Seven Weeks to Go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (12/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/S Times (13/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Indy on Sunday (13/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 4%
ICM/Guardian (15/3) – CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 4%
Populus (15/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (15/3) – CON 31%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (16/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
TNS BMRB (16/3) – CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 17%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (17/3) – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (18/3) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (19/3) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (19/3) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 17%, GRN 5%

After a wafer thin Tory lead in the UKPR polling average last week, this week Labour and Conservative are neck-and-neck: CON 33%(nc), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 14%(-1), GRN 6%(nc). The consistent small Labour lead we had for most of the year has vanished, but the Conservatives have not managed to open one of their own.

Scottish and constituency polls

Survation put out a new Scottish poll this week (in fact they put out new – a new one for the Daily Record, and an older one for Unison). Both showed the SNP lead in Scotland holding strong, and no sign of any movement back to Labour. There was also a new batch of Ashcroft polling which I discussed here

Budget Week

This week was the most significant fixed event of the year before the general election. We still have the parties’ manifesto launches and (perhaps) a debate or debates of some sort, but the budget was indisputably one of the most important known unknowns that could potentially change public opinion before the election. The commentariat invariably spend the run up to the budget speculating about what rabbits the Chancellor will pull out of the hat to make a major impact on the election – history suggests it very rarely happens. There are examples of government support slumping after bad budgets – one of the biggest shifts in public opinion this Parliament came after the bodged 2012 “omnishambles” budget – but precious few of them of them giving a government a substantial boost.

We are not yet in a position to judge whether or not the 2015 budget had any effect. The initial post-budget polling from YouGov gave it a thumbs up – more people thought it was fair than unfair, more people thought it would make them better off than worse off. Most however thought it made no difference, and even a positive reaction does not automatically lead to any impact on the polls. The two voting intention polls we’ve seen since the budget do not point to any big shift – YouGov showed the Conservatives up, but Populus showed them down.

Beyond the budget there was another tiptoe forward in the debate debate. The broadcasters are reportedly now offering one seven way debate on ITV, a Paxman grilling of Miliband and Cameron on Channel4/Sky and two Question Time style events on BBC – one for UKIP, the SNP, Plaid and the Greens, one with Miliband, Clegg and Cameron, but separately. Cameron has agreed to the seven way debate, but all else seems unconfirmed. The first event – the Paxman grilling – is pencilled in to take place next Thursday though, so one way or another, decisions will be made next week.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below, as well as the new model from the Polling Observatory team. As usual all the models predict a hung Parliament – most have the Tories with marginally more seats than Labour, Polling Observatory have Labour with a 20 seat lead.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 284(-1), LAB 278(-1), LD 21(-1), SNP 41(+1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 284(-4), LAB 278(+7), LD 25(-1), SNP 40(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 277(-4), LAB 268(+5), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 3(-1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(-2), LAB 268(+3), LD 25(-2), SNP 54(+1), UKIP 4(nc)
Polling Observatory – Hung Parliament, CON 265, LAB 285, LDEM 24, SNP 49, UKIP 3


The rest of the the YouGov budget polling is now up on their website here. It suggests a broadly positive reaction to the budget and a significant jump in Osborne’s own ratings. Overall 42% think the budget was fair, 27% unfair. Most people think it will make little difference to the country or to their own finances, but of those who do there more think it will have a positive impact than a negative one. 40% of people think Osborne is doing a good job as Chancellor (up 6 from before the budget) and his lead over Ed Balls on who would make the best Chancellor is up to 20 points.

Just because something is approved of though, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has any effect on voting intention. The second of this week’s Populus polls, also conducted entirely after the budget, has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 17%, GRN 5%. No sign of a budget bounce there – but I’ll repeat the same caveats I made after the YouGov poll last night. We could just be seeing random variation, and news events don’t have an instant effect anyway – these two polls were after the budget, but many responses would have been before the media reaction (just because something has already happened, doesn’t mean the respondent already knows about it). Wait and see if the broader average moves in the week ahead.


-->

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%.

