There are five polls with fieldwork conducted at least partially since the weekend – I don’t know if there are more to come overnight (I think there may be at least one more. ComRes and Survation have both polled during the campaign, but I don’t know if either are doing a final call):

Panelbase (14th-21st May) – BREX 30%, LAB 25%, LDEM 15%, CON 12%, GRN 7%, ChUK 3%, UKIP 3% (tabs
Kantar (14th-21st May) – BREX 27%, LAB 24%, LDEM 15%, CON 13%, GRN 8%, ChUK 5%, UKIP 4% (tabs)
Opinium (17th-20th May) – BREX 38%, LAB 17%, LDEM 15%, CON 12%, GRN 7%, ChUK 3%, UKIP 2%
YouGov (19th-21st May) – BREX 37%, LAB 13%, LDEM 19%, CON 7%, GRN 12%, ChUK 4%, UKIP 3% (tabs)
BMG (20th-22nd May) – BREX 35%, LAB 18%, LDEM 17%, CON 12%, GRN 8%, ChUK 4%, UKIP 2% (tabs

The broad story across the polls is the same – the Brexit party are ahead, Conservative support has utterly collapsed, the Lib Dems are doing well in the mid-to-high teens, and both Change UK and UKIP have failed to shine. There is more variation in the detail, and particularly in how well or badly Labour are doing. Kantar and Panelbase have them not far behind the Brexit party; Opinium and BMG have them down in the teens, YouGov have them below the Liberal Democrats in third place.

This isn’t an election like 2017 when pollsters took very different approaches and the differences are easy to explain. The polling companies aren’t taking radically different approaches – there are some differences in turnout modelling (BMG and Opinium, for example, are taking only those most certain to vote, which will be boosting the Brexit party and Lib Dems), Kantar are estimating the likely vote who say don’t know based on their demographics and answers to other questions, which explains their comparative low figure for the Brexit party (they’d be on 31% otherwise). And don’t overlook simple things like when the fieldwork was conducted – all the polls have been showing a downwards trend in Labour support, so it may not be co-incidence that the polls from Panelbase & Kantar whose earliest fieldwork is over a week old have higher support for Labour.

The bottom line however is that this is a tricky election. Firstly, turnout for European elections is normally low (and one of the problems with polls in recent years is getting too many of the sort of people who vote, and not enough of those who don’t bother). Secondly, most polling companies rely on some degree to weighting by past general election vote to make sure their samples are representative, as how people voted at previous elections normally correlates pretty well with their current vote. An election like this, when an awful lot of people are not voting for the party that they voted for at the last election, will make those techniques less effective. We shall see on Sunday.

In the meantime, several people have asked me about exit polls tomorrow. There won’t be any. The big, offical BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll is only conducted at general elections anyway, but even if they wanted to, they couldn’t do one tomorrow. For the European elections the rules that ban the publication of exit polls until after polls close apply across Europe, so it wouldn’t be legal to public any exit poll until the polls have closed everywhere in the European Union… and some countries won’t finish voting until Sunday night.


There are three polls this weekend asking about voting intentions in the European Parliament election:

A YouGov poll conducted for Hope Not Hate has topline European election voting intentions of CON 13%(-4), LAB 22%(nc), LDEM 7%(-2), BREX 28%(+5), UKIP 5%(-1), GRN 10%(nc), ChUK 10%(+2). Fieldwork was between Tuesday and Friday, and changes are from YouGov’s previous European election poll the week before. It suggests the Brexit party continue to grow in support, largely at the expense of the Tories. Tables are here.

Opinium have topline European voting intentions of CON 14%(-3), LAB 28%(-1), LDEM 7%(-3), BREX 28%(+16), UKIP 3%(-10), GRN 6%(nc), ChUK 7%(+3). Fieldwork was Sunday to Tuesday, and changes are since the start of the month (notably, Opinium’s previous European poll was before the launch of the Brexit party, so repeats the massive transfer of support from UKIP to Brexit that we saw in YouGov’s previous poll conducted just after the Brexit party’s launch). Full tabs are here.

Finally Survation have topline figures of CON 16%, LAB 27%, LDEM 8%, BREX 27%, UKIP 7%, GRN 4%, ChUK 4%. Fieldwork was between the 17th and 25th April. Full tables are here.

