This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is here. Topline Westminster voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. Net doing well/badly figures for the main party leaders are minus 7 for David Cameron, minus 42 for Ed Miliband, minus 55 for Nick Clegg. David Cameron’s figure is his best since March 2012 (before the Omnishambles budget), Ed Miliband’s his worst since last September. There’s also some notable landmarks in the economic trackers – 45% now think the government are managing the economy well, 45% badly, you have to go all the way back to December 2010 to find the last time those there equal. Asked about the current state of the economy only 36% now think it is in a bad way, the lowest since YouGov started asking this question in 2010. Underneath the distorting effect of the European elections on voting intention economic perceptions do seem to be continuing to shift.

For the European elections voting intention figures are CON 23%, LAB 27%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 26%, GRN 9%. This seems to be where YouGov’s European polling has settled down at over the last week or two – Labour and UKIP in a very tight race for first place, the Conservatives in third, the Greens and Lib Dems in a very tight race for fourth place. UKIP could still come top – their voters say they are more likely to actually come out and vote on the day and if you take only those people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote UKIP would be narrowly ahead (YouGov don’t usually filter or weight by likelihood to vote away from general election campaign polls or final call polls).

Comparing voting intentions in the European Parliament and for a general election, just under a quarter of current Conservative voters and one in ten Labour voters say they are backing UKIP in the European election. Or looking at it from the opposite angle, of those people saying they’ll vote UKIP in the European election, only around half would vote UKIP in a general election tomorrow, just under a third would vote Tory (and that’s the mythical general election “tomorrow”, as opposed to how people’s opinions will actually evolve over the next year.)

Europe and immigration are the only issues where people know what UKIP stand for. 42% say they know what UKIP’s policy is on immigration and Europe (and a majority have at least some sort of idea of their direction), for other issues the figure is 7-8%. Even most UKIP voters don’t claim to know what the party’s policy is on things like education and the NHS… but then, those are the sort of things that drive UKIP support. For people voting UKIP in the European election, 39% say it is because they are unhappy with Britain’s membership of the EU. 22% say is it because of immigration. 14% because they are unhappy with the main parties and 14% say it is to send a message or put pressure on the main parties.

People are now split down the middle over whether UKIP are racist or not – 41% think they are, 40% think they are not. On balance people do, however, think UKIP are deliberately trying to appeal to racist voters – 46% say they are, 30% don’t agree. UKIP’s supporters themselves overwhelmingly reject the charge – 93% of UKIP voters think the party are not racist, presumably explaining why the attacks aren’t damaging UKIP more: the people being convinced that UKIP are racist aren’t the sort of people who were voting for them anyway.

50% of people think the coalition have run out of ideas and things to do, 22% think they’ve still got enough ideas for the last year of Parliament. 44% of people would like a general election this year (including the majority of Labour supporters) 44% would like an election in May 2015 as planned (including the majority of Lib Dems and Conservatives).

Asked generally 30% of people think Nick Clegg should continue as Lib Dem leader, 43% think he should be replaced. However, these are largely people opposed to the Lib Dems anyway – amongst their own voters (a small sample size, given the depths they’ve reached!) 62% think he should stay, 25% he should go. In the event the Lib Dems finish behind the Greens then only 46% of Lib Dem voters would want him to stay, 37% would want him to go. In terms of successors, 20% think Vince Cable would be better, 25% think he would be worse. For Danny Alexander and Tim Farron most of the public say they don’t really know enough about them to have an opinion.

There were also two Scottish referendum polls in this morning’s papers. I’ll post separately on them later.

There are two new YouGov polls today – one in the Sunday Times, one in the Sun on Sunday. The Sunday Times poll concentrates on the current political agenda (in this case mostly UKIP, racism and Ed Miliband’s rent controls) and the Sun on Sunday on the wider political landscape.

Westminster voting intention figures both show Labour leads of three points. YouGov/Sunday Times has CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, YouGov/Sun on Sunday have CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%.

