The best estimates of how Britain’s ethnic minorities voted in the 2010 election, taken from the Ethnic Minority British Election Study, are CON 16%, LAB 68%. Last month British Future released a report, based on Survation polling, that suggested that ethnic minority voters in 2015 split CON 33%, LAB 52%.

This would represent a huge turnaround – a doubling of Conservative support amongst ethnic minorities and a drop of sixteen points for Labour. However, it is quite difficult to believe, or to tally with the actual election results we saw. A sixteen point swing from Lab to Con would be stunning (to put it in context, the 1997 swing from Con to Lab was ten points), movements of that scale can happen (look at Scotland), but they are hardly commonplace. And ethnic minority voters are highly concentrated geographically, if there had been such an outlandish movement from Lab to Con amongst BME voters we should have expected to see seats with a high proportion of ethnic minority voters swing disproportionately towards the Conservatives – we didn’t (it was the exact opposite). We would have expected the more ethnically diverse London to swing more towards the Conservatives – it didn’t, it swung much more heavily to Labour.

So what explains the difference? I expect it’s simply down to comparing apples to oranges. Polling ethnic minority voters is a hard challenge. Ethnic minority Britons are likely to be younger, less affluent and often live more transient lifestyles – all things that make groups harder to poll. Recent immigrants (and even some longer term residents) may speak English as a second language or not at all, which poses a problem for surveys. And of course, if a poll under-represents less affluent, less established, integrated and English-speaking minority communities and over-represents those who have been here for generations it may well misrepresent their voting intentions.

The 2010 Ethnic Minority BES (EMBES) was conducted using a proper stratified random sample. For reasons of cost it was limited to areas of comparatively high ethnic minority concentration, but the cut off was very low (it excluded areas with less than 2% ethnic minorities, where 12% of ethnic minorities in Britain lived). They contacted 31,000 randomly selected addresses in order to find 4224 eligible respondents and amongst them managed a response rate of 66%. Doorstep translation cards were available in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali, and other household members were allowed to act as translators if the person selected couldn’t speak English (there were translated versions of the survey available to assist). The British Future poll was done using an internet panel so would have covered ethnic minority voters living in all parts of Britain and all ethnic minority groups (the EMBES concentrated on Black African and Caribbean, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi) but only those integrated enough into British society to have joined internet panels doing surveys in English.

Any difference between the two polls therefore may just as likely be from the radically different ways the polls were conducted as from an actual shift in voting behaviour. What we need in order to be confident is to compare like-with-like, data from 2010 and 2015 that was collected in the same way. Over on the YouGov site they have some analysis by Rob Ford, Laurence Janta-Lipinski and Maria Sobolewska comparing YouGov’s ethnic minority vote in 2010 and 2015. As with Survation’s internet poll, YouGov’s internet poll found higher levels of Conservative support amongst ethnic minorities than in the EMBES… but crucially, if you compared their 2010 figures to their 2015 figures there was only modest movement towards the Tories, it suggests a swing from Lab to Con amongst ethnic minority voters of 2 percent, rather than 16 percent.

We can do a similar thing with Ipsos-MORI’s data – after every election they publish a big aggregate of their data from the campaign, so we can compare their breakdown amongst ethnic minority voters in 2015 with that in 2010. Similar to the comparison in YouGov data, it shows some movement towards the Conservatives amongst BME voters, but only a modest one – MORI data suggests a 1 percent swing.

So the Conservatives do seem to be making some progress amongst ethnic minority voters… but it’s probably only a modest advance, as yet the huge Labour advantage amongst BME voters remains almost as large as it was at previous elections.


Two days to go. The huge rush in final polls won’t be until tomorrow, but there are still a fair number of polls out today. I don’t think any of them are proper final calls yet – most companies will produce their eve-of-election numbers tomorrow or on election day itself (it’s illegal to publish an exit poll before polls close, but it’s fine to publish a poll conducted on the eve of election on the morning of polling day). All of today’s look as if they are penultimate polls…

  • Populus today had topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
    (tabs). According to the FT we still have another Populus poll to come before the election.
  • Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 30%, LEM 11%, UKIP 12%, GRN 7%, coming into a much closer race than the rather incongruous six point Tory lead last week. Tabs are here). Ashcroft will have a final call poll on Thursday morning, so one more to come from him.
  • Survation for the Mirror have topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 4% (tabs). Survation have said they’ve got new figures everyday before the election, so we’ll be getting some new figures from them tomorrow too.

UPDATE: We now have three more polls out:

  • A ComRes telephone poll for the Mail and ITV has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%. Again, this is their penultimate poll, with one more to come (presumably tomorrow). Tabs are here.
  • There is also a second BMG poll for May 2015 (which in their case DOES appear to be their final call poll) topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%. Full details here.
  • Finally YouGov’s penultimate poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 34%, LD 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5% – still neck and neck. Their final call will follow tomorrow night.

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We have good four or five polls in the final Sunday papers before the election, here is what’s appeared so far:

Opinium in the Observer continue to show a very tight race, in this case with the Conservatives just ahead. Topline figures are CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. Full tables are results are here. Note that while the Observer describe the poll as the last Opinium/Observer poll before the election that doesn’t mean it’s Opinium’s final call, they’ll hopefully have another poll in the week.

ComRes have a new telephone poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror. Their topline voting intention figures also have the race right down to the wire – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%. Interestingly this is a telephone poll rather than an online one, in the past ComRes have tended to do online polling for their Sunday newspaper contract and phone polling for their daily newspaper contract. It suggests we may not be getting an online ComRes poll we can compare to the election result. Tabs are here.

Survation for the Mail on Sunday have Labour ahead. Their topline figures are CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 4%. Their poll also included a version of the question prompted with candidate names in respondents’ own constituencies (something MORI used to do in their face-to-face polls at election time and Angus Reid did in their election polls in 2010) – that produced figures of CON 29%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. Tabs are here.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times continues to float around neck-and-neck. Today’s figures are CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. YouGov and the Sunday Times also have a new (separate!) Scottish poll, that has topline figures of CON 17%, LAB 25%, LDEM 5%, SNP 49%.


So far today we have had a new poll from TNS and a Scottish poll from Survation, with YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun still to come.

  • TNS’s latest poll has topline GB voting intentions of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (tabs).
  • Survation join Panelbase, YouGov and TNS in showing the SNP lead over Labour widening in Scotland. Their latest Scottish figures with changes from March are CON 14%(-2), LAB 26%(nc), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 51%(+4), UKIP 2%(-2) (tabs).
  • YouGov’s daily poll will, as usual, be out around half-past ten. Their figures in last night’s poll for the Sun were CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5% (tabs).

There are three GB voting intention polls in tomorrow’s papers – YouGov, Opinium and Survation. Topline figures for all three are below:

  • YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
  • Opinium/Observer – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6% (tabs)
  • Survation/Mail on Sunday – CON 33%, LAB 30%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4% (tabs)