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. Todays papers go big on banks latest fines -I assume no prosecutions.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-32822057

  2. I’m going to have to be Millie1966

  3. Sunreada

    “Is this a wind up?”

    If you are reading reports in the English Sun and other London rags then Yes, (combined with ignorance and bigotry).

    So probably your normal daily intake of news about Caledonia. :-)

    If you want to find out about Land Reform in Scotland (a programme supported by SNP, LiS and Greens), then you can find out about it here –

    http://www.gov.scot/About/Review/land-reform

  4. @ Millie – 1966?
    What – opening of the Tay Road Bridge?

    Only teasing…… Obviously the launch of the Ford Cortina Mk2.

  5. @BristolianHoward

    The results in Birmingham Edgbaston were in general terms the same as elsewhere in Birmingham, and indeed in the big cities generally.

    What was your point?

  6. Labour lost the election because of the rise of the SNP, the Conservative slaughter of the LibDems in the West and its own failure to score a decisive victory in its marginals with the Conservatives. Out of interest I used the spread sheet to which AW pointed us last time (16 May) to look at the 39 English and Welsh seats where Labour and Conservatives were 5 percentage points or less away from each other.

    Out of these Labour won 19 and the Conservatives 20 . In terms of average per seat, the seats won by Tories resembled the Labour ones almost exactly in turnout, the extent of the liberal collapse, the liberal vote, the size and growth of the green vote (where this applied) and the growth and size of the conservative vote. In these seats the Tory Vote grew by an average of 3.3% and they won an average of 40.3% of votes. In the seats they lost their vote grew by an average 3.2% and they again gained an average of 40.3 per cent of the votes.

    The obvious difference in voting patterns was that in the seats Labour won their vote grew by 5.6% as against 2.2% in the seats the others. The starting points were similar so they polled 38.2% in the seats they lost and 42.7% in the seats they won. The other striking difference related to the size of the UKIP vote. This averaged 13.9 in the seats won by the conservatives and 9.5% in those won by Labour. This suggests to me that in seats where it mattered a climate of opinion that favoured UKIP damaged Labour and prevented them from scooping up the voters who were up for grabs. It did not have a similar effect on the conservatives.

    All this is partly, but probably not entirely, a London effect. In London Labour won 7 out of the 8 seats I was looking at and the UKIP vote was particularly low but this did not fully account for the difference. In England and Wales as a whole UKIP vote share is higher when fewer people turn out to vote (r=.32) and in constituencies where there are more people over 60 (r=.38) and where the BNP did well in 2010 (r=.61) It is also negatively correlated with growth in the conservative (r=-.27) and Labour votes (r=-45).

    My personal conclusion is that Labour is suffering from a Victor Meldrew factor which affects all parties but Labour in particular. Wiser interpretations would be welcome. (As indeed would be checking of the figures as mine don’t seem quite the same as others I have seen)

  7. We have a new poll, conducted in the immediate aftermath of the election.

    http://www.gqrr.com/uk-post-election-6

    And on first reading it seems to offer scant support for the direction that the New Labour diehards want to move in.

    Surely it’s worth a new thread AW?

  8. [Snipped stuff relating to something moderated – AW]

    As a related aside, I’ve been getting about a bit lately, and while no one seemed to give much of a stuff about politics before the election, they’re definitely talking about it now.

    I’ve discovered quite a few peeps I’ve met recently are Greens, and quite a few randoms have approached me to moan about immigrants from EU – you should see their faces when I tell them my parents were immigrants from Europe…

    No one as yet has complained about Scots though!! I’ll keep you posted…

  9. Charles

    That is a fascinating analysis.

    Again, it suggests that UNS (even in England alone) is no longer a useful tool for measuring the likely effects of elections held under FPTP.

  10. From that new poll:

    “Which TWO of the following most put you off voting LABOUR?”

    Top two reasons, from those who considered voting Labour, but didn’t:

    – 30% chose “They would spend too much and can’t be trusted with the economy”

    – 29% chose “They would be bossed around by Nicola
    Sturgeon and the Scottish Nationalists”

    That’s a poll across the whole of the GB, including Scotland. For results filtered for England and Wales only, it’s clear enough that the perceived SNP threat must have been the top reason that potential Labour voters gave for not voting Labour.

