There are two new polls tonight – a new ComRes telephone poll for the Independent has topline figures of CON 37%(+3), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 12%(-3), Others 14%(nc). Changes are from the last ComRes poll conducted by telephone a month ago, rather than their parallel online polls for the Independent on Sunday. It’s the first time this year that ComRes have produced a poll without a Labour lead.

Meanwhile YouGov’s daily poll in the Sun has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. YouGov had also been showing a narrowing Labour lead earlier in May, but it seems to have disappeared over the last few polls.

(I do not have regular internet access this week, so updates will be few and far between, and I will not be monitoring comments)

This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%. It looks like the post-election narrowing of the polls may be fading, though conversely the government and David Cameron’s approval ratings are still comparatively good in this poll – government approval is at minus 19, David Cameron’s approval rating has edged back into positive territor on plus 2. We’ll have to wait and see how things settle.

In the rest of the poll YouGov re-asked some Libya quesstions, but with little change from the last few months. People were marginally in favour of the intervention in Libya (by 42% to 36%), but opposed further intervention to remove Gaddafi by 56% to 24%. Asked how long they though the West should continue to give military support to the rebels, 20% said it should stop immediately, 30% that it should continue for as long as necessary (6% said up to a month, 12% 3 months, 8% six months, 4% a year).

More generally YouGov asked if people though Britain should or should notbe prepared to take military action against leaders who posed a threat to their own people, but no direct threat to Britain – broadly whether people supported liberal interventionism or not. 32% thought Britain should intervene in such cases, 44% that she shouldn’t.

YouGov also re-asked a question from 2005 on whether people wanted Britain to have a stronger relationship with Europe or the USA. Back then in the Bush era 48% said both equally, 22% Europe, 15% USA. This year the positions of Europe and the USA have reversed – 13% now say Europe, 21% the USA, both equally 46%.

There were also a series of questions on injunctions. Broadly speaking people continue to think that the current use of injunctions has gone too far, with 63% thinking John Hemming was right to break the injunction on Ryan Giggs. In principle 53% of people think the freedom of the press to report things they think are of interest to the public is more important than protecting the privacy of people in the people eye, 21% think the opposite.

YouGov also asked whether it would be legitimate or not for the media to report if various people were having an affair. People were most likely to say it was legitimate to report a politician was having an affair – 71% said it would be legitimate to report a senior politician having an affair, 65% a backbencher, and 62% a local councillor. This last one was, perhaps surprisingly, higher than people who were much more prominent in the public eye, but outside politics, such as “a senior executive of a major corporation” (58%), “a top professional footballer” (59%), “a well known actor” (56%).

Also very high up was “a local clergyman” – 64% of people think it would be legitimate for the press to report them having an affair. Lowest of all, of course, was “a normal member of the public”… but even there 30% of people thought it would be legitimate for newspapers to report them having an affair.

(I have limited internet access all this week, so won’t be checking the site very often)


Next week

I’m off on a break for the next week, and have no idea yet whether I’ll have decent internet access, so updates for the next week may be infrequent (or absent!). In the meantime, have a good bank holiday weekend one and all.

The monthly Ipsos-MORI political monitor for Reuters has topline figures (with changes from last month) of CON 35%(-5), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 10%(+1).

Reuters strangely headline it “Conservatives’ support falls slightly”. I’m delighted to see the media not over-egging changes that probably aren’t meaningful (the previous MORI poll showing Labour and the Conservatives equal looked like something of an outlier in hindsight and, given there is no obvious trend against the Tories in recent polls, this poll is more likely showing a reversion to the mean)… but it does seem somewhat incongruous against an apparent 5 point drop!

YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun today has figures of CON 37%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%

Here’s something interesting. Normally the best prediction (or at least, the least flawed prediction) of how votes translate into seats is a uniform swing projection – that is, if a party has increased it’s national share of the vote by 5 percentage points, you add five percentage points to the share it gets in each seat, and vice-versa if it loses support.

Broadly speaking, uniform national swing has been a pretty good predictor of elections – or at least, a good starting point to analyse elections and where parties have done better or worse than average. However, it is mathematically inelegant, particularly when it comes to the extremes. Say a party loses 5 percentage points in its national support – what happens in a seat where they only had 4% at the last election? On a UNS model they’d get minus 1% support, which is clearly impossible. Generally speaking though UNS doing odd things to parties with minimal support doesn’t matter, as it is all about the marginal seats and predicting overall seat numbers, how well it models changes in support in safe seats is irrelevant.

However, it has been playing on my mind how it will work with the Liberal Democrats at the next election if they maintain their present low levels of support. How would it cope with a drastic collapse in support for a party? It varies from pollster to pollster, but roughly speaking the Lib Dems have lost about half their 2010 vote, about 12 points or so. To start with there were 57 seats where the Lib Dems got less than 12% support in 2010, they can’t lose 12% in those. Equally, if their vote did collapse to what extent would their sitting MPs be insulated from the fall?

The Scottish Parliamentary election gives us a chance to see. Below is a scatter chart of the Lib Dem performance in 2011 – plotting the change in the Lib Dem share of the vote in each seat against the share of the vote they recieved in 2007. Gold dots are those seats that were notionally or actually held by the Lib Dems in 2007, blue dots are non-LD seats.

The green line is what we would expect to see if there was a uniform swing – the Lib Dem vote falling by 8% in each seat. The red line is what we’d get if the Lib Dem vote fell proportionally to their support in 2007 – basically if they lost half their support in each seat. The actual distribution of dots is clearly closer to the proportional line than the uniform swing. If this was repeated at a GB general election then the Liberal Democrats would do even worse than a uniform swing would predict.

On the other hand, look at the distribution of the blue and gold dots – in seats where the Lib Dems had incumbency the Lib Dems did better than a proportional loss would have suggested (and they do worse than than this in seats without incumbency) – while the Lib Dems did end up losing all their mainland seats in Scotland, they did actually perform somewhat better in the seats they held… just not by enough to save them.

I wouldn’t presume to make models or predictions about what would happen to the Lib Dems at a general election on this basis… just that UNS national swing may not be a very good predictor if the Lib Dem vote does remain in dire straights at the next general election.