It was supposed to be embargoed till 10 o’clock, but Andrew Grice’s sneak preview of the poll gives it all away anyway! The topline figures with changes from ComRes’s last poll are CON 37%(-2), LAB 27%(+2), LDEM 20%(+3). Others are at 16%, high compared to some other companies, but down three points from the rather anomalous 19% in ComRes’s last poll.

The small swing from the Conservatives to Labour is in line with YouGov in the Telegraph at the weekend, and the general trend in recent polls of showing a movement back towards Labour. This is the third recent poll to show figures that on a uniform swing would leave the Conservatives narrowly short of an overall majority.

As I said at the weekend, I expect in practice a 10 point lead would produce a Conservative lead, there is some evidence to suggest they are performing slightly better in marginals and it would be surprising if a ten point Tory lead did not produce a different pattern of tactical voting than when they were behind. All the same, it is a much less comfortable position for the Tories.

Swiss Minaret vote

Over the weekend Switzerland voted in a referendum to ban Minarets (the spires on Mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer), the result of the vote was 57.5% in favour. Interestingly though the final poll before the referendum showed the opposite – voting intention in the referendum stood at 37% YES and 53% NO. The poll was conducted between Nov 9th and 14th, so there were two weeks between the fieldwork and the referendum during which opinion could easily have shifted in favour of the proposal.

What strikes me though is that it’s also the perfect example of the sort of question where there would be a high risk of social desirability bias. The proposal was opposed by the Swiss government, most political parties, the churches and the media. People may not have felt able to admit to a interviewer (the polls were conducted by phone) that they were going to vote in favour of a policy targetting Muslims and the “socially desirable” thing would have been to say they were voting against it.

We will never know how much shift in opinion there was in those last two weeks, but my guess is that the polls were probably underestimating support for the measure anyway.


There is a new Scottish Ipsos MORI poll in the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times highlight that only 20% of people support full Scottish independence, though notably this was not a strauight YES/NO question asking voting intention in a referendum on Scottish independence. Rather it was a question asking about people’s broader preference on Scotland’s constitutional status – 20% supported independence, 32% the status quo and 46% a higher level of devolution such as that suggested by the Calman commission. This is indeed the lowest level of support for independence I’ve seen in recent polls, but it’s not completely out of line with previous polls – YouGov and the Scottish Social Attitudes survey have both in the past had it as low as 23%.

Asked about whether their should be a referendum at all, 75% supported a referendum, but only 25% wanted it as soon as possible, with 50% saying it should be held in a few years time. Looking at previous polling this seems to be the general pattern – when people are asked about the principle of a referendum they support it (as, indeed, they nearly always do when asked about referendums on almost anything), but asked whether it is a priority to hold it now they tend to say no.

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph is now out. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 39%(-2), LAB 29%(+2), LDEM 19%(+1).

A two point change in Conservative and Labour support is, of course, within the margin of error, but it fits into a wider pattern. While I think the change in MORI’s poll at the weekend was mostly down to a more Labour sample, there were signs of genuine movement to Labour as well. We also saw a shift towards Labour in ICM’s poll taken at the same time.

On a uniform swing this would leave the Conservatives just short of an overall majority, and being a far more plausible figures than the extreme swing in MORI’s poll, I’d expect this to further fuel the media speculation about a hung Parliament. While this is a much less comfortable position for the Conservatives, in reality I expect that a 10 point lead would still deliver the Conservatives a reasonable majority.

Polling results are projected into election results using a uniform national swing, but it’s quite possible that the Conservatives could out perform UNS. It seems implausible for the Conservatives to be doing well in the inner-city North and we know for sure from polling there that they are doing much worse in Scotland. These places have few Conservative targets so it matters little, but if they do worse in one place, they must be doing better elsewhere to arrive at the topline figures and we have polling evidence to suggest they are doing better in Con vs Lab marginals.

On the subject of which, YouGov also carried out a parallel poll of Lab-Con marginals in the north (as far as I can tell, this was the 32 Labour seats in the North-West, North-East and Yorkshire and Humberside that the Conservatives would need to win to get a majority of 1 on a uniform swing). YouGov found voting intention in those seats to be CON 42%(+8), LAB 36%(-8), LDEM 12%(-5). Changes are from the 2005 notional election results, and suggest a swing of 8 percent. This compares to a national swing of 6.5% in today’s nationwide YouGov poll – if marginals elsewhere behave like those in the North, this would deliver a healthy Conservative majority.

YouGov also asked a question intended to see how tactical voting would impact this, and here I am less confident. YouGov told respondents their seat was the type of Conservative/Labour marginal that would decide the election and asked again how they would vote. Not surprisingly, the effect was to further increase the Conservative lead to 43% to 35%, the equivalent of a 9% swing, and if echoed in other marginals enough for a large Conservative victory.

My worry over that approach is that a fair chunk of people don’t know whether or not their seat is a marginal. In the 2008 PoliticsHome marginal poll 20% of people didn’t know which parties were in a position to win their seat. Only 34% of people in Con v Lab marginals correctly identified their seat as such, 45% of people in Con vs LD seats did, 29% of people in Lab vs LD seats. A fair chunk of Lib Dem campaigning especially consists of positioning themselves as the party best placed to defeat the incumbent, so saying in the question itself that the Conservatives are best placed to beat Labour risks overestimating the level of anti-Labour tactical voting. The 2009 PoliticsHome poll of marginals showed no obvious sign of tactical voting harming Labour in Lab v Con seats.

Anyway, that’s something of an aside. Even leaving out the tactical voting question, the main findings of the poll are that the overall share of the vote doesn’t appear to be enough to guarantee the Conservatives a majority, but in at least one group of marginals, they are outdoing the national swing by enough to get a majority.

The Telegraph has a new Scottish poll from YouGov. Looking at topline voting intentions first, Westminster support (with changes from way back in August) stand at CON 18%(-2), LAB 39%(+9), LDEM 12%(-6), SNP 24%(-2). As with the recent TNS-BMRB poll, it shows a real strengthening of Labour’s Westminster support in Scotland.

Comparing this to the last General election, Labour’s vote is unchanged, the Conservatives up just 2 points. The SNP are up by 6, the Lib Dems down by a crushing 11. On a uniform swing at a general election, that would result in the SNP gaining Ochil & South Perthshire from Labour, and Labour gaining Dunbartonshire East and Inverness,etc from the Lib Dems. The Conservatives wouldn’t gain anything.

Holyrood voting intentions CON 15%, LAB 33%, LDEM 14%, SNP 32%. The Telegraph doesn’t make clear if this is constituency or regional voting intention, but the changes from the 2007 election quoted in the article imply it was constituency voting intention, in which case it would represent a small swing back to Labour since YouGov’s last Holyrood polling in October when the SNP led Labour 34% to 31%.

Voting intention in a referendum on Scottish Independence stands at YES 29%(+1), NO 57%(nc), practically unchanged from the last time YouGov asked in October. The Telgraph compare the figures to an earlier poll back in October 2008 when the figures were Yes 31%, No 53%… but even then, their claim that “Support for Scottish independence has plummeted” is stretching things a bit!

UPDATE: The tables are now on YouGov’s website here. The regional figures for Holyrood stand at CON 14%, LAB 30%, LDEM 14%, SNP 29%, GRN 6%. The fieldwork dates are the 18th to the 20th November, so only a week or so after Glasgow North East.