We have a bumper crop of opinion polls today – as well as the regular twice-weekly Populus poll, weekly Ashcroft poll there is the first of a series of monthly Survation polls for the Mirror. Still to come tonight is the daily YouGov poll and a ComRes telephone phone for the Indy, both due at 10pm-ish.

The three have been published so far are:

Populus – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6% (tabs)
Ashcroft – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 9% (tabs)
Survation/Mirror – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 23%, GRN 3% (tabs)

All three polls have Labour and the Conservatives within one point of each other – Populus with Labour one ahead, Survation with the Tories one ahead, Ashcroft with them equal. There is more difference between the reported levels of support for the Greens and UKIP – Survation traditionally give UKIP their highest levels of support and have them up on 23% (this is clearly not just because of prompting, given ComRes, YouGov and Ashcroft also now include UKIP in their main prompt), in contrast Populus have UKIP on 13%. Green support is up at 9% in Ashcroft’s poll, but only at 3% in Survation’s. Unlike ComRes’s online polls (harsh turnout filtering) and Populus’s polls (disadvantageous weighting) there is nothing particularly unusual about Survation’s methods that would explain the low Green vote.

I will update later with the ComRes and YouGov polls.

UPDATE: The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out and has topline figures of CON 31%(+2), LAB 30%(-2), LDEM 8%(-4), UKIP 17%(+1), GRN 7%(+2) (tabs). It’s the first time that ComRes have shown a Tory lead in their telephone polls since 2011, and a fourth poll today to show the two main parties within a single point of each other. YouGov is still to come…

UPDATE2: The last of today’s five GB polls, YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LD 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%. That’s five polls today, all showing Labour and the Conservatives within 1 point of each other. As we hit the hundred days to go mark we have the closest possible race in terms of vote share, if not necessarily in seats.


Back now, and ready to go through the rest of the Sunday polls apart from the voting intentions and pick out some of the more interesting findings:

  • YouGov’s poll for the Sun on Sunday asked about tactical voting (it didn’t actually use the term, as I think many people use it to refer to different things. It asked if people were voting for their first choice, or a different party that would beat a party they disliked from winning). 77% of people said they were voting for their first choice, 11% tactically. A word of warning about interpreting this – 8% of Tory voters said they were voting tactically, 11% of Labour voters, 12% of Lib Dem voters, 11% of UKIP voters… but we don’t know if that means 8% of Tory voters are voting Tory for tactical reasons, or that 8% of would-be Tory voters are actually going to vote for someone else for tactical reasons (or a mixture).
  • The YouGov Sunday Times poll had a number of questions on British Muslims and on terrorism. People were split over how well integrated British Muslims are into British society and the extent to which they share British values. 46% of people think the majority or almost all British Muslims share British values, 46% of people think that only a minority or hardly any British Muslims share British values. 42% of people think that most or the majority of British Muslims are well integrated, 50% think a minority or hardly any are. UKIP voter’s attitudes towards British Muslims are far more negative than supporters of other parties – 73% of UKIP supporters say most Muslims don’t share British values, 79% say most British Muslims aren’t well integrated. Nigel Farage’s comments about areas of Britain being like ghettos with sharia law were rejected by most respondents – 33% though they were broadly true, 41% thought they were false. 75% of UKIP’s own supporters believed them.
  • There was a particularly interesting immigration question in the Sun on Sunday poll, essentially asking people to choose between a multicultural approach and an integrationist approach. Slightly to my surprise a multicultural approach was the more popular – 36% thought it better that immigrants leave their own cultures and traditions behind and integrate fully into British culture, 48% thought it better than immigrants retain and celebrate some of their own cultures and traditions.
  • Going back to the terrorism and surveillance questions in the Sunday Times poll, just over half of respondents (52%) thought that the security services do need more access to the public’s communications in order to fight terrorism, 31% thought they already have all the access they need. A similar proportion (53%) would support requiring internet and phone companies to retain users data for 12 months and provide it to the security services on request, though by 51% to 35% people think accessing someone’s personal communications should require the consent of the Home Secretary. While people think accessing personal communications data should require the consent of the Home Secretary, when asked whether they trust the authorities to use the information they obtain responsibly they actually trust Ministers & the Home Office less than the police and the intelligence services. 50% trust the police to use the information responsibly, 63% the intelligence services, 45% the Home Office, Ministers and civil servants.
  • In the ComRes poll they asked (via my old favourite the agree/disagree statement, grr!) whether people agreed with the statement that “Ed Miliband is using the issue of the NHS for his political advantage, not because he cares about it”. 49% of people agree, 26% disagree. That looks bad, but I have my doubts about questions about politicians’ motives. I suspect they largely just reflect a general cynicism towards the motives of all politicians, rather than opinions about particular politicians or decisions. YouGov asked a very similar question in their Sun on Sunday poll, but asked it about Ed Miliband AND David Cameron, and got answers that were almost the same. 46% thought Ed Miliband was using the NHS for political gain, 19% doing what he thought was best for it, 20% both equally. 48% thought David Cameron was using the NHS for political gain, 15% doing what he thought best for it, 19% both equally. As you’d expect, in both cases supports of the Conservative and Labour party both thought their own leader was doing what was best, but the opposing leader was just using it for political reasons.
  • The debate over the debates rolls on, and so do poll questions about it. Opinium asked about whether particular leaders should be invited – 61% think the leader of UKIP should, 46% the leader of the Greens, 30% the leader of the SNP, 23% the leader of Plaid Cymru. The current proposals for debates between Con, Lab, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders was supported by 37% of people, opposed by 31%. YouGov in the Sun on Sunday asked people to pick from some possible combinations. The most popular individual option was the widest, the Lib, Lab, Con, UKIP, Green and the SNP and Plaid. This was picked by 35% though, so while it was the most popular single option, 49% favoured a narrower option – 20% favoured the proposed Con, Lab, LD & UKIP, 17% Con, Lab, LD, UKIP and the Greens (but not the two nationalists). 12% supported an even narrower option, excluding UKIP. In their Sunday Times poll YouGov found people still think David Cameron should take part even without Natalie Bennett – if she is excluded 31% think Cameron should refuse to take part, 52% think he should take part anyway. However, asking about the other side of the deadlock, if Cameron refuses to take part without Bennett 52% think the broadcasters should call his bluff and invite her, 28% think the debates should go ahead without him, 8% think the debates should be cancelled.

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Sunday polls

I’ve been caught up with various family commitments this weekend, so a very brief summary of the polls in the Sunday papers. We have the monthly ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday, the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer, two YouGov polls (one in the Sun on Sunday, one in the Sunday Times) and a Panelbase Scottish poll in the Sunday Times.

Opinium in the Observer have topline figures of CON 28%(-2), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 20%(+3), GRN 6%(+2) – a return to decent Labour lead after their poll a fortnight ago had shown things tightening up.

ComRes’s monthly online poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror has no such movement, with the race remaining very tight. Their topline voting intentions show virtually no change from last month’s, with topline figures of CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 18%(nc), GRN 3%(+1)

YouGov in the Sunday Times also show a one point Labour lead with topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7%. There is a second (and completely separate) YouGov poll in the Sun on Sunday but with fairly similar topline figures, CON 31% and LAB 33%.

Finally the Panelbase Scottish poll in the Sunday Times has topline Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(-1), LAB 31%(+3), LDEM 3%(nc), SNP 41%(-4), UKIP 7%(nc). The SNP lead of ten points would still be pretty good for them by historical standards, but it’s a drop compared to the very large leads they’ve been showing in other Scottish polls since October, which have varied between 16 and 29 points. As ever, it is only one poll – it may be the first sign of that SNP lead narrowing a bit, or may just be random sample variation.


ComRes had a poll yesterday which got some attention because it showed the NHS as the issue people thought was most important facing the country, up eleven points since they last asked. This followed a YouGov poll last week which showed the NHS in third place in the list of salient issues, but also increasing by 13 percentage points since December, putting it 6 points behind the economy and immigration.

