Ten weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls.

YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Opinium/Observer (20/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8%
Survation/Mirror(23/2) – CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 19%, GRN 4%
ComRes/Mail (23/2) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (23/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (24/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (25/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%

The voting intention polls are continuing to show the same stasis we’ve had for the whole of the year so far, Con and Lab almost neck and neck, Labour just a smidgin ahead. Of this week’s polls five showed Labour leads, three Tory leads, three with a draw. The UKPR polling average is wholly unchanged from last week, remaining on CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). Perhaps the most notable change among some very unnotable polls was a change in who commissioned them – ComRes had been the pollsters for the Independent since 2006, but this week switched their monthly telephone poll over to the Daily Mail (they will continue to carry out online polls for the Independent’s Sunday stablemate).

Scottish, London and Constituency polls

TNS put out a new Scottish poll this morning with topline figures for Westminster voting intention of CON 14%(-2), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 3%(-1), SNP 46%(+5), UKIP 3%(+1) (tabs). The previous TNS poll had shown an SNP lead of only ten points, this TNS poll is far more similar to the Scottish figures being shown by other companies.

YouGov put out a new London poll earlier in the week for the Times with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 6%. This gives Labour an eight point lead in the London, but given they won the vote in London at the 2010 electon is actually a slightly smaller Con>Lab swing that in the country as a whole. I wrote more about the poll here.

Finally there was a new Survation poll of Thanet South for UKIP donor Alan Bown, showing Nigel Farage with an eleven point lead. This compares with the Lord Ashcroft poll of Thanet South last November that had, once corrected, shown Farage one point behind the Conservatives. It may be that UKIP have managed to open up a lead in Thanet South since November, but there were also substantial methodological differences between the two polls – the new Survation poll prompted using the candidates names, which may well have helped Nigel Farage as the most well known of the candidates. There were also differences in weighting – Lord Ashcroft weights by recalled vote and by social class, whereas Survation don’t; Survation weight by council wards within the constituency whereas Ashcroft doesn’t. Finally there were don’t knows – Survation exclude them, Ashcroft assumes some vote for the party they did last time. And of course, this is a poll commissioned by a party – that should make no difference to how the poll is done (apart from adding candidate names this is Survation’s regular methodology), but it brings with it publication bias: if parties commission polls and don’t like the results, they don’t publish them.

Week 8

  • Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were caught in a newspaper sting on MPs taking second jobs. Rifkind stepped down, Ed Miliband promised a ban on second jobs. YouGov polling found only 26% thought that MPs having second jobs helped keep them in touch and was better than full time politicians, 60% thought they should concentrate on their main job and second jobs risked corruption. 54% would support a ban on MPs having second jobs.
  • Immigration figures came out showing net immigration way above David Cameron’s stated ambition to reduce it to “tens of thousands”. I suspect the Conservatives failure to meet the target has long been accepted by the public and priced into their opinion though – early last year the proportion of people thinking it was likely the government would hit their target had already fallen to just 9%. Still, coverage of immigration will likely keep UKIP’s strongest issue high on the agenda.
  • Labour announced their policy on tuition fees. On the principle of who should pay for higher education the public are actually quite evenly split – 43% think it should be paid from general taxation, 42% that students should pay it through tuition fees or a graduate tax. For a reduction in the level of tuition fees though I expect Labour will get the thumbs up – in December YouGov found people were in favour of a reduction in tuition fees by 54% to 21%, even if it meant less funding for universities
  • And the debate debate struggled onwards. At the weekend the papers quietly suggested that the debates may now be dead, on Monday the broadcasters announced the order of the debates (the two big ones first, followed by the Cameron-v-Miliband head to head). For the moment though, it seems to have gone quiet.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection. As usual, everyone is projecting an extremely hung Parliament, with the two main parties close together in seat numbers.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 279(-2), LAB 283(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 285(+3), LAB 276(-4), LD 27(+2), SNP 39(-1), UKIP 1(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 270(+4), LAB 271(-4), LD 26(nc), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275, LAB 271, LD 27, SNP 51, UKIP 4


Eleven weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (13/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (14/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
ICM/Guardian (15/2/15) – CON 36%, LAB 32%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 9%, GRN 7%
Ashcroft (15/2/15) – CON 30%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%
TNS BMRB (16/2/15) – CON 28%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (16/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (17/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (18/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (19/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Populus (19/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 17%, GRN 6%

With the exceptions of the rather anomalous looking ICM poll with its four point Tory lead and the TNS poll showing its typically larger Labour lead (two outliers I discussed here), the polls have returned to the same picture we’ve had for the whole year so far – a very close race with Labour just ahead. The UKPR polling average stands at CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 15%(+1), GRN 6%(-1) – none of those figures has moved more than one point away from that so far this year. The race is pretty much static.

