Time for a post-mortem of the European election polling. I’m not a fan of the sort of horse-race approach to these things – just because they are the final poll of the race, they still have normal margins of error, so if one pollster is a fraction more accurate than another it is often just the luck of the draw. Realistically the best a pollster can ever hope to do is get all the results within the margin of error. Better than that is luck. However away from the public “who won” stuff, comparing poll predictions to actual election results is an absolutely critical tool for pollsters – it’s our chance to compare our figures with reality, to improve and finesse our methods.

The final polls from each company are here. Note that I haven’t included Populus – they did conduct one European poll, but it was a fortnight before the election when just a week is a long time in politics! While I’ve included it in the comparison, one should allow some leeway for ICM for the same reason; their poll’s fieldwork finished a week before the actual election.

CON LAB LD UKIP GRN Average Error
ACTUAL RESULT 23.9 25.4 6.9 27.5 7.9
YouGov 22 26 9 27 10 1.4
(-1.9) (+0.6) (+2.1) (-0.5) (+2.1)
ICM 26 29 7 25 6 2.0
(+2.1) (+3.6) (+0.1) (-2.5) (-1.9)
Opinium 21 25 6 32 6 2.1
(-2.9) (-0.4) (-0.9) (+4.5) (-1.9)
TNS 21 28 7 31 6 2.2
(-2.9) (+2.4) (+0.1) (+3.5) (-1.9)
ComRes 20 27 7 33 6 2.6
(-3.9) (+1.4) (+0.1) (+5.5) (-1.9)
Survation 23 27 9 32 4 2.6
(-0.9) (+1.4) (+2.1) (+4.5) (-3.9)

The most obvious current difference between Westminster polls is the reported levels of UKIP – there is a big gulf between the levels of UKIP support report recorded by companies like ICM, MORI, YouGov and ComRes’s phone polls and polls from newer companies like Opinium, Survation and ComRes’s online polls. We don’t know what the reasons for this are – there are a couple of things like prompting and re-allocating don’t knows that we can account for, but mostly the difference is not easily explained. It may be something to do with interviewer effect, or the representativeness of different companies samples. We can’t tell.

The European elections were obviously an opportunity to check figures against reality. I half expected the polls to all converge together in the run up to the election, as they have a tendency to do before general elections, but in reality we got the same sort of contrast as we do in Westminster polls. Higher figures for UKIP amongst newer online companies, lower figures from YouGov, lowest from ICM… and when the votes were counted the YouGov figure was the closest.

Of course, European elections aren’t general elections. On the issue of prompting, for example, every company prompted for UKIP in their European polling, whereas only Survation do it for general elections. There were no telephone polls for the European election, so it can tell us nothing of them. European elections are low turnout elections, so some of the errors may have been down to too strict turnout filters (ComRes used a very strict turnout filter for Euros and would probably have been better if they’d used the method they use for general election polling. There was the issue of the Independence from Europe spoiler party on the ballot paper and so on. At a purely personal level though, getting UKIP right at the next election is the biggest challenge currently facing pollsters, so I’m relieved that in the first real proper national test we got it right. Phew!


Looking at the search terms people are arriving at the site using there are already fewer people looking for candidate information, and more people searching for exit polls. Straight answer is that there are none, and there won’t be any.

These days the only real exit poll done is the BBC/ITV shared exit poll for general elections. They are extremely expensive and difficult to do, so they simply don’t get done for any other type of election (as Nick Moon of NOP, who along with MORI normally organise the general election exit poll, puts it they are an extremely expensive way of finding out something a couple of hours early).

It’s also illegal to publish any form of exit poll before the polls are all closed. For European elections that doesn’t just mean the polls need to be closed in Britain, they need to be closed across the whole of the European Union. This means it would be illegal to publish an exit poll before 10pm on Sunday (and given that the returning officers are allowed to start counting earlier in the day on Sunday, so long as they don’t announce the results until 10pm, any exit poll would be useful for even less time than usual!).

That means you’ll have to wait for proper results. For local councils, counting starts in about half the councils tonight, with results in the early hours of the morning. The other half will start counting tomorrow morning with results in the afternoon. For the European elections the counting of the votes can start during the day on Sunday, but actual results won’t be released until 10pm.


YouGov’s final European election poll is out tonight, conducted for the Sun and the Times. Topline figures are CON 22%, LAB 26%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 27%, GRN 10%. Like YouGov’s recent polls it shows a very tight race for first place between UKIP and Labour, the Conservatives in third place and a similarly tight race between the Greens and Liberal Democrats for fourth place.

A couple of methodology notes – the poll was weighted by likelihood to vote (so people who said they were 10/10 likely to vote or had already voted by post were given full weight, people 9/10 likely to vote weighted by 0.9, 8/10 weighted by 0.8 and so on) and respondents in each region were shown a list of all the parties standing in their own region.

The only other final call poll still due that I’m aware of is from Opinium – I’ll update when that arrives.

UPDATE: And here it is, Opinium’s final poll for the Daily Mail is CON 21%, LAB 25%, LD 6%, UKIP 32%, GRN 6%. Unless a surprise Populus or MORI poll pop up tomorrow that should be it for European election polling.


Survation have put our their final European election poll, conducted for the Daily Mirror. Topline figures are CON 23%, LAB 27%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 32%, GRN 4%. Survation made an additional tweak to their approach to turnout for their final poll, downweighting people who could not correctly identify which day of the week the European election was on – this marginally increased UKIP support and reduced Labour support. Tabs are here.

Meanwhile the daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 35%, LD 11%, UKIP 13%. For the European election Labour and UKIP are neck and neck going into the final day: CON 23%, LAB 27%, LD 10%, UKIP 27%, GRN 8%. YouGov’s final poll is still to come tomorrow.

ComRes marginals poll due in about 20 minutes…


There is also a new Opinium poll out in this morning’s Daily Mail, with full details here on the Opinium website. Topline figures are CON 20%, LAB 29%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 31%, GRN 5%, BNP 3%. Labour and UKIP very close for first place, the Lib Dems equal with the Greens but on only 5%, which would probably lose them all their MEPs.

Turnout filter is those saying they are 5/10 likely to vote or higher. It’s unclear if this is Opinium’s final poll before the European election – the fieldwork was actually conducted at the tail end of last week.

UPDATE: Opinium didn’t include people at 5/10, it’s a bit more complicated than that: their final number includes people who are 9/10+ likely OR 7/10+ and voted the same way in 2009. Still to come tonight we have the regular YouGov/Sun poll and an interesting ComRes poll at 10.30 (not Euros, something different…)