We almost have the full results for the European elections, so how well did the pollsters do? Here are all the polls taken over the final weekend, plus that final YouGov poll on the eve of polling.

  Date CON LAB LDEM UKIP GRN BNP
YouGov/Telegraph 03/06/09 26 16 15 18 10 5
ComRes/Green 31/05/09 24 22 14 17 15 2
YouGov/Telegraph 29/05/09 27 17 15 16 9 7
ICM/Sunday Telegraph 28/05/09 29 17 20 10 11 5
Populus/Times 28/05/09 30 16 12 19 10 5
RESULT 27.7 15.7 13.7 16.5 8.6 6.2

Scotland is still to declare, but on the figures so far it looks as if YouGov and then Populus will have the laurels. ICM ended up severely underestimating UKIP support and overestimating Lib Dem support, while ComRes were out on Labour, the Conservatives and the Greens. I’ll update with a proper post, and what lessons we can learn, once the Scottish results have been declared.

UPDATE: I’ve now updated the table to include the Scottish figures so we can look at the final performance of ICM, Populus, YouGov and ComRes (MORI did not carry out any polling for the European election). Looking at the average errors of each company (that is, the average of the difference between each party’s actual share of the vote, and what each pollster had them in their final poll) YouGov performed the best – both their polls in the final week were closer than any competitor, with average errors of 0.83 and 1.23. Second were Populus, who slighly overestimated Conservative and UKIP support, but otherwise performed well with an average error of 1.57

ICM’s average error was 3.16 – this was down to them overestimating Lib Dem support and underestimating UKIP support. As regular readers will know, ICM do tend to produce higher levels of Lib Dem support than other pollsters do, however, in this case I don’t think the error in predicting the Lib Dem vote is part of a wider problem with ICM’s method – rather, I think it’s down to the way ICM and Populus asked the question of how people would vote. ICM prompted with just the main three party names, and then gave supporters of “other” parties a second list of prompts. Populus included minor parties in their main prompt. The results suggest Populus’s approach works better with phone polls (though YouGov’s increased accuracy compared with their 2004 performance suggests it’s the other way round online!)

ComRes’s final poll was furthest out, with an average error of 3.56. Their final poll before the election underestimated Conservative support, and severely overestimated support for Labour and the Green party (for whom the poll was carried out). My guess is that the skew towards Labour away from the Conservatives was due to the lack of any political weighting – exactly what went on with Green support I don’t know, it may well be a prompting issue – but at the moment I don’t know exactly how ComRes worded their question.


The News of the World meanwhile has an ICM poll carried out in the constituencies of the cabinet (or at least, the constituencies of the cabinet prior to the reshuffle). The News of the World says it covered 18 constituencies represented by 18 “main cabinet ministers”, so I’m not quite sure who they’ve decided was not a “main” Cabinet minister (especially since the article implies that Tessa Jowell, who wasn’t then an official member of the cabinet, was included).

The article refers to a 12% swing from Labour to Conservative across these constituencies, but also says the Conservative vote has risen by 20 points and Labour’s has fallen 17 points, which would equate to a 18.5% swing. We’ll have to wait for the actual newspaper, or ICM’s tables, to get a better idea. Either way, it suggests a larger swing in the cabinet’s seats than ICM’s recent national polls have been showing in the country as a whole.


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YouGov have conducted a poll of Labour party members that shows half of Labour’s own members want Gordon Brown to go, and Alan Johnson is the leading candidate to succeed him. It was conducted on Friday and Saturday, so after James Purnell’s resignation and the extent of Labour’s defeat in the local elections was becoming clear.

As might be expected, Labour’s own party members were broadly positive about the performance of nearly all the government’s ministers YouGov asked about. 75% approved of Alan Johnson’s performance, 70% David Miliband’s, 65% Lord Mandleson’s, 61% Alistair Darling’s and 61% Harriet Harman’s. The only cabinet ministers asked about who got negative ratings were two of those who have just left – Jacqui Smith, whom 63% of Labour party members thought had been doing badly, and James Purnell, 50% of whom thought had been doing badly (the survey was conducted after he resigned). For Gordon Brown himself, 54% thought he was doing well, lower than all the surviving cabinet members YouGov asked about. 44% of his own party thought he was doing a bad job.

Opinions of Brown amongst his own party members were mediocre: 40% thought he was indecisive, 66% thought he was bad at communicating ideas, 41% thought he was weak. Only 25% of Labour members said he had handled the MPs’s expenses crisis better than the other leaders.

Asked about Brown’s future, 21% of party members think he should resign immediately, a further 26% think he should resign prior to the next election. Despite this, there was little sympathy for James Purnell’s attempt to precipitate Brown’s removal – 68% said he was wrong to do so, with 22% agreeing with his actions. 49% of Labour members did, however, say that Brown should go if 70 MPs signed a letter asking him to resign.

Should Brown go, Alan Johnson is the leading contender amongst Labour party members to replace him. 35% of them backed Johnson, leading David Miliband on 12%, Harriet Harman on 8%, Jon Cruddas on 7% and Ed Balls on 3%.

Full tables are here.


People I see keep asking me about exit polls, so just so you know there probably aren’t any – or at least, none giving an early heads up of the result; the BBC or Sky may well have done some normal polling just to add colour to their coverage.

I haven’t asked round the pollsters, but I’m fairly certain no one will do it. It would be illegal to publish any exit poll of the European elections until after 9pm on Sunday night (in 2004 the police even investigated Populus for publishing eve-of-poll figures from the three all-postal regions prior to the election, since they were effectively an exit poll).

However, since the votes are being counted earlier than that in most regions enabling the actual results to be reported shortly after 9pm, it would be rather a waste of money to pay for an exit poll that will only pre-empt the results by a couple of minutes.

While one could conduct and report an exit poll of the local election results, we’ve never seen exit polls for local elections in the past, so I doubt we’ll see them now.

So, anyone looking for exit polls, I’m afraid there won’t be any (though do check the comments below this, since following me summing up the final polls, and there being an extra final poll, I expect the first comment will end up being from a pollster saying “actually we’re doing one!”)


I suppose writing a final round-up was tempting fate somewhat! YouGov have conducted a final poll for the European elections, to be published in tomorrow’s Telegraph and just released on Sky. Topline figures, with changes from the their last poll, are CON 26%(-1), LAB 16%(-1), LDEM 15%(nc), UKIP 18%(+2), GRN 10%(+1), BNP 5%(-2). The poll was conducted yesterday evening and today, so it is very up to date. Sample size was a hefty 4000.

Not a vast change in the last few days, but a marginal shift towards smaller parties. Perhaps the two most significant things there are Labour dropping to third place behind UKIP (though of course, UKIP, Labour and the Lib Dems are all still very close and it could go every way) – expectations for Labour must be getting so low that if they do manage to hold second place it would be seen as something of a victory – and secondly the BNP dropping to 5%. On a uniform swing that wouldn’t be enough for them to gain any seats, though of course, it is possible that they could do so if their vote is concentrated in the right places.

UPDATE: The second set of figures in the poll are being reported on Sky as Westminster voting intention figures, and in the Telegraph’s initial report as an all expressing an intention European intention. My understanding is that Sky are right – these are the latest Westminster voting intentions (they’d be a bit odd for European voting intentions anyway). So, with changes from the last YouGov Westminster poll, the figures are CON 37%(-2), LAB 21%(-1), LDEM 19%(+1). The others are shared between 8% for UKIP, 5% for the Greens, 4% for the SNP and PC, 4% for the BNP.