Scottish and Constituency polls

Survation put out their monthly Scottish poll for the Daily Record this week, giving the SNP a slightly reduced but still very healthy 17 point lead over Labour. Lord Ashcroft released four polls of Conservative held UKIP target seats, showing UKIP just a point behind in Castle Point and only three points behind in Boston and Skegness. I wrote about both here.

Week 7

  • The Conservatives started the week promising to cut sickness benefits for fat people or addicts who refuse treatment. This is an interesting example of policy and how to look at public reaction to them. At one level such policies are popular – by 57% to 28% people support stopping sickness benefits for overweight people who don’t seek weightless treatment, by 64% to 23% people support stopping sickness benefits for addicts who don’t seek treatment. However, the potential downside for such policies, especially for the Conservatives, is if it reinforces the party’s image problems of being seen as heartless or unconcerned for the less well off. The same polling found 40% also thought the policy was uncaring and heartless.
  • Labour started the week talking about economic policy and had their policies endorsed by Lord Mandelson, the former business Secretary. There was a YouGov poll in the week asking if the endorsement of various retired politicians was an asset or a liability – 52% thought Mandelson’s backing a liability, only 7% an asset. Tony Blair’s endorsement was seen as little better – 14% an asset, 61% a liability. The reason for both is the same – most other politicians were seen an asset by supportwes of their own party, a liability by their opponents. Blair and Mandelson (and Michael Howard) were seen as liabilities by both their opponents’ supporters and their own parties’ supporters. According to today’s news Peter Mandelson is now warning Labour against their tuition fees policy, so perhaps his criticism will be an asset!
  • On Thursday party donations for the end of 2014 were announced. The Conservatives received just over £8million, Labour just over £7m, the Liberal Democrats £3m (the party had a record year of donations, despite their precipitous drop in support since 2010), UKIP £1.5m and the Greens a quarter of a million. There was some polling on party donations last weekend, showing people pretty cynical about both main parties – by 48% to 30% people think Labour should try and reduce Union funding, by 52% to 25% people think the Conservatives should try and reduce their business funding. Around two thirds of people would support a cap on business and trade union donations, 51% would support a cap on individual donations to political parties, only 19% would support taxpayer funding.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. Elections Etc and Election Forecast both have Labour and the Conservatives pretty much equal in predicted seat numbers, May 2015 are projecting Labour to have more seats, but not by very many.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 281(nc), LAB 282(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(-1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 282(+2), LAB 280(-3), LD 25(-2), SNP 40(+3), UKIP 2(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 266(-3), LAB 275(+1), LD 26(+2), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)


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12 weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (6/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Opinium/Observer (6/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Ashcroft (8/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
Populus (8/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (9/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (10/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (10/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 9%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (11/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (12/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (12/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%

The big picture remains stable, with Labour and Conservatives very close. There were a couple of Conservative leads at the start of the week, but a couple of three point Labour leads at the end of the week mean the UKPR polling average continues to show a two point Labour lead – CON 32%(+1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 14%(-1), GRN 7%(+1). Whether those two larger leads at the end of the week are anything more than normal sample noise remains to be seen. The MORI poll showing UKIP on just nine percent was their lowest since last September – I wrote on Thursday about the difficulties of actually telling what’s happening to UKIP support given changes in methodology, it looks like they might be declining slightly, but it’s hard to be sure.

Scottish and marginal polls

There were two other voting intention polls this week, a Scottish poll from TNS and a marginals poll from ComRes. The TNS poll showed a significantly smaller SNP lead than other recent Scottish polls. Survation, MORI and YouGov are all showing the SNP twenty points or more ahead; TNS produced an SNP lead of only ten points. This is presumably something to do with the methodology (TNS is a traditional face-to-face poll, rather than an online or telephone poll) as the long fieldwork for the TNS poll actually overlapped with all three of the other polls, meaning it can’t have been that opinion has changed. Meanwhile the ComRes poll showed a 4.5% swing from Con to Lab in the 40 most marginal Conservative vs Labour marginals – the equivalent of a two point lead in national polls… exactly what the national polls are currently showing!

