It’s Monday, so as usual we are spoilt for polls, with new figures from Populus, Ashcroft and ICM (who are now on a weekly rota until the general election), with YouGov to come later on tonight.

Populus have voting intentions of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here).

ICM have topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, GRN 5% (tabs). The Conservatives are down 5 points since last week, UKIP up four points – something that is almost certainly a reversion to the mean after the incongruous six point Tory lead last week.

Lord Ashcroft has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 30%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4% (tabs). Ashcroft has also updated his Scottish constituency polls from last week with two new polls in Scotland, both in Edinburgh. Edinburgh North and Leith and Edinburgh South were both Labour -v- Lib Dem marginals at the last election, with the SNP in a poor fourth place. Ashcroft’s latest polls finds the SNP ahead in both, with a 13 point lead in Edinburgh North and Leith and a narrow three point lead in Edinburgh South (tabs, tabs).

YouGov are still to come later on tonight…

UPDATE: The last GB poll of the day – YouGov for the Sun – has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. So we have two polls giving Labour leads, two giving Conservative leads, and the polls apparently still fluctuating around an underlying picture of Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck.


The worst thing you can do in analysing polls of voting intention is to get excited at polls that show something exciting and different and ignore those that show the same old pattern. Occassionally the unusual poll will herald a genuine movement in public opinion – after all, whenever there is a change, one poll has to pick it up first. More often than not, the unusual poll will turn out to be a freak result, the product of unusual sampling or methods. If there is genuinely a change in public opinion, other polls will pick it up sooner or later, so it’s always wise to withhold your judgement.

Today we have one of those unusual polls, and we have the overexcitement you’d expect. ICM’s monthly poll in the Guardian has topline figures of CON 39%(+3), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 7%(-2), GRN 7%(+3) (tabs). This is pretty odd all round – a storming six point lead for the Tories, up on thirty-nine percent; the Greens and UKIP equal on seven percent.

In the Guardian’s write up they are rightly dubious, and include a welcome caveat from ICM’s Martin Boon about the inevitability of random variation and the sample perhaps being a touch too Tory. I’ll just leave it with the usual caveats – it’s one poll, and an odd looking one at that. Sure, it could be the start of some Tory surge, but if it is we will see it echoed in other polls today…and luckily enough we have at least three of them.

Populus this morning had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (tabs). The Conservatives are up two points (possibly helped by an update in weighting targets), but no big tory lead.

Still to come are the weekly Ashcroft poll and the daily YouGov poll. Come the end of the day, the way to judge where we are is too look at all them as a whole – not fixate on the unusual one.

UPDATE: Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll has topline figures of CON 33%(-3), LAB 33%(-1), LDEM 9%(+3), UKIP 13%(+3), GRN 6%(-1). Changes are from a fortnight ago – Ashcroft took a week off to avoid bank holiday fieldwork. As with today’s Populus poll, there is nothing here to support the big Tory lead in the ICM poll. Full details are on Lord Ashcroft’s website here.

UPDATE2: Finally the daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 34%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6% – a one point Labour lead. Putting all four polls together that ICM poll looks very much like an outlier. Such things are an unavoidable part of polling – and well done to Guardian for reporting it in a heavily caveated way within the context of other polls showing no movement, rather than getting all excited about it.


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Post-debate polls

We now have all four of the post-debate polls. Asked who performed the best, the verdicts are

YouGov: Sturgeon 28, Farage 20, Cameron 18, Miliband 15, Clegg 10, Bennett 5, Wood 4 (tabs)
ICM: Miliband 25, Cameron 24, Farage 19, Sturgeon 17, Clegg 9, Bennett 3, Wood 2 (tabs)
ComRes: Farage 21, Cameron 21, Miliband 21, Sturgeon 20, Clegg 9, Bennett 5, Wood 2
Survation: Cameron 25, Miliband 25, Farage 24, Sturgeon 15, Clegg 6, Bennett 3, Wood 2 (tabs)

The pollsters certainly don’t show a single clear winner (until we digest the tables we can’t really speculate about what caused the differences), but there’s a consistent theme across those results. Everyone has Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood and Nick Clegg trailing, everyone has Ed Miliband and David Cameron doing pretty much evenly and pretty close to Farage. The only big difference is Sturgeon, YouGov have her out in front, others have her a bit further back. But given the SNP are only standing in Scotland, how well Nicola Sturgeon did in rest of Britain doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference (though it may make the SNP a bit less scary as a bogeyman on Conservative posters).

