Some Bregrets?

The tables for last night’s YouGov/Times poll are now up here.

The result that has got the most attention is the question on if people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU. 43% said right, 45% said wrong. YouGov ask that question most weeks and almost invariably it shows people either think Britain made the right decision, or are evenly split. As a result, a lot of people have got rather excited about today’s figure, when they really shouldn’t.

As regular readers will know, all polls have a margin of error. I try not to fixate upon the specifics because the margin you always seen quoted (plus or minus 3% for a 1000 sample) is based on a pure random sample with no accounting for weighting or design effects. However, it is a good rough guide – polls are not precise, there is some degree of random variation from poll to poll.

So far this year YouGov have asked the right or wrong to Leave question fifteen times. On average the result has been Right 45%, Wrong 43%, a two point lead for “right”. As with all polls, it varies from week to week, so sometimes it has spat out a lead of four points, sometimes it has been neck-and-neck, and how it’s produced one finding with wrong ahead.

Looking at the figure over time I can’t really be confident in any trend. The gap is smaller than in January, but it’s not as if there’s a steady decline there, it looks more like noise:

  • Jan the average was Right 46%, Wrong 42%
  • February the average was Right 45%, Wrong 44%
  • March the average was Right 44%, Wrong 43%
  • April the average was Right 45%, Wrong 43%

My expectation is, as I’ve said before, the people will probably more towards “Bregret” to some degree, simply because Brexit will require some compromises and some people’s high hopes will be disappointed. However, there’s scant sign of it yet and people’s opinions are often much harder to shift than you’d think.

As ever, YouGov will ask the same question next week, and the week after than and so on. If that too shows people think it’s wrong to leave (and other polls start showing the same thing too) then we can start taking about a cross-over in opinion. As things stand, I really wouldn’t get too excited/worried yet.


138 Responses to “Some Bregrets?”

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  1. I suspect the conservatives will try and make as few committments as possible that either cost them serious money or box themselves in as regards taxation policy.

  2. @ Rudyard

    Full Scottish polls are few and far between which leaves a lot of room for speculation on what they are actually telling us.

    We have Con up 1 and Lab up 3 vs the last Scottish YouGov in Nov, so within MOE for Con, but above MOE for Lab over a 6 month interval.

    However, we also have a very different distribution within the Unionist VI in YouGov (18% Lab, 28% Con) when compared with last weeks Panelbasel (13%, 33% Con). For me, that raises some interesting questions – how much is real, how much is sampling, how much is methodology?

  3. Do we have much idea how the sampling/ methodological changes made since 2015 are affecting current Westminster voting intentions? Obviously it is impossible to completely undo the work done since then with regards to sampling, but is data with old weighting released?

  4. I think also that in the mid to latter stages of the campaign that May will focus on the old PMQ answer – you can’t have anything without a strong economy. To some extent her problem (if you call it that!) is whether to stick or twist.

  5. Interesting reaction to the election from UK’s fund managers:-

    “LONDON (Reuters) – British fund managers raised their equity holdings to pre-Brexit levels in April, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, with some investors betting that a Conservative win in the June 8 snap election may lead to a better deal with the European Union.

    The survey of 15 UK-based wealth managers and chief investment officers was conducted between April 18 and 26, just after Prime Minister Theresa May called the election. May wants a bigger majority that she says will give her a stronger hand when negotiating the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal.”

  6. If the SNP significantly underperform expectations in next week’s local elections , the perceived loss of support might lead to a further slide in their poll ratings which would be very helpful to all the pro-Union parties.

  7. @Graham

    We can be sure that the SNP will “under perform” all Unionist expectations.

  8. In the last general election we referred consistently to polldrums. In the inquest part of the problem was the make up of panels, and the lack of volatility may have been explained by that inflexibility in panels. All pollsters have put in fixes to try and ensure results are more representative: is volatility in polling (i.e. trend shifts) any help in seeing whether those fixes have worked to the extent of reflecting the expected movement of opinion during a campaign. Even if it does is there any way of finding out (before June 9) whether the fixes (which were meant to deal with the underreporting of Tory voters) have over/undercompensated or got it exactly right? Further is there any way of comparing raw data which will show the order of magnitude in which pollsters have “fixed” towards the Tories?

  9. Weekend polls will be interesting and may tell us more on how week 1 has gone for the parties.

  10. I don’t think the Conservatives will do as well north of the border as some commentators seem to think. The polls show an uptick from 2015 but I believe tactical voting will come into play,
    I still see the SNP with north of 50 seats.

  11. @JOHNCT10 “To me it’s starting to look like the Tories are following Mohammed Ali’s “rope a dope” tactics with Labour issuing new policies on a daily basis, they look willing to see if Labour blow themselves out then attack closer to the election.”

    I have been pointing out on here for the last year that when the Tory electioneering guns are turned on Labour and Corbyn, it will not be pretty.

