Today’s YouGov poll is up on the website here. Topline figures are CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10% – this is pretty typical of YouGov polls of late, but if the elections were to have a big impact on public opinion we wouldn’t necessarily see it yet anyway – the fieldwork for the poll would have been conducted between Thursday afternoon and Friday, so not really in time to pick up any effect.

Looking through the discussion yesterday there were lots of questions about vote shares in the locals – here’s a brief summary of the various different figures that will emerge, and what they mean

Firstly there is the BBC’s Projected National Share – which I think ended up at CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 15%. This is based on a selection of key wards across the country, not the sum of all votes, and are plugged into a formula to produce a projected national share of the vote if there were local elections across the whole of the country. It is important to note, therefore, that this is NOT skewed by there not being any local elections in Scotland, London or Wales – it is adjusted to take account of this. It’s also important to note that it is a projection of local support across the country, not Westminster support across the country – people do vote differently in local elections (and indeed, if you poll people on their voting intention in Westminster and local elections they give significantly different answers – in YouGov’s final pre-election poll they asked local voting intention and found the Lib Dems on 15%, compared to 11% in the standard Westminster question).

Secondly there is Rallings and Thrasher’s National Equivalent Vote. This is calculated on a similar basis to the BBC’s projection, and is intended to give a picture of what the vote shares would be if there were local elections across the whole country (i.e. it is adjusted to take account of there not being elections in London, Scotland, Wales etc). All the caveats about the BBC one also apply here – it is not intended to be a projection of Westminster vote and is not comparable to Westminster polls. Ralling & Thrasher’s NEV does not come out on the night – it normally takes them a few weeks to collate the data. (Actually, they’ve produced it already! CON 38%, LAB 37%, LDEM 16%. It is normally slightly different to the BBC’s due to different wards being used and different formulas being used for the projection).

Thirdly there are the actual shares of the vote, the sum of all the votes cast in all the local elections. This is again done by Rallings and Thrasher and takes a considerable amount of time to collate. In many ways this is the least useful data, since it is skewed by things like there not being local elections in London, Scotland and Wales and (depending on how the figures are calculated) people in councils with all out elections will often have three times as many votes as people in councils that elect by thirds.

UPDATE: More on the difference between the BBC’s PNS and Ralling & Thrasher’s NEV. The reasons seem to be the number of wards used (NEV apparently uses a larger number of wards from councils declaring on Friday, since R&T have an extra day to work out the numbers), different baselines (R&T base the figures on change from previous years election results, I think the BBC’s PNS does much the same, but over time the two baselines will diverge).

As well as adjusting for the different parts of the country having elections each year, the BBC’s PNS also attempts to adjust for the different pattern of candidates standing, so is a projection of what would happen if the whole country had elections that day, and if every ward had candidates from the three main parties and one other standing. I’m not sure if R&T’s NEV tries to do this or not.

I’m taking a weekend off to recover from working all night on the election coverage – there will be the usual YouGov/Sunday Times survey night but I expect there will be little else anyway. So, in terms of the aftermath for the elections, what’s the impact?

In the locals, Labour gained 800 seats, so not that far outside expectations. Gains were very much concentrated in the North, in the cities and against the Liberal Democrats. They had some good performances – places like Waveney and Gravesham – but these were more the exception than the rule. They did very well indeed in Wales, but horribly in Scotland. Because it was a mixed bag, because the Tories didn’t do badly and because Labour did so badly in Scotland these elections probably aren’t going to give Ed Miliband the big boost they could have – it’s not going to be reported in the media as Ed Miliband’s first big victory. I had expected (and have been predicting for months on end when people ask) that Labour would open up a bigger lead in the polls after May as the locals would be seen as the start of Labour’s big comeback… on the back of this I’m not sure they will.

The Liberal Democrats took the thorough kicking everyone expected – if anything, it was worse. They avoided wipeout in Wales, in Scotland they were pushed back to just the island seats and top-ups, recieving derisory votes in many seats with their vote often appearing to shift wholesale to the SNP. In their more Northern and urban councils they often faced wipeout in those seats contested, in most councils that were a contest between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats they made losses (with a very few notable exceptions like Eastleigh and Cotswold where they made gains). It remains to be seen how the party reacts to the defeats – a couple of Lib Dem leaders on councils have called for Clegg’s head, but none of the party’s big guns so far.

