A quick update on some polling figures from the last few days.

ComRes released a new telephone poll for the Daily Mail on Friday. Topline voting intention figures were CON 37%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4% (tabs are here.) On the EU referendum ComRes had voting intentions of REMAIN 54%, LEAVE 36%, DK 10%.

YouGov also released new figures on voting intention and the EU referendum on their website. Their lastest topline VI figures are CON 39%, LAB 30%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3% (tabs are here). On the EU referendum they have Leave slightly ahead – REMAIN 38%, LEAVE 42%, DK/WNV 20%.

Finally Ipsos MORI also released EU referendum figures (part of the monthly Political Monitor survey I wrote about earlier in the week). Their latest figures are REMAIN 50%, LEAVE 38%, DK 12%.

There continues to be a big contrast between EU referendum figures in polls conducted by telephone, and conducted online. The telephone polls from ComRes and Ipsos MORI both have very solid leads for remain, the online polls from ICM, YouGov, Survation and others all tend to have the race very close. In one sense the contrast seems to be in line with the contrast we saw in pre-election polls – while there was little consistent difference between online and telephone polls in terms of the position of Labour and the Conservatives (particularly in the final polls), there was a great big gulf in terms of the levels of UKIP support they recorded – in the early part of 2015 there was a spread of about ten points between those (telephone) pollsters showing the lowest levels of UKIP support and those (online) pollsters showing the highest levels of UKIP support. It doesn’t seem particularly surprising that this online/telephone gap in terms of UKIP support also translates into an online/telephone gap in terms of support for leaving the EU. In terms of which is the better predictor it doesn’t give us much in the way of clues though – the 13% UKIP ended up getting was bang in the middle of that range.

The other interesting thing about the telephone/online contrast in EU referendum polling is the don’t knows. Telephone polls are producing polls that have far fewer people saying they don’t know how they’ll vote (you can see it clearly in the polls in this post – the two telephone polls have don’t knows of 10% and 12%, the online poll has 20% don’t knows, the last couple of weekly ICM online polls have had don’t knows of 17-18%). This could have something to do with the respective levels of people who are interested in politics and the EU that the different sampling approaches are picking up, or perhaps something to do with people’s willingness to give their EU voting intention to a human interviewer. The surprising thing is that this is not a typical difference – in polls on how people would vote in a general election the difference is, if anything, in the other direction – telephone polls find more don’t knows and refusals than online polls do. Why it’s the other way round on the EU referendum is an (intriguing) mystery.


243 Responses to “Latest ComRes and YouGov polls”

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  1. What is the objective of polls on the Brexit referendum? I ask that question because it seems to me there are two distinct possible answers.
    1. To measure what the result would be if the vote were held today
    2. To predict the outcome of the eventual referendum, as best as can be seen today. The methodology of the pollsters seems to me to be exclusively based on (1), and I frankly don’t see much point to it. It does of course make good copy which is an important purpose of polls; it is why the media pay for them.

    It is well established that for referenda most people do not solidly make up their mind about how they are going to vote until the last 3 weeks of the campaign, and very many not until the last 10 days. We have seen this in both UK referenda and it is well known from Swiss referenda; and the Swiss are, after all, the experts on this subject. My Swiss friends tell me that for polls that ask the referendum question, if the matter carries any risk, then the ‘risky’ alternative needs a lead of at least 10% going into the last 10 days. But then, my friends are not pollsters.

    So the problem in estimating (2) above at this point in the process comes down to measuring what the populace see as the risks. Asking them the referendum question won’t get anywhere near that, they have not at this stage ordered their thoughts and evaluated their priorities. They don’t need to, they are not that interested in politics and they will do it when the time comes. So they don’t actually know how they will end up voting. This a completely different problem from predicting GE polling; people have no experience of voting on ‘the question’ and have yet to decide how they will decide. In that sense the decision process of voters in a referendum is fundamentally different to that in a GE, and polling needs to reflect that. There is a further aspect to all that, asking the referendum question in a poll doesn’t even tell us what would happen if the real poll was actually held today, because people would have their minds focused and would have made a decision.

    So I think that the problem is to work out what their priorities will be, and how they rate the risks in those areas, and then somehow draw a conclusion from that. Some areas are obvious, Economy, Immigration, Sovereignty, and there are several others. I suggest that polls might usefully ask people to prioritize the areas and then assess the risk/safety in each area.