    This has not happened yet. It won’t do until after the Locals. Basically, they will keep all their firepower until that 3-4 week period when it will be most effective.

    Instead, we have an inept Opposition trying to claw back some percentage blowing all their newsworthy initiatives early. But then Corby and co were never tactical game players. Just babes in the wood, getting ready for the inevitable Tory feast.

  12. @Seachange
    I have been pointing out on here for the last year that when the Tory electioneering guns are turned on Labour and Corbyn, it will not be pretty.

    To be fair they are doing that already but I agree it is likely to intensify as time goes on. If they are clever in response Corbyn will follow the Michelle Obama line, when they go low, you go high.
    Keep plugging away with what he sees as his vision and perhaps make a point of saying he refuses to get into throwing insults.
    Labour will still lose but atleast he will go down with dignity and just maybe get some sympathy votes.

  13. Sea Change

    I agree with this. I feel its what happened last time as well, the tory campaign only really got into full steam in the final few weeks.

    I do not think people really pay much attention until 1-2 weeks out, if Labour continue on their current strategy they will fall into the trap the remain campaign quickly got into, “change the record”. People will get sick of the same arguments.

    If the Tories hold back and then really show their hand late on we could find the lead swinging back towards them following a narrowing. I say that presuming the current “defensive” tactics not showing any policy is just a clever way of holding back.

    Final point, I wonder if Crosby would want it to narrow a bit, this would scare the brexit voters who don’t vote in GE’s to come out and vote, many of which situated in places the Tories are looking to gain.

    Dark arts at play me thinks.

  14. I would have thought they are keeping their powder dry as well, it is going to seem interminable to ordinary people who don’t follow it closely let alone the Brendas from Bristol. I assume also they have done some analysis on what works best and I think JC should expect some pretty harsh press in the 2 weeks before the election. We haven’t seen anything yet on his IRA support. My guess is that they know that will really hurt him and that will be unleashed nearer the election, like the Sun going with Ed’s bacon sandwich on polling day.

  15. There’s a clip doing the rounds with May forgetting she is in Leeds – it’s the sort of thing that if Corbyn did , the media would be all over it with insinuations about his age, but at present may seems to be invulnerable. I can’t remember a more one sided contest, even in the Foot election

  16. Depends if the CPS charge those Tories with the electoral fraud during the campaign. It will make damaging headlines, at least for a few days. May has one great advantage that it didn’t happen on her watch, but nevertheless, it will cause some damage, although limited.

    The Tories will still win the election, but talk of 3 figure majorities will probably vaporise.

    It would take something truly catastrpohic for the public to turn to Corbyn instead of May.

  17. Bernard,

    “May has one great advantage that it didn’t happen on her watch”

    But she was Home Secretary, responsible for “Criminal Justice” at the time!

    Peter.

  18. Really interesting survey done by the EU on attitudes to various events:

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/resources/library/media/20170427RES72819/20170427RES72819.pdf

    Of particulat interest is page 4 (brexit), page 7 (membership of the EU), page 12 (does my country’s voice count in the EU), and page 16 (are things in the eu going in the right direction).

  19. That’s stretching it a bit, Peter. How much input do you think she had regarding electoral expenses, or the campaign at all? That won’t stick.

    Cameron is the one who take much of the flack, because he surely must have known about it – if indeed there are charges and successful prosecutions brought.

    It’ll cause the Tories some pain, no doubt, but it won’t stop them winning a decent majority. Now, if Labour had a half decent leader, it might be different, but they haven’t, so it won’t be.

  20. SEA CHANGE.
    Good Afternoon to you, from a sunny Bournemouth East.

    I agree with you about Tory strategy; allowing Labour proposals to be put forward before Tories attack them.
    The ‘mugwump’ label was not a random mistake by Boris, IMO; it reminds me of the attack on Ed Miliband by Michael Fallon.

  21. Bernard,

    So when asked about Tory electoral spending…

    May, the New Iron Lady, fresh with an increased majority, personal mandate and off to “Bat for Britain” against Johnny Foreigner, will say…

    A Big Politician did it and Ran Away!

    Actually your probably right, as long as she is seen as championing Brexit she’ll most likely get away with it!

    Peter.

  22. wow I’ve just seen Giles Fraser on this week , he was kind of sweet but god he showed himself up as a textbook example of why Jeremy Corbyn or anyone of a similar ilk will nether be prime minister.

  23. Hi Marco

    I saw that interview, I am surprised it hasn’t already been used to make that exact point, or maybe it has on a site where they know how to do such things

  24. @CL1945

    “The ‘mugwump’ label was not a random mistake by Boris, IMO; it reminds me of the attack on Ed Miliband by Michael Fallon.”

    The Fallon attack was far more effective as it was a dead cat. Planned or not, Boris’s attack will be seen by many as Boris just being Boris.

