Ipsos MORI have released their monthly political monitor. It’s their first poll since Theresa May became Prime Minister, so the changes since last month show the same honeymoon boost we’ve seen in other companies’ figures. Topline figures are CON 45%(+9), LAB 34%(-1), LDEM 7%(-4), UKIP 6%(-2), GRN 4%(nc). The Conservative figure of 45% is the highest MORI have shown since back in 2009 (and note how low UKIP is – MORI tend to show some of the lower figures for UKIP and other recent polls haven’t shown them nearly as low, but it’s hardly positive). Full tabs are here.

Yesterday ICM also put out their latest voting intention polling. Topline figures were CON 40%(-3), LAB 28%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 14%(+1), GRN 4%(nc). Still a very robust twelve point Conservative lead, but down from the sixteen point peak in ICM’s last poll. Tabs are here.


A wrote a few weeks ago that in the past the boost enjoyed by a Prime Minister taking over mid-term has often only lasted a month or so. The latest YouGov poll suggests that Theresa May’s honeymoon is following the same pattern and has now started to fade. Topline figures are CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%. It’s still showing a healthy Tory lead, but not the towering double-digit leads we’ve seen in the last few polls. This is, of course, just a single poll and we should wait to see if other polls shown the same trend, but it’s the first sign of the May honeymoon beginning to wane (tabs here)

UPDATE: TNS also have new voting intention figures out and they have the Tories still enjoying a double-digit lead. Topline figures are CON 39%, LAB 26%, LD 10%, UKIP 11%, GRN 7% (tabs are here). Fieldwork was over the weekend, so a little older than the Mon-Tues YouGov data, but not by much. A couple of interesting methodological notes here – looking at TNS’s tables, it looks like they are including the names of the party leaders in their voting intention question (just the GB leaders in the English question, but also the Scottish and Welsh leaders in their respective areas). Based on the tables, they are also asking preferred party on the economy and preferred leader before asking voting intention.


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YouGov’s latest voting intention figures in the Times this morning are CON 42%(+2), LAB 28%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 12%(-1), GRN 3%(-1). The changes since last week are not significant in themselves, but push the Conservatives to a fourteen point lead, the largest from YouGov since November 2009.

It looks very much as if Theresa May is still enjoying a honeymoon as Tory leader (though the Tories may also be being aided by the disarray in the Labour party – it is impossible to disentangle one potential cause from the other).

Full tabs are here.


New party leaders normally enjoy a honeymoon in the polls. It’s noticeable for leaders taking over in opposition, on the relatively rare occassion that the party leadership changes hands in government the honeymoon is often remarkable. In the last fifty years there have been three previous occasions when the premiership changed hands between-elections:

  • Wilson-Callaghan, 1976. When Harold Wilson announced his resignation in the middle of March the polls were showing a Conservative lead of between two and five points. The polls immediately following Wilson’s resignation and during Callaghan’s first month in office showed Labour leads of between one and seven points, before returning to a steady Tory lead in May.
  • Thatcher-Major, 1990. Margaret Thatcher was famously removed by the Tory party in November 1990. In the month before the leadership election Labour had an average poll lead of thirteen points. In the month immediately following her resignation and replacement by John Major the Conservatives had an average lead of five points, peaking at 11 points. Over the next few months the polls settled down to an average Tory lead of four points or so.
  • Blair-Brown, 2007. The Blair-Brown handover was a more drawn out affair: Blair announced his resignation at the start of May 2007, when the Conservatives had a poll lead of around six points, and actually handed over to Gordon Brown at the end of June. Through July and August Brown enjoyed an average Labour lead of around five points, peaking in double-digit leads during the Labour conference at the end of September… and their rapid collapse afterwards. The Conservatives were ahead again by October, and remained so for the rest of the Parliament.

Every mid-term change of Prime Minister has been accompanied by a significant boost in polling figures – in the three historical cases, they’ve gone from trailing the opposition to a clear polling lead. The boosts have tended to be comparatively short though – Callaghan and Major only enjoyed a month or so before settling down into a new equilibrium, Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods. There’s no clear pattern as to where the polls settle after the honeymoon: I suppose it depends very much on the leader. Once the honeymoons had passed the change in leader didn’t make that much difference in 1976 and 2007 (in both cases Labour’s position absolutely tanked a few months down the line… but for different reasons), in 1990 though there was a long lasting improvement in Tory support.

So to the current polling position. Today’s ICM poll has topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 13(-1) (tabs are here). It follows on from an ICM poll last week showing the Conservatives ten points ahead, a YouGov poll giving the Conservtives an eleven point lead and an Opinium poll giving them a more modest six point lead. All four polls had Labour around or just below 30% and the Conservatives nearer 40%, UKIP down a little from the levels of support they’d been showing before the referendum.

Viewed together it certainly looks like the sort of boost a new Prime Minister normally receives, which is a good reason not to read too much into it. New Prime Ministers receive good poll ratings because they haven’t had to annoy too many people yet – the public can project their hopes onto them and convince themselves they really will be different, really will deliver this, that or the other. Before long, however, the shine will come off and they’ll have to start making compromises and disappointing people. This is one good reason for Theresa May not to plan for an early election (and the mistake Gordon Brown made in not shutting down such considerations) – the current polls look wonderful for her, but on past timescales they won’t necessarily be so rosy in a couple of months time. It’s also a crumb of comfort for Labour… though quite a small crumb.

UPDATE: YouGov have fresh voting intention figures that also show a strong lead for the Conservatives, albeit, not quite as big as ICM’s. Their topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here


Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has a much closer race than ICM’s last poll. Topline figures are CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 8%, GRN 4% (full tabs are here.)

The poll was conducted over the weekend before Theresa May became Prime Minister, though did include a question on whether people thought she had what it took to be a good Prime Minister (55% of people though she did, 27% did not).

Given it is being rampantly misrepresented on social media, I should also explain about MORI’s turnout filter and how they present their figures (and why, therefore, some people are tweeting entirely different MORI figures!). These days the overwhelming majority of opinion polls contain some sort of adjustment for how likely people are to vote. The general pattern is that older people and middle class people are more likely to vote than younger people and working class people; older people and middle class people are also more likely to vote Conservative, younger people and working class people more likely to vote Labour. This means if a poll just included everyone, with no reference to how likely or unlikely they actually are to vote, then it would overstate Labour when compared to actual election results.

Polling companies account for this by weighting by likelihood to vote (the more likely you are to vote, the more your answer is counted) or filtering by likelihood to vote (only taking people who say they are likely to vote), based either on how likely people say they are to vote, or on demographic modelling. In the case of MORI, their topline figures are based only on people who say they are at least 9/10 likely to vote AND that they always, usually or have sometimes voted in the past. This makes a substantial difference to their topline figures – without this adjustment they would have been showing a five point Labour lead.

MORI’s headline figure is the one that is adjusted for turnout – the one point Conservative lead – which they regard as a better indicator of actual voting intention. However, because MORI’s political monitor has been going since the 1970s they still publish the figures without the turnout adjustment to preserve the data trend, even if they don’t feel it paints an accurate picture in an era of lower turnouts.

In short, if you are looking at Ipsos MORI figures with a view to seeing how well the parties might do in a general election tomorrow, you need to look at the figures that account for how likely people actually are to vote, not take false solace from figures that don’t take turnout into account.