This month’s ICM poll for the Guardian has voting intention figures of CON 31%(+2), LAB 39%(-2), LDEM 15%(+2), UKIP 7%(-2). The topline figures suggest a narrowing of the Labour lead, but this probably a reversion to the mean after what looked like a rogue poll last month. ICM have shown Labour with an eight point lead in four of their last six polls (ICM typically show lower Labour leads and higher Lib Dem scores than some other pollsters for methodological reasons to do with how they treat don’t knows).
The rest of the poll is reported as showing that the Conservatives would do better if they were more anti-European, or were more anti-immigration, or were more on the side of traditional families (whether people thought being more supportive of apple pie would help them was not, alas, polled upon).
I shall only repeat my normal grumbles about polls purporting to show that people would be more or less likely to vote for a party if they did x, y or z. They really don’t, people just use the questions to show their opinion of the issues being asked about regardless of whether or not it would actually shift their vote or increase/decrease their likelihood of voting for a party. Hence what the poll actually shows is most people don’t like immigration or the European Union much and do like families.
The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 29%(-4), LAB 41%(+3), LD 13%(-2), UKIP 9%(+3), changes are from their poll last month.
The 12 point lead is not too dissimilar from what other companies are showing, but ICM normally tend to show smaller Labour leads thanks to the reallocation of some don’t knows to the parties they voted for in 2010 (an adjustment that these days tends to help the Lib Dems and hinder Labour). The trend is the thing to watch… and the trend here shows a sharp movement towards Labour. It’s not something we have seen reflected in other polls over the last couple of days, so usual caveats apply – sure, it could be the first sign of a further swing towards Labour… or it could be normal sample error.
UPDATE: Meanwhile the weekly TNS-BMRB poll has topline figures of CON 31%(+3), LAB 41%(nc), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 10%(-1). No obvious sign of any big swing towards Labour there.
This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10% – another single figure lead for Labour. In the past few week YouGov’s daily polls have shown increasingly frequent 11, 12 even 13 point leads, and had looked as though the Labour lead may have been inching upwards, but now we are back down in the 10 point sort of area.
The poll also asked voting intention in an EU referendum – the result is not as striking as the Sunday Times poll that had people saying they would vote to stay in (that one came after some other questions on referendums and Europe, so there could have been an order effect), but it confirms the turnaround in public opinion. 40% said they would vote to leave, 37% said they would vote to stay – a three point lead for leaving. Compare this to the twenty-one point lead for leaving YouGov found in October and November last year.
Meanwhile the full tables for yesterday’s ICM poll are now up on their website here. As usual the re-allocation of don’t knows reduced Labour’s lead, in this case from eight points to five points – so despite the apparent contradiction, ICM and YouGov are actually recording a very similar Labour lead, eight points and nine points. The difference in their topline reported figure is because the two companies make different assumptions about what don’t knows will do (YouGov ignore them, ICM assume a proportion will go back to their previous parties).
The Guardian have published their monthly poll from ICM. Topline figures with changes from December’s poll are CON 33%(+1), LAB 38%(-2), LDEM 15(+2), UKIP 6%(-1). None of the changes are outside the normal margin of error, so are nothing to get particularly excited about, although for the record it is ICM’s lowest Labour lead since last August (ICM do, anyway, tend to show some of the lower Labour leads because of their reallocation of don’t knows, which tends to help the Liberal Democrats and hinder Labour).
The other question in the survey is yet another contrasting result on capping the increases in benefits – this time showing only 36% of people thinking that “squeezing benefits” is fair and 58% thinking it is unfair. As we have seen earlier, polling on this policy has produced some sharply contrasting results with no easy explanation for the variations. The suggestion in the Guardian that the contrast is a result of opinions changing after the autumn statement doesn’t hold up as YouGov was showing continuing support for a cap this month. It seems to be one of those issues that really does depend entirely on how it is framed, and with no obviously superior or more neutral wording to go far, I don’t think we can conclude much more than that how the public react to the policy probably will depend on how the political parties manage to frame it in the media.
The last monthly poll of the year that was still outstanding, ICM for the Guardian, turned up on Christmas Day of all times. Topline figures were CON 32%(nc), LAB 40%(nc), LDEM 13%(nc) – the figures are all typical of ICM’s polling of late (the comparatively high Liberal Democrat level of support is methodological, and normally due to the reallocation of a proportion of don’t knows to the party they voted for last time, which usually produces a higher Lib Dem score and a lower Labour lead).
Depending on what TNS BMRB and Opinium are doing with their regular polls over the Christmas break, this may well be our last poll of the year.