As I wrote before the debate, one shouldn’t assume too much what the impact of the debate is on voting intentions until we see some standard voting intention polls of the general public. With the initial polls showing no big runaway winner from the debate I wouldn’t expect a big impact… but time will tell. The party I’d probably watch is UKIP – Farage wasn’t a big winner, but he outperformed his party’s national support in all of the instant verdict polls, and unlike the SNP, UKIP have candidates across GB that people can vote for.


ICM post-debate poll

ICM did a rapid “who won” poll after the Paxman interviews with Cameron and Miliband tonight. Cameron won over Miliband by 54% to 46% – we won’t know until the tables appear, but I expect that going to show Labour voters thinking Miliband won, Conservative voters thinking Cameron won, the rest splitting evenly and not many minds changed. Still, we’ll see if there is any longer term effect in the next week’s polls. I wouldn’t have imagined there will be – while the debate was new in 2010, events like tonight’s Paxman interviews or the leaders’ Question Time style event next month aren’t new – there were things just like that in2005 and 2001 and they made bog all difference to anything.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. A Tory lead today after some ties and Labour leads so far this week, suggesting the underlying average in YouGov’s daily polls is still neck-and-neck.

UPDATE: ICM tables are now up here (thanks to that fine man Tom Clark!). As expected, perceptions of who won fell pretty much along the lines of pre-existing party support – 84% of Conservatives thought Cameron won, 74% of Labour supporters thought Miliband won, Lib Dems were split, Ukippers thought Cameron won, Greens thought Miliband won. Note that while the sample was demographically and politically weighted to be nationally representative, it was a very heavily Labour sample in terms of current voting intention: the pre-debate voting intentions of the sample had an 10% Labour lead (thus are the difficulties of doing things like this – people who watch programmes like this are different from your average voter!)


Monday polls

The usual glut of polls for a Monday. Today we have the weekly Ashcroft poll, the twice weekly Populus poll, the monthly ICM poll and – later on – the daily YouGov.

  • Ashcroft’s weekly poll has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%. The Conservatives remain ahead, but not by as much as in the last two Ashcroft polls (full details here)
  • ICM show a similar picture (though, as usual with these two pollsters, there are higher shares for Con and Lab from ICM than from Ashcroft): a Tory lead, but a smaller lead than the unusually large one they recorded last month. Topline voting intention figures with changes from a month ago are CON 36%(nc), LAB 35%(+3), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 9%(nc), GRN 4%(-3).
  • The movement in Populus is in the other direction – their recent polls have been showing a Labour lead, today’s topline figures are neck and neck: CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (full details here)

So, two Tory leads and a dead heat today (so far), two Labour leads and a dead heat yesterday. Realistically I can see nothing that gives me any confidence that either party is sneaking ahead, all suggests they are still neck and neck.

Also today we had a new projection out – the Polling Observatory team’s model here, which unlike the other models I report in my Friday round up is currently projecting Labour to have more seats than the Tories (there’s a full explanation of the method through the link – but put crudely the difference between their model and Steve Fisher’s is that Steve assumes the polls will move slightly back towards the 2010 result (meaning the Tories go up, Labour go down), while the Polling Observatory assume the polls will move slightly back towards their long term average (meaning both the Tories AND Labour go up). They’ll be updating fortnightly, so I’ll add them to the Friday round ups.