ComRes have a new battleground poll out, results here, this time looking at 10 Conservative held UKIP target seats. The poll covered some seats that UKIP announced as targets last year but taking out some that no longer seem realistic, like Aylesbury, and adding some obvious ommissions like Castle Point. The overall shares of the vote with changes since 2010 were CON 39%(-7), LAB 28%(+2), UKIP 21%(+15), LDEM 5%(-10), GRN 4%(+4). UKIP have obviously advanced strongly since 2010, but remain in quite a distant third place.

It’s quite hard to know what to make of this poll. For a start, with UKIP coming from a very low base it’s quite hard to accurately predict what their best chances of a gain are – so some seats here like East Worthing and Shoreham probably aren’t in the top rank of UKIP targets. More importantly, with a poll of a group of marginal seats like this we can’t tell what the distribution of the vote is between these different seats. Most estimates are for UKIP to pick up only a couple of seats beyond their two by-election gains (which are not included in this sample), so from this poll we can’t tell whether UKIP have about 21% in all these seats (and hence wouldn’t win any of them), or are doing much better in the more promising seats like South Thanet and Thurrock and less well in the others, meaning they could win some.

I suppose all we can reasonably conclude is that UKIP don’t look like they are about to sweep the board across these seats, it’s impossible to tell from this poll whether or not they are in a stronger position in a minority of them.


Last night’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. The one point Tory lead is actually the first for twelve days. Usual caveats apply of course, it’s well within normal sample variation and is a single poll.

The Sun also have some YouGov polling testing out the potential of the Conservative’s attack on the risk of a Labour/SNP deal, which in recent days appears to have become the dominant thrust of their campaign. Results are here. As all my regular readers will know, questions saying “will X make you more likely to vote Y” are essentially rubbish – if they work, you’ll see it in the topline figures. This was an attempt to measure the potential for a message, to gauge how many people might agree with the message itself, as only then can they be persuaded by it. Essentially it went through the various steps and assumptions of the Tory argument, to see how many people were open to it – kicking out those people who actually quite like the idea of an SNP deal, don’t think it would actually happen or would still prefer it to the Tories.

So, about a third of people are already voting Tory, so it doesn’t matter if they buy into the narrative or not, they can only vote Tory once. Next there is whether or not people actually think a Labour and SNP deal is a realistic option – 39% of people, including most Labour voters, think there either won’t be a hung Parliament or that Labour would not enter into any sort of agreement with the SNP. Then there are 8% of people who think that a Labour government with SNP support is likely, and would be a good thing, the Conservative argument will fall flat with them. Finally YouGov asked the remainder if they’d prefer a Conservative government to a Labour-SNP deal and took away those 6% respondents who thought a Labour government reliant on SNP support was a bad thing but would still prefer it to a Tory government.

Take away all those groups and YouGov were left with 8% of the electorate who think a Lab/SNP deal of some sort is likely AND think this would be a bad thing AND think a Tory government would be preferable BUT are not already voting Tory. That’s actually a significant chunk of people and is presumably the voters who the Conservative party are targetting with their current campaign – they are mostly made up of don’t knows, Lib Dems and Ukippers, the message seems to have very little potential to move people directly from Labour to the Tories. The challenge for the Tories is how many (if any) of that 8% of people they can get to go that one step further and vote Tory. The early weeks of the Tory campaign didn’t seem to have any effect on voters at all – this message does at least seem to have potential for them. Whether or not they manage to translate it into votes remains to be seen.


-->

We had a new TNS poll earlier on today with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%, reversing the Conservative lead they had last week. Tabs are here. The only other GB poll I am expecting to see tonight is the regular YouGov poll for the Sun.

There was also a new Scottish poll from YouGov in this morning’s Times which confirmed the 24 point SNP lead from YouGov’s previous poll. Topline figures were CON 17%, LAB 25%, LDEM 5%, SNP 49%, UKIP 3%. Tabs are here. There continues to be no evidence whatever of any weakening or faltering of the huge SNP lead.

YouGov also released some results for Freuds which are quite fun – showing people a selection of photos of Ed Miliband and David Cameron and saying which they found most appealling. For all the cynicism about politicians using their families for photo shoots, in both cases the photo people found most appealing was Cameron & Miliband with their respective families. Yes, it’s a cliche, yes it appears to work.

Finally a couple of people asked me about the contrast between two different polls of students that appeared on Monday and seemed to contradict each other. A new poll by YouthSight found student voting intentions with changes from February of CON 25%(+2), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 9%(+2), GRN 15%(-13), UKIP 6%(+3). A different poll by High Fliers found student voting intentions of CON 31%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, GRN 25%, UKIP 1%.