All three polls have the Conservatives doing extremely badly, down in the teens. All three have the Brexit party performing strongly in the high twenties, seemingly taking over the vast majority of UKIP’s previous support (it would be unlikely that UKIP would retain any seats on the levels of support suggested here). There is more of a contrast in Labour support – YouGov have them in the low twenties, six points behind the Brexit party. Survation & Opinium have them doing better, neck-and-neck with the Brexit party for first place. Finally, Survation have Change UK on just 4%, Opinium have them on 7%, YouGov on 10%. Part of that difference will likely be down to timing – YouGov’s poll was the only one of the three polls conducted wholly after Change UK’s launch, which may well have given them at least a temporary boost.


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The Guardian today has the results of a Populus poll for Best for Britain, apparently leaked without their permission. It found “almost a third” of respondents who would less likely to vote Labour if the party was committed to stopping Brexit, compared to 25% who said it would make them more likely – presumably the opposite of the headline finding the client was hoping for.

As regular readers will know, I think “would policy X make you more likely to vote Y” questions are of little or no worth anyway. Many respondents use them to indicate their support or opposition to the policy in question, regardless of whether it would actually change their vote, and you typically find a substantial proportion of people who say it would make them more likely to vote for a party already do so (and many of those saying less likely would never do so anyway).

This means the response from Best for Britain in the Guardian write up about the picture being skewed by Conservative and UKIP voters, while it may sound like special pleading, is probably quite right. I expect the third of people saying they’d the less likely to vote Labour are indeed probably largely Conservative and UKIP voters who wouldn’t vote Labour anyway. On the other hand, the people saying more likely are probably largely Labour voters who are already voting Labour – it’s why it is such a poor approach to the question.

In the meantime, it’s a reminder of why one needs to be a little cautious about polls commissioned by campaigns. You can never tell what other polls they did that they never released. It is the job of pollsters to make sure the actual questions are fair and balanced, but ultimately it’s often up to clients whether they keep a poll private, or stick it in a press release.


The weekend papers have the first two polls with fieldwork conducted after the New Year – BMG in the Independent and Survation for yesterday’s Mail. Voting intention in the two polls is:

Survation: CON 38%(-1), LAB 41%(+1), LDEM 10%(+2), UKIP 4%(nc)
BMG: CON 36%(-1), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 12%(nc), UKIP 6%(+2)

Survation’s poll was conducted on Thursday and Friday, changes are from their big Channel4 poll at the end of October. BMG was conducted between Tuesday and Friday and changes are from last month. Neither poll shows any real significant movement. As you would probably expect, the bulk of both polls focused on the looming issue of Brexit.

On the Brexit deal itself BMG found that 29% of people think MPs should approve the deal (up 3 points from December), 37% think it should be rejected (down 6 points). Survation found 36% of people wanted MPs to approve the deal (up 5), 40% wanted it rejected (down 6). Both polls show some movement in favour of passing the deal, but still more opposition than support.

BMG asked whether people would support or oppose various alternative Brexit options. By 46% to 28% people would support a second referendum. By 45% to 39% people would support reversing Brexit and just remaining. Further negotiations were supported by 45% to 34%. A “Norway-style deal” was supported by 40% to 36%. Leaving without a deal was opposed by 45% to 35%.

Survation’s poll included questions on how people would vote in various referendum scenarios – in a deal vs no deal referendum, 41% would prefer the deal, 32% no deal. In a referendum between no deal Brexit and remain, people prefer remain by 46% to 41%. A deal vs referendum vote would be neck-and-neck: 40% deal, 40% remain.

Tabs for Survation are here, BMG aren’t up yet.


A brief update on the state of the polls as we head towards Christmas. First let look at voting intention. The six voting intention polls we’ve seen published so far in December have all shown the two main parties essentially neck and neck – two have shown tiny Labour leads, two have shown tiny Conservative leads, two have had them equal (the YouGov poll for the People’s Vote campaign in the Sunday papers today may have had a slighter larger lead, but it shouldn’t upset the average).

Opinium (14th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 6%
YouGov (7th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 3%
Kantar (6th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 5%
Ipsos MORI (5th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 4%
YouGov (4th Dec) – CON 40%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 4%
ComRes (2nd Dec) – CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 6%

Despite the incredibly turbulent situation in British politics, there has been relatively little change in voting intention since the general election. Through late 2017 there was a very small Labour lead, for most of 2018 there was a very small Conservative lead (with a few periods of Labour ahead – most significantly the weeks following the Johnson/Davis resignations). At no point has either party really pulled away. Politics may have been chaos, but voting intention have been steady.

