There were four voting intention polls yesterday – an unusual flurry, largely it appears because of the military action in Syria. YouGov and Opinium were their regular polls, but ComRes seems to be asked on Wed & Thurs in order to measure support for an attack beforehand, Survation was conducted on Saturday to measure support afterwards.

YouGov‘s voting intention figures for the Times yesterday were CON 40%(-2), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 9%(+2). Fieldwork was Monday and Tuesday and changes are from the previous week. We’ve already seen YouGov polling on Syria earlier in the week, which asked specifically about missile attacks and found 22% support, 43% opposed. Tabs for the voting intention poll are here.

Opinium for the Observer had topline figures of CON 40%(-2), LAB 40%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Thursday. It included only the briefest of questions on Syria; asked which leader people would trust the most to respond to the situation 35% said Theresa May, 20% said Jeremy Corbyn. The full details of the poll are here.

ComRes for the Sunday Express is the first voting intention poll the company have produced since the general election (I was beginning to ponder whether they’d given it up!). Looking at methodology changes, ComRes appear to have dropped the socio-economic turnout model that resulted in such problems at the last election and returned to essentially the methodology they used at the 2015 election, weighting by just standard demogs and past vote, and weighting by self-assessed likelihood to vote. This produced topline figures very much in line with everyone else – CON 40%, LAB 41%, LDEM 7%.

On Syria, ComRes asked about whether people agreed Britain should join the US and France in taking “military action against President Assad in Syria”. 29% of people agreed, 36% disagreed, and 35% didn’t know… another poll showing the balance of opinion opposed to strikes. Full tabs are here.

Survation for the Mail on Sunday is the only poll conducted after the missile attacks, with fieldwork wholly conducted during the day on Saturday. As regular readers will know, Survation typically show the largest Labour leads in their polling, but today’s figures are very much in line with everyone else – CON 40%(+2), LAB 40%(-5), LDEM 9%(nc).

Survation asked about whether people supported the “missile strikes on Syrian government facilities overnight in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack”. 36% of people said they supported it, 40% said they were opposed – a closer division than in some of the pre-strike polling, which may be because the question specifically linked it to the chemical attack, or may be because people just become more supportive once it has actually happened.

Survation also found 54% of people thought May should have sought Parliamentary support beforehand (30% did not), but on balance tend to approve of how she has handled the situation. 37% think she has dealt with it well, 29% badly. In contrast 19% think that Jeremy Corbyn has handled it well, 36% badly. Full tables are here.

Looking at the situation overall, headline voting intention polls continue to show Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck on average. On Syria, differently worded questions produced results that vary from clear opposition to just slightly more opposition than support, but it’s clear the public did not whole-heartedly support military action in Syria.


ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian today has topline figures of CON 44%(+1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1). Fieldwork was between Friday and Monday, and changes are from a fortnight ago. Tabs are here.

There was also an Opinium poll for the Observer at the weekend, which had toplines of CON 42%(nc), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 6%(-1). Fieldwork for that was Tuesday to Thursday, and changes are from February. Tabs are here.

Both polls also asked questions about how political leaders had responded to the poisoning in Salisbury, finding a similar pattern to YouGov last week. ICM found people thought Theresa May had responded well to the Salisbury poisoning by 51% to 22%, and thought Jeremy Corbyn had responded badly by 42% to 23%. Opinium only asked about approval of May’s response, but 41% said they approved, 20% disapproved.

Neither the ICM nor Opinium poll has significant changes, so I’d be cautious about concluding that the poisoning has had any impact on political support. Nevertheless, if we look at the longer trend in public support it does look as though there has been a slight improvement in the Conservative position – late last year the polls were typically showing a small Labour lead, in the last couple of months they’ve averaged out with Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck. Whether that small change really matters is a different matter, we’re a long way from a scheduled general election and there are some very big “known unknowns”, like Brexit, before we get to one. A couple of points either way at this stage of the Parliament is neither here nor there.


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Last week I wrote about the unusual YouGov poll showing a four point Conservative lead and said I personally thought it was more likely to be statistical noise than the first sign of the Conservatives opening up a lead in voting intention.

However, at the weekend we also had a new poll from Opinium that had topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tues-Thursday and changes were from mid-January (tabs). This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December.

The government have done little to endear themselves to the public in the last few weeks, nor have Labour done much to lose support. There is no obvious reason for movement in the polls, so I’m still a little sceptical (in themselves the changes are within the margin of error, and it’s perfectly possible for random chance to spit out a couple of polls that just happen to show movement in the same direction). Nevertheless, it’s possible we’re seeing some movement in the government’s direction. If we are, what should we make of it?

This far from the next timetabled general election voting intention polls have very little predictive value, all the more so when we have a known unknown as large as Brexit looming ahead of us and at least a fair chance of a change of Conservative leader before the next election. However for better or worse, mid-term voting intention is the barometer that we tend to use to measure how well the government and opposition are doing against each other, and that is reflected in the morale of the political parties and media perceptions of how well or badly they are doing. If it turns out to be genuine it may bolster Theresa May’s position a little, and may put Labour on the back foot, but we shall see.


