Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor is out in today’s Standard. Topline figures are CON 30%(-4), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 16%(+1). The 16% for UKIP is up only one since last month, but that makes it the highest UKIP score MORI have yet recorded. There was a similar pattern in this morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun – topline figures were CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, beating YouGov’s previous UKIP high of 17 (Tabs are here: MORI, YouGov)


So far today we have three new opinion polls, all conducted since the Clacton by-election result. Yesterday’s Survation poll was conducted just on Friday, in the immediate glare of the post by-election publicity, and saw UKIP spikng up to 25%, three points above Survation’s record high for the party. Today’s polls were conducted over the weekend and seem to show a more mixed picture.

Populus – CON 35%(+1), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 13%(nc), GRN 3%(-1) (tabs)
Ashcroft – CON 28%(-4), LAB 32%(+2), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 19%(+2), GRN 5%(-2) (tabs)
ICM – CON 31%(-2), LAB 35%(nc), LDEM 11%(+1), UKIP 14%(+5), GRN 4% (tabs)

Populus have UKIP unchanged at 13%, and have recently had UKIP as high as 15% so this certainly doesn’t reflect any sort of new high. Ashcroft has UKIP up two points since last week, equalling their record high from an Ashcroft poll, but not breaking new ground. ICM have the most impressive showing for UKIP, up five points on last month’s poll – a significant boost compared to the 9%-10% UKIP have been registering in recent ICM polls, but below ICM’s previous highs for UKIP. We still have the daily YouGov/Sun poll to come, but so far the overall picture from today’s polls is looking like a respectable UKIP boost on the back of their by-election success, rather than a huge breakthrough.


There are four polls in the Sunday papers – Lord Ashcroft, Opinium, Survation and YouGov.

The majority of the fieldwork for the YouGov/Sunday Times and Opinium/Observer polls was conducted before the results of the Clacton by-election were known. Opinium have topline figures of CON 28%(-4), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 17%(n/c). YouGov have topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%. Lord Ashcroft didn’t put voting intention figures in the headline results but they were asked and are in the tables themselves, results were CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18% – note that the poll was conducted online, whereas Ashcroft’s regular VI polls are done by phone.

Survation’s poll in the Mail on Sunday was conducted wholly on Friday – in the full glare of the post-Clacton by-election media coverage, and it shows the big boost for UKIP that we expected. Topline figures of CON 31%(nc), LAB 31%(-4), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 25%(+6). 25% is the highest that UKIP have ever hit in a poll. To put that in context Survation do tend to show the highest levels of support for UKIP anyway, but their previous highest was 22% and their average this year for UKIP has been 19%, so this is a significant boost anyway.

Lord Ashcroft’s poll was largely a repeat of some pre-conference questions to see if there was any impact. The survey included an opened ended question asking if people had noticed the Conservatives and Labour saying or doing anything over the last few weeks – for both parties 20% of people said that there had been a conference, the most recalled specifics were 15% remembering proposed tax cuts from the Tories, and 15% remembering that Ed Miliband forgot part of his speech. Changes in other questions were largely just a reinforcement of the existing pattern – so Labour increased their lead on “being on the side of people like me”, the Conservatives increased their lead on things like “being clear what they stand for”, “cutting the deficit” and “reforming welfare”.

Ashcroft did ask one interesting new question – a forced choice asking if people wanted Labour & Miliband to win, Labour despite Miliband, Miliband despite Labour, and the equivalent options for the Conservatives. The balance of opinion was 54% Conservative/Cameron and 46% Labour/Miliband, but the splits were interesting. Amongst Tory voters 75% wanted to see Cameron & the Conservatives win the election. Amongst Labour voters only 37% were happy with Labour and Miliband, 47% said they wanted Labour in government, even if it meant Miliband as PM. Amongst Liberal Democrat voters 66% opted for the Conservatives/Cameron, but mostly because they’d rather Cameron remained PM even if it meant the Conservatives in power. Amongst UKIP voters 66% opted for Conservatives/Cameron, 30% saying they’d want to keep Cameron even if meant the Tories, 26% because they’d rather keep the Tories even if meant Cameron.

Both YouGov and Ashcroft asked about likelihood to change at the next election. YouGov found the UKIP vote was a little softer than the Conservative and Labour parties’ – 58% of Conservatives say they are certain to vote that way, 59% of Labour voters, but only 46% of UKIP voters. Looking at potential changes, 24% of current Conservative voters said they’d consider voting UKIP at the general election, as would 11% of current Labour voters. Looking at possible movement in the opposite direction, 27% of current UKIP voters say they’d consider voting Conservative come the election, 9% would consider Labour. If the UKIP vote does get squeezed closer to the election it will benefit the Tories… but if they don’t, if the rollercoaster keeps going, there is more risk for the Tories too. Ashcroft asked the question slightly differently, only targeting those who said they might change and asking a “tick all that apply”, but the pattern of support was exactly the same.

