A new Populus poll for the Times shows the Conservatives enjoying to a 20 point lead in Westminster voting intentions, and UKIP overtaking Labour and and Liberal Democrats to establish themselves in second place for the European elections.

Topline voting intentions for a general election, with changes from Populus poll for ITV a week ago, are CON 41%(+2), LAB 21%(-6), LDEM 15%(-2) (note that the Times have taken their changes from the last Populus poll conducted for the Times, a week and a half earlier).

Previously there had been something of a divide between the pollsters, with YouGov and ComRes showing Labour down near 20%, while Populus and ICM showed them up in the high 20s. The lastest Populus poll suggests a further slump in Labour support and brings the pollsters broadly in line, suggesting it is Labour who have most suffered from the expenses scandal. Asked directly who had suffered most from the expenses row 35% said Labour, with only 7% saying Conservative – though 50% said all parties had suffered equally. Asked which of the party leaders was most damaged the contrast was even starker – 62% said Brown, only 5% Cameron, and only 25% said the leaders had suffered equally.

The Times news report doesn’t give support for minor parties, but the maths suggest it is very high. Given the figures for the European elections I’d expect this to include a bump for UKIP and the Greens. Realistically we should expect these to gradually fall in the months after the European elections as publicity and the effect of a PR election fade from memory, certainly that’s what happened in 2004 when we saw exactly the same effect. These polls showing Labour down near 20 are therefore probably quite transitory.

Moving specifically onto the European Elections, Populus’s voting intentions, with changes from their last European poll at the start of the month stand at CON 30%(-4), LAB 16%(-9), LDEM 12%(-8), UKIP 19%(+13!), Green 10%(+5), BNP 5%(+3), so a big boost for all the minor parties. On a uniform swing this would result in the Conservatives winning 28 seats, UKIP 15, Labour 12, the Lib Dems 7, the Greens 4, SNP 2 and PC 1. The BNP would fail to win a seat, though the Times’s report says they are at 8% in the North, so could still gain a seat if their support is concentrated in the North West.

UPDATE: Those big increases in support for minor parties in Populus’s poll suddenly fall into place. It wasn’t necessarily a surge in support; the question asked was different. Three weeks ago Populus prompted only for the main parties, in this poll they also prompted for the minor parties. This runs the risk of over-estimating support for minor parties, almost certainly it is the reason for YouGov overestimating UKIP support back in 2004 (though of course, the mechanics may be different in a poll with interviewer effect).


Polls ahead

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If the Telegraph are sticking to their normal monthly timetable we can expect to find their monthly YouGov poll sometime this evening. I’m out at a meeting, so feel free to use this thread to discuss the figures when they appear. I’ll update properly later.

UPDATE: Well – clearly the Telegraph aren’t sticking to their normal timetable! Perhaps we’ll get it a bit later than usual, or perhaps the YouGov/Telegraph poll earlier in the month counted as their regular one.

UPDATE 2: On rather firmer ground, there is a Populus poll in tomorrow’s Times, covering both Westminster and European voting intentions. As usual it should be up on their website around about 8 o’clock tonight. I’m expecting MORI and ComRes to produce something too in the next couple of days.


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Unless proximity to the election has cancelled out reluctance to poll over a bank holiday weekend we won’t be getting any new polls for a day or two. In the meantime I should really update with a Scottish poll that came out over the weekend.

The Scottish Opinion poll for the Scottish Mail on Sunday had Westminster voting intentions of CON 11%, LAB 27%, LDEM 11%, SNP 43%. The poll had a sample size of only 650, so is what we’d normally consider just a snapshot poll in GB terms, and was conducted between 15th and 20th May.

The poll is rather out of line with other Scottish Westminster voting intention polls (though ironically, is very close to what other companies have for Holyrood intentions) – the Conservatives are far lower than in other pollas, Labour lower and the SNP much higher. There is no recent track record of Westminster polls for Scottish Opinion to look or, nor as far as I am aware are they members of the BPC, so we can’t look at their details tables for an idea of where the differences come from.


Voodoo polling corner

No proper national polls in the papers this weekend (though the Scottish Mail on Sunday does have a Scottish Opinion poll), but there is what proports to be a selection of constituency polls in the Sunday Express.

The Sunday Express claim to have constituency polls in Salford, Worcester and Basildon, which show the BNP ahead in Salford and the Conservatives ahead in Basildon and Worcester. Of course, in theory these could be properly conducted polls carried out with appropriate sampling techniques and weighted to be representative of the relevant constituencies. If so, the swings are off the scale.

I suspect however, they are nonsense – straw polls of the first 500 people the Sunday Express could grab off the street. We can’t tell, but the warning signs are there. As well as the implasibility of the figures themselves, there is no mention of the pollster who conducted the survey in the report, suggesting there wasn’t one. Secondly, the results a quoted to a single decimal place, given most polls have a margin of error of around 3% false precision like this is normally a sign that the person who produced the figures doesn’t know what they are doing. The cherry on the cake is that Salford and Basildon constituencies are both to be abolished at the next election anyway, to be replaced by Salford & Eccles and Basildon South & East Thurrock.

On the subject of voodoo polls, there was a vintage example on the London Daily News website, who took an open access poll on their own website which allowed multiple voting seriously. They updated the story saying “The poll referred to in this article has been removed due to a clear attempt by a political group to sway the results”. I hate to break it to them, but the poll would have been meaningless even if there hadn’t been orchestrated attempts to fix it. Polls that are open to all don’t work, since people who are interested in the subject are more likely to take part, people who take part will not be demographically representative of the county, and because people are free to manipulate and fix the poll.

UPDATE: Even worse – Wales on Sunday had this shocker of a Voodoo poll, done just using people who happened to visit their website. They’ve even tried to extrapolate figures for each individual MP in Wales from the figures, which must be unrepresentative, unweighted samples of about 40. Naughty step, now.


ICM have joined the fray of companies polling on the European elections. Their first poll on the 2009 European elections has topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 24%, LDEM 18%, UKIP 10%, Green 9%, SNP & PC 4%, BNP 1%. It was conducted on May the 20th and 21st.

Overall the poll shows the main parties increasing their support since the last European election, which seems somewhat implausible given the current political events. UKIP are up in double figures, though not to the heights YouGov, BPIX and ComRes have shown and the BNP are down at just 1% – a figure that seems very unlikely. Of the minor parties only the Greens are up on their 2004 performance.

As the Guardian say in their commentary, when compared to their ratings in other polls and the support they received in 2004, it looks as though there is a social desirability bias here resulting in the BNP support being unreported.

UPDATE: On the same day we have the results of an ICM poll for the taxpayers alliance conducted back at the start of May before the expenses scandal broke. It has both national and European voting intention figures – both now out of date – but more importantly shows us that when ICM asked about European voting intention they included UKIP in their prompt along with the three main parties. It’ll be interesting to see if they used the same wording for their Guardian poll.

Other questions in the ICM/Taxpayers Alliance poll suggested support for the single currency stands at 23%, with 75% opposed. 28% said they would vote in favour of the Lisbon treaty in a referendum, 62% say they would vote against.