Opinion polls are a little light at the moment, and probably will be for the next few weeks. Even at the best of times there is little polling in the weeks immediately following a general election – we’ve just had an actual general election to judge people’s voting behaviour, attention is elsewhere and newspapers will generally have blown their polling budgets in the campaign. I’d expect even less polling over the next few weeks because of the errors in the polls at the general election. Some of the long running trackers like the ICM/Guardian series and MORI political monitor will likely continue just to avoid a gap in the data series, but generally speaking most of the regular polls will probably pause for a bit while they work out what went wrong and sort out solutions to it.

As it is, the next political events we have too look forward to aren’t about Great Britain anyway, but the Scottish, Welsh and London elections next year – I’m sure polling on them will start firing up in the next few months. The other, more immediate, race is the Labour leadership election.

We have had a little polling on that already – the YouGov/Sunday Times poll at the weekend (results here) asked the general public their preferences for Labour leader. Chuka Umunna came first on 17% (fieldwork was conducted before he withdrew), followed by Andy Burnham on 14%, Yvette Cooper on 8%, Tristram Hunt on 3%, Liz Kendall on 2% and Mary Creagh on 1%. Amongst Labour’s own voters Andy Burnham was ahead on 22%, with Chuka Umunna on 19%.

Obviously the key conclusion here isn’t really who is ahead… it’s how low anyone’s figures are. 55% of the general public said don’t know, 40% of Labour voters said don’t know. YouGov also asked separately about if people thought each of the contenders would make a good or bad leader, and in each case a clear majority of respondents said they didn’t know or didn’t know enough about the person to say. This is a race where the public simply aren’t familiar with the personalities of the candidates to have any clear opinion yet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the next Labour leader – the public having no clear image of you is better than having negative baggage – it just means they need to be pretty careful to make sure people’s first impressions are good ones, as they are difficult to shift once the public have formed an impression.

On the other outstanding issue – what caused the polling error – I’m beavering away at looking at what caused the errors and how to put them right, as I am sure are the other companies. I’m not planning on giving a running commentary, though I gave some thoughts at the end of last week on Keiran Pedley’s Polling Matter’s podcast here.

463 Responses to “Polling in the coming weeks”

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  1. @07052015

    Yes, I was referring specifically to the 2015 intake. This letter gives a strong hint that a fair number are planning to pursue a left-wing/trade unionist agenda – http://labourlist.org/2015/05/newly-elected-labour-mp-call-for-a-leader-who-wont-draw-back-to-new-labour/.

  2. I’m sad that Tristram Hunt has withdrawn! Liz Kendall – meh. I don’t like her, haven’t yet worked out why – nothing to do with what she has said, but perhaps a smug look on her face?

    Burnham has a cloth ear for public opinion and the zeitgeist – he was advocating deals with the SNP even as Miliband was ruling them out, contributing to the confusion in the voters’ minds about Lab’s real intentions.

    So that leaves Yvette Cooper. She strikes me as a very careful person. Thinks things out, makes contingency plans and then contingency plans for her contingency plans. As a leader (or PM) she’d have all the known knowns and known unknowns prepared for – but how would she deal with the unknown unknowns, can she think on her feet?

    Lab should postpone this contest till after the EU referendum. That way they won’t have a leader who has come out on the wrong side of the voters, they have a couple of years in which to think about candidates – and maybe other people will come forward – and Harriet Harman can take the load in the meanwhile (she didn’t do a bad job last time – she inherited a party on 29% and handed over to Miliband a party on 43%, from which they promptly started to fall) .

    This rush to “crown” someone is daft.

  3. Afternoon everyone. That’s an interesting poll regarding the perceptions of Labour in relation to where people see themselves on the right/left spectrum and where they think Labour should be. Of course, it’s all relative, and from Labour’s perspective, probably not a great deal of help with regards to choosing a new leader.

    I’m kind of with Candy on this one. I’m not sure Labour should leave it until the EU referendum*, but provided that the front bench is reasonably secure and motivated enough to keep the government honest for the first few months, I think Harriet Harman is more than capable of keeping DC in check. It’s interesting (in my view) to remember that, after the 2005 election, Michael Howard stayed on as leader for quite a while afterwards, and it was in fact he who promoted Cameron to the front bench.

    *If I was advising the Labour party (which I am most certainly not – they couldn’t afford my coffee budget!), I would keep my distance during the EU referendum. Although it’s incredibly cynical politically, I wouldn’t contribute to any debates or party political broadcasting, and I would let the Conservatives argue amongst themselves to be honest. It’s a little bit risky, as it could make Labour look insignificant, but it avoids the issue of picking a side on an issue which may be fairly divisive.

