The Guardian have a new ICM poll on the coalition here. The YouGov/Sunday Times results are also up on the website now, covering the coalition and the Olympics – I’ll leave people to look up the Olympic results themselves if they are interested.

In YouGov’s poll, 45% of people think the coalition should end now, 40% should it continue. The majority of people who think it should end are, naturally enough, Labour supporters. About three-quarters of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats think the coalition should continue for the time-being, about one in five of both think it should end now.

Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters who want to see the coalition to end would like a new election, most of those 20% of Conservative supporters who’d like the coalition to end would prefer a minority Conservative government.

The overall results on the House of Lords reform and boundary changes are almost identical – 34% of people think Cameron was right to cancel the Lords reforms, 42% think he was wrong; 34% think Clegg is right to vote against the boundary changes, 41% think he is wrong. The cross-breaks are unsurprising – Conservatives think Cameron is in the right and Clegg in the wrong and Lib Dems think vice-versa.

Turning to ICM, they asked a question on how long people thought the coalition would last. The question is almost the same as a YouGov one asked last week, giving people pretty much the same answer opinions. When YouGov asked the question in July they found 54% thought the coalition would last most of the Parliment (30% until the election, 24% until just before). ICM a fortnight ago found very similar results, with 56% expecting the coalition to last the term (33% until the election, 23% until just before).

YouGov repeated the question just after Nick Clegg’s statement on boundary changes, and found the proportion of people thinking the coalition will last the term had fallen to 47% (24% to the election, 23% until just before). ICM today find it even lower, with only 35% thinking the coalition will last (16% till the election, 19% just before). The difference between ICM and YouGov could be wording, but I suspect some is also the effect of asking two days later once people had had chance to see the news.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8% – still very much in line with the recent YouGov average Labour leads of 9 to 10 points.

The ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph meanwhile is their usual “wisdom index”, that asks respondents to predict the shares of the vote at the next election rather than say how they will vote. The average prediction is Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 38% and the Liberal Democrats on 17%.


The Boris bandwagon rolls on, and an ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph tonight apparently has another question trying to measure whether the Conservatives would do better with Boris Johnson as leader. There are two things to consider with hypothetical “who would you vote for if X was leader” questions.

The first is that they need to be exactly comparable. The difference between voting intention with two different people as leader of a party is often only a few points. However, adjustments like weighting by likelihood to vote or reallocating don’t knows can also make a couple of points difference, so if you want to be confident the difference is due to the leader the need to be done exactly the same way. If the main figures are weighted or filterted by likelihood to vote, they need to be weighted by likelihood to vote (ideally asked separately), if there is a squeeze question or don’t knows are reallocated in their main question, the same needs to happen in the hypothetical questions.

Trickier to control for is the question itself. Normal voting intention questions don’t mention the party leaders, so if asking how people would vote with Boris as Tory leader increases the Tory vote by 2 points we can’t conclude that he’d do better than Cameron without checking mentioning David Cameron as Tory leader in the question wouldn’t do the same. This is why when YouGov run the questions they ask a control question including the names of the current party leaders.

The second thing to consider is quite how hypothetical these questions are! In many cases we are asking about politicians who the general public know very little about – apart from very well known politicians like party leaders and Chancellors of the exechequer many other ministers – even cabinet ministers – are almost complete unknowns to the majority of people. Even when a politician is relatively well known, like Gordon Brown pre-2007 or Boris Johnson now, people answering questions like this don’t know what they would do as a party leader, what sort of mission and narrative they’d set out, what policy priorities they’d follow, and all these things could change how they are viewed.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean questions like this are never useful. Back before Gordon Brown became Labour leader polls like this consistently showed him doing less well than Tony Blair. At the time I made all the same caveats as above, but said in the specific context of Gordon Brown it probably was showing that Brown would do badly because of why people gave him negative ratings. The polls said people saw him as competent and efficient and capable… but they didn’t like him. If people had seen Brown as incompetent or inexperienced he could have changed impressions in office, but those were already positive. The polls were telling us that his problem was a negative that was difficult to change, just not being likeable.

So to Boris. What can we tell from hypothetical polls about him? Well, I haven’t seen the ICM poll yet, but YouGov have done two hypothetical polls about him. The first in May showed Boris doing basically the same as David Cameron. The second a week or so ago had Boris doing 5 points better than Cameron, presumably because of the effect the Olympics has had on how Boris is seen. We shall see if ICM shows the same sort of pattern.

Is this really meaningful? Well, as Gordon Brown seemed to do badly simply because people didn’t warm to him personally, Boris Johnson seems to be an opposite case – he seems to do well because he is likeable and eccentric. It’s an open question to what extent that would transfer were him to become Prime Minister or Conservative leader – a politicians ability to come across as likeable and to connect to people seems to be innate to some degree, so would probably benefit Boris in any role. On the other hand, being seen as a bit of a buffoon is not necessarily on the job description of PM. Would something that seems like a wizzard prank in a hypothetical opinion poll seem rather less funny in an actual election? We don’t know.

A more concrete caveat to keep in mind is to remember that all these Boris quesions are being asked in the midst of the London Olympics, Boris’s big moment in the sun. Before the Olympics the polls didn’t suggest Boris would do any better than Cameron. I’d wait until the publicity around the Olympics fades before drawing any long term conclusions…

There are two new polls tonight, neither of which show any real change. The daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9% (the 11% for the Lib Dems yesterday was, indeed, just a blip).

There is also a new Opinium poll which also shows a nine point lead for Labour. Their topline figures, with changes from a month ago, are CON 31%(-1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 10%(+2)

Tonight’s YouGov results for the Sun are CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 6%. The eleven points for the Liberal Democrats is at the top end for YouGov’s normal range, but are nothing to get excited about unless they are sustained. YouGov had them at 11% twice last month too, and it didn’t come to anything.

Last night YouGov also asked some questions on the coalition following the lords/boundaries breakdown, results are here. Generally speaking more people thought that the Liberal Democrats had kept to their side of the coalition agreement than thought the same about the Conservatives (and as you might expect given that, that the Conservatives have gained more from the coalition than the Liberal Democrats have).

Only 30% of people think the Conservatives have kept to their side of the coalition deal, 51% of people think they have not. In comparison 45% of people think that the Liberal Democrats have kept to their side of the coalition deal, 32% of people think they have not

A majority (68%) of Conservative supporters think their party has kept to their side of the deal, and Tory supporters think the Liberal Democrats have delivered on their side of the deal by 44% to 36%. Contrast this with Liberal Democrat supporters, who clearly feel their party has been treated less fairly – 75% think their own party has kept their side of the deal, but only 24% think the Conservatives have delivered theirs.

Asked about the future of the coalition, 47% of people still expect the coalition to last until the next election or shortly before it, slightly down from 54% when YouGov asked the same question last month. 20% of people now think that the coalition will come to an end within the next year, up from 12% in July.

Asked how long they would LIKE the coalition to continue, 48% of people now say they would like it to end immediately. Obviously answers to this are largely partisan and include the vast majority of Labour supporters, but it also includes 26% of Conservative supporters and 22% of Liberal Democrat supporters.