    For the Brexit campaign, to be successful I think they must equalize the Economic risk, where they are politically weak and will be continuously attacked, and find a way to increase the priority of other areas where they can be the ‘safe’ option without appearing small minded. I suggest that to win, the Brexit campaign need someone very clever who can neatly amalgamate a collection of areas and establish that in voters minds as one ‘thing’, a collection of areas where Brexit is far safer than staying, and get this ‘thing’ fixed in voters minds as a true priority area, in the same rank of importance as the economy. Not an easy thing to do.

    As a footnote, I don’t personally think that the Economic risks of Brexit are that great, but I doubt that it will look that way to most people by the end of the campaign. At this stage the Stay campaign is looking fairly crude, hardly going beyond “It’s the economy stupid” but they have some very clever people at their disposal and they won’t stay that way. Plus they have the total support of the BBC who have been generously bribed by the EU, (which is what I would have done if I was the EU) and as we know the BBC always gives its totally unbiased support to the BBC in political matters.

  2. So far as I can see, the summary of this post would be “Don’t bother reading polls on the referendum till a week before the vote.” The stuff about assessing relative importance of varying risks seems to have so many assumptions, guesses, and totally unknown territory to be meaningless.

    This may well be right – polls carried out when we don’t even know when the referendum will be, never mind what DC will put to The People as justification for a Remain vote, do seem a little precarious – but they may at least give an idea of the relative numbers who have already made their decision.

    As I recall an old friend saying (on a vaguely related subject) “I’ve got my prejudices already arranged – don’t go confusing me with facts!”

  3. Prof Curtice has some interesting comments on Euro polling (including this YG one).

    http://whatukthinks.org/eu/immigration-and-the-economy-the-two-key-issues-in-the-referendum/

    ” the two sets of voters differ somewhat on the two issues in the extent to which they back the arguments of their own side. As the figures we have already quoted exemplify, Remain supporters are more likely to be convinced that leaving the EU would have an adverse impact on Britain’s economy than Leave voters are to believe that it would be beneficial. Conversely, Leave supporters appear to be more united than Remain voters on the issue of immigration. This suggests that for Remain voters it is their view of the economic implications of leaving that is more likely to be the key to their referendum choice, whereas amongst Leave voters immigration is the bigger concern.

    These results create a dilemma for the two campaigns.”

  4. We have got used to the fairytale that there might be a General Election tomorrow and predicitngour vote accordingly. But we have not been trained to play this game in relation to Referndums. Everybody knows that there will not be a Referendum until the Summer.

    As I suspect a lot of people have given little thought to the Euo Refferendum, it is not surprising if the answers given depend considerably on how the questions are asked and in what medium tghe polls are conducted.

    One point about the national opinion polls. It is surprising how much Green support has fallen whilst they are largely out of mind. Presumably UKIP are keeping their support up becuase of the prospect of a Referndum. This gap between UKIP and Green support is likely to intensify as the Referendum approaches. If the Remains win (although at present I think that the Leaves should be favourite, then Grenn support may rise again as the General Election draws nearer.

    The LibDems continue to be “toast.”

  5. My gut feeling is that the difference between the levels of support between telephone and online polls and the difference in don’t knows is related.

    I would consider myself a don’t know at the moment as I’ve not made up my mind and I can still,see myself voting either way in the referendum. And in a no-pressure online situation would probably put myself down as a don’t know.

    But that is not to say I am not leaning towards one camp “Remain” if for no other reason that voting for the Status Quo – so if talking to a pollster and being asked do you have a preference I might well say yes and for “Remain”.

  6. In the GE, the Scottish Ref and now here the consistent problem seems to have been online polls over-estimating the strength of the vote against the status quo (i.e. the rebel vote, the vote to remove the government, leave the UK/EU). This would make sense as it usually the more energetic and vocal which disguises the quieter majority.

    I don’t know why this would be the case but the very passionate being more willing to participate in online polls is one very obvious case, where the phone polls, by definition, speak to people who were not intending to be on any polling panel.

    Probably the days of the polling panel are dead.

  7. “So far as I can see, the summary of this post would be “Don’t bother reading polls on the referendum till a week before the vote.” ”

    ———–

    Well, if the past is any guide, it’s possible the polls a week before the vote aren’t worth reading either ‘cos they’ve been known to be suspect then too.

  8. Scotland and Northern Ireland will probably vote to remain by a healthy margin, and I believe Wales will vote to remain by a narrow margin. My feeling is that England will vote to leave by a small margin and the unknown is how that will all add up. If we vote to leave, I suspect there will be a huge constitutional punch-up between England and the rest of the UK.

  9. I must admit that my instinct to Stay In is severely tested every time
    Person of The Year Angela Merkel spouts yet another bout of stable door shutting.