  11. I see net migration to the UK has risen to 318,000, up 100,000 in the past 12 months. I think that is about the same as the highest under Labour when they were accused of, rather unfairly, allowing unlimited migration, instead of recognising a strong economy will mean more migrants.

    I also believe current migration will rise considerably higher if the economy continues to improve.

    Perhaps there will be a grown up debate about it now.

  12. Migration numbers are not great, more immigrants getting jobs in the UK than people in the UK out of work gaining jobs.

    Whatever your views, I don’t think it plays into the ‘stay in’ camp. More needs to be done to strengthen the rest of Europe’s economy to ensure theres a more equal spread of employment opportunities.

  13. Jack Sheldon

    “I’m not sure, however, that the fact some members of the public are prejudiced against Scots means that the Tories shouldn’t point out the consequences of SNP influence in the same way that they would differentiate themselves from other parties.”

    I wouldn’t disagree with that.

    I said “deliberately ot accidentally” because I didn’t want to get into the partisan argument used by Cable and others that the Tories were deliberately stoking the fires of the prejudiced side of English Nationalism, or not.

    Despite Kellner saying that the “SNP threat” effect is a myth (though I haven’t seen his reasoning on that!) it does seem to have affected a fair number of potential Labour voters in England.

    I found the TUC wording interesting – “They would be bossed around by Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Nationalists”

    However voters in England thought about Labour being nudged towards less austerity by the SNP, there was always an arithmetical nonsense about the much larger Labour Party being “bossed around” by the SNP group.

    It would seem more likely that many voters simply thought that Ed Miliband would be too weak a leader to resist a woman (that few knew much about pre-debates) but widely thought to have “won” the debates.

    If he couldn’t even to do that, how would he fare against the Merkels and Putins of this world?

    That will need deeper analysis than just a poll question, but hopefully the BES study will show whether the underlying reason for Labour’s failure was actually the “Ed is carp” meme that his opponents so thoroughly established in peoples’ minds long before the election, and that he couldn’t recover from.

  14. ‘FRASER
    Migration numbers are not great, more immigrants getting jobs in the UK than people in the UK out of work gaining jobs.
    Whatever your views, I don’t think it plays into the ‘stay in’ camp. More needs to be done to strengthen the rest of Europe’s economy to ensure theres a more equal spread of employment opportunities.
    May 21st, 2015 at 10:16 am’

    Also think Governments of whatever political persuasion need to recognise while we are part of the E.U. there is little they can do to control immigration.
    Whether we stay or go will be the decision of the British public, but if we do stay the Government needs to recognise the issues immigration brings.
    Analysis needs to be done where people are settling and ensure sufficient infrastructure and public services are availlable to meet the increasing demand.
    House building targets will also need to be revised.

    What we don’t want is people blaming immigrants for pressure on services.

  15. James Morris [pollster to Ed Miliband] interprets the findings of his GQR post election poll here:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/why-did-voters-reject-labour

    Worth a full read but here are some snippets:

    “In voters’ eyes, Labour’s problem over the last five years was too little change, not too much.”

    “Voters are 20 points more likely to think Labour is too soft on big business and the banks, than too tough. Just 1 in 10 say they were put off from voting Labour because they are ‘hostile to aspiration’. Anti-business rhetoric undermines the case, but a nuanced argument about concentrations of power remains important; particularly as the biggest doubt about the Tories is who they stand for. “

  16. People who voted SNP may have done so at a local level, not because they want independence (it was clearly stated that the 2015 election would *not* lead to another referendum, the 2016; perhaps). Similarly, many people who voted conservative will be pro-EU; not voting because they want a referendum.

    The media likes to merge seperate entities together, people need to be careful to keep them independent. Likewise, SNP MPs need to ensure they are aware over the next 5 years that they were not elected to push for a referendum.

    On a side, media over here in NL is very pro-Cameron and pro-EU reform. NL certainly going to be a close ally of DC in any reform. The wonderful joys of spending half the year in NL, and half in the UK. I’m always fascinated about foreign policy, an how countries view each other (including Eng/Scot/Wal/NI!). Said it before, I would love to see a poll on DCs approval from other EU countries… Probably a pointless poll (considering most people have no idea about other countries policies) but it would satisfy my interests for a bit of fun!

