Monday tends to be the day we have the most polls (as telephone polls are usually done over the weekend) and today is no different, with polls from ICM, Ashcroft and Populus.

The monthly ICM/Guardian poll has topline figures of CON 31%(nc), LAB 32%(-3), LDEM 11%(nc), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 6%(+2). Labour are down a bit on their recent results, their lead back to one point (ICM had been showing Labour and Conservative roughly equal in the summer, but their Autumn polls were showing larger leads).
The weekly Ashcroft poll has topline figures of CON 30%(nc), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 16%(nc), GRN 7%(+1). Having got a repuation for somewhat volatile figures, today’s are rock solid. Voting intentions are almost wholly unchanged since a week ago (tabs are here)
The twice weekly Populus poll has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. A two point Labour lead is wholly in line with Populus’s polls last week and in late October (tabs are here.)

We still have the daily YouGov/Sun poll to come, but so it doesn’t look as the fuss over Miliband’s leadership is having any significant effect. Populus and Ashcroft show no real change and while ICM show a small drop for Labour, in the context of other polls showing no movement it’s nothing that can’t be normal sample variation.


Time for a round up of Sunday’s polls, with new stuff in the Sunday papers from YouGov, Survation, Opinium and ICM.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. The poll also asked a series of questions about how people would vote with different Labour leaders. In a control question asking how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg the answers were CON 33%, LAB 31% (so the effect of reminding people of the current party leaders still seems to produce a slight positive Cameron effect or negative Miliband effect). If Yvette Cooper were Labour leader the position would be the same, a two point Conservative lead. If Ed Balls was the leader it would be worse, a three point Conservative lead. In contrast with Alan Johnson as leader Labour would be two points ahead (CON 31%, LAB 33%.

I’ll give my usual caveats about questions like this – people are answering them when on very little information, they don’t know what policies or priorities those alternative leaders would set, how the media would react to them and so on. In the same poll, YouGov found that only 42% of people think they could recognise Yvette Cooper from a photo… if you don’t even know what Yvette Cooper looks like, I’m guessing you don’t have a thorough understanding of what she would prioritise as Labour leader. It’s a response based on a very crude impression of those potential leaders based on what tends to be the very limited public awareness of opposition politicians. Nevertheless, those crude first impressions count, so it’s a good sign for Alan Johnson.

Survation also had a new poll with topline figures of CON 29%(+2), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 6%(-3), UKIP 23%(-1), and they too asked a series of hypothetical voting intention questions with different Labour leaders. In the Survation poll they displayed a biography and played a video clip of each potential leader and asked people questions about them before the questions. This allowed them to include people with extremely low public awareness like Chuka Umunna, though does of course rely upon the choice of biogs and video clips (given bias is often in the eye of the beholder, choosing clips that even those who don’t like the eventual results think are fair is incredibly tricky). The control question with Ed Miliband had a Labour lead of 4 points. In the Survation poll Yvette Cooper did worse than Miliband (neck and neck with the Tories), Andy Burnham just the same (4 point lead), Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna did best – both extending Labour’s lead to 8 points. A voting intention question asked after video clips of Labour leaders is obviously skewed towards Labour, but it’s the relative performance between the different leaders that counts, and again it’s good for Alan Johnson, and now also for Chuka Umunna.

Meanwhile the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-4), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 9%(+3), UKIP 19%(+1).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. As usual with ICM/Sunday Telegraph polls, this asked the public to predict vote shares rather than ask people how they would vote themselves. The average response now has the Conservatives getting slightly more votes than Labour.


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Over the last year couple of years Labour’s lead has gradually been whittled away, from ten points in 2012 they are now holding onto only the very narrowest of leads, with many polls showing them neck and neck. At the same time we have seen UKIP’s support getting ever higher, with polls regularly putting them in the mid teens. One naive assumption could be that supporters have moved directly from Labour to UKIP, but in reality there is a lot of churn back and forth between parties. A political party could be picking up support from one group of voters, but losing an equal number of voters somewhere else. The voters now backing UKIP could be people who earlier in the Parliament were backing Labour, even if they didn’t vote Labour in 2010.

Every month YouGov carry out around twenty polls for the Sun and the Sunday Times. In any individual poll the crossbreaks of 2010 Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters are too small to be robust, but by aggregrating up the polls from a whole month we have enough responses to really examine the underlying churn, and by comparing the figures from 2012 and 2013 to today, we can see how party support has changed.

All these charts are based on YouGov’s figures. For simplicities sake the movement between the parties are always *net* figures – for example, there are a very small number of people who voted Labour last time but said they’d vote Lib Dem this time, but the vast bulk of the movement is in the opposite direction. I’ve netted them up to get the overall movement between each party. I’ve also excluded very small movements made up of less than 0.2%. The percentages are of the whole of the sample, not of each parties support, and because the sample also includes people who say don’t know or won’t vote things don’t add up to 100%. You can click on each image to get a bigger, readable version. With that in mind…

2012churn550

Here’s October 2012, a high point for Labour when they were enjoying an average lead of around 10 points in YouGov’s national polls. Labour’s vote at the time was very robust, they were making a very small net loss to UKIP, but otherwise their vote from 2010 was solid and they had added to it small amounts of support from 2010 non-voters and Conservatives and a large chunk of former Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem support had already slumped, with the large majority of their support going to either Labour or to Don’t know/Would not vote (DK/WNV). The Conservatives had started to lose support to UKIP, but it wasn’t yet a flood – they were also losing some support to Labour and a large chunk to DK/WNV.

