An Ipsos-MORI poll in the Observor tomorrow records the first Labour lead in any poll since December last year. The headline figures with changes from MORI’s poll last month are CON 36% (-1), LAB 39% (+4), LDEM 15% (-3).
On the surface there appears to have been a significant switch from the Lib Dems to Labour – along with ICM MORI tend to give the highest level of support for the Liberal Democrats, and the figure of 15% is the lowest in a MORI poll since the immediate aftermath of Charlie Kennedy’s resignation. It is perhaps tempting to associate the shift with the recent fuss over Gordon Brown’s offer of government jobs to Liberal Democrat peers, but I don’t yet know when the fieldwork for this poll was conducted. If it is MORI’s monthly face-to-face poll, the turn-around is often slower than phone polls and the chances are it was wholly or partially conducted before the story broke – potentially ruling out the story as a possible cause.
I expect a large number of polls over the next week or so to coincide with Gordon Brown’s accession to the premiership. MORI’s figures tend to be a bit more volatile than the other pollsters. so we may or may not see this shift reflected in other polls – it’s likely however that we will get a pretty good idea over the next couple of days as to exactly how large the “Brown boost” in the polls is!
UPDATE: The fieldwork was indeed conducted prior to the news about Gordon Brown’s approaches to the Lib Dems, so there can be no connection between the figures and the story.
UPDATE 2: Ralph in my comments below has been perusing the full tables on MORI’s website here. The recalled past vote in this poll (i.e. the way people said they voted at the last election) was Conservative 20%, Labour 35%, Lib Dems 11%, other 4%, didn’t vote 25%. In MORI’s poll last month it was Conservative 20%, Labour 32%, Lib Dems 14%, other 5%, didn’t vote 23%.
In other words, a poll that found Labour up four percent apparantly contained three percentage points more previous Labour supporters than last month’s poll to begin with; the same poll found the Lib Dems down three percent, and had started out with a sample containing three percentage points fewer former Lib Dem voters. “Co-incidence?” asked Ralph – well, what can you say?
It doesn’t invalidate the findings thorugh. In fact, we have no way of knowing whether MORI have just had the misfortune of ending up with a sample that was particularly heavy with Labour supporters and light with Lib Dems, resulting in a misleading apparant shift in support, or whether there has been a genuine shift in support that means that people are more willing to admit that they voted Labour in the past. It could be that both samples are pretty much the same, and that people’s willingness to admit to voting Labour in the past has changed. We really don’t know, and it is one of the dividing lines in polling at the moment – companies like ICM and Populus think that recall of past vote is pretty stable, and when they do polls they weight them so they are always made up of the same proportions of past Labour, past Conservative and past Lib Dem voters. MORI think that levels of false recall can change, so don’t use this sort of weighting.