It’s now exactly one month to go until the Scottish referendum, and this morning’s Times has a fresh YouGov Scottish poll. Topline figures are YES 38%(+3), NO 51%(-4). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 43%(+4), NO 57%(-4). The 43% YES figure excluding don’t knows is the highest YouGov have shown so far.

The previous YouGov poll straddled the Salmond-Darling debate, so this is their first test of support post-debate. Looking at all four of the post-debate polls, we’ve now got Survation showing a significant move to NO, Panelbase and ICM showing modest movement towards YES and YouGov showing a significant shift towards YES.

Clear as mud, but I think it’s fair to conclude that despite Alistair Darling emerging as the initial “winner” of the first debate, the broad trend amongst the post-debate polls is looking like things may have actually moved a little in the YES direction.

Looking back at the post-debate poll, it might be worth remembering that existing NO supporters tended to think Darling won, existing YES supporters tended to think Salmond won – so Darling’s “victory” was largely a result of him having more supporters to begin win. If subsequent polls do confirm that there has been a movement to YES since the debate, perhaps we’ll conclude that attitudes towards who won the debate were different amongst swing voters…


Kevin Schofield at the Sun has just tweeted out the latest YouGov Scottish polling from tomorrow morning’s Sun (£). Topline figures are YES 35%, NO 55%. Without don’t knows it works out at YES 39%, NO 61%. The fieldwork for the poll straddled the debate – just over half took place pre-debate.

39/61 is exactly the same as the last Scottish YouGov poll, but it isn’t directly comparable. There are two slight changes in YouGov’s Scottish methodology since the previous poll. The first is that the sample is extended to include 16 and 17 year olds – though this didn’t actually make any difference to the result.

The second is that YouGov have added an extra weighting variable, weighting according to people’s country of birth. For some reason raw samples seem to contain too many respondents who were born in England, and English born people are more likely to vote NO (Panelbase found the same, and also adopted place of birth as an extra weighting variable in their latest poll). This additional weight does makes a slight difference to final result, making the results slightly more “YES”. Under the old weighting scheme the results would have been YES 38%, NO 62%, a slight shift towards NO.


The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%.

Most of the rest of the poll dealt with Boris Johnson’s planned return to Parliament. Dealing with the practical implications first, 35% think Boris should stand down as mayor if he wants to stand for Parliament, 54% think it is fine for him to do this at the same time as being Mayor. If he actually gets elected 60% think he should stand down as Mayor, in the event he becomes Tory leader 79% think he should resign as Mayor.

Looking forward to whether there is a vacancy, 44% of people think that David Cameron should resign as Tory leader if he loses the next election, only 29% would like him to stay (a majority of Tory voters would actually back Cameron staying on as leader after a defeat, though personally I can’t imagine it being an issue – I think he’d step down anyway). If David Cameron wins the next election then by 46% to 28% people would like him to remain for a full term, 80% of Tory voters would want him to serve a full term.

Were Cameron to go, Boris is the frontrunner to succeed him. 30% would back Boris as the best Tory leader, ahead of Theresa May on 16% and George Osborne on just 7%. Amongst Tory voters Boris leads Theresa May by 41% to 15%.

Asked which words best describe Boris Johnson likeable (34%), buffoon (32%), entertaining (31%) and intelligent (26%) come top. It’s unusual for any politician to have three positive words in the top four of a question like this, but it flags up Boris’s shortcomings too: statesmanlike (1%) and competent (7%) are down at the bottom of the list. In a separate question 36% think Boris Johnson would be up to the job of Prime Minister, 43% think he would not.

And what difference would Boris as leader actually make? Well, with all the usual caveats for questions like this (people are crap at answering hypothetical questions and have no idea what Boris would actually do and say as leader) it wouldn’t actually make much difference to voting intention at all. A control question asking how people would vote with the current leaders produces voting intentions of CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%… with Boris as Conservative leader it would change to CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%.


There are three polls in the Sunday papers today – GB polls by YouGov and Opinium, and a new Scottish poll by Survation.

YouGov in the Sunday Times have tables here. Topline voting intention is CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%. The main part of the poll deals with Ed Miliband’s image, following his speech at the start of the week. As we know from countless other polls, Miliband’s ratings on best PM, being up to the job being a strong leader and so on are poor. The questions today were prodding at whether that is indeed something to do with “image” or even “looks” (I say “prodding” – I don’t think it’s really possible to answer the question conclusively).

