The monthly ComRes online poll, conducted for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror, is out tonight and has topline voting intention figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 35%(-3), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 19%(+4). Changes are from ComRes’s previous online poll in mid-April. The changes are in line with other polls we’ve seen since the local elections, a slight narrowing of the Labour lead over the Conservatives and growing support for UKIP. The 19% is the highest figure that UKIP have scored in any poll so far.

The other questions in the poll asked best Prime Minister (I think the first time ComRes have asked it recently, and a welcome break from their tyranny of agree/disagree statements) with Cameron on 32%, Miliband on 24%, Clegg on 6%.

There is also a question where 49% of people agreed that “If a party wants my support at the next general election, it is important to me that they offer a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU”. The question of whether people actually care about Europe and referendums and whether it will actually change votes is a key issue at at the moment. Unfortunately is it not as easy as this to actually answer it – but that it were!.

Regular readers will know that questions attempting to measure the salience of particular issues at election are a particular bug-bear of mine, one that I’ve written about in the past. There are multiple problems with questions like this. The first is that questions like this take an issue out of context and give it false prominence – that is, if you ask about an issue in isolation (and sometimes on the same page as a grid of other statements asking about the same issue!) people may think they are important, but come an actual election there are all sorts of other issues like the economy, crime, the NHS, pensions, taxes and so on that people may see as even more important. The second is that respondents to surveys are not stupid – they know that such poll questions are used by papers to show unhappiness with a policy and will use it to register their support or opposition to a policy regardless of whether it would actually change their vote. Thirdly, and most importantly, is that as people we are often not very good at actually understanding the drivers behind the decisions we make, normally rather overestimating how rational and calculating we are. Key driver analysis of British Election Study data tells us that things like party identification, perceptions of the leaders and perceived competence are the things that drive votes… not policies on individual issues.

The simplistic view of how policies affect voting intention – if people like a policy it wins votes, if they don’t like a policy it loses votes is just that – simplistic. Individual votes don’t win or lose votes. However, they presumably do play into wider perceptions of parties and leaders and how people rate them. So the issue of Europe may well have an impact in terms of whether parties and leaders are seen as caring about the same issues as the public do, being willing to listen to the people, whether they are strong or weak leaders with a vision or purpose, whether parties are united or competent. How it might affect people’s vote is not a question that can be easily answered, let alone with a single question.

UPDATE: There is also an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. They don’t have normal voting intention (instead having the ICM wisdom index thingy that asks people to predict the shares of the vote rather than ask how they themselves would vote – the figures this month are Conservative 29%, Labour 32%, Lib Dem 16%, UKIP 15%) but do have EU referendum voting intention, asked using the wording in the Conservative party’s draft Bill. 46% say they would vote NO (to leave), 30% would vote YES (to stay).

UPDATE2: The fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer bucks the trend of a narrowing Labour lead, but does also have its own UKIP high. Topline figures are CON 27%(-1), LAB 37%(+2), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 20%(+3)

TNS BMRB have released their latest poll. Topline voting intention figures are CON 28%(+3), LAB 37%(-3), LDEM 7%(-3), UKIP 18%(+4). Changes are from their previous poll a month ago and show the same trend of a narrowing Labour lead and increase in UKIP support that other companies have shown since early April, though the scale of the narrowing is probably mostly a reversion to the mean (their previous poll showed a rather incongruous 15 point Labour lead). Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile the daily YouGov poll for the Sun this morning had topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%. Full tabs are here.


Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor is out, with topline figures of CON 31%(+2), LAB 34%(-4), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 13%(-2). The three point Labour lead is the lowest we have seen in any poll since a ComRes poll last September (conducted during the Conservative party conference) and the lowest MORI have shown since April 2012.

All the usual caveats about unusual poll findings apply and the full tabs are not yet up on the MORI website, but MORI’s Tom Mludzinski says the change is mostly due to Labour voters saying they are less likely to vote (as regular readers will know Ipsos MORI use the harshest turnout filter, only including respondents who say they are absolutely 10/10 certain to vote. Most other companies either use softer turnout filters, weighting down people who are less likely to vote, or ignore turnout filters completely away from election time).

UPDATE: As with the YouGov/Sunday Times figures for the last few week’s, MORI’s figures also show an increase in economic optimism… or at least, a decrease in pessimism. 30% now expect the economy to improve in the next year, 31% to get worse – a net “feel good factor” of minus 1. This is up from minus 19 a month ago, and the highest since July 2010.

UPDATE2: Full tabs are here. Greens on 6%.

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun is up now and has topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%. Full tabs are here.

Following the rather surprising ICM result on Monday, this latest YouGov poll has the BNP at 0% (Actually it is what some polls would put as an asterisk, meaning less than 0.5% but not actually zero). This is fairly typical of at least the last year, with the overwhelming majority of polls showing the BNP on 0% or 1%.

The Guardian have released this month’s ICM poll, the first telephone poll conducted since the local elections. Topline voting intention figures with changes from a month ago are CON 28%(-4), LAB 34%(-4), LDEM 11%(-4), UKIP 18%(+9!).

The 18% for UKIP is the highest that ICM have shown and, more strikingly, the highest any company have shown. I will advise my usual caution about polls showing extremes and records, more often than not they tend to be outliers. ICM’s methodology tends to produce some of UKIP’s lower figures (ICM reallocate some don’t knows to the party they voted for last time, weight down people who didn’t vote last time and interview by phone… all things that tend to produce lower UKIP scores) so it is particularly surprising to see ICM with a record breaking UKIP score. While the scale of the UKIP increase may well be a bit of a blip though, the broader trend is the same as other companies – they are all showing a surge in support for UKIP.

It does make one ponder about how high we might see UKIP in some other companies’ polls. If YouGov have them as high as 16% or 17%, if ICM have them at 18%, what might we see from companies like Opinium or ComRes who tend to show higher levels of UKIP support?

More unexpectedly the ICM poll also found a jump in support for the BNP, up to 4%, the highest any poll has had then at for years. This is strange. The BNP have certainly not had any great publicity boost, at the local elections they seemed essentially moribund. It may just be an odd sample, or perhaps as Tom Clark suggests it is just a case of confusion amongst respondents, with some people getting the names of the BNP and UKIP mixed up.

ICM also asked about voting intention in an EU referendum, finding voting intention fairly evenly balanced – 40% would vote to stay in (22% definitely, 18% probably), 43% would vote to leave (32% definitely, 11% probably).

UPDATE: ICM tabs are up here. Topline figures without reallocation of don’t knows would have been CON 27%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 19%, BNP 5%.

That strange boost of support for the BNP is almost wholly amongst women, almost wholly amongst C2s, almost wholly amongst over 65s and almost wholly in Wales. The unweighted number of 2010 BNP voters in the sample was 1, increased to 18 by weighting. What that strongly suggests to me is that there was one little old C2 BNP-voting Welsh lady who got a very high weighting factor, and probably makes up almost all of that 4%! Such things happen sometimes, but it means the BNP blip is probably just a data artifact that can be ignored.