Week 6

  • The sixth week of the long campaign started with Tristam Hunt defending comments he had made about nuns, then went through whether Labour’s women’s campaign was right to have a pink van, before settling on the rather more serious matter of tax evasion, the role of HSBC and an abortive legal threat against Ed Miliband by Lord Fink, a Tory donor with a swiss bank account. I expect we shall see some polling about tax evasion and party donors come the weekend, though possibly not about nuns.
  • UKIP launched their election campaign in the seat of Castle Point on the south coast of Essex, a potential target seat that may or may not have had UKIP’s first MP (it was never quite clear whether the defector Bob Spink formally joined UKIP or not) and where the party have formed an alliance with the Canvey Island Independents.
  • The Lib Dems launched the front page of their manifesto, showing us their main points (and their presumed demands in any coalition negotiations) will be promising to increase the personal allowance to £12,500, balance the budget fairly, invest £8bn in the NHS and provide equal mental health care, guarantee education funding and provide qualified teachers and pass “five Green Laws”.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. The long promised seat model from the Polling Observatory team (Rob Ford, Will Jennings, Chris Wlezien and Mark Pickup) finally made its debut this week too. I don’t think it’s up on a website yet, but they put it out at the NCRM’s conference on election forecasting and tweeted it, so I’ve included it below.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 281(-1), LAB 281(+2), LD 23(nc), SNP 41(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 280(-2), LAB 283(nc), LD 27(+3), SNP 37(nc), UKIP 2(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 269(-1), LAB 274(+2), LD 24(-1), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Polling Observatory – Hung Parliament, CON 269, LAB 293, LD 21, SNP 37, UKIP 1


13 Weeks to go

It’s been a fairly quiet week for GB voting intention polls, but an interesting one for constituency polling. For GB polls we’ve had just the regular weekly polls (Opinium for the Observer are now every week) and TNS.

Opinium/Observer (30/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (30/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (1/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 9%
TNS BMRB (2/2/15) – CON 27%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 18%, GRN 8%
Populus (2/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (2/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (3/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (4/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (5/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
Populus (5/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

There’s been no great movement in the polls, but a couple of three point Labour leads and a six point lead from TNS (whose methodology change doesn’t seem to have stopped them being the most “pro-Labour” house after all) have moved the UKPR average to CON 31%(-1), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). This week only one poll showed a Tory lead, so that crossover that looked possible a fortnight ago seems to have faded.

Constituency Polls

Given the large SNP leads in national Scottish polling Lord Ashcroft’s first Scottish constituency polls this week had been long awaited. Rather than a selection of seats from all across Scotland they concentrated on Labour areas that voted YES in the referendum. These showed an even larger swing to the SNP than the national Scottish polls had suggested, which would result in Labour losing some of their safest Scottish seats like Glasgow South West and Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. Whether the Labour vote is holding up any better in areas that voted NO we can’t yet tell. The details of the Ashcroft polling is here and my analysis of it is here.

On the same day we got a Survation poll of Sheffield Hallam for Unite which showed Labour ten points ahead in Nick Clegg’s own seat, in contrast to a previous Lord Ashcroft poll of the constituency which had shown the Liberal Democrats very narrowly ahead. I wrote about the methodological differences that caused these contrasting polls here, but either way you look at it Nick Clegg should not take his own seat for granted come the general election.

Finally, while this blog is called UKPollingReport, it’s often a bit more GBPollingReport – most polls do not include Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland polls are rare creatures. This week though there was a constituency poll in Northern Ireland, carried out by LucidTalk in Belfast East – the former seat of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, lost to the Alliance Party in 2010. Topline figures there with changes from the general election are DUP 34%(+1), Alliance 29%(-8), UUP 15%(-6), PUP 7%(n/a), TUV 3%(-2), SF 2%(nc), UKIP 2%(n/a), GRN 1%(n/a), SDLP 1%(nc). Full tabs are here.