YouGov also asked people how they might vote if their own seat looked like it would be a race between certain parties – the aim was to try and see how UKIP voters might be squeezed in marginals, but of course it also gives us some interesting pointers of possible tactical behaviour in other seats. In Conservative/Labour marginals 34% of UKIP voters say they would vote for the Conservative party, in Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginals 30% of Ukippers would vote Conservative. Imagining themselves in a Con/Lab marginal the remaining Lib Dems voters are as likely to vote tactically for the Conservatives as for Labour. 39% of Conservative voters say they’d vote tactically for the Lib Dems in Lab/LD seats, 36% of Lab voters would still be prepared to hold their nose and vote tactically for the Lib Dems in Con/LD marginals.

Tabs are here: YouGov, Survation, Ashcroft.


Yesterday we had two by-elections. Claction was an emphatic, walkover win for Douglas Carswell and UKIP, which was largely what everyone expected – he was particularly well regarded as an MP and the demographics of the seat could not have been better for UKIP. Heywood and Middleton was more of a surprise, many expected the seat to be a relatively easy Labour hold when in fact UKIP came within 2 points.

After every by-election you essentially see the same comments reading far too much into them, and I make the same blog post saying that by-elections are extremely odd events and you can’t read too much into them: they have low turnout, are in a single seat that will not be representative of the wider country, are far more intensely fought than normal election and, crucially, do not have any impact on who the government will be the next day. If by-elections behave like the national polls, they tell us nothing new. If they behave differently, it’s probably because by-elections themselves are very different.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely important, as they are. They help shape the political narrative and public opinion. While Carswell’s victory was broadly expected and costed in within the Westminster village, its getting huge coverage on the media now and I expect it will result in a boost for UKIP in the national polls. If you follow UKIP’s support in the opinion polls over the last few years you’ll see it’s a pattern of spikes in support from positive publicity, mostly as a result of electoral success (local elections, strong by-election showings, European elections), each time settling back at a slightly higher level. For a challenger party the big challenges are getting coverage, being taken seriously and being seen as a viable choice rather than a wasted vote. This will help them a lot – I’d expect a spike it in the polls, and it’ll be interesting to see which other parties they draw support from. On that issue, it will also be interesting to see how Labour react to the closeness of the result in Heywood, currently support for UKIP has disproportionately come from former Conservative voters and the Labour party seem to have regarded UKIP as their enemy’s enemy, but they also have the clear potential to draw support from more Labour demographics.

As this is a polling blog I should save my last comment for the polls. The two polls in Clacton, conducted by Ashcroft and Survation, were both conducted more than a month before polling day, so they cannot in all fairness be compared to the final result (opinion in Clacton could easily have changed in the interim period), for the record though they were both pretty close to the actual result, certainly they got the broad picture of a UKIP landslide correct. The two polls in Heywood and Middleton (conducted again by Ashcroft and Survation) are more worrying. They were conducted about a week and a half before the election – so there was time for some change, but not that much (and many would have voted by post before polling day). Both showed a nineteen point lead for Labour when in reality they ending up squeaking home by two points. In both cases the polls both overestimated Labour support, and underestimated UKIP support.


This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAN 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6% (tabs here). Yesterday’s YouGov poll was also back to a small Labour lead, so it looks as if the Tory lead immediately following Cameron’s speech may have fallen away again. My advice would normally be to wait for a few more polls to see where things settle down, but of course tonight we have a potentially poll changing event in its own right – the Clacton and Heywood & Middleton by-elections.

YouGov also have some polling on the Human Rights Act. Asked their reaction to the Conservative policy based on what they’ve seen or heard 43% say they support it, 23% are opposed. Asked about some of the actual details of the policy people are more mixed – there is support (by 48% to 32%) for saying British courts should not take into account the rulings of the the European Court of Human Rights, but much more even divisions on other parts of the policy. 40% think that Britain should not have to change the law if the ECHR rules our laws are infringing human rights, 36% think such laws should have to be changed; 40% think human rights should be limited for those who have broken the law themselves, 39% think they should apply to all; people are split 41%-41% on whether human rights laws should apply to all cases or only serious ones. By 47% to 29% people think human rights laws should apply to British soldiers overseas. Of course, public support for policies isn’t based on a balancing up of all the details in a policy, which most people will never really be aware of anyway. They are more likely to be based on a rough understanding of the broad approach – in this case I expect the initial answer is based upon gut level support for “stopping foreign judges telling us what to do”, hence the broad policy being more popular than most of the individual parts that make it up.