Tonight’s polls

I’m not in tonight to write up any new polling, but I’m expecting the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer and the usual weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times. Given the publication of the white paper in the week it’s possible we may see some fresh Scottish polling too, though I don’t actually know of any yet – we shall see.

This morning’s daily YouGov poll for the Sun had topline voting intention figures of CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile today’s twice-weekly Populus poll has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 7% – a low Labour lead compared to their recent averages. Tabs are here


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.

The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 32%(+4), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 9%(-2), UKIP 11%(-1). Changes are from ComRes’s previous phone poll (as opposed to their parallel online polls for the Sunday Indy) conducted at the end of last month.

Meanwhile today’s twice-weekly Populus poll also recorded a five point lead for Labour, in their case the topline figures were CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 7%. Populus tabs are here.

Also out are the tables for a recent YouGov poll on immigration (it was published in the Times on Saturday, but tabs went up this morning here). Note firstly that while immigration has actually fallen over the last couple of years, the vast majority of people (73%) think that it is continuing to rise, only 7% think it has dropped over the last couple of years – a reminder that official statistics on the news are often not noticed or not believed. There is an equal lack of awareness of what government policy is on immigration. 37% of people say they have a good idea or a fairly good idea of what government policy on immigration is, but even then people are rather overestimating their knowledge – only 19% could actual pick out David Cameron’s stated aim of reducing net immigration to the tens out thousands.

Also interesting to note is people’s differing attitudes towards different groups of immigrants. 72% of people think the country should allow fewer (or no) unskilled immigrants, but people are actually far more welcoming about other groups. 63% are either happy with current levels or would like to see more skilled immigration, 68% are happy with the current or higher numbers of foreign students coming here. People are even split over asylum seekers (though we deliberately avoided using the actual phrase!) – 48% would be happy with more or the current levels of people fleeing persecution, 38% think there should be fewer or none at all.

The weekly YouGov results for the Sunday Times are now up online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.

The survey also included some questions on banking regulation in general, and a couple touching on the ongoing story around the Co-Op bank. Most opinion towards the banks and their regulation remains very negative and very pessimistic. Only 15% think bank regulation is effective, only 18% are confident that enough has been done to prevent a repeat of the banking crash. There is slightly more faith in the Bank of England’s ability to regulate the sector in the future – 33% of people say they trust the BoE a lot or a fair amount to regulate the banks. Bankers themselves continue to have a very poor public image – by 49% to 16% people think they are bad at their jobs, and by 56% to 13% people think they are fundamentally bad people.

Turning to the questions around the Co-op bank, 77% of people think that it should really be necessary for someone to have banking experience to be appointed Chairman of a bank, but most people put the blame for the appointment of Paul Flowers on the Co-op board itself rather than a regulatory failure or political machinations. 67% think George Osborne is correct to order an inquiry into how Flowers was appointed.

Also in today’s Sunday Times is a new Scottish poll by Panelbase. Voting intention in the Independence referendum now stands at YES 38%, NO 47% – wholly in line with Panelbase’s previous polling over the last year, which has been consistently showing a NO lead of around 8 to 10 points since summer 2012. I’ve updated the page showing polls on the Scottish referendum so far here.