We’ve almost arrived at the Christmas break. Today we have new polls from Opinium (their last of the year) and YouGov (their penultimate of the year – there is one more to come on Monday night). I’m not sure when Populus put out their final poll of the year, and Survation have a Scottish poll being published next week, but that should be it for the year.

Topline figures for today’s two polls are:

Opinium/Observer – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 6%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3), GRN 5% (tabs)
YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8% (tabs)

The Observer write up of the poll, incidentally, is particularly poor, or at least, contains one particularly poor sentence. Toby Helm writes “It is the second poll in a week showing that the Tories have lost ground since chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement earlier this month”. Now, I have long whined about newspapers treating only their own poll as being meaningful and pretending others don’t exist, so well done for putting a poll in context… but it’s a rather extreme case of cherry-picking context to create a narrative that doesn’t exist.

The Opinium poll is the second one this week to show Labour’s lead growing, in fact it’s the third as there was also TNS. But there were also rather a lot of other polls that didn’t… there were another ten polls who the Observer has chosen not to mention. There was an Ipsos MORI poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes phone poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes online poll last weekend (shrinking Labour lead), two Populus polls (who have shown smaller Labour leads in their four post-Autumn Statement polls than their four before the statement) and five YouGov polls (whose post-Autumn statement polls have shown essentially the same Labour lead as those before). Lord Ashcroft hasn’t polled this week, he’s already finished for the year, but his post Autumn Statement poll had Labour’s lead down one point. As you can see, there as as many polls showing Labour’s lead falling post Autumn Statement as rising, and overall I expect what we’re seeing is a simple case of normal random sample variation. Taking a crude average of the Labour leads in November would give you an average lead of 1.6 points, take a crude average of the polls in December so far gives you an average Labour lead of 1.6 points.

There’s always a temptation to see narratives in polls, to ignore those showing no movement, latch onto those showing exciting looking changes and build an explanation and a story around them. It’s normally wrong to do so.


This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is now up here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 17%, GRN 7%. With Labour and the Conservatives still neck-and-neck this is very much in line with the YouGov polling before the Autumn Statement. Note the level of Green support though, YouGov and Lord Ashcroft have both shown the occassional one-off poll with the Greens ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the past, but YouGov have now produced three polls in a row with the Greens in fourth place ahead of the Lib Dems.

The rest of the YouGov poll had some questions on school nativity plays, free schools (still unpopular) and childbirth which I don’t plan on writing about today, and a few questions on the Autumn statement and stamp duty. Cameron & Osborne have a solid lead on the deficit – 41% trust them compared to 22% who trust Miliband & Balls. However, asked what the government’s policy should be on the deficit people’s views are significantly out of line with the Conservatives’. Only 20% think cutting the deficit mainly through spending cuts should be the priority, 19% think it should be cut mainly through tax increases, 36% think the government should not prioritise the deficit at all and should instead spend more or tax less to try and encourage growth. A reminder, perhaps, that people’s perceptions of who they trust on the economy or the deficit is not necessarily based on what their policies are.

By 77% to 8% people think that George Osborne’s changes to stamp duty are a good idea, and 73% think it is a fair way to increase the tax paid by the better off. Asked the same questions about Labour’s proposed mansion tax by 63% to 23% people think it is a good idea, and by 61% to 25% people think it is a fair way of increasing taxes for the better off. Asked to pick between the two, the stamp duty changes are marginally preferred – 45% think it is a better way of increasing taxes on people with expensive homes, 33% prefer the idea of the mansion tax (as you’d expect, this is largely a partisan affair – Tory voters prefer the stamp duty changes, Labour voters the mansion tax. I suspect had the Conservatives announced a mansion tax and Labour promised the changes to stamp duty the answers would be the other way around).

Opinium also had their fortnightly poll in the Observer, which had topline figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 6%(-1), UKIP 19%(nc), GRN 6%(+2) (tabs here) – there is no significant changes from a fortnight ago. There was also a new Populus poll yesterday which showed a two point Labour lead, wholly inline with the three point average Labour lead the company showed in November. With three companies now having conducted polls since the Autumn Statement there is no obvious short term impact on voting intention… which is very much as we’d would expect!