    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/01/31/merkel-migrants-must-return-home-once-war-is-over/

  10. Here we go again….

    Tories 40, Labour 31

    Tories 39, Labour 30

    Tories 37, Labour 32

    The margin varies from five percent to nine percent….

    And the difference in polling for “Remain” and “Leave” are even more ridiculous! I’m still waiting for the pollsters to convince me that they’re close to getting it right.

  11. Doing my bit to bring you news of life in that parallel universe beyond the paywall, and just reading in the Times today, an article on page seven: “Middle Class being priced out of boarding schools by rich Chinese”.

    The headmaster of Westminster says “We are in danger of pricing ourselves out of the market. School fees are rising faster than inflation and salaries. The type of pupil at boarding school now is very different now than when I was a pupil. Most of the parents of my school friends were what we call middle-income parents; today such parents are a rarity”.

    As someone who went to a boarding school myself, it’s a bit of an eye-opener. For those who favour market solutions, one wonders if they have a response.

    And worth noting, it’s more evidence of the over-populated elite thing, of course…

  12. On the plus side, news in the Times of a couple of promising things concerning the science of the very small. Firstly, a planning application for a Graphene innovation centre in Manchester. About effing time in my view: Graphene was discovered here but despite there being “more than 25,000 published parents relating to Graphene”, less than one percent were filed first in the UK.

    There’s still a vague on Graphene, as there often is with new tech., but it’s so broad in scope it’s well worth the risk. None of the sciency right wing peeps on here like ToH or Ken have ever taken me to task over it.

    Another article from today’s paper gives another indication as to the potential. For they have invented… The Microcannon!!

    “What’s a Microcannon??” I hear none of you cry!! It’s a tiny tube made from Graphene oxide. You fill it with a special emulsion and load it with “nanobullets” of whatever medicine you wish to inject. An ultrasonic beam aimed at the Microcannon evaporates the emulsion which expands rapidly into gas, propelling the nanobullets at great speed.

    “The result is that a single injection can be used to spread drugs over far wider areas, penetrating a centimetre through flesh. A battery of several Microcannons can be used to fire the drug cargoes at different times and depths”.

    It could be used for many things… “Certain forms of skin cancer can be treated by injecting drugs into the affected area. Using Microcannons would mean fewer injections and a better spread of drugs. Other applications could involve the blasting of genetic material into cell nuclei as part of gene therapy”.

    Now, this stuff has far greater potential to assist mankind than summat like the bedroom tax, but we know which will attract the most column inches.

    Be nice if polling peeps stuck a bit more polling in about this stuff though from time to time, in contrast with all the media proprietor preoccupations that dominate the headlines.

  13. Well, not just nice, but potentially useful.

  14. To be honest the fact that we have this wide divergence between telephone and online polls is good for democracy. As nobody knows (and more importantly, nobody believes they know) the balance of power between the two campaigns, journalism is largely based on the pros and cons of Brexit, rather than the horse race. This in turn means that the debate is not warped by polling figures that are not infallible.

    (I’d like to say, on top of that, that the polling is still worthwhile even if it is inconclusive. Otherwise there is potential for a rerun of the Oldham West by-election, where journalists, given undue confidence by commentariat groupthink, believe they know what is going on but actually haven’t the faintest idea.)

  15. Any peeps following the Iowa thing tonite? Polling (ha!!) suggests both the democrat (Clinton/Sanders) and republican (Trump/Cruz) races between the front runners are quite close…

  16. Carfrew

    Keeping an eye on Iowa. :-)

    Trump and Sanders both draw support heavily from folk who don’t usually caucas, so US polls may be even more irrelevant than usual!

  17. The strange thing about the US presidential race is that there isn’t really a candidate in contention that middle America really wants. Trump/Cruz are too far right, Sanders too far left (and has a policy platform that congress would veto the crap out of), and Clinton, for all her apparently being a president in waiting, is just not very inspiring or even likeable, and has been compromised by scandal.

    It’ll be a choice of the least disliked candidate. For all the fireworks it’s a poor advert for democracy.

  18. @Oldnat

    Interesting article in the Times seeing similarities in appeal between Corbyn and Trump, meant to post about it but ran out of time, might do it tomorrow. Another article elsewhere contrasting Corby and Sanders. Thought that might benefit Colin, among other peeps. I dunno, seems to be one of those moments in time when stuff links up.

    For eggers, an article in the Times today about…. Wait for it… Project Fear!!

    Only, not Project Fear as per Scotsly stuff, but as per the EU.

