Kantar have published a new voting intention poll ahead of the budget, the first I’ve seen from them since the general election. Topline figures are CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 5%. Fieldwork was between last Tuesday and this Monday.

This is the first poll to show a Conservative lead since September and the largest Tory lead in any poll since the election. As ever, it’s best to look carefully at any poll that shows an unusual result before getting too excited/dismayed. The reason for the unusual result appears to be methodological, rather than from some sudden Tory recovery, and down to the way Kantar treat turnout. As regular readers will know, many polls came horribly unstuck at the 2017 election because instead of basing turnout on how likely respondents said they were to vote, they predicted respondents likelihood to vote based on factors like their age and class. These methods assumed young people would be much less likely to vote, and produced large Conservative leads that ended up being wrong. Generally speaking, these socio-economic models have been dropped.

At the election Kantar took a sort of halfway position – they based their turnout model on both respondents’ self-assessed likelihood to vote, whether they voted last time and their age, assuming that older people were more likely to vote than younger people. This actually performed far better than most other companies did; Kantar’s final poll showed a five point Conservative lead, compared to the 2.5 they actually got. As such, Kantar appear to have kept using their old turnout model that partly predicts likelihood to vote based on age. The impact of this is clear – before turnout weighting Labour would have had a one point lead, very similar to other companies’ polls. After turnout weighting the Conservatives are four points ahead (the full tabs and methodology details are here).

(Another noticable difference between Kantar’s method and other companies is that they use the leaders’ names in their voting intention question, though given there is not nearly as much of a gap between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings as there used to be I’m not sure that would still have an impact.)

633 Responses to “Kantar- CON 42, LAB 38, LDEM 9, UKIP 5”

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    Yes I am very busy so on the odd moment I do post I usuallyt just let fly at particularly irritating posts. I have noticed you do rather similar things from time to time.

    Being down south we have been enjoying our leeks for some time now. Indeed I am currently lifting the last of them.

  2. The Other Howard

    Thanks, I had a look – you’re right, of course, but that’s hardly the whole picture.

    The Conservatives have a 24 point lead on reducing the budget
    The Conservatives have a 16 point lead on managing the economy
    The Conservatives have a 1 point lead on keeping prices down
    The parties are tied on providing more jobs
    Labour have a 3 point lead on getting people on the housing ladder
    Labour have a 7 point lead on improving the standards of living for ‘people like you’
    Labour have a 26 point lead on reducing the number of people in poverty

  3. I think attempts to portray either the nationalist or the unionist side in Ireland as being unreasonable are all wide of the mark.

    Unionists naturally don’t want a trade border with the rest of the UK (and in fact nationalists don’t want that either).

    And nationalists naturally don’t want a trade border in Ireland (and unionists don’t want that either).

    Both are economically rational positions as well as being in tune with the constitutional preferences of each side.

    I think the DUP and the Irish government are doing exactly the rational thing from their own perspectives. I just hope that the tensions between them does not become exacerbated by Brexit. Because there has been great progress in Irish Govt-Unionist relations in my lifetime.

    Regarding the issue of SF in government. SF are likely to be more averse to a border in Ireland than any other party because their key policy issue is to get rid of it altogether. So I think their growth in the next Dail would strengthen the attitude you are seeing.

    Of course the British – and their tabloid press – are doing their best to strengthen that attitude.

  4. Wes

    It’s rather ironic that the three things Labour lead on are reliant on the three things the Tories lead on.

  5. TW
    I’m not trying to argue that it doesn’t make sense for ABT to vote libdem tactically, but lab (officially) rejected it this year, as they always have before, and it seems highly unlikely that they won’t be starting with a more encouraging start in the polls next time.

    Tactical voting, if it is to work, and if there is any evidence that it ever has done in this country then it has passed me by, relies on awareness among people who care about politics actually being aware that they live in a marginal seat and being prepared to do something about it. I don’t live in a marginal, but am the type who would vote tactically if it would keep a Tory out. I wouldn’t, however, vote libdem, and don’t see any reason why any other ABT would trust them not to jump straight in with the Tories again next time.

    The way they are going I can’t see their vote rising next time, and any further drops in their vote will more than cancel out any tactical voting, imo.

  6. ToH

    Yes. Our growing season is shorter – though getting a bit longer due to global warming. Each growing day, though, is longer than yours.

    We agree, of course, on the benefit of growing one’s own vegetables. Which is why it was surprising that Marr had a Tory from Holyrood on today to avoid explaining Westminster policy.

