Sunday Polls

There are several polls in today’s papers. ComRes in the Indy and Sunday Mirror have topline figures of CON 46%(+4), LAB 25%(nc), LDEM 11%(-1), UKIP 9%(-1), GRN 4%(nc). The twenty-one point Conservative lead is the largest anyone has shown for them so far this Parliament (and, hence, the largest since when they were in opposition).

ComRes also did a split sample experiment, asking about some Labour policies. Half the respondents had the policies described as “Jeremy Corbyn policies”, half had them described as “Labour Party policies”. This turned out to make no difference whatsoever, suggesting that association with Jeremy Corbyn is no worse than association with the Labour party… though that could easily be just because the two are now so closely linked. On a broader point, the policies that ComRes asked about all remain popular – 71% support increasing the minimum wage, 62% support increasing the top rate of income tax, 53% support free school meals paid for through VAT on private schools. The importance of shallow approve/disapprove ratings of individual policies on party support are often grossly overstated… but it is worth noting that Labour’s evident problems do not appear to be caused by proposing unpopular policies. Full tabs are here

There was also a voting intention poll from Opinium in the Observer. Topline figures there are CON 38%(-3), LAB 29%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 14%(+1). Tabs for that are here.

The big gap here between ComRes and Opinium will be largely down to methodology. Following the 2015 polling error ComRes switched to a turnout model based upon demographics rather than how likely people say they are to vote. Essentially this downweights younger and poorer respondents on the basis they have historically been less likely to vote. Typically this has produced larger Conservative leads compared to other companies.

In contrast Opinium produce topline figures that consistently show some of the smallest Conservative leads. Crucially they are one of the only companies that don’t weight by past vote (instead weighting by a version of party ID). Looking at the recalled vote in today’s poll as many people claim to have voted Labour in the 2015 election as claim to have voted Conservative, suggesting the poll may well have a sample that’s a bit too Labour.

As ever, if you are trying to work out what the actual state of party support is you should avoid cherry picking the polls you’d like to be true. It’s all too easy to find reasons to convince yourself that the poll showing the results you’d like is the poll that must be the most accurate one. A sensible rule of thumb – especially at this stage of the Parliament – is probably just to follow the broad average of the polls, which suggest a Conservative lead somewhere in the mid-teens.

There were two other polls in the Sunday papers. An ORB poll in the Sunday Telegraph asked about Brexit – 55% thought Brexit should go ahead, 45% did not. 55% also approved of the way Brexit negotiations were going head, 45% disapproved. UPDATE: The reason the two figures were the same is that there was only one question – the Sunday Telegraph just reported it incredibly badly. 55% approve of the way the government are handling negotiations, ORB didn’t ask if people supported Brexit.

Finally the Western Mail had a Welsh poll by Beaufort. From their report there only appears to have been one question: 39% thought the Jerfemy Corbyn should resign, 32% think he should stay.


ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 45%(+1), LAB 26%(-2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 10%(-1), GRN 4%(-1). Another post-budget poll showing the Conservative poll lead holding strong – despite all the fuss and the government U-turn, it does not appear to have had any negative impact on voting intention. ICM still have UKIP holding onto third place, but only by the skin of their teeth.

The poll aslso asked about the best team on the economy, with May & Hammond recording a 33 point lead over Corbyn & McDonnell (44% to 11%) and whether each party was honest or dishonest. Every party was seen as more dishonest than honest, but the Conservatives were the least bad: 19% thought the Tories were honest, 26% dishonest (a net score of minus 7), 13% thought Labour were honest, 24% dishonest (net score of minus 11), 11% thought the Lib Dems honest, 25% dishonest (net minus 14), 8% thought UKIP honest, 38% dishonest (minus 30).


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ComRes have a poll in the Independent & Sunday Mirror. Topline figures with changes from last month are CON 42%(+1), LAB 25%(-1), LDEM 12%(+1), UKIP 10%(-1), GRN 4%(nc).

Earlier in the week the monthly Ipsos MORI political monitor was also published in the Evening Standard. Topline figures there were CON 43%(+3), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 13%(nc), UKIP 6%(-3) (full details are here.

Three polls released since the budget all suggest the government emerged unscathed in terms of voting intention. UKIP’s figures are also interesting – while it’s normal for MORI to have the Lib Dems comfortably ahead of UKIP, we’re now in the unusual situation where all of the last three polls have the Lib Dems in third place and UKIP back in forth (that’s ComRes, MORI and the YouGov/Times poll in the week)

As well as the usual trackers, MORI also had some questions on EU negatotiations. Asked if the government were doing well or badly at handling Britain’s exit from the European Union 36% said a good job, 52% a bad job. Asked the same question about Theresa May 49% said a good job, 40% said a bad job. That alone is an interesting difference – I’d be fascinated to see how people who answered the two questions differently explained their answers (by guess is people would say something about May coming across as more competent than some of her ministers).

Asked how important various considerations were in Brexit negotiations 43% of people said it was essential or very important for Britain not to have to make any contributions to the EU after we’ve left, 43% also said it was essential or important to remain in the single market. 61% said it was essential or important that Britain has full control over immigration.

On the subject of Brexit negotiations, there was also some new YouGov polling in the week – I’ve written a longer article over on the YouGov website. This was a follow up to the YouGov poll after Theresa May’s January speech setting out her Brexit negotiating targets. Those were well received by most of the public, are still are – by 52% to 22% people think the sort of Brexit that May says she is aiming for would be good for Britain.

However, this leaves open the question of how people will react if the government don’t manage to get everything they want. Certainly some of the things that the government are aiming for are ambitious. In this week’s poll YouGov also asked how people would react if May failed to get some of things she wants, asking about a hypothetical deal where Britain ends up with tariff barriers and customs checks on many imports and exports with the EU. In that case only 30% say it would be good for Britain, 40% bad for Britain.

Asked what should happen next the most popular option would be for the government to go back and try to renegotiate. That’s pretty much a given though, the more interesting question is what people think should happen once all further opportunity for negotiation is exhausted. 41% said Britain should still leave on those terms; 32% that there should be a second referendum on whether to stay after all. 27% say not sure.

I think there’s some cause for optimism for both sides there. For those who want to leave, it suggests the balance of opinion would still be in favour of leaving even if Brexit negotiations are seen to have failed. For those who want to stay, the 27% of people who would be unsure suggests that plenty of people are open to persuasion.

This is, of course, very much a hypothetical question, a straw in the wind of how the public might react if the negotiations go badly. Time will tell what actually happens if things don’t go to plan.

UPDATE: There’s also a Opinium poll in the Observer. Topline figures there are CON 41%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, so there is still one poll with UKIP holding on to their third place. Full tabs are here.