  19. @Oldnat

    Re: Clinton… Read a few weeks ago, possibly in the Times, not sure, about some polling done on Clinton – possibly focus group kinda stuff – in which peeps saw Clinton as the step mom who tries to outdo your real mum. I like Hilary, like that she’s very bright and stuff, and she reminds me of some American gals I met at Oxford, but yeah, not necessarily to everyone’s taste.

  20. Carfrew

    At the end of the day, I suspect the eventual Rep and Dem Presidential candidates will be those that corporate America decide will best suit their interests.

    My US family are even more cynical about Federal politics than at State level (where the corruption is more “traditional” :-) ).

  21. There is of course a perfect solution for the good old US of A should they wish to avoid electing the otherwise unelectable. Send for Boris!!

  22. @oldnat

    One might feel the same about our EU referendum. Are business and the Establishment really gonna let us leave? I don’t think pollng weights for Establishment and stuff tho’…

  23. CARFREW

    Yes-just reading about Sanders-it does look like a Corbyn movement over there.

    Similar questions being asked too-are a bunch of students & “millenials” indicative of widespread trans ethnic national appeal.?

  24. @Colin

    There’s summat visceral about the students and Corbs tho’, as I found out before Xmas.

    I was having a coffee at one of my hangouts, and some of the staff – students and recent graduates – were chatting to me. They brought up Corbyn… Peeps tend to run stuff by me at times. I stuck to Anthony’s guidelines and was very neutral, but they’re very taken with Corby. I’ve come across a fair few greens too. It does feel like summat’s up. Peeps didn’t used to talk politics…

    One or two elsewhere have been quite keen to diss immigrants though… they tend to give up on that quite quickly tho’…

  25. @Colin

    Obviously, they may be outnumbered by boomers. But longer term? Especially if boomers start worrying more about the future of their grandkids?…

  26. Lets get out of this EU nonsense – so much wasted money and time. We really don’t need it.

  27. John Poole

    Glad that you are so clear that we don’t need this silly referendum on the EU “so much wasted money and time”.

    That is what you meant by your post? It would have been very partisan otherwise. :-)

  28. Carfrew

    ” It does feel like summat’s up.”

    It does (at least here, it probably is – to an extent) but I’ve heard that so many times since I first became involved in politics in 1960, that I think I’ll wait to see if the “summat” actually has enough longevity to make a difference.

  29. @oldnat

    Oh yeah, it’s just how it seems, but bear in mind, I’m not an activist, I don’t tend to talk politics much, don’t mix with political types constantly hoping for a new dawn, so if I’m sat at the bar with a bunch of younger adults surrounding me buzzing excitedly about a politician… that’s not a familiar state of affairs.

    And the greens… That’s like another world. I knew some peeps but had no idea they were greens till around the time of the election when they broke cover as it were. They take it very seriously… snaffle food discarded by supermarkets and stuff. These are often ex-public school peeps, who seem quite well off.

    In the end, one might look at the drivers, as in the States. Young peeps prospects are not what they used to be, they have an incentive to look for change. In some ways, more options, but few solid routes and lots of uncertainty. They have quite the incentive. But, at present, outnumbered…

  30. @oldnat
    Oh yeah, it’s just how it seems, but bear in mind, I’m not an activist, I don’t tend to talk politics much, don’t mix with political types constantly hoping for a new dawn, so if I’m sat at the bar with a bunch of younger adults surrounding me buzzing excitedly about a politician… that’s not a famil-iar state of affairs.

    And the greens… That’s like another world. I knew some peeps but had no idea they were greens till around the time of the election when they broke cover as it were. They take it quite seriously… snaffle food discarded by supermarkets and stuff. These are often ex-public school peeps, who seem quite well off.

    In the end, one might look at the drivers, as in the States. Young peeps prospects are not what they used to be, they have an incentive to look for change. In some ways, more options, but few solid routes and lots of uncertainty. They have quite the incentive. But, at present, outnumbered…

  31. @Michael Siva

    Here we go again….

    Tories 40, Labour 31

    Tories 39, Labour 30

    Tories 37, Labour 32

    The margin varies from five percent to nine percent….

    And the difference in polling for “Remain” and “Leave” are even more ridiculous! I’m still waiting for the pollsters to convince me that they’re close to getting it right.

    So we have the Conservatives on 37, 39, 40, and Labour on 30, 31, 32.

    Each set of data is entirely within the regular margin of error, so look very, very normal and telling the same picture.

  32. Carfrew

    “Young peeps prospects are not what they used to be, they have an incentive to look for change.”

    Good point. For previous generations the radical educated youth could easily be eroded into the comfortable professional / executive etc with a house, family and secure pension.

    Perhaps 1780’s France is the example to look at. The clawing back of power and wealth by the elite was a critical factor in the Revolution.