Asked whether each man has the right policies or looks the part of PM Ed Miliband narrowly leads Cameron on policies: 38% think Ed Miliband has the right policies, compared to 32% who think David Cameron has the right policies. On looking and sounding like a Prime Minister 57% think Cameron looks the part, only 13% think Ed Miliband does. Of course, it easier to look like a Prime Minister when you actually ARE Prime Minister, but that doesn’t explain the gulf between the men’s ratings – YouGov also sometimes ask a question about the opposition leader “looking like a PM in waiting”. Ed Miliband tends to score around 20% or so, when Cameron was leader of the opposition he scored up in the forties.

Ed Miliband’s negative rating do not seem to be due to physical attractiveness, it’s not a case of Miliband being “too ugly” as John Humphrys once put it, as quite frankly neither of them are seen as attractive. Only 6% think Ed Miliband is attractive, but only 16% think David Cameron is. However asked if they physically look like a credible national leader Ed Miliband scores only 15%, David Cameron scores 55%. Clearly looking like a credible leader is not the same as looking physically attractive.

Does this matter at all? Well, the large majority of people say it SHOULDN’T matter – 80% said it shouldn’t matter much or shouldn’t matter at all when it comes to how the public vote at a general election. However, in practice people think it DOES – 55% think it actually does matter a lot or a fair amount. I suspect they are correct. I doubt very many people consciously sit down and think “I don’t think they’d make a good Prime Minister because they are funny looking”, but psychologically we all have many prejudices and biases about people based upon what they look and sound like. Unavoidably our views of politicians will be skewed by our gut impressions of their appearance – and the less closely people follow politics the more important those gut instincts and prejudices probably are.

And, my usual caveat about the Ed Miliband paradox: Labour are still in the lead. If people do think Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a leader, he hasn’t suddenly started looking that way; he’s unlikely to start looking less “leadery” as the election approaches. It’s already there in the price and it hasn’t stopped Labour being ahead in the polls. That doesn’t mean his image isn’t a negative for Labour (they could be further ahead without the problem), but it does mean Miliband as leader is not incompatible with Labour winning. The question, which I don’t think is currently answerable (except through wishful thinking one way or the other), is whether or not public perceptions of the opposition leader may become more salient as the election approaches and it becomes not just a judgement on the government, but a choice between two alternative governments.

Moving on, Opinium’s fortnightly poll for the Observer also has a three point Labour lead. Topline figures are CON 32%(+1), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 15%(-2), GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

Finally Survation have a new Scottish poll, which shows very little change on their previous. Topline referendum voting intentions are YES 40%(-1), NO 46%(nc), Don’t knows 14%(+1). Excluding don’t knows it’s YES 47%, NO 53%, the same as Survation’s last poll. Tabs are here

The poll was conducted between Wednesday and Friday so while it isn’t the first “post-Commonwealth Games” poll, it’s the first poll where we can really look for a Commonwealth Games effect. Thus far there’s no obvious sign of one.


YouGov London polling

Over the last couple of days the Evening Standard have been reporting the contents of a new YouGov London poll – yesterday here and today here.

YouGov found London voting intentions of CON 35%(nc), LAB 45%(+3), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 8%(-2), GRN 4%(nc). Labour are up three since June, but this poll would still suggest Labour doing slightly worse in London than elsewhere (a ten point lead for Labour in London is a 4 point swing since the general election, whereas GB polls are currently showing a 5 1/2 point swing to Labour.)

YouGov also repeated a batch of questions about Boris Johnson returning to Parliament. 37% of Londonders now think it is reasonable for him to seek to return to Parliament in 2015, but 43% think he should not consider doing so until he has completed his term as mayor. If he were to be elected as an MP in 2015 50% think he should stand down as mayor immediately, 34% think it would be okay for him to do both for a year.

Finally today’s poll looked at the possible Labour candidates for London mayor. Tessa Jowell comes top… but only on 12%, narrowly ahead of Diane Abbott on 8%. Amongst London Labour voters Jowell also comes top, but still only on 16%. I think the reality is that questions like this are largely just a recognition contest… and none of the candidates are particularly well known (I haven’t seen anyone even bother asking who should succeed Boris as the Conservative candidate!)