  4. It would be interesting to know how many Conservative voters would really have preferred the coalition to continue (and expected it to if there were enough Conservative seats). With a hung parliament thought to be almost certain, the election of a majority Conservative government might not be what a small but perhaps not insignificant proportion of their voters actually intended…


    Good Afternoon to you, with two days to Half Term and my sixtieth birthday.
    I had hoped, initially, that Alan Johnson could be a caretaker, or Harriet Harman could be caretaker leader until the Referendum and Cameron retires. Then I had hoped, probably stupidly, that David Miliband could come home.
    Since that is not going to happen my vote will go to Liz Kendall, if she gets enough nominations. Otherwise I would go for Yvette.

    I am not sure about the political feasibility of Labour keeping out of the EU Referendum, but they should not do a platform-share with the Cons, IMO.

    Survation … said “Patience is a virtue”. :-)

    They certainly demand it from us mere mortals.

    I must confess to being slightly surprised that their Table 4 which I summarised earlier has drawn no interest at all on this thread. Maybe the English 48% don’t post here much.

    If something nearer to Brown’s “home rule” explanation of the vow than Smith minus isn’t negotiated in time for the 2016 national GEs then the viability of the existing UK will be looking pretty bleak.

  7. Well Jack the only one from that list that I have any knowledge of is Rachel Maskell who used to work for Unite.She is a very sincere social democrat but far from being a wild left winger.

    Many ambitious ex student politicians used to work for unite -many recruited by john spellar who is about as right wing in labour terms as you can get.

    Tom Watson,michael dugher,ruth smeeth,mark tami,vicky foxcroft,john mann,chris mathieson all worked for the union when it was lead either by bill jordan/gavin laird ,roger lyons, and ,ken jackson -all well on the right in trade union terms.

    They were all committed to the union in varying degrees but none in my opinion is left wing in the traditional sense.

    Dozens of other mps are members of the union but unite is now very choosy about who it supports as it has been badly let down by careerists who use the union as a flag of convenience.

  8. UKelect
    Yes very small. Do not confuse the floating “thinking voter” who felt he/she could not trust Labour and wished to see another coalition, with a confirmed Tory. [Many confirmed Tories] were glad to use them to keep Labour out in 010, but could not wait to get rid as soon as feasible. Many old guard shire Tories, could not understand Cameron going in with the LD’s. Mind you, they cannot understand much that has happened since the Baroness stood down.

  9. @UKElect,

    It would be interesting to know. I certainly fit the description. I’m more Coalitionist than Tory. In a straight fight between a decent LD and a Tory (which my seat definitely isn’t) I’d be hard-pressed to choose.

  10. Why vince lost ……by vince.

    Thoughtful article from very wily and experienced politician.

    Interesting he says if ukip gets 45 percent in england to vote No -he wins and the campaign goes on (where have we seen that before?)though this time there wont be a unified better etc campaign-politicians always spend their careers trying to rectify the last mistake.


  11. I’ve made further updates and added additional maps of the 2015 results to the UK-Elect site:

    2015 General Election results and maps

    The chart showing the distribution of increases in the Liberal Democrat vote is a particularly good one…

  12. he wins is of course farage not vince -haha.

    Nats and tories- cold bedfellows ?

  13. @0705

    Yes, I agree a thoughtful article, though the Scots who make the first 20 comments after it don’t seem to agree. I was surprised that the ‘chaos of Lab being held to ransom by Salmond’ nonsense took root, but we certainly saw it on the doorsteps. So I think Vince is right in part, but I also acknowledge the point that Neil A made: Lab telling everybody the LDs were as bad as the Tories and some Lab supporters believing it.

    I suppose I’m part of the 48%, but I can’t get all that exercised about it. Mainly I think because IMO we need a good long calm look at it (for England at least) but what we’re likely to get is nearer to a gerrymander or at best a half-thought-through solution that creates as many problems as it solves but grabs a few headlines (and gives the government someone new to blame).

  14. Cable is barking up the wrong tree, the Lib Dems didn’t get wiped out because they got into bed with the Tories, they got wiped out because they’d get into bed with anyone. When the main pillar of your campaign is telling the electorate that no matter what the Lib Dems should always be in government the general public in simply not going to wear it.

    That and the fact that the Tories dedicated a great deal of effort to crushing them out of existance.

  15. Anthony Wells – were there any indications in pre-election polling that Lib Dems would break to the Tories to the extent that they did?