    Surely it has enough vegetables of its own? (Hattip Spitting Image)

  7. Princess Rachel: But I suspect that having SF in the Dublin government would harden attitudes in NI amongst the loyalist community

    I doubt it, I think Varadkar has put the needle to full deflection all on his own and tarred himself as a SF stooge already.

  8. @Theexterminatingdalek

    Personal experience of success of tactical voting: 1987, Oxford, where Conservatives held both East and West, East was a Con/Lab marginal and West was a Con/Libdem marginal. We organised vote swaps between Libs in the East voting Labour and Labour voters in the West to vote Libdem. Result was that Oxford East was the only seat south of Watford Gap that was a Labour gain that year.

    I agree that relying on voters to vote tactically is unlikely to work, but where it is organised on the ground it can have a significant effect on outcome.

  9. @Turk
    It’s rather ironic that the three things Labour lead on are reliant on the three things the Tories lead on.

    Not so sure about that. I suspect I would rather be poor in Denmark than the USA even though the USA probably has the stronger economy. I would fancy my chances of getting housed more more if councils were allowed to borrow more to build housing and thus put up the official deficit. And I am all for keeping prices down but it depends which prices and at what cost to other good things

  10. theexterminatingdalek
    “Tactical voting, if it is to work, and if there is any evidence that it ever has done in this country then it has passed me by, relies on awareness among people who care about politics actually being aware that they live in a marginal seat and being prepared to do something about it.”

    The nearest evidence that we have on tactical voting comes from STV by elections (which are actually AV in practice). Occasionally, one goes to the wire in terms of transferred votes, and it’s possible to get some sense of what might be happening. Of course, they can also be misleading because of lower turnout, and the inability to track transferred votes beyond the first transfer.

    However, last week’s Perth South by election is worth a look.


    Perth South is a pretty affluent part of Scotland and only 3 parties had a chance of winning.

    1st preference votes were SNP 1780 : Scon 1734 : SLD 1597 : Slab 314 : SGP 102 : Ind 25

    After the 3 minor candidates were eliminated the votes were –
    SNP 1883 : Scon 1762 : SLD 1733

    Conventional wisdom would suggest a rallying of Unionists to the Union flag, and to an extent that happened. 64% of the final SLD vote went to the Tories – but 36% went SNP.

    Without preferential voting, potential tactical voters would be left guessing as to how best to cast their ballots. In some FPTP constituencies their perceptions of the situation might make itbeasy – ie in a 2 horse race, but introduce an outsider with a reasonable chance, and tactical voting becomes a game of chance.

    (I have a £2 bet at 7/1 on Aberdeen beating Rangers in both games in next week’s double header, so some of us are willing to gamble everything on a result! :-) )

  11. Brendan Donnelly ( who wrote the piece to which I linked above) has been Director of the Federal Trust since January 2003. He is a former Member of the European Parliament (1994 to 1999). He was educated at Oxford, where he obtained a double first in classics, and later worked in the Foreign Office, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

    An opinion is not devalued by one who utters it but should be assessed on its content, common sense and good judgement. I think the post is a good one. Here is the link again for those who wish to assess what TOH has said. http://fedtrust.co.uk/hard-brexit-or-no-brexit-that-is-the-question/

  12. Interesting recent observation by Andrew Cooper, a Tory peer and co-founder of the Populus polling agency. He describes voting intention numbers as “a meaningless answer to a stupid question”. Cooper’s research finds voters thoroughly disengaged, “even more so than usual”. They see few attractive options and don’t want to be made to choose. Fatigued by a surfeit of argument, the audience has tuned out. Asked what they’d do in an election, most people default to whatever they did last time.

    For what it’s worth, I tend to think that Cooper, somewhat of an expert in political opinion polling, is absolutely right. Anybody paying serious attention to these current polls is somebody hopelessly addicted to them. Surely the last election should have persuaded the addicts to kick the habit? It did me. I can understand why Mr Wells is still selling the gig, his livelihood depends on it, but it’s getting very Ratner-like in the world of polling now, with more and more people like Cooper breaking ranks and rubbishing the product.

    I throw this in as a reformed addict, now almost free of the regular UKPR fix, and finding instead an exciting political world without polls. Why debate virtual reality when there is a much more rewarding alternative on offer.

    I think they used to call it the real world.


