Ipsos MORI released their monthly political monitor yesterday, topline voting intention numbers are CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 9%. These are on the basis of some minor interim changes to methodology (in this case adding how habitually people vote to the turnout model) while the inquiry continues longer term solutions are worked upon. Tabs are here. MORI also asked a question about whether people thought the four Labour leadership candidates had what it took to be a good Prime Minister. Andy Burnham had the best score (or the least worst) – 27% of people thought he did, 27% disagreed. In comparison 22% thought Yvette Cooper did, 16% Liz Kendall and 17% Jeremy Corbyn.

YouGov also published the rest of their poll of Labour party members, conducted for the Times. Tables for part one of the research are here, part two here. The second wave included a question on why party members are voting as they are, showing the contrast between what is driving Burnham, Cooper, Kendall and Corbyn voters. Burnham supporters say they are backing him because he has the best chance of winning, will unite the party and will be the best opposition to the Conservatives. The answers from Cooper supporters are similar, though there is less emphasis on party unity. For Kendall supporters the key reason to back her is seen as having the best change of winning, followed by the being the strongest opposition – 31% of her supporters say they are backing her as a break from Ed Miliband’s party, and only 10% see her as a unifier. The drivers for supporters of Jeremy Corbyn contrast sharply with the other three – only 5% of his supporters say they are backing him as the candidate who has the best chance of winning in 2020, only 5% are backing him as a unifier, the reasons are overwhelmingly because they think he has the best policies and because they think he is a break from New Labour.


A week or so ago Stephen Bush at the New Statesman wrote a piece about how “private polling” from a couple of the Labour leadership campaigns was showing Jeremy Corbyn ahead. At the time I was all set to write a “private polling is nothing special, and there’s no reason to believe it above the published stuff” post, except there wasn’t actually any published stuff. Now there is, and it’s in line with the private polling Stephen was apparently shown.

AYouGov poll of Labour party members (including £3 supporters and trade unionists who have registered to vote) in tomorrow’s Times has first round preferences are CORBYN 43%, BURNHAM 26%, COOPER 20%, KENDALL 11%. As might be expected, Corbyn’s large lead on the first round is chipped away by reallocations of the second preferences of Kendall and Cooper voters in the second and third rounds, but it’s not enough – Corbyn still narrowly beats Burnham by 53% to 47% in the final round.

In the deputy race Tom Watson has a clear lead with 42% to Stella Creasy on 21%, Caroline Flint on 17%, Ben Bradshaw on 11% and Angela Eagle on 10%. Watson comfortably wins once second preferences are reallocated.

So Jeremy Corbyn, who only got onto the ballot by Labour MPs “lending” him votes to broaden the debate, looks like he has serious chance of winning. The Labour leadership race still has weeks to go so there is time for things to change. What I am pondering is how many Labour members were voting Corbyn in order to send a message about Labour staying true to its roots and principles rather than actually wanting him as leader, might they recoil at the thought of him actually winning? Or alternatively, might him being ahead add strength to his campaign now it looks like he could actually do it? We shall see…


-->

While the polling inquiry continues and we all work out what went wrong the Guardian aren’t publishing their ICM/Guardian polls, but they are still being done. Martin Boon has tweeted July’s results, which have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%.

As I wrote in my previous poll, YouGov released a second bite of budget polling on Friday, this part conducted after the initial press reaction to the budget. This wave highlights some of the public’s rather complex views on benefits and the living wage.

Public attitudes to welfare are complicated, sometimes contradictory and it is easy to cherry pick polling results to show the public support or oppose big cuts to benefits, depending on one’s views. At the simplest level people like the idea of benefit cuts because they think they go to people who don’t deserve them and who haven’t contributed to them. Exactly who they imagine these people are is more difficult to say, since if you ask about most groups who recieve benefits people oppose cuts.

So, overall 38% of people say cuts to benefits have gone too far, 23% they they are about right, 24% would go even further. Asked about the level of benefits and the number of people who can claim them 45% say benefits are too generous, 40% they they are too low (23%) or about right (17%); 57% say too many people are eligible, 30% that too few (19%) or about the right number of people are eligible (11%). Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.

Asked about individual groups of people who receive benefits though and the public suddenly become much more charitable. Only 4% think retired people on the state pension get too much in benefits, only 9% think disabled people do, only 12% think people in low paid work do. 19% think working people with children get too much in benefits, but 33% think they should get more. Opinion on unemployed people is the most evenly balanced, with 28% saying they get too much in benefits, 24% too little, 31% about right. The only group where people come down heavily on the side of too much money being spent on benefits is better off retired people… the group that politicians never cut benefits from because they vote.

This raises the question of why people think benefits are too high and too widely spread if they don’t think the unemployed, pensioners, parents, disabled people or the working poor get too much. I hardly think when people talk about benefit cuts they are thinking of winter fuel payments, rather I expect the support comes from the continuing belief that lots of benefits go to categories not asked about like “people who aren’t really disabled”, “people who could work but can’t”, “asylum seekers” and so on.

Attitudes were similarly complex on the government’s national living wage. We saw in Thursday’s poll that this received overwhelming support. This poll however found rather more nuanced attitude. 31% of people think that the living wage will end up increasing unemployment… yet only 7% think it is being set too high (the implication being that some proportion of people think it more important that jobs pay a decent wage than unemployment is minimised). The principle of the government’s approach is backed – 39% think it’s better for government to reduce in-work poverty by forcing business to pay higher wages (even if it increases unemployment) compared to 19% of people who think it is better for government to reduce in-work poverty by using the tax and benefit system (even if it costs a lot). However, asked about their overall perceptions of the budget people think, by 39% to 28%, that it will leave people in low paid jobs worse off. The question the poll hasn’t asked is how much that matters to people. Too what extent, if any, would people rather low paid workers got more money in wages and less in benefits even if they are less well off.


