YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph shows a massive 18 point lead over Labour. The full topline figures are CON 44%(nc), LAB 26%(-2), LDEM 17%(nc).

The poll was conducted between the 21st and 23rd of April, so while the 10p row was at its height, but almost entirely before the government announced their change of policy Wednesday lunchtime. It goes without saying that the poll shows the exactly opposite trend to ICM’s earlier this week, which suggests one (or both) of the polls are outliers. Certainly given the mess the government was in when this poll was being taken, a fall in Labour support seems prima facie more likely, but we’ll see.

This is the largest poll lead the Conservatives have achieved since 1987, and the lowest Labour share of support I can find since the aftermath of their 1983 rout, though I don’t have very complete records of opinion polls prior to 1987. If repeated at a general election it would produce a Conservative landslide majority of 154, with Labour down to 190 seats.

The mruk poll in the Sunday Times also included a voting intention question for the Westminster elections. Strictly speaking it’s not a proper mruk poll of London voting intentions, since it there is no proper likelihood of voting filter (we can’t be certain that people who say they are likely to vote in the London mayoral election would also say they are likely to vote in a general election, though I suspect they probably would), but it’s all we’ve got. The figures, with changes from the general election, are CON 41%(+9), LAB 35%(-4), LDEM 18%(-4).

If repeated at a general election the Conservatives would gain 14 seats in London, 11 from Labour and 3 from the Lib Dems: Finchley & Golders Green, Croydon Central (notionally), Battersea, Carshalton and Wallington, Harrow East, Sutton and Cheam, Richmond Park, Hendon, Brentford and Isleworth, Eltham, Westminster North, Poplar and Limehouse, Tooting, Hampstead and Kilburn.


On Sunday there was a mruk Cello poll on the London elections and we needed to be a bit wary as we had neither track record nor methodological details to judge it by. Well, their full tables are now up on their website here so we can have a proper grub around in their methodology.

The poll was a phone poll. It was weighted by normal demographics, ethnic group (as all the London polls in the campaign have been apart from YouGov’s early ones) and recalled 2005 vote. The past vote weights are in practice almost identical to ICM’s in terms of party support (actually they should in theory be marginally kinder to the Tories, but the difference is a tiny fraction of a fraction of a percentage point, so can be disregarded).

That’s not to say the samples are identical, there is actually a vast difference in terms of the proportion of non-voters in the sample. Comparing the samples between mruk and ICM, mruk’s is weighted to contain far, far more people who claim they voted in 2005. In ICM’s weighted sample 44% said they did not vote and 4% refused to say or didn’t know. In mruk’s sample 21% said they didn’t vote and 7% refused or wouldn’t say, so only half as many 2005 non-voters as ICM.

This probably isn’t all down to weighting, but down to how the question is asked. In the two companies raw, unweighted data 33% told ICM they didn’t vote or weren’t registered but only 20% said they same to mruk – my guess is that ICM used wording that prompted people to make it more socially acceptable to admit that you didn’t bother to vote in 2005. Either way, the impact on final voting intention figures probably isn’t huge, people who didn’t vote in the general election are probably least likely to vote in the mayoral election.

Having weighted the data, mruk applied a turnout filter that took all respondents who said they were 8/10 likely to vote. This is slightly more demanding than ICM’s normaly filter, but laxer than Ipsos MORI’s. This equated to 73% of the sample in this case.

I suspect it is identifying which people are likely to actually go out an vote that is the main challenge in elections like this with a lower turnout. Just asking people to rate their chances from 1 to 10 has limitations since even the proportion of people who say they are 10/10 absolutely certain to vote is often higher than the proportion of people who actually vote. In ICM’s case they pre-empt their question with wording intended to coax people into admitting that they might not vote: “Many people we have spoken to have said they will NOT vote while others have said they WILL vote. Can you tell me how certain it is that you will vote?” and found a much lower proportion of people claiming they were 10/10 certain to vote. (Likelihood to vote doesn’t seem to work the same way in YouGov polls – in polls on low turnout elections their figures without any filtering by turnout have in past been far more accurate than ones with)

The bottom line for those wondering whether this is a reputable poll that we should pay attention to is yes, there’s nothing wrong with the methodology. That said, if the polls continue to produce contrasting figures then (unless the result in bang in the middle and everyone can claim they were within the margin of error) someone is going to have been wrong come May 2nd.

