There are two new Scottish polls in Sunday’s papers, an ICM poll for the Scotland on Sunday and a Panelbase poll commissioned by the Yes campaign. These are only the second and third polls that we’ve seen conducted wholly after the debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, the first one from Survation suggested a significant move towards NO, but these two paint a different picture.

Taking the Panelbase/Yes Scotland poll first, topline figures are YES 42%(+1), NO 46%(-2), Don’t know 12%(+1). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 48%(+2), NO 52%(-2). Changes are from the Panelbase/Sunday Times poll in July. Compared to last month it’s a slight move towards YES, but is not particularly significant by Panelbase’s standards: their penultimate poll also had YES on 48%, and they’ve have YES on between 46-48% since March.

The ICM poll in the Scotland on Sunday has topline figures of YES 38%(+4), NO 47%(+2), Don’t know 14%(-7). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 45%(+2), NO 55%(-2). It’s a bigger NO lead than Panelbase are showing, but the same modest movement towards YES. As with Panelbase, it’s not a massive change from the longer term trend – so far this year ICM have had YES between 43% and 48%, and YES 45% is right in line with the average of all ICM’s Scottish polls this year.

So, two polls, both show a modest movement towards YES since last month, but neither a significant shift from the longer term trend. What it does mean though is that the movement towards NO in Survations’s post-debate poll has not been echoed in other companies’ polls.

(Incidentally, I’m on leave this week, having a break before the long slog to the general election, so expect light blogging for the next few days)


Lord Ashcroft has today published a new poll of Uxbridge & South Ruislip, a generally unspectacular and unnotable safe Conservative seat in West London. It shows voting intentions of CON 42%(-6), LAB 28%(+5), LDEM 6%(-14), UKIP 19%(+16), what would be an unsurprising Conservative hold.

The reason for the poll is – of course – the speculation that Boris Johnson might or might not apply for the Conservative nomination following John Randall’s decision to step down at the next election. Lord Ashcroft also asked how people would vote if Boris Johnson was the Conservative candidate, which unsurprisingly showed a popular and well-known candidate would give the party a boost.

The poll also included a question on what Uxbridge voters thought about Boris being MP at the same time as being mayor. The result was split right down the middle – 50% thought it was fine for Boris to do both for a year, 50% thought they weren’t compatible and Boris should wait until 2016 or resign as mayor if he wanted to be an MP. Amongst Conservative supporters in Uxbridge they were more accomodating – 63% thought Boris could do both for a year.


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A round up of various polling bits and bobs from the last few days, starting with a couple of Scottish polls. TNS released their latest figures yesterday, as usual there’s quite a gap between fieldwork and release – it was conduced between 23rd July and the 7th August, so overlapping with the Commonwealth games and almost wholly before the Salmond-Darling debate. Topline figures were YES 32%(nc), 45%(+4), DK 23%(-4), or without don’t knows YES 42%(-2), NO 58%(+2). It’s a shift towards NO, but it may be largely a reversion to the mean – TNS’s previous poll had NO dropping five points, so this is monstly just a reversal of that.

This week’s we’ve also seen the latest data from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. This is an academic project, so by the standards of media polling the figures are very old – the fieldwork was between the 12th May and 17th July – but they are worth noting because of the quality of the fieldwork. This was a proper probability sample, something extremely expensive you only normally see for academic and government work. Standard face-to-face polls aren’t really random, they use demographic quotas and cluster sampling (interviewers get sent to a place and door knock to five 3 male pensioners, 2 women under 30, etc); telephone polls are quasi-random – they ring randomised telephone numbers, but not every house has a phone and the overwhelming majority of calls don’t result in an interview; internet polls normally draw a sample from a panel. The Scottish Social Attitudes survey draws a genuine random selection of Scottish addresses and then sends a face-to-face interviewer to call at that address until they make contact and can arrange an interview, the response rate is 57% (phone polls these days are under 10%). The SSA survey found referendum voting intentions in the May-July period were YES 25%, NO 43%, Don’t know 32%, a squeeze question pushed those don’t knows to YES 33%, NO 51%, DK 15%. Excluding don’t knows that the equivalent of YES 39%, NO 61%.

