YouGov’s voting intention figures for the Sunday Times tomorrow are CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12% (!). That is YouGov’s lowest score for the Liberal Democrats since October 2007 (and for the record, October 2007 saw them at 11%, immediately before and after Ming Campbell’s removal as leader).

Of course while we give a lot of attention to polls showing extremes, almost by definition they tend to be the outliers. That said, looking at the broader picture of YouGov’s daily polling the Liberal Democrats are definitely upon a downwards trend. In early July YouGov were putting them around 16-17%, in mid July they were pretty solidly on 15%, in the last week and a half we’ve frequently seen polls putting them at 14%, this is the second to put them below that.

I doubt this poll reflects a sudden drop in Lib Dem support – they’ll probably be back up around their current YouGov average of 14% on Monday – rather it’s a continuation of that downwards trend. Lib Dem ministers still don’t seem too worried about their position in the polls, commonly dismissing it as just what happens to a junior coalition partner until they find their voice, but presumably it will become a cause of concern for some point (not just for the Lib Dems, but presumably also for Conservatives who fear it placing pressure upon the coalition.

The overnight YouGov figures for the Sun had voting intentions of CON 43%, LAB 35%, LDEM 14%(!). The changes are well within the margin of error of the recent levels of support that the parties have been showing and it is the sort of figure we’d expect to pop up occassionally with the Lib Dems floating around 15% in recent polls, but it’s worth recording that this is the Liberal Democrats lowest level of support since well before the general election. On a uniform swing it would reduce them to a rather sorry 16 seats, though in practice incumbency does tend to give Lib Dem MPs some degree of protection.

UPDATE: I said in the previous post that we hadn’t had a Populus voting intention poll since the General election. Since then they’ve put up the tables from their post-budget poll, which did have voting intentions after all, though I don’t think the Times reported them at the time. They are, of course, long out of date now, having been conducted in late June, but for the record they showed CON 39%, LAB 33%, LDEM 18%.


The latest YouGov voting intentions are now up here, and show CON 41%, LAB 36%, LDEM 15%, Others 9%.

YouGov have been continuing daily polling since the election (and will continue doing so), but from this week have started putting out voting intention and government approval figures daily again. In fact, we’ve been asking them both daily for several weeks, but only putting them out in chunks now and again.

I’m not going to make a big fuss of the new figures each day – not least because one can only say “no significant change from yesterday” in a limited number of ways without repeating yourself. Voting intention only changes slowly over time, and outside an election campaign there no point pretending that every new figure is going to show something exciting. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important or interesting though – just that doing voting intention every day requires us to read it and use it somewhat differently.

There is a metaphor that Peter Kellner used to use many years ago when YouGov was relatively young, of how polling used to be regarded as a fine wine, or aged whisky – brought out only for special occassions and greatly revered by those who had paid a fortune for it. It would be much better if polling was like running water, cheap, easy to get and already ready and available to dip into whenever you wanted to know what the public thought.

That’s how you should treat the YouGov daily voting intention figures. Don’t pay attention to the daily movements, anything dramatic is probably sample error anyway – rather you should look at the bigger picture and watch how they develop over time. Don’t get excited over one day’s figures – Labour might be up 4 today or down 3 tomorrow, but the next election is 5 years away. What is really matters is the trend, the slow (or sometimes fast) tectonic movements in party support. With a week or a month’s worth of data we can watch a party’s support going up or down with confidence, rather than making guess from a once-a-month peek at public opinion.

What it is there for is context, background and analysis, whenever you want to know what the levels of party support are… you’ll be able to open it and see. Want to know what effect something had on party support – the figures will be there quietly ticking away. Want to look for a correlation between party support and something else, the back data is all there for you to analyse. Prefer to look at a 5 day rolling average, the figures are there for you to work out. Running water rather than Whisky :)

UPDATE: Changed this a bit, since several people were leaving commetns saying they disagreed…and that they thought what I had intended to write myself. Hopefully I’ve got it across more clearly now!

There is a YouGov poll on David Law’s resignation in the Sun this morning. Overall 72% of respondents thought that Laws was right to resign, and 34% said he should also resign as a Member of Parliament. However asked if he should eventually be able to return to the cabinet, 52% of respondents said it would be okay, including 23% who would be happy for him to return within 12 months. Asked how much damage the resignation would do to the coalition, 7% expected it to do long-term damage, 44% to cause short term damage but no long term harm and 36% to not do any significant harm.

YouGov also asked broader questions about people’s attitudes to gay MPs. The vast majority of people said it was not an issue for them – only 5% said it was a bad thing for there to be gay ministers in the cabinet (with 13% saying it was a positive good, and most people saying they didn’t mind one way or the other). 9% of people said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who was gay (while they were small numbers across the board, Conservative voters were twice as likely to say they were less likely to vote for a gay candidate). One caveat is that these are the proportions of people who are essentially willing to admit they are prejudiced. On an online self-completed survey the effect of social desirability bias should be less than in a telephone or face-to-face poll, but nevertheless, it’s still bound to have some small effect.

As far as I can see from their website the Sunday Times only reported the Labour leadership figures from their YouGov poll this weekend. The whole poll is now up on YouGov’s website here Topline voting intention figures with changes from last week are CON 39%(+2), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 21%(nc).

David Cameron’s approval rating as Prime Minister is still in honeymoon mode at +42, Nick Clegg’s approval rating is similar at +44. 63% think the coalition partners are working well together.

YouGov asked people if they supported or opposed a series of policies put foward by the coalition. Most popular was an annual limit on immigration from non-EU countries (supported by 81%), followed by scrapping ID cards (63%), banning cheap alcohol from supermarkets (56%) and removing peoples DNA from the national database if they are not convicted (54%). A plurality of people also supported the immediate £6 bn in spending cuts (by 43% to 34%).

The most unpopular policy was the expected rise in VAT to 20%, opposed by 66% of respondents. A majority (61%) also opposed reducing the number of CCTV cameras and a plurality opposed the part privatisation of the Royal Mail (by 47% to 33%). While asked in isolation the VAT rise was very unpopular, YouGov also asked if they would prefer the rise in VAT or large cuts in public spending – in that context 46% of people prefered the VAT, 38% the larger spending cuts.

On the Labour leadership David Miliband remains the clear frontrunner, with 23% naming him as the person they think would make the best leader. Somewhat surprisingly Diane Abbott is in second place on 9%, followed by 8% for Ed Miliband. Diane Abbot’s popularity though is much higher amongst Conservative and Lib Dem supporters – amongst Labour’s own supporters she is in fourth place behind David Miliband (34%), Ed Miliband (13%) and Ed Balls (10%). As I warned last week though, leadership preference questions are this stage are largely name recognition.

Asked who would be the WORST leader, Ed Balls is top with 21%, followed by Diane Abbott on 18%. Amongst Labour’s current supporters Diane Abbott is seen as the worst candidate on 22%, followed by Balls on 13%.

Moving on, YouGov asked about the BA strike and who was most to blame. They found 32% of people blamed the Trade Union, 20% the BA management and 38% both of them. YouGov also asked if various groups should be allowed to strike – there were three groups where a majority thought they should not be able to strike – for both the army and the police 22% thought they should be able to, 69% thought they should not. For NHS staff 36% thought they should be allowed to stike, 55% thought they should not. A plurality also thought energy distribution workers shouldn’t be able to. For the other professions YouGov asked about people thought a majority should be able to strike, including 61% who thought airline workers should be able to.