Sunday polls

There are three polls in this Sunday’s papers – Opinium in the Observer and two separate YouGov polls, one in the Sunday Times and one in the Sun on Sunday.

Opinium has topline voting intention figures of CON 30%(+1), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 19%(nc), GRN 4%(nc) (changes are from their last published voting intention figures a fortnight ago (tabs are here).

YouGov’s two sets of voting intention figures are CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15% in the Sun on Sunday poll, and CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6% in the Sunday Times (Sun Times tabs are here, Sun on Sunday should be up tomorrow) – so still showing the two main parties very close to one another.


Survation had a new Scottish poll out for the Daily Record this morning. It showed the same sort of surge in SNP support that we’ve seen in other recent Scottish polls from Ipsos MORI, YouGov and Panelbase – in this case Westminster voting intentions are CON 17%, LAB 24%, LDEM 6%, SNP 46%, UKIP 5% (tabs are here.) I don’t imagine uniform swing calculators are really any sort of guide to how things would work out in a re-alignment of this sort of huge scale, but on paper these figures would give the SNP 52 seats in Scotland and Labour just five, and in practice it would surely produce a huge number of SNP gains. The question remains whether Labour can mount a recovery in Scotland prior to the election once they have elected a new leader, or whether this SNP surge will be maintained.

This afternoon there was also some reporting of a new Opinium poll (tabs here). Opinium don’t seem to have officially released voting intention figures, but they are provided as crossbreaks on a new poll, so we can see that the VI figures would have been CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%. This would be the first Tory lead from Opinium since the Omnishambles budget, and the lowest any poll has shown the Lib Dems so far this Parliament.


Time for a round up of Sunday’s polls, with new stuff in the Sunday papers from YouGov, Survation, Opinium and ICM.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. The poll also asked a series of questions about how people would vote with different Labour leaders. In a control question asking how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg the answers were CON 33%, LAB 31% (so the effect of reminding people of the current party leaders still seems to produce a slight positive Cameron effect or negative Miliband effect). If Yvette Cooper were Labour leader the position would be the same, a two point Conservative lead. If Ed Balls was the leader it would be worse, a three point Conservative lead. In contrast with Alan Johnson as leader Labour would be two points ahead (CON 31%, LAB 33%.

I’ll give my usual caveats about questions like this – people are answering them when on very little information, they don’t know what policies or priorities those alternative leaders would set, how the media would react to them and so on. In the same poll, YouGov found that only 42% of people think they could recognise Yvette Cooper from a photo… if you don’t even know what Yvette Cooper looks like, I’m guessing you don’t have a thorough understanding of what she would prioritise as Labour leader. It’s a response based on a very crude impression of those potential leaders based on what tends to be the very limited public awareness of opposition politicians. Nevertheless, those crude first impressions count, so it’s a good sign for Alan Johnson.

Survation also had a new poll with topline figures of CON 29%(+2), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 6%(-3), UKIP 23%(-1), and they too asked a series of hypothetical voting intention questions with different Labour leaders. In the Survation poll they displayed a biography and played a video clip of each potential leader and asked people questions about them before the questions. This allowed them to include people with extremely low public awareness like Chuka Umunna, though does of course rely upon the choice of biogs and video clips (given bias is often in the eye of the beholder, choosing clips that even those who don’t like the eventual results think are fair is incredibly tricky). The control question with Ed Miliband had a Labour lead of 4 points. In the Survation poll Yvette Cooper did worse than Miliband (neck and neck with the Tories), Andy Burnham just the same (4 point lead), Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna did best – both extending Labour’s lead to 8 points. A voting intention question asked after video clips of Labour leaders is obviously skewed towards Labour, but it’s the relative performance between the different leaders that counts, and again it’s good for Alan Johnson, and now also for Chuka Umunna.

Meanwhile the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-4), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 9%(+3), UKIP 19%(+1).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. As usual with ICM/Sunday Telegraph polls, this asked the public to predict vote shares rather than ask people how they would vote themselves. The average response now has the Conservatives getting slightly more votes than Labour.