignation if it might push him away.

    Much easier just to give him some useless non-job where he can feel important without having any influence. The office of deputy Prime Minister for example.

  47. @exileinyorks

    A different kind of crossover, but I predict both are on the cards

    BTW the answer to any follow-up question you might have is: “the fundamentals”

  48. Meanwhile in Sheffield Bingham seems to be holding off Murphy. It seems the swingback obtained by Murphy may not have been enough, after he caught Bingham, to pass him.

  49. @Spearmint

    Fair point, but I’m inclined to trust ICM here, simply because I suspect that hostility to Miliband from Tory voters will motivate them to set aside any dislike of Clegg. So ICM’s poll is consistent with that hypothesis.

    But you’re right, it could easily go the other way. As others have said, maybe Brand’s endorsement will prompt students to flood the polling stations.

  50. Anarchists Unite

    Lol – and ask him to spend his 5 years trying to get Lords reform through again – unsuccessfully.

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