There is a new poll by Opinium in this morning’s Observer. Topline voting intention figures are CON 40%(+1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 6%(-1). Changes are since December, and fieldwork was on Thursday and Friday (so after the reshuffle, though reshuffles are not the type of event that typically has any impact on voting intention).

Full tables are here.


There are two new voting intention polls in Sunday’s papers – ICM for the Sun on Sunday and Opinium for the Observer.

ICM in the Sun on Sunday have topline figures of CON 41%(-1), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 4%(-1). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Thursday, and changes are from the ICM/Guardian poll a few days before. Changes are within the margin of error, but unlike ICM’s last poll it’s now Labour who are marginally ahead. Every single poll ICM have published since the general election has had Labour and the Conservatives within two points of each other.

Amongst other things ICM also asked about the Tory leadership. Only 23% of respondents think Theresa May should step down now, but only 35% think she should fight the next general election. A further 26% think she should go at some later later, either after Brexit (15%) or just before the election (11%). As with other polls, the public don’t seem to have much appetite for any particular successor as Tory lead – Boris Johnson leads, but on only 11%, ahead of Ruth Davidson on 6%. No tabs yet, but the Sun report is here

Secondly there is a new Opinium poll for the Observer. They too have a small Labour lead, with topline figures of CON 39%(-1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 6%(+1). Changes are once again insignificant – the Tory leads in YouGov and ICM straight after the Brexit deal aren’t reflected in the latest polls, and were either just co-incidence, or a brief blip on the back of good publicity. The underlying trend remains one of stability, with Labour a tad ahead of the Conservatives and no obvious movement in support.

The full tabs for the Opinium poll are here and contain a lot of background questions. The Conservative party are seen as the most divided party – 47% think they are divided, 38% united. The Labour party are seen as united by 42% and divided by 40% – so while stories of Labour infighting are no longer constantly in the media in the way they were before the general election, the party are still seen as divided by much of the public (if not as divided as the Tories!). On the Tory leadership Opinium show a similar picture to ICM – 27% think she should go now, 28% think should should fight the next election, 23% think she should go later (either post-Brexit, or pre-election).

On the EU, Opinium found a negative reaction to Theresa May’s negotiations so far (though not as negative as in YouGov’s tracker – possibly because Opinium ask about May personally rather than the government as a whole, possibly because Opinium ask about approval rather than doing well or badly). 30% approve of how May has handled the negotiations so far, 45% of people disapprove. Opinium found 37% support for a second referendum once the terms had been agreed, 49% were opposed. For the type of Brexit, 39% of respondents would rather Britain remained in the single market (even if it meant freedom of movement continued), 33% would rather Britain stopped freedom of movement (even if it meant leaving the single market).

Finally, the Independent reports a BMG poll that has Remain with a ten point lead over Leave in a referendum vote tomorrow. This has, as ever, caused some over-excitement on social media.

My normal caveat on unusual and interesting polls is to wait and see if it is reflected in other polls. In this case we don’t have to wait, the BMG poll was actually conducted over a week ago (5th-8th Dec), meaning that we have already seen the results of other polls conducted after this one, and they don’t show any large movement towards Remain. The ICM/Guardian poll released earlier this week was conducted 8th-10th December, and had results of Remain 46%, Leave 43% – a Remain lead, but a far smaller one. YouGov’s regular tracker on whether people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave was asked on 10th-11th Dec, and showed 44% think we are right to leave, 45% wrong to leave… again, typical of recent results.

The other caveat to consider is that the poll does not actually show any great shift in opinion directly from Leave to Remain, most of those voters are unchanged. The large Remain lead is almost wholly down to people who did not vote in the 2016 referendum. Many polls show those who did not vote in 2016 now saying they would vote remain, but the divide in this one is extreme. I am somewhat sceptical about leads that rely upon people who didn’t vote last time suddenly turning out to vote one way or another (particularly in polls that aren’t weighted by likelihood to vote!). While I am sure that there are some people who didn’t vote in 2016 who would now (those who have turned 18 and those who didn’t realise how close it would be), I suspect the sort of “non-voters” who turn up in opinion polls are rather more likely to vote than actual non-voters. The full tabs (and a measured write up from BMG) are here.

On any subject you feel strongly about it is easy to convince yourself that the polls showing what you’d like to see are somehow more accurate, and that polls showing less positive things are wrong. That would be an error. As ever, the best way of looking at a finding like this is look at all the polls, and consider the long term trend, rather than get overexcited about individual polls that put out unusual results. My opinion on whether Britain is changing its mind on Brexit is unchanged since I wrote about it here – if you look at the referendum VI questions from Survation and BMG, or the right/wrong decision question from YouGov, there does appear to be a genuine movement towards Remain since last year… but as yet it is only small, and the country remains quite finely divided between Remain and Leave.