This month’s ICM poll for the Guardian has voting intention figures of CON 31%(+2), LAB 39%(-2), LDEM 15%(+2), UKIP 7%(-2). The topline figures suggest a narrowing of the Labour lead, but this probably a reversion to the mean after what looked like a rogue poll last month. ICM have shown Labour with an eight point lead in four of their last six polls (ICM typically show lower Labour leads and higher Lib Dem scores than some other pollsters for methodological reasons to do with how they treat don’t knows).

The rest of the poll is reported as showing that the Conservatives would do better if they were more anti-European, or were more anti-immigration, or were more on the side of traditional families (whether people thought being more supportive of apple pie would help them was not, alas, polled upon).

I shall only repeat my normal grumbles about polls purporting to show that people would be more or less likely to vote for a party if they did x, y or z. They really don’t, people just use the questions to show their opinion of the issues being asked about regardless of whether or not it would actually shift their vote or increase/decrease their likelihood of voting for a party. Hence what the poll actually shows is most people don’t like immigration or the European Union much and do like families.

Today part of the country (or at least, a British dependency) actually has an election – the Falklands have a referendum on whether they wish to remain British. The result is a formality of course, people there will overwhelmingly vote to remain British, but what do people in Britain itself and Argentina think?

YouGov and Ibarometro have carried out parallel polling on the issue this week in Britain and Argentina – full results are here. There is a broad perception that the issue matters rather more to Argentina than Britain, only 1% of British people pick the Falklands as one of the most important international issues facing the country, 24% of Argentinians do. Asked directly about Falklands 54% of British respondents think it is an important issue to Britain, 67% of Argentinians think it is an important issue to Argentina.

Unsurprisingly 62% of Argentinians think that the fairest solution to the issue would be for the islands to become Argentinian, 20% would support joint-sovereignty. Only 4% think they should remain British. For British respondents 40% want the islands to remain British, 28% think they should become independent (presumably respondents who don’t realise just how few people live there!), 13% would support shared sovereignty, only 4% think the islands should become Argentinian. There is very little crossover there.

Asked what they think actually will happen there is less contrast. 61% of British respondents think the islands will remain British, 37% of Argentinian respondents think they will remain British. Despite the fuss made over the Islands by the Argentine government (actions that are supported by most Argentinians – 53% think their government is doing a good job on the issue), only 25% of Argentinians think the islands actually will end up becoming Argentinian.

Turning to the referendum this week, British respondents overwhelmingly think that the Falkland Islanders should have a say on their future (88% think they should, 4% do not). Argentinian respondents do not – only 15% think the Falkland Islanders should have a say, 59% do not. Asked who should have the final say on the Islands’ future, 74% of British respondents think it should be down to the islanders themselves. Argentinian respondents were more divided, but the most popular option was for a international organisation to make the decision (36%).


Lord Ashcroft has repeated the same sort of large marginals poll that PoliticsHome did in 2008 and 2009, looking at the clusters of key marginal seats that will provide the battleground for the next general election.

As in 2008 and 2009, the poll asked two questions to determine voting intention – asking the same sort of standard voting intention that all polls use, then prompting people to think about tactical voting, asking people to think specifically about their own constituency, the political situation there and the candidates likely to stand and then asking how they’d vote in their own seat.

There is a widespread belief that people don’t really think about tactical voting until a general election is almost upon us. I’m not so sure that’s the case, it may just be that people don’t reflect their tactical voting intentions in polls until late in the day! The two-stage voting intention question clearly suggests that some people answer a standard voting intention question differently to how they think they would actually vote in a general election, their normal answer is more like their “national party preference”.

Anyway, this two stage voting intention appears to pick up tactical and incumbency effects, so in Labour held seats it tends to slightly increase the reported level of Labour support, in seats the Conservatives are defending it marginally boosts Conservative support. Where is has a massive effect is in Lib Dem held seats – the Liberal Democrats get much more support in those seats when you prompt people to think about their own constituency.

The picture painted by the Ashcroft marginal poll is not particularly surprising – a big swing from Con to Labour, the Liberal Democrats collapsing where they are against Labour but more resilient against the Conservatives. It is good to have solid data to back up what I was only assuming was happening in the marginal seats though!

The swing from Conservative to Labour is slightly smaller in the marginals than in the national polls (national polls are showing a swing of around 8.5%-9.5%, while this poll shows a swing of 8% in Con-v-Lab margins) but this looks like this is the result of incumbency effect for those first term Conservative MPs who hold most of those seats – the standard voting intention question without the constituency prompt was showing a swing wholly inline with national polling. There are no massive regional differences, the biggest being London marginals where there is only a 5% swing from Con to Lab, probably a reflection of the fact that the swing towards the Conservatives in London in 2010 was much less than elsewhere in the country – there is less far for the pendulum to swing back.

Perhaps the more interesting findings are what the poll says about the Liberal Democrats – the Con-v-Lab battle normally follows national polls, the Lib Dem battleground is sometimes different. When PoliticsHome asked the two stage voting intention question structure back in 2009 it found the Lib Dems did 10 points better in LD-Con seats when people were prompted to think about their own constituency (and conseqently was actually quite a good pointer to how well they’d do at the 2010 election – it had them getting 55 seats, compared to the 57 they actually got). In the Ashcroft poll today the tactical/incumbency boost the Lib Dems get in LD-Con seats when people are prompted to think about their own constituency is a mighty 13 points.

This is naturally good news for the Liberal Democrats, but still means they will lose a lot of seats. The reason that tactical/incumbency boost is bigger is probably simply because they are starting from a much lower base. Even with this prompting the poll suggests the Lib Dems will lose around 17 seats to the Conservatives. In seats where they are up against Labour the swing is bigger, the tactical/incumbency boost is smaller, and the Lib Dems face wipeout. Overall, if this poll was reflected at the next general election – still two years away remember- it would leave the Lib Dems with around 25 seats, a very sizeable loss, but not the complete wipeout that some have predicted, feared or hoped for.

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%. Looking across the figures for the week there were three polls in a row with UKIP on 12%, a height they had never previously reached with YouGov, suggested that while UKIP did genuinely benefit from the Eastleigh publicity, the effect was pretty minor. Other than that, all remained largely static, with the lead once again sticking within the margin of error of around 10 or 11 points.

I’ve not had chance to look at it properly, but Lord Ashcroft also has a good chunk of polling out on his websitehere, this time segmenting up the Liberal Democrats support.

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun was the first conducted wholly after the Eastleigh result was known, so is the first time we can look for any obvious effect on voting intention. Topline figures are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 12%.

The twelve point score for UKIP is the highest that YouGov have ever shown, so there is a fair chance that it is a reflection of the Eastleigh by-election, but equally, it’s only a very small reflection. I half expected a bigger impact, after all, a good by-election performance that creates the impression that a party is a serious contender has in the past had a noticable effect – look at the polls after Brent East for example. Perhaps it would be different if UKIP actually won a seat.

Yesterday also saw the release of the latest TNS-BMRB poll, conducted mostly (but not entirely) after the Eastleigh result. Topline figures were CON 29%(nc), LAB 38%(nc), LDEM 11%(nc), UKIP 14%(+2). Once again it’s an increase for UKIP, but nothing really significant (in the case of TNS-BMRB it is not a new high for them as they had one poll last year with UKIP at 16%).