The Conservatives did surprising well. The Rallings and Thrasher projections had them losing about 900 seats or so, in reality they made a small net gain. The reason seems to be that Labour’s best advances were in places the Tories didn’t have many councillors to lose (and where wards are larger, so there are fewer councillors per voter!), so the Conservative loss to Labour was smaller than might have been expected and cancelled out by Conservative gains from the Liberal Democrats across the South. The Conservatives don’t seem to be crowing about making gains (probably so as not to further unsettle the coalition or set themselves up for a fall when the mid term losses that are still inevitably eventually do arrive). David Cameron himself probably would have faced a lot of dissent from his backbenchers had the AV referendum been lost, but it wasn’t. The question now is probably more what (if anything) he doesn’t to bolster the position of his coalition partners.

The SNP were the unadulterated victors of the night – Scotland was simply a massive, sweeping, SNP landslide, a magnificent victory. There were a couple of polls (from TNS and Scottish Opinion) in the final few days that reported massive SNP leads, much bigger than the more modest ones being shown by YouGov, that at the time I’d assumed were going to be wrong. While the Scottish Opinion 30 point SNP lead obviously didn’t materialise, they were obviously picking up a genuine wave of support towards the SNP at the end of the campaign (and, indeed, YouGov’s internal experiment with exit polling also picked up a big shift towards the SNP, if not to it’s full extent). In Scotland the SNP are now the masters – the effect on wider British politics will be whether this leads to a referendum on Scottish independence and if so when.

The AV referendum went down to the defeat that almost everyone now expected and that the polls had been showing for weeks (the final results were 32/68, so ICM got it bang on). There will be time later to dissect exactly why the NO campaign won so convincingly, but beyond the destabilising effect it has had on the coalition (and what degree that was real or feigned), its now more of an academic point. Electoral reform is now presumably a dead issue for at least a Parliament or two.

Now, I’m off for a rest!


And more results…

The patterns from last night seem to be a thumping victory for the SNP in Scotland, Labour heading for victory in Wales. In the English local elections the Liberal Democrats are suffering badly, facing extreme losses in Northern cities and patchier losses elsewhere. The Conservatives are experiencing modest losses to Labour, but these are being cancelled out by gains from the Lib Dems.

This afternoon we have the rest of Wales, Scotland and the locals before counting starts on the referendum at 4pm.

Finally, YouGov have released data from polling on election day (a sort of online exit-poll) here.

Election night

There is one final poll on the AV referendum. Opinium for the Evening Standard have figures of YES 36%, NO 64%.

Next stop results. Polls close at 10pm. Some local councils, and some of Scotland and Wales are counting overnight, but results will be relatively slow going because of the need to validate the local/Scottish/Welsh papers AND referendum ballot papers. The Press Association’s estimated declaration times suggest we won’t have anything till around midnight (Sunderland and Tameside are the first councils expected to declare, Bridgend the first Welsh seat), and apart from then little until 1am. There’s unlikely to be anything in Scotland till 2am.

The referendum count starts at 4pm tomorrow.

As far as I am aware there are NO exit polls tonight.

UPDATE: There is also a final Scottish Parliament poll in tonight’s Daily Mail, conducted by Progressive Scottish opinion (while it’s being published tonight, it isn’t an exit poll – the fieldwork was conducted over the weekend, continuing up until Tuesday). Topline figures are constituency: CON 12%, LAB 26%, LDEM 4%, SNP 51%. Regional: CON 12%, LAB 22%, LDEM 3%, SNP 53%, Green 5%. A thirty-one point lead for the SNP in the regional vote seems, to put it politely, somewhat unlikely.

One more final poll for the referendum tomorrow – YouGov for the Sun have topline figures of YES 40%, NO 60%. That’s in the same sort of ball park as YouGov’s AV polling over the last fortnight or so, a very substantial NO lead (unless the polls are horribly, horribly wrong a NO victory appears a certainty) but not as large as suggested by ComRes and ICM. The poll was conducted yesterday and today, with a sample of 5,725.

There is apparently also an Angus Reid poll on AV due out tonight – I do not know when or where.

To avoid confusion, people are also tweeting a poll from the Metro apparently showing a 4 point lead for Yes. I’ve no idea of the veracity of the poll, but it is of readers of Metro under the age of 44, so is not intended to be a nationally representative poll or a prediction of the overall result.

UPDATE: The final Angus Reid poll on AV is now out, and has YES on 39%, NO on 61%