This morning’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline voting intention figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%. It also asked how people across Britain as a whole would vote if they could vote in the Scottish referendum – 22% would vote for Scottish independence, 55% would vote against, so more opposed to independence than Scotland itself (obviously the poll included a Scottish cross-break, but I’d caution against reading too much into that – stick to proper, bespoke Scottish polls for that, I suspect there will be plenty along in the aftermath of the white paper). Full tabs for the YouGov poll are here.
There is also a new Survation poll of Thanet South (tabs here), the first of a series of constituency polls commissioned by Alan Bown, a major UKIP donor, presumably of seats they see at potentially good for UKIP. The rest are likely to come out in December, but this one is out early because of Laura Sandys announcement that she’s too retire (though the poll itself was mostly done before that).
Topline voting intention figures in the seat are CON 28%(-20), LAB 35%(+4), LDEM 5%(-10), UKIP 30%(+24). Thanet, of course, was one of the areas where UKIP did particularly well in the local elections and is seen as a seat where Nigel Farage might stand at the next election. Note that there are some methodological changes from Survation’s past constituency polls. Previously they’ve weighted constituency polls by 2010 past vote and reallocated don’t knows based on past vote, in the same way they do for their national polls (though for practical reasons they do national polls online, but local polls by phone). For the latest polls they’ve changed method – no longer using political weighting, and not reallocating don’t knows. This is apparently part of a general review of how they do constituency polling, rather than something for this poll in particular.
Regular readers will be familiar with the debate over past vote weighting. Most companies (the primary exceptions being MORI and Opinium) weight their samples by both demographics, and by a political variable, normally how people voted at the last election, to ensure the sample is properly politically representative. While straightforward in theory, in practice this is complicated by the fact that poll respondents are not always very good at actually recalling how they voted at the last election (a phenomenon known as “false recall”). Companies that weight by past vote like ICM and ComRes therefore use a formula to estimate the level of “false recall” and account for that in their weighting schemes. Other companies, like MORI, take the view that false recall is so difficult to estimate and so potentially volatile that it renders past vote as unsuitable for weighting and risks cancelling out genuine volatility amongst the electorate, and therefore reject it completely.
In the case of the Survation poll of Thanet South, of the respondents who said they voted in 2010, about 41% said they voted Conservative, 38% Labour, 10% Lib Dem and 11% UKIP – so a three percent Conservative majority, when actually Laura Sandys had a seventeen percent majority. It underlines both the potential risk from not using political weighting, and the difficult choices that companies that do use it face – some of that difference will be false recall, but I suspect much of it is a sample that too Labour. Dividing one from the other is the challenge.