There is a new online ComRes poll in tomorrow’s Indy on Sunday. Topline figures are CON 37%(-3), LAB 38%(+4), LDEM 13%(-1), Others 12%.

ComRes are currently conducting both online and telephone polls. There are significant effects from both mode and sampling, so I’m drawing comparisons for ComRes polls from their previous poll conducted using the same method – hence my changes are from their last online poll in mid-October, not their last telephone poll in November, which showed figures of CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 16%. Over time of course we’ll be able to draw firmer conclusions over whether ComRes’s online and telephone results do differ.

ComRes also asked a number of agree or disagree statements on the cuts which showed the normal pattern we’ve become accustomed to in recent polling – people now tend to see the cuts being done in an unfair way and think they are being done too fast… but a plurality disagreed with the idea that the government was exaggerating the need for them.

Still to come tonight is the weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, and possibly others I’m not aware of yet.

Sunny Hundal asks a very sensible question over on Liberal Conspiracy having looked at the figures from MORI’s latest political monitor and seen the massive difference filtering the poll by likelihood to vote makes.

While I certainly wouldn’t dispute the importance of parties getting their votes out, things are a little different from how they appear, largely because of some of the differences in MORI’s methodology compared to other companies. MORI take account of likelihood to vote in quite a strict way – they ask people how likely they are to vote on a scale of 1-10 and take only those who say they are 10/10 certain to vote. People who say they are 9/10 or 8/10 likely to vote, for example, are excluded. This means MORI’s filtering by likelihood to vote has quite an extreme effect – as you can see from Sunny’s post, this month the filter increased the Conservative level of support by 3 points and reduced the Labour level of support by 4 points.

However, other polling companies do it differently. ICM ask the same 1 to 10 likelihood to vote question, but weight by it rather than filtering. This means someone saying they are 9/10 likely to vote counts as 0.9 of a respondent, rather than being excluded entirely. This makes the effect of turnout much smaller – for example, in ICM’s last poll turnout weighting increased the level of Conservative support by just 1 point, and made no difference to Labour.

Populus use a similar method to ICM. In their last poll, weighting by turnout had the effect of increasing Conservative support by 1 point and decreasing Labour by one point. Finally, YouGov don’t weight or filter by turnout at all, so their published figures are the ones for everyone giving a view (during election campaigns YouGov does adopt turnout weighting, and typically the effect is similar to that ICM and Populus get – it increases the Conservative lead by 1 point).

So in conclusion, it only looks this way because Sunny’s looking at MORI’s polls in isolation – you won’t find such a sharp contrast looking at any other company’s results.

Those who have thought this through may be ahead of me now – in terms of the Conservative or Labour lead all the parties are reporting much the same results… but MORI’s turnout adjustment makes a massive difference and no one elses does. Surely this means that, since their published results are much the same, their figures without turnout adjustment must be different? You’d be right – without a turnout adjustments or topline reallocations of don’t knows, MORI’s latest poll is showing a 10 point Labour lead, ICM’s a 1 point Conservative lead, YouGov the two parties neck and neck and Populus a 3 point Labour lead.

The reason for this difference will be largely our old friend political weighting of samples – the majority of companies adopt some form of political weighting, normally recalled vote from the last election, to address what they see as an intrinsic bias towards Labour voters in phone samples. MORI do not, on account of their concern that levels of false recall may themselves change over time, making it unsuitable for weighting. The end result is that MORI’s samples often contain a significantly higher proportion of people who said they voted Labour in 2010 than do ICM and Populus’s samples – hence the difference in their voting intention figures when you take away the turnout adjustment.

For most of you, I’m sure this is largely academic – after all, the topline voting intention figures are much the same – but if you want to look under the bonnet of the figures like Sunny has, these things make a difference.


Tonight’s YouGov poll has voting intentions of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 11%. My guess is that the underlying position is still a small Labour lead, and random error on this poll has pushed it a bit in the Tory direction much as that 5 point Labour lead yesterday was probably random error in the opposite direction.

On YouGov’s daily poll yesterday we asked about the “Twitter Joke Trial” – the prosecution of Paul Chambers who made a flippant comment on Twitter about blowing up Robin Hood Airport after getting fustrated by its closure, and ended up being hauled before the courts and prosecuted.

Rather to my surprise, 52% of people thought it was right that Paul Chambers was prosecuted for the comment, with only 36% opposed. This, of course, contrasts strongly with the huge swell of support Chambers has received on Twitter itself.

Looking at the cross breaks in the survey, things become clearer. Amongst under 25s support for Chambers is solid – only 22% of people think it was right to prosecute him, with 61% thinking it was wrong. Compare that to people over the age of 60, who overwhelmingly think it was right he was prosecuted (by 71% to 21%).

I suspect people who use Twitter or have a good idea of what it is would have recorded much lower support for Chambers’ prosecution. It hindsight it would have been nice to do a cross break by people who use Twitter, though past research suggests it would have been an extremely low percentage, even on an internet panel like YouGov’s. All the same, it’s a good reminder that people using social media do not always represent the views of the general population very well.

UPDATE: Several people queried this poll because when we reproduced Paul Chambers’ quote in the survey we took the swearing out (we try not to swear in surveys because of respondents who don’t like it – a representive sample of the UK will include people who find swearing offensive). A couple of people said to me that the “Crap!” at the start of Paul Chambers tweet changed the context of it and made it much more flippant. So…. we asked it again, exactly the same as before, but with the “Crap!” at the start.

In the event, it appears it did make a difference.. Whereas before 52% had said they supported Chambers’s prosecution, with the missing word added back into the survey support for his prosecution fell to 44%, with 43% thinking it was wrong to prosecute him.

The sharp differences in attitudes across the generations remained. People under 25 were strongly against Mr Chambers’ prosecution, with 56% thinking it was wrong and only 23% backing it. Amongst people over 60 the picture was reversed – 60% backed the prosecution, while only 30% was wrong.

Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor for Reuters has been published. This is the first November poll from a company other than YouGov – all the regular polls seem to be coming in the second half of the month these days.

Topline figures with changes from last month are CON 36%(-3), LAB 39%(+3), LDEM 14%(nc), echoing the shift towards Labour that we’ve seen in YouGov’s polls this week. Populus, Angus Reid and ComRes all showed Labour leads towards the end of last month anyway, so we are currently in a position where every regular polling company except ICM is showing Labour ahead (and I’d expect ICM to follow suit once their regular poll for the Guardian arrives next week).

One particularly interesting question in MORI’s poll was how concerned people were about particularly areas being affected by cuts. I’m not always a big fan of questions that ask about whether people are concerned about stuff – it’s easy to say you are, and there’s a social desirability bias towards saying you do at least care a bit about old people’s services being closed, but nevertheless, the constrast between issues is meaningful. Looking at those people who say they are very concerned about issues, 46% said they were very concerned about local services like libraries and social care, 44% said they were very concerned about policing, 44% about tuition fees, 42% about the armed services, 38% about public sector job cuts. Lowest were benefit cuts (27%) and 21% changes to social housing.

This is mostly in line with other polling we’ve seen that has shown the cuts to welfare benefits meeting with approval, and cuts to defence and tuition fees being opposed. The top one, cuts to local services, we haven’t really seen polling on simply because it is local – you don’t see national polls about a library in this town or an old people’s home in that town closing, but if they are blamed on the government rather than local councils then can still end up having an impact.