  17. J Stephenson

    I am sure that, whatever the personal preferences of SNP MPs they know that at present there is no mood for another Indy ref in the next few years, provided Smith+ goes through and there are promises of further devolvement of powers in the not too distant future. Much may also depend on how the SNP MPs are treated in the HoC. Euroref will also have an influence on the mood.

    Scottish General Election 2016 will be an indicator of the way people are thinking once the dust has settled. The Greens may well pick up a few seats as a shot across the SNP’s bows. LiS must not get bogged down in worrying about that election – they must treat it as a write off and aim for 2020/2021. Tories might well do better than expected.

    What people need to remember is that Scottish political mood is more volatile than in the past. It is also now quite different from political life south of the border, though that may change again as the years go by.

  18. @NEILJ

    Quite; immigrants bring a demand on public services that often can not be met due to time and in some cases public finacnes are an issue but the private sector can quite willingly meet this demand – this is where I think a lot of arguments on immigration lose stength, there is an impact on public finacnes, now that might be positive in the long term but people are not ‘thankful’ for austerity, they just see it as neccessary – this will put more and more pressure on short term spending, across infrastructure.

    It also has to be understood by politicians that there is an issue where immigration does seem endless, its up an enormous amount. The natural state of affairs of a balanced union would be for net migration over say 10 years or so to be flat, a fall or rise over that period is not neccessarily a good thing.

  19. Looking for volunteers for a 5-minute job of data checking.

    Simply look at a few instance of this:

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/scot-data.png

    And compare with data on the BBC site here: h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies

    I’m inclined to believe the data is accurate, but there’s a story behind this, which I’ll explain later. Two or three instances each would be great. After hours of data input and checking, one starts to doubt if one sees the mistakes.

    I suppose you would have to post the constituencies checked, to prevent others duplicating the task.

  20. @Phil Haines – those comments are very much in line with what I believe to be the problem.

    I don’t think Labour’s stance on business was a vote loser as such – it’s just that they were unable to effectively communicate what it meant.

    Very often, small businesses biggest enemy are big businesses. I wonder how many SME exporters have been stuffed by the banks Forex frauds, and the treatment of many businesses by banks regarding finance and insurance has been criminal (literally, in many cases).

    It’s equally true that Labour failed to adequately articulate how middle earners would be encouraged and helped. There are many obvious examples of unacceptable business practices in areas like monopoly pricing, cartel operation, criminality and taxation, and people invariably seem to understand the issue and know what is right and wrong.

    Labour’s failure was a failure to convert these popular concepts into a coherent overall package, with people feeling they were ‘on your side’.

  21. Charles

    A most interesting post. It tends to suggest that the impact of a strong UKIP vote upon the numbers voting Labour was generally underestimated. Undoubtedly this stems from the misperception that political opinion is dispersed along a single left-right dimension.

    There was some interesting stuff here about a week ago regarding the fact that Labour had lost some of its core vote, whilst retaining ‘centrist’ opinion. This led to suggestions that Labour should return to its core values and roots rather than appeal to ‘Middle England’.

    Is it that the loss of core voter support reflected the strong UKIP performance? And should Labour seek to tailor its policies and strategy to get back the ‘blue collar’, RedKipper voters.

    My personal view is that Labour should not be concerned about the RedKippers, and just go for the centre ground to sweep up those lost LibDem voters. There is no point in piling up votes in the industrial heartlands.

  22. Statgeek

    North Ayrshire & Arran : Central Ayrshire : Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock : Kilmarnock & Loudon – all correct.

  23. @ Statgeek

    Checked

    Stirling – OK
    Rutherglen: different
    Ross: OK

    Will continue.

  24. @ Statgeek

    Renfrewshire: OK
    Perth: OK
    Paisley RN: two “parties” are missing
    Paisley RS: OK

  25. @All

    You can stop. Laszlo’s finding of Rutherglen has hit the nail on the head! (Cheers laszlo, and cheers to oldnat or others)

    I had copied Motherwell & Wishaw to Rutherglen in error (the penalty for operating with multiple tabs on a browser).

  26. O&S: OK
    Ochil & SP: OK
    Western Islands: OK

  27. PHIL
    Thanks for the reference to the new poll. What’s most striking is Lab majority, about 38 to 31 among 18 to 54 y.o. and Con majority,similar among over 55s.
    I would gladly exchange limiting the vote to 18 to 55s in exchange for a 20% increase in the standard old age pension. How about it?