Both polls appear to be kosher – the differences are down to the make up of the sample and the timing of the fieldwork. YouthSight’s sample is from all British universities and years of study, High Flier’s sample is of just finalists at “high-flying” universities – primarily Russell group. Fieldwork for YouthSight was in April, High Fliers in March and, given the sharp drop in Green party support between YouthSight’s February and April surveys, this probably partly explains the difference between the YouthSight and High Fliers surveys.


It’s Monday, so as usual we are spoilt for polls, with new figures from Populus, Ashcroft and ICM (who are now on a weekly rota until the general election), with YouGov to come later on tonight.

Populus have voting intentions of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here).

ICM have topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, GRN 5% (tabs). The Conservatives are down 5 points since last week, UKIP up four points – something that is almost certainly a reversion to the mean after the incongruous six point Tory lead last week.

Lord Ashcroft has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 30%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4% (tabs). Ashcroft has also updated his Scottish constituency polls from last week with two new polls in Scotland, both in Edinburgh. Edinburgh North and Leith and Edinburgh South were both Labour -v- Lib Dem marginals at the last election, with the SNP in a poor fourth place. Ashcroft’s latest polls finds the SNP ahead in both, with a 13 point lead in Edinburgh North and Leith and a narrow three point lead in Edinburgh South (tabs, tabs).

YouGov are still to come later on tonight…

UPDATE: The last GB poll of the day – YouGov for the Sun – has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%. So we have two polls giving Labour leads, two giving Conservative leads, and the polls apparently still fluctuating around an underlying picture of Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck.


After the first leaders debate there was a single poll showing Ed Miliband with a better approval rating that David Cameron. It produced a typical example of rubbish media handling of polls – everyone got all excited about one unusual poll and talked about it on news bulletins and so on, giving it far more prominence than the far greater number of polls showing the opposite. Nevertheless, it flagged up a genuine increase in Ed Miliband’s ratings.

I talk about leader ratings, but the questions different companies ask actually vary greatly. Opinium, for example, ask if people approve or disapprove of what each leader is doing, YouGov ask if they are doing a well or badly, ICM if they are doing a good or bad job. To give an obvious example of how these could produce different figures, UKIP have quadrupled their support since the election, so objectively it’s quite hard to argue that Nigel Farage hasn’t done well as UKIP leader…but someone who supported EU membership and freedom of movement probably probably wouldn’t approve of his leadership.

The graph below shows the net ratings for David Cameron and Ed Miliband from the four pollsters who ask leader ratings at least monthly (ComRes, ICM and Ashcroft all ask their versions of the question too, but not as frequently).

leaderatings

You can see there is quite a lot of variation between pollsters, but the trends are clear. Ed Miliband’s ratings have improved over the course of the campaign, though on most pollsters’ measures he remains significantly behind David Cameron. The main exception is Survation’s rating – I suspect this is because of the time frame of their question (Survation ask people to think specifically about the last month, other companies just ask in general – my guess is that the difference is people thinking Ed Miliband has done well in the campaign). Cameron’s ratings too have improved from three of the four pollsters, but not to the extent of Miliband’s.

What’s the impact of this? Theoretically I suppose it makes the potential for voters to be deterred from voting Labour by their lack of confidence in Ed Miliband that bit smaller. Whether that’s any real difference or not is a different matter – on one hand, while it is one of the Conservative party’s hopes that Miliband’s poor ratings will drive people towards voting Tory at the last minute, that’s very different to it actually happening. This could be the case of a window closing upon something that didn’t see to be happening anyway. The alternative point of view is that no one realistically expects some vast last swing producing a Tory landside – we are talking about grinding out a few percentage points at the margins. Hence Miliband’s ratings overall don’t necessarily make much difference – much of the increase is amongst Labour’s own voters anyway – it’s how he is seen amongst those small groups who are undecided whether or not to vote for Labour, and those who undecided whether or not to vote Tory to stop Miliband.

As we come to the final weeks of the election campaign, that’s a key to understanding a lot of polling. Most voters have already made their minds up (and even many of those who say they haven’t, are probably less likely to switch than they think they are). As postal votes have started to go out, an increasing number of people will have actually voted anyway. Most things that happen over the next two and a half weeks will have no impact on public opinion anyway – for those that do, it’s not national opinion that will make a difference, it’ll be the impact on that dwindling group of people who may yet be persuaded.