    Actually it hasn’t been a great week for Boris. His Garden Bridge idea now looks dead in the water (or more accurately over the water). To make things worse, significant questions are being asked about the amount of public money TfL under Boris authorised to spend on the scheme.

  25. Has anyone come across this site ?

    http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/homepage.html

    There are doubtless local nuances it can ‘t possibly account for but the areas I’m very familiar with don’t look far away.

  26. An interesting analysis of voter churn from Chris Cutis of YouGov

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/28/voters-switching-parties-tory-win

    Voters are categorised at “stickers” (voting same way as last GE), “switchers” (declared a new allegiance) or “undecided”.

    No big surprise that Con are holding on to a lot of their vote, but the detail among the switchers is fascinating. Lab are net losers from both remain ( -18% ) and leave (-15% ) switchers. LD are significant net gainers amongst remain switchers (+32%), but the really big winners are Con (+43%) from the leave switchers.

    Only 43% of UKIP votes are “sticking”

  27. @ExileinYorks

    It’s a useful study but probably being carried out too early in the campaign.

    Most of us know (or think we know) how the election will broadly pan out (for the main parties):

    – Lab will lose seats
    – Con will gain seats
    – LD will gain seats
    – SNP will lose seats

    However, it is too early to determine how many seats will be gained/lost and how many switchers there will be to facilitate those gains/losses.

  28. Labour’s collapse in Scotland in 2015 will have knocked approx 2% off their GB share.In other words , had that not happened the national polls would be recording Labour poll ratings of 28%/29% – rather than 26% /27%. This rather implies that Labour’s current support in England & Wales is very similar to 1983 and 2010.

  29. Bardin1 – there’s a nice thread of tweets from Theo Bertram who used to work for Gordon Brown on that topic. He writes abut a photo opportunity he did with Brown in 2007, when he was at a popularity high and press all loved him. They did a balloon release that went wrong, and Brown ended up trapped in the net looking, as Theo puts it, like King Kong trapped. An awful photoshoot… but because he was on a high, none of the next day’s papers used it.

    Then he recalls a later photo shoot once Brown was unpopular and the press was hostile, of Brown at a school when he got photoed in front of a wall display about Nazi Germany, so the press were all off on one about a gaffe because of Brown being photoed with a swastika. Such are the challenges facing a politician.

  30. Labour surely understands that until they improve in Scotland, they can’t win a General Election. They have to recover north of the border.

  31. I’m surprised even 43% of UKIP voters are sticking with them. What possible benefit can voting UKIP have now for UKIPs core aim?

    I would guess the only ones who vote for it now are those for whom leaving the EU was only an incidental concern.

  32. @Jasper22
    Not really true. Labour would have won without Scotland in 1945 – 1950 – 1966 – Oct 1974 – 1997 – 2001 – and 2005. Only in 1964 and Feb 1974 was Labour’s strength there crucial.

  33. GRAHAM .
    Hello to you.
    Indeed you are right, as usual, this time about Scotland. Before the decline of religious Unionism most working class voters were Unionists. They won Govan in 1959, for example.

  34. Chrislane
    Greetings to you too!
    I recall that you spent some years in Norwich , so you might be interested to hear that today I was advised by a Labour source that Norwich South is shaping up to be a Labour/Tory marginal on June 8th. Back in 1983 the Tories defeated John Garrett by 1700 votes.

  35. Running the churn numbers from Chris Curtis’ article in individual seats gives some insight how the apparent shifts in VI might play out. Take Sunderland Central for example:

    2015 Lab 50%, Con 23%, UKIP 19%, others 8%. Nominally a very safe Labour seat with a 27% lead over Con.

    However, sticking VI is Lab 26%, Con 18%, UKIP 8%, so the “secure vote” of Lab and Con leaves only an 8% lead for Lab

    That leaves 21% switching of whom about 1/3 are going Con and only about 1/6th are going Lab (for a 50/50 leave/remain mix). That gives something like Lab 29%, Con 25%, so now we are down to a 4% lead, but with the 20% undecided still to play for.

    If Lab can’t persuade their “undecided” to stay with them and turn out and vote, they will be in a world of pain.

  36. Sorrel
    “I would guess the only ones who vote for it [UKIP] now are those for whom leaving the EU was only an incidental concern.”

    Also those who don’t trust the Tories to deliver Brexit.

    New thread (Scotch unfortunately)

  37. @Graham Oct 1974

    Unless my maths is out Labour could not have formed a majority in Oct 1974 without its Scottish Seats.

  38. @NeilJ “To be fair they are doing that already but I agree it is likely to intensify as time goes on.”

    Well, they do have prepared lines in which they wish to frame Corbyn and Labour that they are delivering. But they are being reactive, waiting for Labour to say something and counter-punching rather than being proactive when they will go on the attack.

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