Three new polls today – two GB polls and one Scottish one (and YouGov to come later).

A week ago we had sharply contrasting polls from Lord Ashcroft and Populus – one showing a chunky Conservative lead, one showing a chunky Labour lead, both probably outliers. Today’s Ashcroft and Populus polls are far more normal, both showing a tight race between Conservative and Labour.

Topline figures from Populus are CON 35%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. (tabs). Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll has topline figures of CON 29%(-5), LAB 28%(nc), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 15%(-1), GRN 11%(+3) (tabs). While Ashcroft’s gap between Labour and Conservatives looks a little more normal, the poll has an eye-catching Green score – up to 11%. This is the highest the Greens have scored in any poll since their initial but short-lived breakthrough back in 1989.

As ever, be wary of giving too much attention to the poll that looks interesting and exciting and ignoring the dull ones. The Greens certainly are increasing their support, but there is much variation between pollsters. Below are the latest levels of Green support from those companies who have polled so far in 2015:

greensupport

Support varies between 11 percent from Ashcroft and just 3 percent from Populus. For the very low scores from Populus and ComRes there are at least clear methodological reasons: Populus downweight voters who identify as Green supporters quite heavily, while in ComRes’s online polls they appear to have added a much stricter turnout filter to Green and UKIP voters since they started prompting for UKIP. At the other end of the scale Lord Ashcroft’s polls have consistently tended to show a higher level of support for parties outside the traditional big three, but the reasons for this are unclear.

Meanwhile there was a new Scottish poll from Survation from the Daily Record. Topline Westminster voting intentions with changes from Survation’s previous poll are CON 14%(-2), LAB 26%(+2), LDEM 7%(+2), SNP 46%(-2), GRN 3%(+2), UKIP 4%(nc). (tabs). It shows a small narrowing in the SNP lead, but it was from an extremely large lead last time, so it still leaves them with a huge twenty point lead.


Survation have a new Scottish poll in this morning’s Daily Record. Topline voting intentions for the Westminster general election are CON 16%, LAB 24%, LDEM 5%, SNP 48%, UKIP 4%, GRN 1%. The poll was conducted between Monday and Thursday so wholly after Jim Murphy’s election as Scottish leader – it has clearly had no positive effect for the Labour party. Full tabs are here.

If these figures were repeated at the general election they would result in a crushing victory for the SNP. On a uniform national swing the SNP would win 54 of the 59 seats in Scotland. Of course, were these figures to be maintained and were the next election to be a complete sea-change in how people vote in Scotland, I wouldn’t expect uniform national swing to be a useful predictor anyway. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will over-state SNP performance: Labour are down 18 percent since the last election, the Lib Dems down 14 percent. There were eight seats where Labour got less than 18 percent at the last election, thirty-two seats where the Liberal Democrats got less than 14 percent – it is mathematically impossible for Labour and the Lib Dems to lose enough votes uniformly across the country.

We’ll have a better idea of how the surge in SNP support is distributed across individual seats once Lord Ashcroft carries out his long awaited constituency polling in Scotland early next year. In the meantime, the question for Scottish polling is to what extent, if at all, Labour can recover in Scotland in the five months we have left until the election.


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Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%. It has a Tory lead of one point, following a Labour lead in yesterday’s YouGov/Sun poll. Realistically we are in a position where the two main parties are so close that normal random variation is going to regularly spit out both Labour and Tory leads until and unless one party manages to pull substantially ahead of the other.

Rather out of the blue there was also a Survation constituency poll of Stockton South earlier today – a Conservative held ultra-marginal, currently represented by James Wharton. The poll had topline figures of CON 39%(nc), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 3%(-12), UKIP 18%(+15). Changes are from the general election and technically represent a tiny swing from Labour to the Conservatives. Clearly this is better than the Conservatives are doing in the national polls and they’d be pleased to hold such a vulnerable marginal, but it’s also just one single poll with a relatively small sample size (35% said don’t knows, so the topline figures are based on 571 people). Tabs are here.


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.