    I’ve been looking at pre-election polls and discussions and the tendency does not seem to have been predicted.

    Was there any suggestion that this would happen?

  16. @07.05.15

    I suspect the recent ructions within Ukip will end up being very damaging for Farage. He’s pretty much defenestrated a large chunk of the expansionist wing of the party, who broadened its appeal to traditional Labour voters in the North and the Midlands. There was something in this broader message which struck a chord with those in former mining, industrial or heavy industrial areas who over the last 30 years have seen their collective community entities shattered. The Tories took mining away in the 80s and moved the country on to an almost exclusive service sector economy. Labour spent a lot of money post 1997 in rebuilding many of these areas and encouraging retraining, but could not replicate the pride these people used to have in their old way of life. Ukip spoke to these people by promising to wind the clock back and restore the old realities – not by bring back industrial production – by directly appealing to that illusive sense of shared identity.

    With Suzanne Evans and O’Flynn gone Ukip look to be headed down an exclusively right wing path that will lose them shedloads of votes in the above areas. Is one man’s personality worth this much loss?

    The point I am making is that Vince is wrong to compare Ukip to the SNP. Their are similarities on some levels but the SNP gave succeeded of late by becoming much less parochial and much more inclusive. Ukip appear to be taking the opposite path.

  17. Neil A,

    I would imagine support for the LDs among police officers is very low. You may be somewhat unique!

    UKIP are presenting an interesting situation. If Labour elect a new leader around the same time UKIP start to fall apart at the seams (if they do) and some of their voters go back to Labour, there’ll be much discussion about who caused it.

  18. Gazza – no, there wasn’t, and I think that’s a little part of one of the things that may have driven the polling error.

    We’ve some ideas why, but as ever, I don’t want to jump to any early conclusions or give a running commentary.

  19. Margaret Hodge to step down as chair of the PAC.

    Hard attack to follow -anyone but Gisela Stuart but someone who is lilywhite ,no tax avoidance history.

    Anne Begg ?

  20. Thanks Anthony.

    I guess there is no magic bullet answer – you’ve got an interesting job!

  21. 07052015 –

    Anne Begg was a Labour MP in Scotland. She is, um, unavailable (I made the same mistake the other day with exactly the same MP, brought home to me the sea change in Scotland!)

  22. @CHRISLANE1945…..

    Perhaps because we’re of an age we think in the same terms….i always enjoy your posts john

  23. After a long, long day …

    Well, we don’t have polls, but even if there isn’t I expect a large shift after the budget. Council accountants are extremely worried up here in the NW, getting instructions what are the services that must be protected and how they can do it. I don’t know how real it is, as I talked to them only on a general level. The language of their reports to the elected ones is quite unusual and harsh.

    Then it will be all about the EU referendum, and of course the elections north of the border.

  24. Lazlo

    And general elections in Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as Scotland.

    Hopefully, Westminster isn’t going to mess these up again by arranging a referendum on the same day.

  25. @ OldNat

    Apologies to Wales and Northern Ireland.

  26. Thanks AW well its got to be a labour mp -anyone but gisela stuart.

    John Mann would be good

  27. Lazlo

    We should both have mentioned the Great London Bake Off as well! :-)

    Many thanks. Just back from lovely celebratory dinner with Lane Female 1945 and our youngest (of 4) who has just finished Lower Sixth AS exams.

    O7052015: I agree about John Mann, a genuinely independent Labour MP.

  29. @UKElect

    I would have been happy for the coalition to continue, certainly in preference to a minority CON government. However, the logic doesn’t really follow that people who voted CON would have voted for someone else if they thought CON might win a majority…

  30. On Polling.
    NUMBER CRUNCHER has just posted a very interesting ‘tweet’ about the structural bias of the polls which they knew about one day before that terminal day of May 7

  31. @Jack Sheldon

    I think the logic does follow.

    Clearly natural Con voters wanted a majority Con government but I don’t think any other party’s natural voters did!

  32. Reports -tories grappling with fallout from referendum negotiations potential resignations said to be ids,raab,grayling,patel .

    Alternative is to apply three line whip ,cabinet eurosceptics resign and are reinstated after.

    Complacent in my view -depends who wants to succeed DC ,first to go native will start a stampede imo leaving cameron and osborne alone.

    Germans want to coordinate but no poss treat change before 2017 so fudge being worked on.