  13. Charles

    Sorry don’t agree ,unless you can tell me a country that has generous workers wages, builds sufficient numbers of houses or has a generous welfare system and doesn’t have a strong economy.
    As for the US wages in the states are fairly low compared to the U.K here in Texas the minimum wage is about 7.5 dollars ,in some parts of the state the average wage is between 18,000 and 21,000 dollars a year. Set against that taxes on goods food and fuel are less and of course there is no VAT also included in the mix house and land prices are cheaper than in the UK and there is certainly no shortage of housing.
    However when we moved here I was surprised at the relative poverty of a section of the population compared to the vast majority who enjoy a good life style it’s not that there any richer than people in the UK it’s just generally cheaper to live here.

  14. @sam

    Thanks for the link to the Donnelly article. It is well written and reasonable assessment of where Brexit stands. It is typical.of more strident Brexiters on here that they are unable to exert any intellectual capacity to read beyond there comfort zone.

    Hope you saw this link:


    Makes the UK Government position more difficult I think if they side with the DUP simply in order to stay in office.

  15. Turk

    “there is no VAT”

    Correct, but depending on where you live there is a sales tax, which can vary significantly.

    “house and land prices are cheaper than in the UK” – that also depends on where you live. If land is at a premium, it costs more. Manhattan is different from rural Texas, just as Knightsbridge is different from Stornoway.

    International comparisons are hard to make but, at the minimum, a reasonable comparison would include not only the total tax take from every level of government, but also the benefits received for that tax take.

    If you pay little tax, but get few benefits, you may be worse off, if you have to pay for these yourself.

    If you pay more tax, but gain good benefits which you don’t need to pay for out of your income, you may be better off.

    If you don’t have air conditioning in Texas you will be uncomfortable but only die in the most extreme conditions.

    If you can’t afford heating in North Dakota, you’ll be dead by February.

  16. Hireton

    Thanks for that link to the report on the MORI poll.

    It seems worth posting the details here –

    Our new survey sheds light on the views of the public. In September, we asked a representative sample of the Northern Ireland population to react to the statement that: ‘People should be prepared to accept border controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, if this is agreed in the Brexit negotiations between the Government and the EU’.

    Overall, 49% agreed with this, and 39% disagreed (with 12% neither agreeing or disagreeing). But, perhaps surprisingly, willingness to accept such controls was stronger among Leave voters (64% agreed), supporters of unionist parties (59%) and Protestants (54%).

    This probably reflects a willingness to live with east-west border controls as the price of a Brexit successfully negotiated by the British government. Lower levels of agreement from Remain voters (44%), nationalist supporters (47%) and Catholics (43%) imply, by contrast, reluctance to contemplate any kind of new border controls.

    Answers to a second question are interesting, but harder to interpret. Respondents were asked about their reactions to the statement ‘After the UK leaves the EU, there should be free movement across the Irish border, as at present, but border controls between the island of Ireland and Great Britain’.

    Overall, 64% agreed and 25% disagreed (with 11% undecided). But this time the relationship with certain critical groups was reversed. Support was strongest among supporters of nationalist parties (75%), Remain voters (73%) and Catholics (68%) – but it was also high among unionist supporters (56%), Leave voters (also 56%) and Protestants (60%).

    This may reflect acceptance of border controls as the price for keeping the land border as ‘frictionless’ as possible. But the question was a somewhat complex one, and respondents are likely to have had retention of a ‘soft’ land border uppermost in their minds, with a possible sea border a less immediate prospect.

    Overall, these results suggest a willingness among the Northern Ireland public to contemplate imaginative new relationships across the Irish Sea. But as this issue becomes more of a focus of public debate, opinion may shift and positions may harden as such matters become more politicised.

  17. A reminder.

    It’s 2 days until the deadline for the government to release the full extent of their Brexit impact studies.

    It’s difficult to see how this is not going to be a major event, with potential signficance for VI and Brexit opinion. Either because the impact assessments lay bare what a disaster Brexit will be; or are so pathetic that they reveal the utter shambles at the heart of government; or (by not releasing them) will show the contempt the government has for both the House and the British people – in which event it will hopefully (but probably not) be followed by Raab and/or Davis being sent to a cell in the HoC.

  18. Hireton

    “It is typical.of more strident Brexiters on here that they are unable to exert any intellectual capacity to read beyond there comfort zone.”

    At least we have interllectual capacity and don’t write silly posts like that.

  19. @ Hireton

    Thanks for the link. I have difficulty understanding the responses to the second question. Have you, please, anything to add to what the pollsters have said?

