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.


The Sun this morning have YouGov voting intention figures – their first since the election – of CON 41%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Note that in terms of methodology, the figures are past vote weighted to the election result for the time being, obviously the pollsters are all still looking into their methods in the light of the pre-election polling and there will be presumably be more changes once the different companies’ internal inquiries and the BPC external inquiry are complete.

The YouGov/Sun poll also had a question on people’s preferred Labour leader, currently Andy Burnham leads the other candidates, but is a mile behind “don’t know”. As was the case a couple of weeks ago, we’re really seeing a race between candidates who have extremely low public profiles, so the figures are pretty much just name recognition.

The YouGov/Sunday Times results from yesterday are here, and largely covered the issue of British perceptions of FIFA and corruption. There is a broad consensus amongst the British public that FIFA, the decisions on Russia and Qatar and Sepp Blatter himself are all corrupt (83% think FIFA corrupt, 78% the hosting decisions, 57% Blatter personally). A majority think the corruption is widespread throughout FIFA, and 46% now think the problem is so deep seated that FIFA is beyond reform and should be disbanded and replaced (a shift from a year ago, when people tended to think FIFA was corrupt but could be mended).

Looking forward people think the Russian World Cup should be cancelled and held elsewhere by 50% to 19%, and think the Qatar World Cup should by cancelled by 67% to 7%. 78% think that Blatter should stand down. There is, however, very little expectation that any of these things will happen – 73% think the Russian World Cup will go ahead, 53% that the Qatar World Cup will go ahead and 51% that Blatter will remain in office.

54% of people think that the England football team should boycott the World Cup if FIFA is not reformed, 18% of people disagree. This is not just people who don’t care about football – even amongst those who say they are interested in football 62% of people would support a boycott of the World Cup. This sounds a little high to me – after all, we’d just asked people lots of questions about what rotters FIFA and Blatter are, which probably disinclined them to say “let’s go along anyway and do nothing about it” but I expect we’ll see some more World Cup boycott questions in days to come.


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Opinion polls are a little light at the moment, and probably will be for the next few weeks. Even at the best of times there is little polling in the weeks immediately following a general election – we’ve just had an actual general election to judge people’s voting behaviour, attention is elsewhere and newspapers will generally have blown their polling budgets in the campaign. I’d expect even less polling over the next few weeks because of the errors in the polls at the general election. Some of the long running trackers like the ICM/Guardian series and MORI political monitor will likely continue just to avoid a gap in the data series, but generally speaking most of the regular polls will probably pause for a bit while they work out what went wrong and sort out solutions to it.

As it is, the next political events we have too look forward to aren’t about Great Britain anyway, but the Scottish, Welsh and London elections next year – I’m sure polling on them will start firing up in the next few months. The other, more immediate, race is the Labour leadership election.

We have had a little polling on that already – the YouGov/Sunday Times poll at the weekend (results here) asked the general public their preferences for Labour leader. Chuka Umunna came first on 17% (fieldwork was conducted before he withdrew), followed by Andy Burnham on 14%, Yvette Cooper on 8%, Tristram Hunt on 3%, Liz Kendall on 2% and Mary Creagh on 1%. Amongst Labour’s own voters Andy Burnham was ahead on 22%, with Chuka Umunna on 19%.

Obviously the key conclusion here isn’t really who is ahead… it’s how low anyone’s figures are. 55% of the general public said don’t know, 40% of Labour voters said don’t know. YouGov also asked separately about if people thought each of the contenders would make a good or bad leader, and in each case a clear majority of respondents said they didn’t know or didn’t know enough about the person to say. This is a race where the public simply aren’t familiar with the personalities of the candidates to have any clear opinion yet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for the next Labour leader – the public having no clear image of you is better than having negative baggage – it just means they need to be pretty careful to make sure people’s first impressions are good ones, as they are difficult to shift once the public have formed an impression.

On the other outstanding issue – what caused the polling error – I’m beavering away at looking at what caused the errors and how to put them right, as I am sure are the other companies. I’m not planning on giving a running commentary, though I gave some thoughts at the end of last week on Keiran Pedley’s Polling Matter’s podcast here.