  33. @07052015

    Meg Hillier is apparently the favourite for PAC chair with Gisela Stuart also running. Stuart might win because the way these ballots work means Tories are likely to go for whoever they think will cause them less trouble…

    As for that Guardian report, well, it smells like speculation to me. Personally reckon they should let ministers campaign either way (as Labour did in 1975) but if the negotiation comes off OK I’d expect the vast majority to back an in vote. Three line whip would be stupid.


    But who else would they have voted for instead? Many may have been happy with a coalition but I’m not sure they’d have voted Labour or Lib Dem instead of Tory if they knew a majority was a possibility.

  34. Well people did give the Tories a majority be it small as a tiddler.
    Therefore, they cannot be as universally detested as some would have it. I would have […]

  35. SNP told to grow up regarding seats on the green benches. I thought this new battle of Buttockburn was really entertaining, 701 years after the original. Only Ming Campbell remembers it.

  36. A bit late, given the race is already underway’ but this editorial makes a good case for not rushing into a contest before working out what went wrong and what the candidates really have offer.


  37. @ OldNat

    It’s actually MasterChef in London ..

  38. @Laszlo

    Congratulations on Hungary’s qualification last night for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

  39. On Gisela Suart, I’ve just looked at Brum Edgbaston. Fascinating result. Just look at where the LD vote went. The Con vote stagnated.

    I suppose I’m part of the 48%, but I can’t get all that exercised about it. Mainly I think because IMO we need a good long calm look at it (for England at least)

    I suspect most of us will take a while to get used to the the new status quo, but the window of opportunity is relatively short between now and the 3x 2016 GEs. Some sort of constitutional convention is clearly needed but equally clearly not what the new UK government wants.

    SNP told to grow up regarding seats on the green benches.

    By whom? Do you have a link? Nothing on that topic on the BBC website seems to be newer than the 19th.

  41. “I think the logic does follow.
    Clearly natural Con voters wanted a majority Con government but I don’t think any other party’s natural voters did!”

    Can you elaborate who these ‘other party’s natural voters’ are? Con retained almost their entire vote from 2010 and received a boost from shire lib dems who are natural conservatives anyway. If they are so pro-con-lib coalition and anti-Tory majority, why would they switch to Tory in these seats?

    I’m afraid your logic doesn’t follow. The Tories campaigned for a majority from the very start and it was clearly obvious they were pushing for majority by campaigning heavily in all the Lib Dem seats (some of them with massive majority) in South West.

  42. @ RAF

    I’m happier for the Booker international prize though less so for the author (I could never associate with his writings), but for the translator who has made a wonderful job on translating both Hungarian prose and poetry for some decades. And also that Hungary may get the Golden Palm.

    Having said that, I would be happier if Hungary could get something for democracy – well not this time, and not for some time according to the plans ….

  43. There was no coalition voting either in 2010 or 2015, so I don’t know where it comes from. Are there voters who voted Conservatives and now a bit fret that the Conservative Party can go alone? Sure, there must be some. So what?

    I’m also sure that there is a general relief in the main parties that UKIP had only one seat (I’m not a party, but I regret my ten quid – I thought I put only five for not having any UKIP MP), and hence they think that after the referendum everything goes as before, but if I (and several others here) am correct, then we have five million protest voters in the UK, which is a kind of a problem for these parties.

  44. chrislane1945

    “Good Afternoon to you, with two days to Half Term and my sixtieth birthday.”

    Congratulations, but just out of curiosity, why do you call yourself chrislane1945 if it’s not your birth year?

  45. @Anthony

    “brought home to me the sea change in Scotland”

    It’s easier to just think of the three remaining ones, the six SNP that were there prior, and then add any that you know of yet.

    Alistair (Lib), Ian (Lab) and David (Con).

    Stewart, Angus, Angus, Eilidh, Mike, and Pete.

    Can’t wait for the Westminster Scottish Questions. If this image is anything to go by, it will be ‘interesting’ – https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CE_Nl9fWgAAcDfC.jpg:large

    (biased stuff on it aside)

  46. “…they couldn’t afford my coffee budget!…”


    Very saddened to learn of that, and in a nutshell tells us everything that’s wrong with politics today…

  47. PETE B. Good early Morn to you.
    1945 is in my name on UKPR for reasons of UK Political History. My Grandparents said it was the greatest year.

  48. “1945 is in my name on UKPR for reasons of UK Political History. My Grandparents said it was the greatest year.”

    I can reveal that ChrisLane’s real name is Reginald Maudling.
    However His Uncle Gerald says Chris Huhne is the greatest politician and his brother’s favourite resort is Sandy Lane in Barbados.

  49. Reports that snp looking at nationalising land and estates in scotlland.

    Is this a wind up ?

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