I’m told that there will be another mruk poll in the Sunday Times this week.

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 39%(-4), LAB 34%(+2), LDEM 19%(+1). It was conducted between the 18th and 20th of April.

It is obviously a sharp reduction in the Tory lead when the polls had appeared to be stabilising with the Conservatives in a double-point lead over Labour. This seems to be counter-intuitive when the Labout government have been having a rather torrid time of it over the abolition of the 10p tax rate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it wrong.

The poll would also have been influenced by media coverage of Gordon Brown’s visit to the USA. Coverage of Brown looking statesmanlike with other world leaders could have boosted him (compare with the polls showing a sharp narrowing of the lead in January 2008 after the Davos conference when the media also had lots of coverage of Gordon Brown looking statesmanlike). Arguing against that, the poll certainly doesn’t show any increase in Gordon Brown’s own ratings: David Cameron now has a lead of 8 points over Brown as best Prime Minister (37% to 29%, with Clegg on 8%).

Rather the most likely reason seems to be an increase in economic confidence – 55% of people in this poll said they were confident about their own financial situation, compared to 48% in February when ICM last asked it. On Friday we should have to chance to see if the boost in economic confidence or the recovery in Labour support are echoed by YouGov’s monthly poll.

UPDATE: In a comment on a post below Mark Senior asked whether having the fieldwork for this poll over a weekend may have made a difference. Well, actually the majority of ICM’s polls for the Guardian are carried out over the weekend so this isn’t unusual at all. Does it make a difference? Well, in theory it could if it produced samples that were different in a way that weighting didn’t correct. As we’ve commented here in the past, for the last 6 months or so ICM’s polls for the Guardian have had a tendency to show lower Tory leads than their ones for other clients, something that seems to be pure co-incidence given they are conducted in exactly the same way (confirmed by Nick Sparrow, ICM’s boss). I initially thought it might have connected with ICM’s Guardian polls normally being conducted over the weekend and their Sunday Telegraph polls being done midweek – but it also held true when Guardian polls were done mid-week. I suppose it’s still possible there could be that there is a midweek vs. weekend fieldwork difference, with pure co-incidence explaining the midweek Guardian polls.

YouGov’s weekly Mayoral election tracker for the Evening Standard has topline voting intentions of JOHNSON 44%(-1), LIVINGSTONE 37%(-2), PADDICK 12%(nc). Once second preferences are reallocated the result is JOHNSON 53%, LIVINGSTONE 47%.

Johnson’s lead has fallen from the heights it reached earlier in the campaign (my guess was that this was becase of Boris’s less than impressive performances in the televised debates, though it could be because the earlier large leads were when the Lee Jasper affair was prominent in the London media). However, this poll is pretty consistent with YouGov’s figures from last week (and indeed with MORI’s figures from last week) suggesting the position has stabilised. There are now only 10 days to go until the mayoral election, so while this race has moved about a bit over the last few weeks, there isn’t much time for Livingstone to turn round a 6 point deficit and Boris looks set to win.

All this depends, of course, on YouGov’s polls being right. They have been the most regular pollster during the London mayoral campaign, but other companies have tended to show a tighter race. In their most recent poll Ipsos MORI, the only other company to have produced more than one mayoral poll in this election, also showed Johnson with a 6% lead in the first round, but showed a narrower contest as second preferences split overwhelmingly in Livingstone’s favour.

Low turnout elections do tend to be tricker for pollsters to predict correctly (though YouGov did manage it in 2004), but judging by the polls Boris does seem to have a significant lead as the candidates turn the corner into the final straight.