YouGov’s fieldwork normally runs from around 5pm or so until around 3pm the next day, so all of this poll was conducted after the budget. The Conservatives are back in the lead again, but that isn’t necessarily an impact from the budget – remember YouGov produced several polls last week that had Tory leads too, so what we could just be seeing random variation. We need to wait a bit longer before we can be confident, what we should be looking for is whether or not the broader average in the polls moves away from neck-and-neck, and for that we’ll need some more polling.

Also bear in mind that while all this poll was conducted after the budget was given, it hadn’t necessarily reached respondents yet – many respondents would, for example, have replied before reading this morning’s newspapers, or before watching yesterday’s 10 o’clock news – the impact of political events does not happen instantaneously. There will be more from this poll in tomorrow’s Sun and on the YouGov website tomorrow, and no doubt more polling on the budget in the weekend polls.

Also out tonight is a new Survation Scotland poll for the Daily Record – that shows the big SNP lead holding strong, with Westminster voting intentions of CON 16%, LAB 26%, LDEM 4%, SNP 47%.


Lord Ashcroft put out a new batch of constituency polls today, this time revisiting some Conservative -vs- Labour marginals that were very close the last time he polled them. The average swing across the seats polled is 4.4 from Con to Lab, the equivalent of a two point lead in a GB poll. This is obviously bigger that the position in most national polls, but I suspect it’s more of an England effect than a marginal effect – all the seats polled by Ashcroft were in England, and because of the collapse of Labour in Scotland the Con>Lab swing in England is actually bigger than in GB as a whole. Full details of the polls are here.

Most of the seats Ashcroft polled showed results that were pretty similar to the last time he polled them at the tail end of last year, with changes well within the margin of error. The only big shifts were Labour doing much better in Chester than before, the Conservatives doing much better in Worcester than before, and Labour doing much better in Southampton Itchen. I expect the last one is just a reversion to the mean after the previous Southampton Itchen poll produced figures that stuck out like a sore thumb – this poll showed a fairly typical swing in the seat, when Ashcroft’s previous Southampton Itchen poll had shown a very dubious looking swing from Lab to Con.

TNS also released a new poll today with CON 33%, LAB 32%, LD 7%, UKIP 17%, GREEN 4%, OTHER 7%. TNS typically show a significantly larger Labour lead than other pollsters, so the small Tory lead is slightly surprising. It may be a methodology effect – TNS seem to have dropped the weighting by European vote that they introduced earlier this year (though its introduction didn’t seem to make much difference, so its dropping really shouldn’t), and have started reallocating UKIP and Green supporters in constituencies that don’t have UKIP or Green

Finally, tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LD 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6% – so a couple of Labour leads from YouGov so far this week. For the record, today’s poll has Labour at their highest this year, UKIP at their lowest this year… but of course, all the normal caveats apply, don’t get overexcited about individual unusual polls, watch the trend across all the pollsters.


Monday polls

The usual glut of polls for a Monday. Today we have the weekly Ashcroft poll, the twice weekly Populus poll, the monthly ICM poll and – later on – the daily YouGov.

  • Ashcroft’s weekly poll has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%. The Conservatives remain ahead, but not by as much as in the last two Ashcroft polls (full details here)
  • ICM show a similar picture (though, as usual with these two pollsters, there are higher shares for Con and Lab from ICM than from Ashcroft): a Tory lead, but a smaller lead than the unusually large one they recorded last month. Topline voting intention figures with changes from a month ago are CON 36%(nc), LAB 35%(+3), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 9%(nc), GRN 4%(-3).
  • The movement in Populus is in the other direction – their recent polls have been showing a Labour lead, today’s topline figures are neck and neck: CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (full details here)

So, two Tory leads and a dead heat today (so far), two Labour leads and a dead heat yesterday. Realistically I can see nothing that gives me any confidence that either party is sneaking ahead, all suggests they are still neck and neck.

Also today we had a new projection out – the Polling Observatory team’s model here, which unlike the other models I report in my Friday round up is currently projecting Labour to have more seats than the Tories (there’s a full explanation of the method through the link – but put crudely the difference between their model and Steve Fisher’s is that Steve assumes the polls will move slightly back towards the 2010 result (meaning the Tories go up, Labour go down), while the Polling Observatory assume the polls will move slightly back towards their long term average (meaning both the Tories AND Labour go up). They’ll be updating fortnightly, so I’ll add them to the Friday round ups.