These look like contrasting findings (first place and third place) but they really aren’t – both show big increases in the salience of the NHS and similar proportions of people picked out the NHS as a major issue (50% in ComRes, 46% in YouGov). There is a significant difference in the proportion of people picking the economy in the two polls, but that’s because of the way the question is asked: YouGov offer a single option for the economy in general (picked by 52%), ComRes offer three or four different economicy sort of options that responses were split between (promoting growth (20%), distributing benefits of growth (20%), reducing the deficit (19%), keeping down costs (25%)).

This highlights one of the challenges of asking “important issues” questions like this – they are really influenced by the options you offer. The other regular important issues tracker by Ipsos MORI doesn’t suffer from this problem as it is asked face-to-face and completely open ended – people are asked to say what issues they think are important in their own words… but Ipsos MORI still have to decide how to code them up. In December MORI found the most important issues were immigration (42%), economy (33%), NHS (33%). We haven’t had their January figures yet and if they pick up the same trend as YouGov and ComRes we should expect to see a big jump for the NHS, but it’s up there in the top three already anyway.

Exactly which issue comes “top” isn’t really that important anyway unless you are a headline writer. It’s not like an election, there is no prize that is won by being considered important by one more person than the next issue, and which issue comes “top” in a poll is largely determined by how pollsters divide up the options or categorise people’s responses. The point is that immigration and the economy have been considered important issues by very large proportions of the British public for a couple of years and, for now at least (for the ComRes and YouGov polls were taken in the immediate aftermath of some very negative headlines about the NHS), the NHS has become an issue of comparable importance.

On that issue, we should have a big lovely lump of Ashcroft polling on the NHS out tomorrow.


Two new polls in the Sunday papers. This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times results are here – topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%.

The YouGov poll also had questions on the end of the Parliament: the majority of people (56%) think that MPs have now started to concentrate on the election rather than concentrate on bringing in laws (7%). Not withstanding that there is little support for an early election – most people think the next election should still be in May 2015 as planned. The principle of having fixed term Parliaments has majority support (56% to 29%), though those who support it are split between agreeing with the current five year set up and preferring a fixed term election every four years. Asked about the fate of the coalition, 25% of people want it to end now (17%) or in the next few months (8%). 33% think it should continue up until the start of the formal campaign in April, while 28% want it to continue until polling day itself. The vast majority of Tory and Lib Dem voters want the coalition to continue until at least April.

MPs themselves continue to have a poor reputation. By 55% to 12% people think they are poor value for money and by 45% to 33% people think they are lazy rather than hardworking. 43% think that the reduction in Parliamentary business towards the end of the Parliament is just being used by MPs to do less work, rather than for constituency work.

Meanwhile a new ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday has topline figures of CON 33%(+3), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 18%(-1), GRN 2%(-1). Changes are from their November online poll and tabs are here. A quick aside about that very low score for the Greens – as regular readers will recall, ComRes recently made a change to their methodology. They started including UKIP in the main prompt for voting intention, but also made some changes to their likelihood to vote weighting – this is not quite clear from the tables, but as far as I can tell from reverse engineering the tables in their online polls they now apply a more harsh turnout filter to UKIP and the Greens than for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems. The end effect of the combined changes looks to me as if UKIP support is largely unchanged, but Green support will be decreased.

ComRes also asked people to put the parties on a left-right scale, with a surprising result. The average scores for Labour was 4.13, the Lib Dems 4.87, UKIP on 6.61 and the Conservatives 6.91 – so the Tories seen as more right wing than UKIP. This is in contrast to a similar exercise by YouGov earlier this year which found UKIP and the Conservatives the other way round. There are months between the polls, so opinion could simply have changed (especially since UKIP have been putting in an effort to appeal to Labour voters), but there were two significant methodological differences between the polls – YouGov asked people on a verbal scale, ComRes on a numerical scale and, probably more importantly, YouGov included a don’t know option and ComRes did not. In the YouGov poll over a quarter of people said don’t know to the questions (ordinary people don’t necessarily think of parties, policies and so on as being “right” or “left” wing!), so it could just be that lots of people said 5 when they weren’t offered don’t know as an option. That said both versions found people positioning the Conservatives and UKIP in a fairly similar place in the political spectrum, so probably not worth getting too excited over the difference.