YouGov have their immediate post budget poll out tonight here, overall the budget was seen as fair by 43% of people, unfair by 33%. Compared to Osborne’s past budgets this is pretty so-so, the net rating is less positive than his last two budgets, but better than the mid-term budgets in the last Parliament. The rest of the poll asked about some of the individual measures in the budget:

  • The most popular are, predictably, the introduction of the National Living Wage and the increase in the personal tax allowance which both get overwhelming support.
  • After that limiting child tax credits to two children and lowering the benefit cap both get the support of two-thirds of respondents. There are some areas where government cuts to benefits are pushing up against public opposition, but with the benefit cap and limits on the number of children benefits are given for they still seem to have public opinion firmly on their side.
  • Meeting the 2% NATO target on defence spending and raising the inheritance tax threshold both get majority support. So, slightly to my surprise, did stopping housing benefit for under 21s (some previous polling had suggested opposition to this)
  • Moving the cost of television licences for over 75s to the BBC was supported by 49% of people (34% opposed), freezing working age benefits was supported by 46% (opposed by 36%) and cutting corporation tax was supported by 40% (opposed by 33%).
  • Only two of the measures YouGov asked about were opposed. Limiting public sector pay rises to 1% for the next four years was opposed by 51% of people. The abolition of student grants was opposed by 52% to 24%, the least popular of all the measures tested.

A so-so reception overall, though many of the individual measures were supported. A few important caveats – the first is that budgets are often a lot more or less than the sum of their parts. It is the overall impression a budget creates in people’s minds that matters, not an accounting exercise of “8 measures I like vs 2 measures I don’t like”. The second is that first impressions, while important, can sometimes be misleading. This poll was mostly taken on Wednesday evening and overnight, so most respondents will have answered it before seeing the newspapers’ reactions on Thursday morning and much of the response and debate about the budget on Thursday daytime (not least the IFS verdict on Thursday afternoon). YouGov will have some more in depth polling on the budget going out tonight and reporting tomorrow…


The best estimates of how Britain’s ethnic minorities voted in the 2010 election, taken from the Ethnic Minority British Election Study, are CON 16%, LAB 68%. Last month British Future released a report, based on Survation polling, that suggested that ethnic minority voters in 2015 split CON 33%, LAB 52%.

This would represent a huge turnaround – a doubling of Conservative support amongst ethnic minorities and a drop of sixteen points for Labour. However, it is quite difficult to believe, or to tally with the actual election results we saw. A sixteen point swing from Lab to Con would be stunning (to put it in context, the 1997 swing from Con to Lab was ten points), movements of that scale can happen (look at Scotland), but they are hardly commonplace. And ethnic minority voters are highly concentrated geographically, if there had been such an outlandish movement from Lab to Con amongst BME voters we should have expected to see seats with a high proportion of ethnic minority voters swing disproportionately towards the Conservatives – we didn’t (it was the exact opposite). We would have expected the more ethnically diverse London to swing more towards the Conservatives – it didn’t, it swung much more heavily to Labour.

So what explains the difference? I expect it’s simply down to comparing apples to oranges. Polling ethnic minority voters is a hard challenge. Ethnic minority Britons are likely to be younger, less affluent and often live more transient lifestyles – all things that make groups harder to poll. Recent immigrants (and even some longer term residents) may speak English as a second language or not at all, which poses a problem for surveys. And of course, if a poll under-represents less affluent, less established, integrated and English-speaking minority communities and over-represents those who have been here for generations it may well misrepresent their voting intentions.

The 2010 Ethnic Minority BES (EMBES) was conducted using a proper stratified random sample. For reasons of cost it was limited to areas of comparatively high ethnic minority concentration, but the cut off was very low (it excluded areas with less than 2% ethnic minorities, where 12% of ethnic minorities in Britain lived). They contacted 31,000 randomly selected addresses in order to find 4224 eligible respondents and amongst them managed a response rate of 66%. Doorstep translation cards were available in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali, and other household members were allowed to act as translators if the person selected couldn’t speak English (there were translated versions of the survey available to assist). The British Future poll was done using an internet panel so would have covered ethnic minority voters living in all parts of Britain and all ethnic minority groups (the EMBES concentrated on Black African and Caribbean, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi) but only those integrated enough into British society to have joined internet panels doing surveys in English.

Any difference between the two polls therefore may just as likely be from the radically different ways the polls were conducted as from an actual shift in voting behaviour. What we need in order to be confident is to compare like-with-like, data from 2010 and 2015 that was collected in the same way. Over on the YouGov site they have some analysis by Rob Ford, Laurence Janta-Lipinski and Maria Sobolewska comparing YouGov’s ethnic minority vote in 2010 and 2015. As with Survation’s internet poll, YouGov’s internet poll found higher levels of Conservative support amongst ethnic minorities than in the EMBES… but crucially, if you compared their 2010 figures to their 2015 figures there was only modest movement towards the Tories, it suggests a swing from Lab to Con amongst ethnic minority voters of 2 percent, rather than 16 percent.

We can do a similar thing with Ipsos-MORI’s data – after every election they publish a big aggregate of their data from the campaign, so we can compare their breakdown amongst ethnic minority voters in 2015 with that in 2010. Similar to the comparison in YouGov data, it shows some movement towards the Conservatives amongst BME voters, but only a modest one – MORI data suggests a 1 percent swing.

So the Conservatives do seem to be making some progress amongst ethnic minority voters… but it’s probably only a modest advance, as yet the huge Labour advantage amongst BME voters remains almost as large as it was at previous elections.