  28. To recap, the Rutherglen seat was out of kilter, but it wasn’t multiple tabs, rather the BBC’s map facility. You click on a constituency on the map, and it actually does nothing. You have to then click the constituency title below the map to get the data.

    On subsequent searches, you end up with seeing the map of one constituency, and the data of the last one. This is what I think had happened.

    So now, I’ll have to go and check all the Irish, Welsh and English seats too if I find discrepancies in the totals. :))

  29. @ Statgeek

    You can always in a query of equal values in a spreadsheet if this problem likely happen.

  30. NEIL J
    “Also think Governments of whatever political persuasion need to recognise while we are part of the E.U. there is little they can do to control immigration.”

    One factor is the likelihood that Cameron may get agreement to nul benefits during a given period of immigrant employment, and that that will in reality make no difference to the migration figures in view of the wide differential in wages and social conditions between EU countries, and in the status of many migrants as leaving their dependents in their home country.

  31. @ Phil Haines

    It is an interesting poll – playing around with age and social class (doesn’t really support the direct Lab > UKIP argument). While the UK figures look OK, the England is out (but we know about cross-breaks, although it should’to really apply for the far the most populous constituent of the UK).

  32. @Laszlo

    Yes, with hindsight I should have.

    Now I looked at the Welsh data, and it too has odd data totals. Easier if I post the data:

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/wales-data.png

    Note the totals at the bottom:

    Total – the total of the data on the spreadsheet
    Ind+Others – Totalling the last tow columns of spreadsheet data
    BBC Total – What their Welsh results says – h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results/wales

    Some totals are spot on and some are not. I had a look at all of them for the Conservative discrepancy and could not find it.

    Anyone care to find the UKIP or Plaid one? (I know…it’s very boring).

  33. @NeilJ – “Also think Governments of whatever political persuasion need to recognise while we are part of the E.U. there is little they can do to control immigration.”

    The point you make here is completely bogus. It is a red herring.

    As has been the pattern in recent years, membership of the EU is entirely consistent with the stated aim of Cameron to achieve net migration ‘in the tens of thousands’. It is a fundamental misreading of statistics to claim that the EU has anything to do with the failure to meet this target.

    In this latest set of figures, total immigration was 641K with net migration at 318K.

    Once again, the largest proportion of total immigrants was from non EU countries – at c 290K or 45% of the total, with EU immigrants around 270,000 or 42% (UK citizens returning make up the difference).

    So, if we have net migration of 318K and non EU immigration of 290K, all the government has to do is exert it’s authority on our borders and refuse to allow any non EU immigration, and we would have had net migration of 28,000, absolutely bang in line with Cameron’s promise.

    There is nothing whatsoever in law to prevent this, and this has been the case throughout the last parliament. The failure of the target has nothing to do with membership of the EU, and could be achieved overnight if the government wanted to meet it’s own target.

    Whether this would be a sensible step to take is an entirely different debate, but blaming the government’s abject failure to live up to it’s own rhetoric is entirely to do with their own decisions and nothing at all to do with the EU.

  34. @ Statgeek

    you put an independent under other in Wrexham, but it doesn’t change the figure (but just in case you want to correct it :-))

    I’m looking …

  35. @Alec

    It is true that along with E.U. migrants there have also been a rise in non E.U. migrants. But many of those non E.U. migrants will be joining close family, including wives/husbands. Some one I know in the UAE, a Brit, has married a Jordanian out here. It is not easy for them to return to the UK but they hope one day to live in the UK. This will count as one more non E.U. migrant, do you really want the Government to prevent spouses joining their other half’s.
    Also there are large numbers of students who come here to study and bring in large sums of money to the Government. Are you going to deport Roman Aabramovich etc ?

    During the last few years non E.U. immigration has fallen, E.U. immigration has risen. Yes E.U. migration is still lower than non E.U. migration but if the current trends continue there will be cross over (if I dare say that word on here) in the next couple of years.

    Having said that there may have been a little more the Government could have done to help reduce non E.U. immigration but I still think we would have been looking at large increases in net migration.

