The regular YouGov/Sun poll tonight has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7% – YouGov continue to show the two main parties extremely close, normally within a point of each other.

Earlier on today we also had a new poll of student voters by Youthsight here. Unlike the voodoo student poll that got some pickup last month, Youthsight polls do seem to be kosher – they are recruited through UCAS, validated by addresses and weighted by type of university, gender and year of study. Topline figures for voting intention amongst students are CON 23%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 2%, GRN 28% – so the Greens in a strong second place behind Labour. The poll also asked if students were actually registered to vote – 78% said they were (thought most said they were registered or would vote at home, rather than university), 22% said there were not or did not know.

TNS Scottish poll

This morning TNS released a new Scottish poll. Topline Westminster voting intention figures are CON 16%, LAB 31%, LDEM 4%, SNP 41%, GRN 6%, UKIP 2% (tabs here). Under normal circumstances these would obviously be good figures for the SNP, but these are not normal circumstances and it’s a much smaller SNP lead than that suggested in recent polls by YouGov, Survation and Ipsos MORI.

Unlike their GB polls which are now done online, TNS’s Scottish polls are still done using face-to-face interviews. This means the fieldwork tends to take significantly longer, and the polls are then often not reported until a week or so later. The fieldwork for this poll was conducted between the 14th January and the 2nd February. This means the Survation and MORI polls from last month which showed 20 point and 28 point SNP leads for the SNP had fieldwork done at the same time as the start of this poll. The YouGov poll last week which had a 21 point SNP lead had fieldwork done at the same time the fieldwork for this poll was finishing (so is mostly significantly newer than this one!). What this means is that much of the reporting and headlines on this poll are just rubbish – the poll does NOT show the SNP lead falling. It shows a smaller SNP lead – this may well be for methodological reasons, or perhaps a bit of random sample variation, but given the respective timing of the fieldwork it cannot be that public opinion has changed since the previous poll showing a 21 point lead, as this poll was mostly conducted before that one. It’s a thoroughly bad idea to try and draw trends between polls conducted using very different methods anyway, but certainly check when the fieldwork was done and get them in the right chronological order.


Two of our regular Monday polls are out:

  • The weekly Lord Ashcroft poll has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%. Full tabs are here.
  • The twice weekly Populus poll has toplines of CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 4%. Full tabs are here.

Later on tonight we have the regular daily YouGov poll for the Sun – I’ll update then.

UPDATE: The YouGov/Sun poll has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%. Three polls today, two with Conservative leads, one with a Labour lead. It looks as though were are still in a position of having the parties almost neck-and-neck with each other.

This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here, with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%. The rest of the poll included questions on Labour and business and on intervention in Iraq.

The Conservatives are seen as having the best policies towards British business by 33% to Labour’s 19%, exactly the same split as on the economy in general. A Conservative victory at the next election is seen as being a good thing for British businesses by 44% of people, a bad thing by 23%. In contrast 43% think a Labour victory would be bad for British business, just 19% think it would be good. These questions don’t, of course, tell us whether people want a government to be good for business – when YouGov asked what the government’s attitude should be towards big business only 38% think government should primarily be supporting and helping big businesses in Britain, 49% think government should be doing more to stand up to them.

Turning to those business leaders who have criticised Ed Miliband this week, 45% of people think that the bosses of large companies should remain politically neutral, compared to 38% who think they have every right to comment on politics. There is sharp political divide on the question – Tory voters think by 59% to 31% that company bosses should intervene in politics, Labour voters think by 59% to 26% that they should keep out of politics. The idea of a CEO living in Monaco and not paying British taxes commenting on British politics goes down particularly badly, with 73% saying the intervention of Stefano Pessina is not acceptable. Nevertheless, people tend to think the criticism from business leaders is genuinely felt – 54% think business leaders are criticising Labour because they think their policies are genuinely bad for British business, 48% think they are doing do for political reasons (these includes 22% who think they are doing so for both reasons equally). 52% think that the Labour party is damaged by the comments.

YouGov also asked about intervention against Islamic State/ISIS. British air strikes against ISIS are now supported by 63% of people. YouGov asked this question very regularly last year when Britain began air strikes against ISIS, back in October 59% supported it, this is now up to 63%. 56% of people would support increasing the level of British air strikes against ISIS, but people remain opposed to putting US and British ground troops back into Iraq. 32% would support sending group troops back into Iraq, the same as when YouGov asked in October.

For the run up to the election Opinium have moved from fortnightly to weekly polls for the Observer, and tonight’s figures are CON 32%(nc), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 7%(+2), UKIP 15%(-3), GRN 8%(+2).

A couple of other updates. First, I have updated how the Uniform Swing Projection over on the sidebar is calculated. Up until now it has been a straight Uniform Swing across the whole of Great Britain. This was deliberately crude, a simple and uncontroversial uniform swing for reference, despite its know limitations. With the surge in SNP support through it had really become quite absurd – Scotland has often shown a different swing to the rest of Great Britain, but this is something in a new league. Hence from today I’ve switching to showing a figure based on a combination of a uniform swing across Scotland and a uniform swing across the rest of Great Britain. The Scottish UNS is based on an average of Scottish polls, the rest of GB UNS is based on an average of GB polls, adjusted to account for the absence of Scotland.

Second, I posted earlier in the week about the contrasting Survation/Unite and Ashcroft polls in Sheffield Hallam. One of the things I mentioned was that there was actually a slight error in the Ashcroft poll that had shown the Liberal Democrats ahead. Lord Ashcroft has now corrected the error (which was also repeated in his Thanet South and Doncaster North polls) and put up corrected tables on his website here. On the revised figures Lord Ashcroft’s Sheffield poll would also have shown Labour ahead of the Liberal Democrats, though by only 3 points. In Thanet South he would have shown a one point Tory lead, rather than the five points reported at the time. Ed Miliband would have been as safe as houses in Doncaster North with a thirty percent lead.

Lord Ashcroft doesn’t officially confirm who carries out the polls he commissions, but the reality is that most of his constituency polls are carried out by Populus – not that there are many companies who do constituency polling anyway (it can only be done on the telephone, and Ipsos MORI don’t do it, so that leaves very few options). In this case Populus did NOT carry out the poll, so the errors here shouldn’t be taken as a reflect on Populus or on Ashcroft’s other polls. In Lord Ashcroft’s own commentary he writes “I have not been in the habit of naming the polling companies I use, all of which are members of the British Polling Council, and I will not be naming this one. But I cannot allow this episode to cast doubt on the reliability of my polling more generally. So I must disclose that these three surveys last November are the first and only I have commissioned from a well-known but relatively new polling firm. And no, I won’t be using them again”.

The only other poll I know of in Sunday’s papers is the regular YouGov/Sunday Times polls.

UPDATE: Opinium have also made some changes to their methodology, detailled on their website here. There is a minor change to their age bands in their weighting to make sure they have enough under 25s, but the main change is to switch over to political weighting. Up until now Opinium and Ipsos MORI have been the only companies not to use some form of political weighting in their GB polls, Opinium are now introducing weighting by “Party propensity”, which seems to be similar in principle to the party ID weighting used by Populus and YouGov. Opinium’s weighting targets are based upon a rolling average of their recent polls and the European election result, which in practice means it should make figures less volatile and, according to Opinium, decrease their reported level of UKIP support.

Interestingly YouGov, Populus, ComRes and Lord Ashcroft have all made methodology changes in the last few months to get onto an election footing, and all started prompting for UKIP. Opinium are bucking the trend and look as if they are keeping UKIP in a second question for people who pick “other”.