Two days to go. The huge rush in final polls won’t be until tomorrow, but there are still a fair number of polls out today. I don’t think any of them are proper final calls yet – most companies will produce their eve-of-election numbers tomorrow or on election day itself (it’s illegal to publish an exit poll before polls close, but it’s fine to publish a poll conducted on the eve of election on the morning of polling day). All of today’s look as if they are penultimate polls…

  • Populus today had topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
    (tabs). According to the FT we still have another Populus poll to come before the election.
  • Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 30%, LEM 11%, UKIP 12%, GRN 7%, coming into a much closer race than the rather incongruous six point Tory lead last week. Tabs are here). Ashcroft will have a final call poll on Thursday morning, so one more to come from him.
  • Survation for the Mirror have topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 4% (tabs). Survation have said they’ve got new figures everyday before the election, so we’ll be getting some new figures from them tomorrow too.

UPDATE: We now have three more polls out:

  • A ComRes telephone poll for the Mail and ITV has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%. Again, this is their penultimate poll, with one more to come (presumably tomorrow). Tabs are here.
  • There is also a second BMG poll for May 2015 (which in their case DOES appear to be their final call poll) topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%. Full details here.
  • Finally YouGov’s penultimate poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 34%, LD 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5% – still neck and neck. Their final call will follow tomorrow night.

The YouGov/Sunday Times poll had some questions trying to tease out people’s perceptions of who has the best claim to be PM in a hung Parliament. This is, obviously, not necessarily the same thing as who will be. Much of the discussion I’ve seen on this has been at cross purposes – some people rightly saying that the leader who can command a majority in the Commons has the constitutional right to be PM, others saying that in circumstances X, Y or Z or with party A, B or C that may be seen as illegitimate. These two things are not contradictory – it is perfectly possible to have a situation where a leader has the perfect constitutional right to be Prime Minister, yet is seen as illegitimate by the public. If the study of public opinion tells you anything, it should be that public opinion is quite often wrong. A good example is Gordon Brown in 2010 – remaining as PM while negotiations took place was quite clearly his constitutional duty… but it didn’t stop him getting flak for “squatting” in Downing Street. Public opinion on the legitimacy of who becomes PM won’t make any difference to who gets the invite from the Palace, the maths will decide that, but it may make a difference to how that government is perceived by the public in the longer term.

On this front, by 47% to 26% of people think that the biggest party has the best claim to form a government, even if other parties collectively have more seats. If there is a difference between the party with the most seats and the most votes, by 43% to 29% people think it is votes that should matter.

Asked about whether parties should try to go it alone or form a coalition there is an interesting difference. Should the Conservatives find themselves the largest party then 58% of Tory voters think they should try to strike a deal with other parties to get a majority, 29% think they should try to go it alone. Should Labour find themselves the largest party the figures are much closer – 44% of their voters think they should try to strike a deal, 39% think they should try to go it alone. YouGov then asked what the other side should do in those circumstances… in both cases, the balance of public opinion is that oppositions should give a minority government a chance. If the Conservatives try to go it alone, 32% think the other parties should vote to bring them down, 40% think they should be given a chance. The figures are almost identical for a minority Labour government, 30% think the Tories should just vote them out, 39% that they should give them a chance.

The polling on all these questions will likely be transformed completely next week when the numbers are known and these questions become opinions on a Cameron government, a Miliband government or whatever, rather than hypothetical situations – these aren’t set in stone. I expect many respondents who say largest party should form the government might change their answer in the event largest party was X or Y. The point us how the parties behave next week, whether they are seen as being in the right and behaving in a responsible way will have an impact on the public’s perception of them.

Both the YouGov/Sunday Times poll and the Survation poll asked people who watched the Question Time leaders special earlier in the week who they thought had won – both found Cameron clearly ahead. YouGov had Cameron winning by 42% to Miliband’s 26% and Clegg’s 13%, Survation had Cameron winning on 38% to Miliband’s 24% and Clegg’s 9%.

As well as the YouGov/Sunday Times poll there was also a separate YouGov poll for the Sun on Sunday. This has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5% so is also bang in line with YouGov’s pattern the parties being roughly neck-and-neck. The poll included a question on people’s preferred coalition/deal which showed a very even split, the same as we’ve seen in many other polls – Con/LD 21%, Con/UKIP 18%, Lab/LD 20%, Lab/SNP 16%. However they also asked which coalition people think would be worst, which produced a much clearer result – Lab/SNP 39%, Con/UKIP 32%, Con/LD 6%, Lab/LD 4% – people fear the SNP and UKIP’s influence on government, the poor old Lib Dems are seen as quite benign.