    “This may reflect acceptance of border controls as the price for keeping the land border as ‘frictionless’ as possible. But the question was a somewhat complex one, and respondents are likely to have had retention of a ‘soft’ land border uppermost in their minds, with a possible sea border a less immediate prospect.”

  20. @ TOH – Who, how and when to blame is worthy of a longer chat. I’d prefer a ‘reset’ at min.deal up after Dec refusal on sufficient progress but I can see merit in playing along provided we start the actual implementation of a min.deal outcome (I’ve stopped saying no deal as even Sir Ivan the Miserable doesn’t see that happening).

    @ BAZINWALES – Jo Swinson pulled out to give Sir Vince a clear run. Details, details…

    @ DALEK – look at any LD or CON seat in Scotland and how the tactical voting has, over the course of 3 elections, become highly efficient with no formal pact. It is more obvious in the CON seats from what I remember and clearly the Unionist v Independent is an obvious divide. I’m not on my mac but I think Stirling even showed signs of LAB tactically voting CON on a Unionist tactical vote! CON did not reciprocate in any LAB marginals from what I remember.
    Again purely from memory, I think several grass roots campaigns were being worked between LAB, LD and Greens in the recent GE (e.g. Rupa Huq, Brighton area)
    It would probably work better if it was coordinated at a national level (as the Greens asked for) but either through voters working out the pointless nature of a wasted vote and “pinching their nose” or through grassroots campaigns, tactical voting can make a difference in enough seats to turn a majority into a hung parliament (or vice versa). I’ll post the CON optimistic case from LD tactically voting ABCorbyn tomorrow when back on my mac.

    Obviously not every person will “pinch their nose” and tactical voting will never reach 100% but it certainly isn’t 0% either. The LD % hides the seat specific nature of their vote. Although having said that I over modelled the UKIP pulled seat impact in recent GE so still have a bit of egg on my face there!

    The other interesting issue on tactical voting is can the YouGov model capture it or not?

  21. @Turk

    Thanks for interesting information. I was not decrying the need for a strong economy. There are, however, issues of priority and income distribution and countries vary greatly in the priority they give to social services and the fairness with which wealth is distributed. Obviously it is a complicated subject partly for the kind of reasons you give (incomes before and after tax etc) but the fact that some countries are much fairer than others seems to me indisputable.

  22. That poll is asking about “border controls” and “free movement” which suggests its about movement of people. But the issue is tariffs/trade.

  23. Brexit is a disaster for Ireland :(

  24. Prof Howard

    “That poll is asking about “border controls” and “free movement” which suggests its about movement of people. But the issue is tariffs/trade.”

    Interesting point – but the 2nd question also says “as at present”, so it’s not clear that respondents will all have interpreted that as only about “free movement of people” who aren’t driving truckloads of goods, or driving livestock across the border.

    As always, understanding what folk think the question was is as hard as understanding their answers.

  25. Patrick, ON and TW

    Interesting, thanks. P, what was the majority to be overturned, and how many votes was the seat won by? (I could Google it, but if I’d been part of a team that pulled that off I expect I’d remember the figures approximately)

    Would it be the case that Scotland’s stv system enables voters with an interest in such things to both vote without such a sense of wasting it as down here in England, and presumably being able to use information from the transfer of votes to inform judgement on tactical voting in fptp?

    Possibly more than propping up the Tories, more even than tuition fees, the main source of my frustration with the libdems is their inept squandering of the chance to hold out for a proper form of PR and make this a true line not to have been crossed when they had the only opportunity they are now ever likely to get to be able to do so.

  26. As well as Stirling, several other Scottish seats saw Labour drop from 2nd in 2015 to 3rd in 2017 as the Conservatives went from 3rd to 1st.

    Ochil and South Perthshire saw Labour -8% in 2017, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock saw Labour -3%, East Renfrewshire -7%, Aberdeen South -6%. In Stirling Labour was 3%.

    At least Labour managed to keep their vote share in these seats at roughly 20-26% so they can have some hope of challenging for the seat in the near future if things go their way, the Lib Dems have had a huge decrease in some of theirs – Berwickshire has seen them go from 45% in 2010 down to just 4.5% in 2017!

    Yougov model did better with the tactical voting than the exit poll did which i believe had Gordon going to the Lib Dems and East Renfrewshire going to Labour (both Con gains in the end). In Gordon the 2015 result was 33% LD and 12% CON so from that you might see the LD as being the unionist challenger. However, the 2016 scottish elections saw the conservatives be the main challenger in Aberdeenshire east which roughly covers Gordon and winning the seat from Labour in Eastwood which i believe covers much the same area as East Renfrewshire, so i guess the yougov model took those into account whereas the exit poll just looks back at the previous election i think.