    Tumbril for Cameron? :-)

  33. @ Carfew

    Have you thought about this with all your storage probs? David Blanchflower in the NewStatesman innit:

    ‘Apparently, it is also cheaper to buy a container and send it on the high seas for a year than to rent a local storage locker.’

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2016/01/opposing-austerity-not-enough-labour-s-leaders-need-lessons-economics-fast

  34. @Colin
    “Yes-just reading about Sanders-it does look like a Corbyn movement over there.
    Similar questions being asked too-are a bunch of students & “millenials” indicative of widespread trans ethnic national appeal.?”

    Well the difference is that whichever Dem contestant ends up as their candidate will almost certainly beat Trump, as Trump has no chance of winning various swing states with high Hispanic populations.

  35. CARFREW

    Summat is always “up” with the Student population-isn’t it?

    This is just the latest vehicle for their outrage at the world’s evils .

    Whether there is anything “up” with people who actually vote , I am not at all convinced.

    Ditto Bernie I suspect..

  36. @Oldnat

    Well, we have a tendency to turn our backs on such radical change. Look what happened last time after the Civil War. Brits are more gradualist, and that’s fine since the boomers won’t be around for ever.

    (Will they??…)

  37. @Syzygy

    Good spot. It might present access difficulties if I need summat out of storage six months in and the container’s moored in Alaska at the time, but there’s prolly a way round it. Maybe I could pay for a flight with the savings.

    Osborne’ll prolly slap on an extra container tax though if he finds out…

  38. @Colin

    Well, sure, there are always a few placard-wielding radicals active in the student union and stuff but this is a bit different. And their circumstances are different. An increasing number seem to graduate with little obvious options of what to do. The career paths aren’t there any more. Renting is very expensive, setting up businesses expensive also.

  39. Polling info. From the Beeb feed…

    “What Canadians think about Donald Trump

    A new poll released on Monday by Insights West found that 67% of Canadians think a victory by Donald Trump in November would be “bad” for Canada. The pollsters were surprised by the findings because US Republican candidates are usually viewed favourably by Canadians. Even 57% of conservative Canadians (Tories) saw Trump as a “bad choice”.

    In contrast, Democrat Hillary Clinton fared much better with 55% of Canadians viewing a Clinton win as good for the country.”

  40. Carfrew

    Well, my folk weren’t involved in your Civil War – other than the odd invasion of and by England – we had one of our own.

    There were only geographical Brits in those days – and damn few gradualists on any side in any of the countries.

    They all thought they were right and would live in glory forever – just like some boomers :-)

  41. CNN reporting that some caucus sites with long lines and high voter registrations.

    Could be good for Trump & Sanders.

  42. @Oldnat

    Well, I’d had a few glasses of wine so you’ll have to permit the slight imprecision on the Brit thing but anyway, the outcome of the war affected you guys eventually. Gradualism abounds, look how you guys keep edging further away. Not as fast as some may like, but then it wouldn’t be gradual.

  43. Ted Cruz leading with half the vote in according to Beeb…

  44. “Bernie Sanders dominates Facebook

    Bernie Sanders is dominating the conversation on Facebook on Monday, the social networking site has said.

    From midnight until mid-day central time on Monday, 42.2% of conversations about caucuses on the site were about Mr Sanders. Donald Trump was in 21.7% of conversations and Hillary Clinton was in 13.1%.

    Mr Sanders and Mrs Clinton are in a tight race to claim Iowa, with Mrs Clinton hardly advancing on the 74-year-old senator from Vermont.”

    I guess we’ll see what all that Facebook coverage means. Early indications had Hilary ahead of Sanders…

  45. Cruz wins Iowa, Trump second. Cruz got 28% and looks like Trump got 24%.
    Still very close between Clinton and Sanders, though suspect Clinton may have just edged it

  46. CARFREW

    @” The career paths aren’t there any more.”

    “The employment rate for working age postgraduates increased by 1.3 percentage points to 88.3%; this is the highest Q2 rate seen since the 89.5% recorded in Q2 2007.”

    Graduate Labour Market Statistics
    April-June Q2 2015

  47. Having any job and having a career arent exactly the same thing, though.

  48. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2

    I would greatly appreciate it if the graph here were reinstated.

  49. Colin

    “The employment rate for working age postgraduates increased by 1.3 percentage points”

    But how many were debt free and had the kind of jobs that allowed them to plan the kind of secure future that previous generations could look forward to?

    The “New Economic Order” affects far more folk than just students.

  50. @COLIN

    No matter how sunny it is, there are always people who complain about the weather.

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