European voting intention figures both have UKIP narrowly ahead of Labour. YouGov/Sunday Times has CON 22%, LAB 28%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 29%, GREEN 8%. YouGov/Sun on Sunday has CON 23%, LAB 26%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 29%, GRN 7%. Note the Greens ahead of the Lib Dems in the Sunday Times poll – the first time we’ve seen that. Looking at the multiple YouGov Europe polls this week the broader picture seems to be that UKIP and Labour are neck-and-neck in first place, Conservatives are third, Lib Dems and Greens are neck-and-neck for fourth place.

Both the polls had questions on which party people prefer on various issues. The questions were actually different (the Sunday Times asked about best policy, the Sun on Sunday asked about trust), but the patterns were much the same – the Conservatives lead on economic growth and crime, Labour lead on prices and on public services, UKIP lead on immigration.

The Sun on Sunday also had some leadership questions. David Cameron is way ahead on being suited to the job of Prime Minister, being good in a crisis, being a strong leader and representing Britain abroad. He has a more modest lead on having the best ideas for the country, and comes just ahead of Ed Miliband on being likeable. Ed Miliband is seen as the most honest of the party leaders. Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband come joint top on being seen as in touch.

The Sun on Sunday asked people what they though the best and worst things the coalition government had done were. The government’s best achievements were seen as the £10000 personal tax allowance (39%), the benefit cap (28%), freezing fuel duty (24%), cutting the deficit (22%) and same-sex marriage (20%). The worst things are seen as the bedroom tax (35%), tuition fees (28%), privatising royal mail (27%), increasing VAT (19%) and cutting the 50p top tax rate (19%).

The Sunday Times poll had some more extensive questions about UKIP and the accusations against them in recent weeks. A majority (58%) of respondents did think that UKIP were more likely to have candidates with racist or offensive views than other parties, but on expenses they didn’t think they were any different from the other political parties.

Even if people think the criticisms of UKIP are fair, they don’t necessarily diminish their support. 60% think the accusations about some of UKIP’s candidates being racist or extreme are fair… but only 21% say it has damaged their view of UKIP. 57% say that the accusations that they’d fiddled their expenses are fair… but only 22% say it’s damaged their opinion of UKIP. My guess is that because most people aren’t voting UKIP with the idea that they are going to form a government tomorrow these thing don’t necessarily matter – they are a way of registering a message about immigration and Europe and the political establishment… so it doesn’t really matter if they attract a few oddballs (and indeed, nothing burnishes the impression of being anti-establishment than having the establishment constantly attack you).

Touching on Newark and Nigel Farage, only 18% think he should have stood in Newark and a majority of UKIP voters (54%) think he was right not to.

Finally 56% support the idea of governments introducing rent controls, 33% would rather landlords were free to set their rents (YouGov asked about the broad principle of rent control, rather than the specifics of Labour’s policy). More generally 56% think Ed Miliband is right to suggest more government intervention on things like energy prices and rents, 29% think it’s the wrong direction and governments should generally leave prices to the market.


YouGov have a new European poll out in the Sun this morning, the fieldwork was done over several waves of daily polling, so has a chunky sample size of 5000 or so. Topline European figures are CON 22%, LAB 29%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 28%, GREEN 8%. Unlike the ComRes and TNS polls earlier this week YouGov still have Labour and UKIP almost neck and neck for first place. Note also the Greens, just a single point behind the Lib Dems in the race for fourth place.

YouGov also asked people who were going to vote UKIP to say why in their own words. Now, I should start with a caveat here – as I often say, as people we are not very good judges of what drives the decisions we make. The non-political example I always give is that empirically we know that in supermarkets it increases sales if a product is put on the middle shelf… yet if we asked people what drove their grocery buying decisions I doubt many would say “well, I always go for the stuff on the middle shelf”. Asking people why they vote seems like the obvious and easy way to understand voting intentions, but it’s really a lot more complicated that that. Hence things like this are interesting, but don’t take it as gospel.

