There are four polls in the Sunday papers – Lord Ashcroft, Opinium, Survation and YouGov.
The majority of the fieldwork for the YouGov/Sunday Times and Opinium/Observer polls was conducted before the results of the Clacton by-election were known. Opinium have topline figures of CON 28%(-4), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 17%(n/c). YouGov have topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%. Lord Ashcroft didn’t put voting intention figures in the headline results but they were asked and are in the tables themselves, results were CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18% – note that the poll was conducted online, whereas Ashcroft’s regular VI polls are done by phone.
Survation’s poll in the Mail on Sunday was conducted wholly on Friday – in the full glare of the post-Clacton by-election media coverage, and it shows the big boost for UKIP that we expected. Topline figures of CON 31%(nc), LAB 31%(-4), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 25%(+6). 25% is the highest that UKIP have ever hit in a poll. To put that in context Survation do tend to show the highest levels of support for UKIP anyway, but their previous highest was 22% and their average this year for UKIP has been 19%, so this is a significant boost anyway.
Lord Ashcroft’s poll was largely a repeat of some pre-conference questions to see if there was any impact. The survey included an opened ended question asking if people had noticed the Conservatives and Labour saying or doing anything over the last few weeks – for both parties 20% of people said that there had been a conference, the most recalled specifics were 15% remembering proposed tax cuts from the Tories, and 15% remembering that Ed Miliband forgot part of his speech. Changes in other questions were largely just a reinforcement of the existing pattern – so Labour increased their lead on “being on the side of people like me”, the Conservatives increased their lead on things like “being clear what they stand for”, “cutting the deficit” and “reforming welfare”.
Ashcroft did ask one interesting new question – a forced choice asking if people wanted Labour & Miliband to win, Labour despite Miliband, Miliband despite Labour, and the equivalent options for the Conservatives. The balance of opinion was 54% Conservative/Cameron and 46% Labour/Miliband, but the splits were interesting. Amongst Tory voters 75% wanted to see Cameron & the Conservatives win the election. Amongst Labour voters only 37% were happy with Labour and Miliband, 47% said they wanted Labour in government, even if it meant Miliband as PM. Amongst Liberal Democrat voters 66% opted for the Conservatives/Cameron, but mostly because they’d rather Cameron remained PM even if it meant the Conservatives in power. Amongst UKIP voters 66% opted for Conservatives/Cameron, 30% saying they’d want to keep Cameron even if meant the Tories, 26% because they’d rather keep the Tories even if meant Cameron.
Both YouGov and Ashcroft asked about likelihood to change at the next election. YouGov found the UKIP vote was a little softer than the Conservative and Labour parties’ – 58% of Conservatives say they are certain to vote that way, 59% of Labour voters, but only 46% of UKIP voters. Looking at potential changes, 24% of current Conservative voters said they’d consider voting UKIP at the general election, as would 11% of current Labour voters. Looking at possible movement in the opposite direction, 27% of current UKIP voters say they’d consider voting Conservative come the election, 9% would consider Labour. If the UKIP vote does get squeezed closer to the election it will benefit the Tories… but if they don’t, if the rollercoaster keeps going, there is more risk for the Tories too. Ashcroft asked the question slightly differently, only targeting those who said they might change and asking a “tick all that apply”, but the pattern of support was exactly the same.
YouGov also asked people how they might vote if their own seat looked like it would be a race between certain parties – the aim was to try and see how UKIP voters might be squeezed in marginals, but of course it also gives us some interesting pointers of possible tactical behaviour in other seats. In Conservative/Labour marginals 34% of UKIP voters say they would vote for the Conservative party, in Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginals 30% of Ukippers would vote Conservative. Imagining themselves in a Con/Lab marginal the remaining Lib Dems voters are as likely to vote tactically for the Conservatives as for Labour. 39% of Conservative voters say they’d vote tactically for the Lib Dems in Lab/LD seats, 36% of Lab voters would still be prepared to hold their nose and vote tactically for the Lib Dems in Con/LD marginals.
Tabs are here: YouGov, Survation, Ashcroft.