2013churn

Moving onto October 2013, Labour’s lead had now fallen to around 6 points in YouGov’s national polls. They were still holding onto their 2010 support, but their gains from the Conservatives and non-voters were starting to falter. The movement of support from the Conservatives to UKIP had vastly increased, but part of this was balanced out by fewer Con-to-DK/WNV and Con-to-Lab switchers. The number of lost Tories was growing, but lost Tories were also switching their destination, saying they’d support UKIP rather than saying Labour or don’t know. The Liberal Democrats and Labour were also starting to see increased movement to UKIP, though at this point the big chunk of LD-to-Lab voters remained solid.

2014churn

Finally here is the picture from October 2014. Labour’s average lead in YouGov’s polls last month was just 1.5 points and their retained support from 2010 is now faltering. In 2012 20.6% of our polls were made up of people who had voted Labour in 2010 and would do so again, that has now dropped to 16.6%. Those 2010 Labour voters are now flaking away towards UKIP, the Greens and the SNP. Movement from Con-to-Lab has now dried up completely. The chunk of CON-to-UKIP voters has continued to grow, but mostly at the expense of CON-to-DK/WNV, meaning Tory support has remained largely unchanged. Most importantly that solid block of LAB>LD switchers has started to wither, down from 6.6% of the sample to 4.6%. The Liberal Democrats themselves aren’t doing any better, but their former supporters are scattering more widely, moving to the Tories, UKIP and Greens.

Comparing the churn from 2012 and now you can see Labour’s issue. In 2012 all arrows pointed to Labour, they were picking up support from everywhere and holding on to what they had. Today they still have the benefit of a strong transfer from the Liberal Democrats (though even that’s declining), but they are leaking support in every direction – to the Greens, to UKIP and to the SNP.

One of the reasons the Conservatives ended up falling short at the last election was that they failed to clearly identify themselves as THE party for change – the public wanted rid of Gordon Brown and Labour, but following the debates Nick Clegg managed to make many people think the Liberal Democrats were the more convincing alternative. Ed Miliband may face a similar problem, the government still isn’t popular and still has a relatively low level of support, but the anti-government vote seems to be fracturing away from Labour to alternative non-Conservative parties like UKIP, the Greens and the SNP.

(This post is also featured on the New Statesman’s May 2015 here)


Lord Ashcroft put another batch of marginal seat polls out earlier on today. He is gradually moving on up the Lab-v-Con target list, and today’s batch of seats covered the twelve Con-v-Lab marginals with majorities between 4.8% and 7.1%. These are seats that would fall to Labour if they were about equal with the Tories in the national polls, so given the variation between the swing in different constituencies we are getting to the point were we should start seeing some seats with the Tories ahead, and indeed we do – Ashcroft found the Conservatives ahead in three seats (Blackpool North, Kingswood and Loughborough).

The average swing across the twelve seats polled was 4.5% from Con to Lab – the equivalent of a two point Labour lead in the national polls. The average Labour lead in the national polls at the time the fieldwork was done was also two points, so once again the Ashcroft polling is suggesting that in Con-v-Lab marginals the swing is very much in line with national polling.

At an individual constituency level there is more variation. The lowest swings in this batch of seats were the three Tory holds mentioned earlier, which had swings of only 1.5% and 2% from Con to Lab. The biggest swings were in Erewash, Bury North, Cannock Chase, Keighley and Croydon Central, with swings between 6% and 7%. Two of those seats are ones where the first time Conservative incumbent is standing down, another is in London, where local and European elections suggest Labour are doing particularly well.

Full details of the Ashcroft polls are all on his site here.


Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll today has topline figures of CON 30%(-1), LAB 29%(-2), LDEM 10%(+3), UKIP 16%(-2), GRN 6%(+1). The changes since last week are within the normal margin of error and the overall picture is inline with the broader picture of the Conservatives and Labour having extremely similar levels of support. Populus’s twice-weekly poll meanwhile had topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13% – Labour and the Conservatives again very close, but both higher than in Ashcroft’s polling.

The Ashcroft poll has, of course, got rather more attention because of the 29% for Labour. This is the first time since June 2010 that any poll has shown them below 30% – the level of support they got in Great Britain at the 2010 general election. This is largely due to house effects, and polls in general are not showing Labour this low. Ashcroft’s polls tend to show the highest level of support for those parties outside the traditional big three, on average around 30% over the last few months, compared to 27% for MORI, 22% for ICM and 23% for YouGov. The reasons for Ashcroft’s higher “other” scores are unclear, but the knock on effect is lower support for Con and Lab. Populus on the other hand tend to show some of the lowest levels of support for parties outside the traditional big three, probably due to them weighting by current party identification. Populus’s average over the last few months is 21% – hence the contrast between the two polls today: different absolute levels of Con and Lab support, but a similar sort of position relatively to each other.