Answers essentially fell into three groups. The biggest was the issue of Europe – I’d urge some caution here, it’s obviously an important driver (especially it seems to those people who would vote Conservative at Westminster but UKIP at the European election, who were significantly more likely to cite Europe amongst their reasons for splitting their vote in this way – back in 2009 there were significant differences between committed UKIP voters, and those who voted UKIP only at the Euros. I expect we’ll find similar this time), but it’s also the “correct” answer in way. If we ask people why they are voting as they are in the European election, the party whose European policy you agree with almost seems like the “right answer”. The other two things very commonly cited were immigration, and disillusionment with the main parties (sometimes that came across as “don’t like the other three”, “can’t do worse than those three”, “need to shake up the establishment” sort of expressions, sometimes people specifically said it was a “protest vote against the main parties”). Whatever the relative levels of those three things, it’s what I’d expect to find as the main drivers: anti-immigration, anti-establishment, anti-EU.

The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up online here. Topline figures are CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%. UKIP at 15 is high by their recent standards, though we’ve seen a couple in recent weeks. Also worth noting is that the Greens are on 4%, once again, high by recent standards but something that’s popped up a couple of times this week. I suspect in both cases there is something of the impending European elections boosting parties outside the traditional big three. This also happened at the last European elections, though back then it was impossible to confidently distinguish it from the effect of the expenses scandal.

There is even better news for UKIP and the Greens on European election voting intention. YouGov have been showing UKIP challenging Labour for first place since the debates, they’ve now overtaken – topline European VI stands at CON 19%, LAB 28%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 31%, GREEN 8% – UKIP in first place, Greens challenging the Lib Dems for fourth.

The strong UKIP showing at the European elections does NOT mean people support leaving the EU. Asked how they’d vote in a referendum on EU membership 40% say they would vote to stay, 37% say they would vote to leave. While the lead is only three points, YouGov’s regular tracker is now consistently showing a lead for staying in. In the event David Cameron managed to renegotiate Britain’s membership people would be almost 2-to-1 in favour of remaining within the EU. This raises the question of what counts as a successful renegotiation – the thing people would most like to see is, by some distance, a limit on EU immigration, picked by 56% of respondents. Presented with Cameron’s actual renegotiating priorities 42% say they don’t go far enough, 15% that they go too far, 25% that they are about right.

Cameron’s own position doesn’t seem to be under much risk as a result of the EU elections or the Scottish referendum. As we discussed with the Maria Miller issue, on resignation questions political opponents tend to say people should resign *anyway* – the relevant thing to look at seems to be more the supporters of a politician’s OWN party. So as things stand 44% think Cameron should remain Tory leader and PM (including 88% of Tories), 27% think he should go (mostly Lab, Lib and UKIP). Asked what should happen if the Tories come third in the European election 40% think he should stay, 35% think he should go (amongst Tories 15% think he should resign, 76% think he should stay). If Scotland votes to become independent 49% think he should stay, 26% think he should go (amongst Tories 6% resign, 87% think he should stay). Of course, this is just public opinion, and hypothetical opinion at that: if Scotland votes YES (which would be the far more unprecedented and unpredictable event we don’t know how Westminster opinion would react, or how the public would react to it actually happening.

Turning to UKIP, most people do tend to see UKIP as a protest party (57%) rather than a serious party (20%) – but amongst UKIP voters themselves 71% think they are a serious party with workable policies. Only 25% of people say the UKIP posters this week are racist – 66% do not. Asked about Nigel Farage personally 27% think he is racist, 50% do not. Judging by this and the European election voting intention figures the fuss over the UKIP posters is more likely to have helped their support than damaged it.

Asked about the leaders debates at the next election half of people now want Nigel Farage included. 13% would prefer debates between just Cameron and Miliband as the only potential Prime Ministers, 19% to have three way debates with Clegg like last time.