Week five

  • Both parties started the week talking about education – the Conservatives academies, and Labour tuition fees. Academies are a flagship policy of the Conservatives, but not necessarily a popular one. When Nicky Morgan was appointed Education Secretary last year YouGov found 40% of people thought she should abandon the policy of turning schools into academies compared to 32% in support.
  • Labour attacked the government’s tuition fees policy. Labour’s own policy has yet to be announced, but there are rumours of a reduction to £6000. University Vice-Chancellors attacked this idea in the papers, warning about the impact on university funding. Public opinion is likely to be on Labour’s side – in December YouGov found people were in favour of a reduction in tuition fees by 54% to 21%, even if it meant less funding for universities
  • On Tuesday MPs voted in favour of allowing Three Parent IVF treatment to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease. At the weekend the YouGov/Sunday Times poll had found 40% of people in favour of the change, 30% opposed and 30% saying don’t know.
  • Labour came under criticism from various business leaders, primarily Stefano Pessina the boss of Boots. Last year YouGov found 27% of people saw Labour as a pro-business party, 21% as anti-business. In comparison 66% saw the Tories as pro-business, 5% anti-business. Whether people necessarily see being pro-business as a good thing is a different matter entirely… more on this on Sunday.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. All have the SNP prediction ticking up a bit (or in May 2015, a lot).

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 282(nc), LAB 279(-1), LD 23(-1), SNP 41(+1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 282(-1), LAB 283(-2), LD 24(-3), SNP 37(+5), UKIP 2(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 270(-10), LAB 272(-8), LD 25(+1), SNP 56(+18), UKIP 4(-1)


14 weeks to go

Week four of the year we had the regular YouGov, Ashcroft and Populus polls, the first ComRes telephone poll of the year and the first 2015 GB poll from Survation – the first in a regular series for the Daily Mirror.

YouGov/S Times (23/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Survation/Mirror (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 23%, GRN 3%
Populus (25/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (25/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 9%
ComRes/Indy (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (26/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (27/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (28/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
Populus (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%

The polls this week continued to show an extremely tight race – every single poll had the two main parties within one point of each other, and unlike last week there were slightly more polls with the Tories ahead than with Labour ahead. The UKPR average though still has figures of CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(-1), as Opinium and ICM polls from last week are still contributing towards the average. For anyone interested in the differences between some of the polls from different companies, I explored them in this post earlier this week.

Welsh polls

There were also two Welsh voting intention polls out this week, the regular YouGov/ITV/University of Cardiff poll and an ICM poll for the BBC. Westminster voting intention figures for the two polls were:

ICM/BBC – CON 21%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, Plaid 12%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/ITV – CON 23%, LAB 37%, LDEM 6%, Plaid 10%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%

Week four

  • At the beginning of the week there was a lot of froth about UKIP’s NHS policy and the Green party’s policies on membership of extremist groups and a citizen’s income. It’s unlikely that either will make much difference for the simple fact that most people have no idea at all about what their policies are on such issues. For UKIP, the majority of people think they have at least a fairly good idea of what sort of approach they would take on immigration and Europe, but on other subjects people draw a blank. For the Green party 54% think they’ve got some idea what the Green party would do on the environment, but on everything else at least three quarters know nothing. It doesn’t necessarily stop people backing them, as broad perceptions of a party’s values, principle and competence are far more important than specific policies anyway. I suspect that maybe even more the case for parties who have no realistic chance of getting a majority and putting said policies into action.
  • As we passed the 100 days to go mark both Labour and the Conservatives put out new policies, Labour on the NHS, the Conservatives on welfare benefits. The Conservatives headline pledge to reduce the benefit cap to £23,000 was supported by 61% to 25% (including amongst Labour voters), even though people didn’t think it made people look for work. The idea of stopping housing benefit for young people was more divisive – 42% supported the idea, 40% opposed it.
  • The NHS is generally a rock solid issue for Labour anyway – last week they had a thirteen point lead over the Tories on which party people thought would handle the issue the best. Welfare benefits is actually much more contested ground, in the same poll 28% of people thought Labour would handle the issue the best, 28% of people thought the Conservatives would handle the issue the best.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. All are still predicting a hung Parliament, though Election Forecast and May2015 have the Conservatives catching up with Labour after a week of close polls.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 282(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 24(+1), SNP 40(-1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(+5), LAB 285(-1), LD 27(-1), SNP 32(-2), UKIP 2(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 280(+11), LAB 280(-9), LD 24(-3), SNP 38(nc), UKIP 5(+1)