Moving on, there have been a couple of polls on attitudes towards British participation in air srikes in Iraq. YouGov for the Times found 40% of people approved of the RAF taking part in airstrikes against ISIS, 36% were opposed (tabs here). ComRes for ITV found 45% of people supporting British fighter planes conducting airstrikes against Islamic State, 37% were opposed. Unsurprisingly there was strong opposition to British ground troops being sent back into Iraq – only 18% supported it in the ComRes poll. (tabs here)

Finally we have another academic election prediction site, joining Steve Fisher’s projection here and Rob Ford, Will Jennings et al’s projection here. The latest addition is from Nick Vivyan, Chris Hanretty & Ben Lauderdale at ElectionForecast.co.uk. As I write Steve is predicting a Conservative lead of 4 points at the next election, producing a hung Parliament with the Conservatives the largest party; Rob and colleagues are predicting a 0.7% Labour lead at the next election; Nick, Ben and Chris are predicting a 1.2% Conservative lead, producing a hung Parliament with Labour the largest party.


The monthly Ipsos MORI political monitor has topline voting intention figures of CON 33%(+1), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 13%(-1), GRN 7%. Labour and the Conservatives are equal on 33, the first MORI poll since last November not to show a Labour lead. All the usual caveats apply – it’s just one poll, so in isolation is not any more meaningful than the ICM poll earlier this week showing a seven point Labour lead, it’s the wider trend that counts. Full tabs are here.

There’s a slight methodological tweak in this month’s poll – for the first time MORI conducted a proportion (20%) of the interviews via mobile phone. Past testing by MORI over the last five months suggests this doesn’t actually make any difference to the final figures, but it avoids a potential future risk.

MORI also had a batch of “how would you vote if X was leader” questions, to which I’ll add my normal note of caution. People are rubbish at answering hypothetical questions at the best of times, and here we are expecting people to say how they’d vote with X as party leader when they don’t know what direction X would set for the party, what their policies and priorities would be, how the media would react to them in the reality of leadership and so on.

Asked how they would vote with Boris as Conservative leader, there would be a five point Conservative lead, with Theresa May as leader there would be a 4 point Labour lead, with George Osborne as leader a 9 point Labour lead. Two extra caveats – there wasn’t a control question asking about current leaders, and these figures are not filtered by likelihood to vote in the way MORI’s main question is. The May v Osborne v Johnson questions are all exactly comparable, though Boris is undoubtedly flattered by being the best known, but some of the difference between this and the standard voting intention will be down to the effect of mentioning Miliband & Clegg in the question. As ever, hypothetical leadership questions are a bit of fun, they are unlikely to have any real predictive ability, so please don’t read too much into them.


The August ICM poll for the Guardian is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 31%(-3), LAB 38%(+5), LDEM 12%(nc), UKIP 10%(+1). It’s a much higher Labour lead than ICM have shown of late, their polls for the last few months have been showing Labour and Conservative essentially neck-and-neck. As ever, don’t read too much into a single poll, it might be the start of a broader Labour increase… or may just be normal sample volatility.

The poll also asked how people would vote with Boris Johnson as Tory leader, and found the Tories on 34% (3 points higher), Labour on 37% (one point lower) and UKIP two points lower. This is different from the conclusion to the YouGov poll at the weekend that showed virtually no change from a Boris leadership, but it appears to be the result of slightly different approaches to asking the question. Compared to their standard question, bot h YouGov and ICM found Labour’s lead reduced by three points when you asked how people would vote with Boris as leader. However, the difference is that YouGov also asked a control question of how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, and that also reduced the Labour lead by 2 points, accounting for much of the apparent “Boris difference”.

That said, I wouldn’t take “How would you vote with X as leader” questions too seriously anyway. People are rubbish at answering hypothetical questions, and here we’re expecting them to say how they’d vote with X as leader without knowing what changes X would make, what priorities and policies they’d adopt or anything else about what an X leadership would look like. They can be useful straws in the wind, but really, they are no more than that.

UPDATE: Meanwhile the Sun have just tweeted the daily YouGov poll: CON 33%, LAB 37%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%