The Guardian themselves seem to have put a pause on reporting their polls, but they are wisely continuing to commission their series of ICM/Guardian polls so as not to leave a gap in the data. Topline figures in the first post-election ICM poll are CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

In terms of methodology ICM are using the same method as before the election – except, of course, that the data is weighted using people’s recall of their 2015 vote, not their 2010 vote. ICM’s tables make is abundently clear that is just a holding position, and that they are keeping their old method for the time being while they continue to investigate what went wrong and until they are sure of the right solution.


ICM have released a new constituency poll of Sheffield Hallam, conducted for the Guardian. It shows Nick Clegg holding on to his seat by a margin of seven points over Labour when respondents are asked a voting intention question that includes the names of the candidates standing. Full details are here. As regular readers will recall, previous polling of the seat has shown a much tighter race with Lord Ashcroft’s last poll in Hallam showing Labour ahead by one.

So which poll is correct? Is Nick Clegg likely to hold his seat? The bottom line is while that this piece of evidence does make it look a little more likely that Clegg might hold on, we can’t really be confident what the true position is. The ICM poll had a sample size of 500, the Ashcroft poll had a sample size of 1000. Hence it could well be that there isn’t any difference at all between the polls, that it’s just normal sample variation around a small Lib Dem lead. Its also possible that there has been movement towards Clegg in the days between the two polls as the election looms and people consider a tactical vote.

However a lot has been made of the fact that while both polls had an effort to take account of people’s personal and tactical voting behaviour in their own constituency, they did so in different ways – Ashcroft asks a two stage question, asking people their national preference and then how they will vote thinking about the candidates and parties in their own constituency; ICM asked people the voting intention question including the names of the candidates standing in Sheffield Hallam. Both methods seem to have given a boost to the Lib Dems compared to a generic question, given sample variation and timing we can’t even be certain one did had more impact than the other, let alone which one is more accurate.

One can very easily make a case for one or the other method (Chris Hanretty has a good go here) but really that’s only theorising, we can’t know which way is better unless you test it against some actual elections, and at previous elections constituency polling has been a rare commodity.

In the meantime, Sheffield Hallam remains an interesting race. Normally the idea of party leaders losing seats is regularly drummed up but incredibly unlikely to happen. This time, while my personal expectation is that Clegg will hold on and this poll will probably end up about right, there is a least a non-zero possibility of him being ousted. We shall see.


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Ten days to go to the election and we’ve had interesting day of polls – four new GB polls, some new constituency polling and a new Scottish poll. The four GB polls today are the weekly Ashcroft and ICM telephone polls, the twice weekly Populus poll and, to come later on tonight, the daily YouGov poll for the Sun:

  • Populus had figures of CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5% (tabs). They continue to produce figures that are more favourable to Labour than many of the other pollsters – you have to go all the way back to August to find a Populus poll with a Conservative lead.
  • In contrast ICM have tended to produce some of the better polls for the Conservatives – their last four polls showed Conservative leads and today’s has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5% (tabs)
  • Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll had topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 30%, LDEM 9%, KIP 11%, GRN 7% (tabs) – this is obviously a particularly good poll for the Conservative party, but all the usual caveats apply. No other poll is showing such positive figures for them.

Lord Ashcroft also released four new constituency polls, this time covering four UKIP target seats (or at least, four where he had previously found them doing well, I’m not sure whether Cannock Chase was ever a seat they were targetting – certainly Ashcroft’s poll found respondents reporting a lower level of UKIP activity there). When Ashcroft previously polled these seats he found UKIP in an extremely close second place, this time he found them falling back and seemingly out of serious contention in three of them:

  • Cannock Chase is a seat the Conservatives won on a vast swing last time, but where the new MP has stood down after various gaffes. In October 2014 Ashcroft found UKIP two points behind Labour, 30% to Labour’s 32%. The latest poll still shows Labour ahead, but UKIP now trail in third place on 21%.
  • Great Grimsby is widely regarded as the best opportunity for a UKIP gain from Labour at this election – a Lincolnshire fishing port where the veteran MP Austin Mitchell is standing down. In December Ashcroft found UKIP just a point behind Labour, but they’ve fallen back considerably since then and today’s poll has them 17 points behind Labour
  • Great Yarmouth fits the pattern for a typical UKIP target seat, a seaside town and marginal seat out on England’s east coast. Last July Ashcroft found a tight three way fight – Con 33%, UKIP 31%, Lab 28%. Today’s poll has UKIP falling back to 24%, but Conservative and Labour still in a close battle – Con 36%, Lab 34%
  • Castle Point is the only one of the three where UKIP still seems to be in the race. It’s an unusual seat – the former Conservative MP Bob Spink sort of defected to UKIP in 2008 and contested the seat as an Independent in 2010, coming second with 27%. In February Ashcroft found UKIP just one point behind the Tories, in today’s poll the Conservatives have widened their lead to 5 points.

Finally a new TNS poll of Scotland shows the SNP moving into an even stronger lead. Their topline figures with changes from their last Scottish poll are CON 13%(nc), LAB 22%(-2), LDEM 6%(nc), SNP 54%(+2), UKIP 2%(+1), GRN 2%(-1). Tabs are here.


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.