There was also the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer last night – they had topline figures of CON 32%(+2), LAB 34%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 18%(nc)

Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin have got a new book, Revolt on the Rightout later this week looking at UKIP’s growth and based on extensive polling. This post isn’t about the book as such – I haven’t read it yet – but about the debate that has sprung up in advance of it about who UKIP take support from, who they are a threat too. Rob and Matt’s argument is essentially that UKIP are a threat to Labour (and it’s a claim that UKIP themselves are keen to jump upon for obvious electoral reasons), others have pointed to them being mainly a threat to the Conservatives. To a large extent, I think the apparant argument is often people just answering slightly different questions.

At one level who UKIP are a threat to is an easily answered question just by looking who who their current supporters voted for at the last general election. The answer is straightforward – they disproportionately hurt the Conservatives. In February’s YouGov polling data about 45% of the UKIP vote was made up of former Conservatives, the other 55% was evenly split between former Labour voters, former Lib Dems, existing UKIP and former non-voters. These figures are broadly consistent with other polling – for example, in Lord Ashcroft’s last large poll 43% of UKIP supporters voted Tory last time, the other 57% were split between Lib Dems, existing UKIP, non-voters and Labour. Generally speaking, while the majority of UKIP support is not former Tories, former Tories make up easily their largest single chunk of support, and they take more votes from 2010 Tories than from any other single source.

A second, more nuanced, way of asking the question is to look at who UKIP are taking support from now. It’s not necessarily the party they voted for last time – after all, these are voters who are presumably unhappy with whichever party they were previously supporting. Between March 2012 and February 2013 Labour were pretty consistently polling in the low 40s, more recently their support has averaged around 38. The decline in Labour support has not been accompanied by much of a rise in Conservative support, rather it is UKIP who have gained. We saw the same pattern in local elections in 2013, compared to 2012 the topline changes were that Labour went down, UKIP went up. The explanation for this is not necessarily as simple as people switching directly from Labour to UKIP, there is a lot of churn under polling figures and there could be people moving in and out of “don’t knows”, people moving from Con to UKIP and Lab to Con and so on. However, it does raise the possibility that while UKIP are not winning over many people who voted Labour in 2010, they are winning over people who earlier in this Parliament were saying they might vote Labour.

The third way of looking at UKIP support is to look at the demographics of the people who support them, and here we come to the crux of what Matt and Rob have written about. UKIP’s supporters tend to be older, ill-educated, strongly working class; indeed, their support is more dominated by working class voters than even Labour. In terms of attitude they are not, as I’ve written many times, driven mainly by Europe despite the roots of UKIP – their support is based more on anti-immigration feeling, anti-establishment feeling and a general hostility towards the way Britain has changed in recent years. Taken on it’s own merits this is not a description of a movement or party that should solely worry the Conservatives, indeed, on social class alone it should be a party that is a threat to the Labour party’s base of working class support, especially in the North where the Conservative party’s long term difficulties in attracting working class support mean that there is often a vacancy for an effective opposition to the Labour party.

And yet, if we go back to the first of the three measures, in practice UKIP support so far has drawn far more support from former Conservatives than from former Labour voters. The most interesting question to me is why is that? UKIP do seem to be able to pick up working class support, there is certainly a reservoir of anti-immigration and anti-politician feeling for them to draw upon amongst Labour supporters; there is clearly potential for them to get support from Labour too… and yet they have made only modest inroads there. I’m sure people can come up with all sorts of plausible explanations (UKIP’s party image? Labour’s position as the opposition? Stronger party identification with the Labour party? Failure of UKIP to campaign in Labour areas? Lower turnout amongst those working class groups most amenable to UKIP’s message?) but it’s a question that remains open. The answer is something that could be very instructive for UKIP in building their support and Labour in defending theirs (particularly in the event of a Labour government).