This itself is remarkable given the state of the government at present. If you look at any other measure, they are in a dire situation. The government’s net satisfaction rating in the MORI poll last week was minus 45 (24% satisfied, 69% dissatisfaction). That is comparable to the sort of figures that the Brown government was getting in 2008 or the Thatcher government in 1990… both periods when the opposition had a clear lead in voting intention. Any question asking about the government’s main policy – the delivery of Brexit – shows that a solid majority of people think they are doing badly at implementing it. Today’s poll from Opinium found people thought the party was divided by 69% to 18% (and quite what those 18% of people were thinking I do not know!). And yet, the Conservatives remain pretty much neck-and-neck in the polls.

I can think of three potential explanations (and they are by no means exclusive to one another). The first is that people have simply switched off. The ongoing chaos isn’t impacting people’s voting intention because they are not paying attention. The second is that voting intentions may still be being largely driven by Brexit and, regardless of how well the Conservatives are delivering Brexit, they are the main party that claims it is committed to doing so, and while support for Brexit has fallen, the split in the country is still normally around 47%-53%.

The third potential reason is that Labour are not a particularly attractive option to many voters either – one of the few clear changes in the polls this year is a sharp drop in Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings. At the end of last year his approval rating from MORI was minus 7, in the MORI poll last week it was minus 32. On YouGov’s Best Prime Minister question he continues to trail well behind Theresa May (and often both of them trail behind “Not sure”).

While it is interesting to ponder why the voting intention figures remain stable, it’s not necessary particularly meaningful. In the next four months Brexit will either go ahead with a deal that many will dislike, go ahead without any deal with whatever short or long term consequences that may bring, or be delayed or cancelled. Any of these has the potential to have massive impact on support for the parties.

On Brexit itself, public opinion on what should come next is not necessarily much clearer than opinion in Westminster. Throughout 2018 opinion has continued to drift slowly against Brexit – asked if we should remain or leave polls tend to find a modest lead for Remain – typically showing a swing of around 5 points since the referendum (They are helpfully collated by John Curtice here – his average of the last six polls to ask how people would vote now currently shows a Remain lead of 53% to 47%).

While the majority of people don’t support Brexit any longer, that does not necessarily translate into clear
support for stopping it, or indeed for most other courses of action. Poll after poll asks what the government should do next, and there is little clear support for anything. Theresa May’s proposed deal certainly does not have majority support (YouGov’s Sunday Times poll last week found 22% supported it, 51% opposed. MORI’s poll found 62% thought it was a bad thing, 25% good). When Opinium asked what should happen if the deal was defeated, 19% wanted to re-open negotiations, 20% said leave with no deal, 10% said have an election, 30% have a referendum, 11% cancel Brexit altogether. When MORI asked a similar question with slightly different options 16% said renegotiate, 25% said no deal, 10% an election and 30% a referendum.

When polls ask directly about a referendum they tend to find support (although, to be fair, most polls asking about referendums normally find support for then – it is essentially a question asking whether the respondent would like a say, or whether politicians should decide for them). However, a new referendum is obviously a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

And therein lies the problem – there is scant support for most plausible leave outcomes, but reversing Brexit in some way risks a significant minority of voters (and a majority of the government’s supporters) reacting extremely negatively indeed. In the YouGov Sunday Times poll last week they asked what people’s emotional response would be to the most plausible outcomes (current deal, no deal, soft Brexit, referendum and no Brexit). Would people feel delighted, pleased, relived, disappointed, angry, betrayed, or wouldn’t mind either way?

If Britain ended up leaving without a deal 23% would react positively, 53% negatively.
If Britain ended up leaving with the proposed deal, 20% would react positively, 51% negatively.
If Britain ended up with a softer Brexit, staying in the customs union and single market, 27% would react positively, 35% negatively.

Finally, if there was a referendum and Britain voted to stay, 42% would react positively, 39% would react negatively. This is the outcome that would have a positive reaction from the largest proportion of people, but it would also be by far the most divisive. When asked about their reaction to the deal or a soft Brexit, most people gave people towards the middle of the scale – they’d be disappointed, or relieved, or wouldn’t mind. Asked about reversing the decision to Leave, answers tended to the extremes – 26% would be delighted, but 23% would feel betrayed, including 51% of people who voted Brexit back in 2016.