    Just looking back at the yougov model, its amazing to see again how well it did in many areas, especially where some of the larger swings/shock results happened, ie Canterbury, Kensington, Battersea, Warwick and Leamington, Oxford West and Abingdon (underestimated Labour in Scotland but maybe SNP not turning out on the day/late Corbyn boost enthusing a few extra supporters made the difference) – just wish i had put some money on it!

  27. @ ProfHoward

    “Brexit is a disaster for Ireland :(”

    Well it is a disaster for the UK (I mean it’s peoples) – one of the strangest experience ever since that referendum has been that some Brexiters (certainly not all) seem to seek to punish the peoples (especially the lower classes and the younger generations) of these islands, and they find a joy in it.

  28. Apologies for the apostrophes.

  29. the exterminating dalek

    “Would it be the case that Scotland’s stv system enables voters with an interest in such things to both vote without such a sense of wasting it as down here in England”

    Almost certainly.

    “and presumably being able to use information from the transfer of votes to inform judgement on tactical voting in fptp?”

    Much less likely, I think. Even Scots voters “with an interest in such things” are more likely to have forgotten about any previous election (or even how they voted!) – just the same as voters in other polities. Additionally, they are likely to be confused as to which voting system the previous election took place under!

    My point wasn’t about the result of any system (even at the final stage of voting 482 “ex-SNP” transfer votes ended up with the Tories – though all/most of them could have been from the LD transfers to SNP, as they put SLab last.)

    It was more to suggest that the “ABT”, “ABL”, “ABS” concept probably applies to a relatively small (but particularly obdurate) section of the electorate. Most voters have the different parties on a scale ranging from “tolerable” to “execrable”, and given the chance, will cast their votes to produce the least dreadful result from their point of view.

    In that sense, Perth South produced a democratically acceptable result, so AV would have been better than the existing system.

    That the English LDs were so totally inept as not to insist on implementation of STV or AV as the price for coalition (as their Scottish party had done) does suggest that they are even more incompetent than the Tories – which is quite a feat!

  30. To me, the Tory government is wasting everyone`s time, and it simply has to accept that the UK has to stay within the Single Market and Customs Union.

    It simply can`t happen that a relatively small group of diehard Brexiteers can trump:

    1) the democratic view of 2 UK nations
    2) the rigid needs of the RoI and the Irish peace process and GFA.
    3) the hopes of most other EU countries.

    It has been laughable to hear Tory spokespersons such as Owen Paterson think that in Ireland those trading across the “soft” border can pre-register their consignments.

    What a shocking increase of bureaucracy, and what an imposition on the traders particularly farmers.

    Pre-registration obviously means filling up electronic forms of how many animals they will be consigning to markets 2 days hence. Then what happens if prices of store sheep fall or rise by 8% at a sale in a neighbouring county. All farmers will want freedom to change what they consign.

    Maybe they will be allowed fewer stores in their trailers than they have registered, but not more if they decide to cash in on a rise.

    Some Brexiteers will say, well they only need to describe the consignment when it is loaded and they are ready to set off for the sale. These flat-earthers obviously don`t realise what a task it is to herd the stores into a trailer, or how often when folk in country areas try to work their computer they find the internet connection has failed. So the 50 store gimmers crammed into the trailer have to wait, and then they don`t reach the mart in time. Great, but it doesn`t matter so long as the UK gets “sovereignity”.

    Owen Paterson would be outraged if this system was imposed on the Somerset/Dorset border.

    And think again about those tasked with checking the consignments. Even if they try to look at 10% of the 150 farmers selling, would they have time and expertise to check if the sheep were gimmers or wethers, and their age?

    It`s so obvious that the whole of Ireland has to stay in the SM and CT, and since the DUP won`t allow a border in the Irish Sea, it is inevitable we all have to stay.

  31. @theexterminatingdalek

    From memory, it turned Stephen Norris’ 1200 majority to something like a 1200 defeat. But in the context of a huge Tory majority nationally

  32. Tactical voting in the Richmond by-election resulted in Lab getting less votes than they had members, despite (or because of) my personal campaigning for Lab.
    In the GE, when I did not campaign there, the Lab vote went up from c 1000 to c 5000 (are these two facts connected?).
    And of course the awful Zac Goldsmith is back

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