    We have no real control over E.U. migration. Yes they can play around at the edges with benefit restrictions for s temporary period, but it is clear from the figures most come over here for work. The whole point of Article 48 is to allow free movement of people. Despite any rhetoric to the contrary this will not be changed.

    I am surprised DC is still saying he will get net migration down to a few tends of thousands, I thought he would have learned his lesson, he has no control over over E.U. migration and only limited control over non E.U. migration (unless he is going to prevent family members, students, rich oligarchs etc coming over here)

  36. Phil Haines – “For results filtered for England and Wales only, it’s clear enough that the perceived SNP threat must have been the top reason that potential Labour voters gave for not voting Labour.”

    Yes. And all those voters are feeling vindicated and are congratulating themselves on their good sense, following the antics of the SNP MPs in Parliament.

    In other words the anti-SNP sentiment has hardened in England since the election. Not sure Lab people fully understand that, given who the front-runner in their leadership contest is.

  37. @Laszlo

    If you notice it is “Ind. (sig)”. Sig, meaning significant. I did this in 2010 for Indy candidates that received more than 1,000 votes.

    I’m thinking of changing that to candidates that keep their deposit. It’s a good way to sort the parties too. See the parties that kept at least one deposit:

    Con
    Lab
    Lib
    UKIP
    SNP
    Green
    PC
    Respect (kept one of four deposits)

    (Northern Ireland)
    APNI
    NI Con
    DUP
    NI Green
    Sinn Fein
    SDLP
    TUV
    UUP

    As you can see, the “kept at least one deposit” does sort the parties from the others. Northern Ireland is a little different, as always. Parties there tend to focus on seat where they can keep their deposit.

  38. @Alec 2.49pm

    No disagreement from me there

  39. @ Statgeek

    The same (independent) applies for Bridgend, but no change to the figures.
    Same for Cardiff Central

    Pontypridd is the problem: it’s 430

  40. @Laszlo

    Pontypridd is also the Con problem. Great! Now it’s just PC and UKIP (not Pontypridd).

  41. @Millie

    Personally I agree with you that Labour should not try to placate the redkippers. It should advocate raising the minimum wage (with compensatory changes for small business), being tough on exploitation, advertising that exclude uk citizens etc, but basically that is as far as I would like it to go.

    Electorally I doubt that this would help much with the Victor Meldrews of this world. On the other hand I think that people are fed up with politicians who forget their principles for electoral advantage or appear to have none in the first place. So the moral is that they should do what they think is the right thing to do. Unfortunately this opinion is not based on any statistical evidence whatsoever!

  42. @Laszlo

    Cardiff South & Penarth is the PC fixed. Just UKIP now.

  43. @Laszlo

    Have updated the Welsh data link. Monmouth added to the UKIP deficit…go figure.

  44. @ Statgeek

    Great. I’m looking forward to seeing the pretty graphs and insightful narratives.

  45. @NeilJ – “Also think Governments of whatever political persuasion need to recognise while we are part of the E.U. there is little they can do to control immigration.”

    Not remotely true.

    Illegals aren’t deported and after n years they get leave to remain and then citizenship. The political class have been running a rolling stealth amnesty for years. That’s one of the main reasons they make a bee line for the UK. They know there is almost no chance of being deported and a passport is guaranteed eventually.

  46. Liz Kendall has been setting out her vision to lobby correspondents today. Headlines are accepting (and even going further than) a number of Tory policies – 2% defence target, free schools, £9000 tuition fees etc. She’ll also ask Tristram Hunt to look into devolution.

    Lots of these are policies that make sense. However, I wonder whether:

    a/ the people voting in this contest are willing to take a punt on something of an unknown quantity and/or a committed Blairite

    and

    b/ whether the circumstances are actually the same as in 1992-97. Back then the Tories had discredited themselves on the economy and after so long in government people were ready to give the other lot a chance. Were Labour to take that direction again people might just vote for the real thing rather than the imitation and stay with the Tories.

  47. @ Neil J and Alec

    The fastest growing element of immigration is from the EU15 countries, which may give food for thoughts.

    However, both the Polish and the Hungarian official government figures underestimate the number of their nationals in the UK according to public polls (which can be wrong, of course).

  48. wow, if Labour swing to the right like they might then Greens will really capitalise, expect my seat Bristol West to go for starters

  49. @Candy

    Uhm…antics?

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