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.

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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.


We have good four or five polls in the final Sunday papers before the election, here is what’s appeared so far:

Opinium in the Observer continue to show a very tight race, in this case with the Conservatives just ahead. Topline figures are CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. Full tables are results are here. Note that while the Observer describe the poll as the last Opinium/Observer poll before the election that doesn’t mean it’s Opinium’s final call, they’ll hopefully have another poll in the week.

ComRes have a new telephone poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror. Their topline voting intention figures also have the race right down to the wire – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%. Interestingly this is a telephone poll rather than an online one, in the past ComRes have tended to do online polling for their Sunday newspaper contract and phone polling for their daily newspaper contract. It suggests we may not be getting an online ComRes poll we can compare to the election result. Tabs are here.

Survation for the Mail on Sunday have Labour ahead. Their topline figures are CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 4%. Their poll also included a version of the question prompted with candidate names in respondents’ own constituencies (something MORI used to do in their face-to-face polls at election time and Angus Reid did in their election polls in 2010) – that produced figures of CON 29%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. Tabs are here.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times continues to float around neck-and-neck. Today’s figures are CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. YouGov and the Sunday Times also have a new (separate!) Scottish poll, that has topline figures of CON 17%, LAB 25%, LDEM 5%, SNP 49%.


So far today we have had a new poll from TNS and a Scottish poll from Survation, with YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun still to come.

  • TNS’s latest poll has topline GB voting intentions of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (tabs).
  • Survation join Panelbase, YouGov and TNS in showing the SNP lead over Labour widening in Scotland. Their latest Scottish figures with changes from March are CON 14%(-2), LAB 26%(nc), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 51%(+4), UKIP 2%(-2) (tabs).
  • YouGov’s daily poll will, as usual, be out around half-past ten. Their figures in last night’s poll for the Sun were CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5% (tabs).