Two new ICM polls

I’ll post some thoughts about the general election later, but first a brief note on the two ICM polls today (yes, two seperate polls). Earlier today we had the usual regular ICM poll – Martin Boon had said he was disclined to publish because the fieldwork was done over the Easter weekend, and we pollsters tend to be a little wary of fieldwork over bank holiday weekends. Calling a general election made the result rather more relevant though, so out it came – topline figures were CON 44%, LAB 26%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%.

Later on in the day we got an ICM “flash poll” conducted after the election announcement, with fieldwork in space of four hours. That had voting intentions of CON 46%, LAB 25%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 8%, GRN 4%. The poll also asked about the decision to call an election, finding 55% supported an early election, 15% were against. Full tabs for that are here.

A note about the methodology, the flash poll appears to be a proper ICM poll using all their normal methods and normal weights… just conducted very quickly. Whether that makes any difference is unclear (people who reply quickly or reply during the daytime may or may not be different in ways that may or may not be adequated corrected by weighting) – notably the UKIP score is the lowest we’ve seen from ICM. It remains to be seen if that’s reflected in future polls, is a result of the methodology, or is just normal random variation.


Just to follow up on the voting intention polls yesterday, there was also a new YouGov poll in this morning’s Times. Topline figures were CON 44%, LAB 23%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 10%. The twenty-one point lead is the same as the weekend’s ComRes poll and the largest YouGov have given the Tories in government (it also equals the highest the Lib Dems have hit since the election).

Full tabs are here.


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Sunday Polls

There are several polls in today’s papers. ComRes in the Indy and Sunday Mirror have topline figures of CON 46%(+4), LAB 25%(nc), LDEM 11%(-1), UKIP 9%(-1), GRN 4%(nc). The twenty-one point Conservative lead is the largest anyone has shown for them so far this Parliament (and, hence, the largest since when they were in opposition).

ComRes also did a split sample experiment, asking about some Labour policies. Half the respondents had the policies described as “Jeremy Corbyn policies”, half had them described as “Labour Party policies”. This turned out to make no difference whatsoever, suggesting that association with Jeremy Corbyn is no worse than association with the Labour party… though that could easily be just because the two are now so closely linked. On a broader point, the policies that ComRes asked about all remain popular – 71% support increasing the minimum wage, 62% support increasing the top rate of income tax, 53% support free school meals paid for through VAT on private schools. The importance of shallow approve/disapprove ratings of individual policies on party support are often grossly overstated… but it is worth noting that Labour’s evident problems do not appear to be caused by proposing unpopular policies. Full tabs are here

There was also a voting intention poll from Opinium in the Observer. Topline figures there are CON 38%(-3), LAB 29%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 14%(+1). Tabs for that are here.

The big gap here between ComRes and Opinium will be largely down to methodology. Following the 2015 polling error ComRes switched to a turnout model based upon demographics rather than how likely people say they are to vote. Essentially this downweights younger and poorer respondents on the basis they have historically been less likely to vote. Typically this has produced larger Conservative leads compared to other companies.

In contrast Opinium produce topline figures that consistently show some of the smallest Conservative leads. Crucially they are one of the only companies that don’t weight by past vote (instead weighting by a version of party ID). Looking at the recalled vote in today’s poll as many people claim to have voted Labour in the 2015 election as claim to have voted Conservative, suggesting the poll may well have a sample that’s a bit too Labour.

As ever, if you are trying to work out what the actual state of party support is you should avoid cherry picking the polls you’d like to be true. It’s all too easy to find reasons to convince yourself that the poll showing the results you’d like is the poll that must be the most accurate one. A sensible rule of thumb – especially at this stage of the Parliament – is probably just to follow the broad average of the polls, which suggest a Conservative lead somewhere in the mid-teens.

There were two other polls in the Sunday papers. An ORB poll in the Sunday Telegraph asked about Brexit – 55% thought Brexit should go ahead, 45% did not. 55% also approved of the way Brexit negotiations were going head, 45% disapproved. UPDATE: The reason the two figures were the same is that there was only one question – the Sunday Telegraph just reported it incredibly badly. 55% approve of the way the government are handling negotiations, ORB didn’t ask if people supported Brexit.

Finally the Western Mail had a Welsh poll by Beaufort. From their report there only appears to have been one question: 39% thought the Jerfemy Corbyn should resign, 32% think he should stay.


I missed YouGov’s latest poll earlier this week – topline figures did not show anything new, with voting intentions of CON 42%, LAB 25%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%.

More interesting was the regular tracker on how well or badly the government are doing at negotiating Brexit: 36% said well, 34% badly. YouGov have been asking the question since last autumn and this is the first time it has scraped into positive territory, presumably because the government and EU have actually made the first steps towards beginning the process.

YouGov also released a survey asking some more detailled questions about how people see Theresa May. There is a clear pattern to what people view as her strengths and weaknesses – a majority of people think she is decisive (56%) and has what it takes to get things done (56%). On balance people think she is good in a crisis (by 44% to 24%) and is honest (by 40% to 25%). However, she is also seen as being out of touch (by 46% to 32%), as having no sense of humour (by 32% to 27%) and a cold personality (by 45% to 26%).

As May herself said in her first Prime Minister’s Question Time – remind you of anyone? The public perceptions of May’s character are similar to the public perceptions of Margaret Thatcher – someone who is a strong and capable leader, but not particularly warm or caring. YouGov also asked directly how similar people thought May was to previous PMs – 47% said she was similar to Thatcher, 31% thought she was different.

It’s interesting to ponder in which direction the causality works here. Do people think May is similar to Thatcher because they have some similar strengths and weaknesses and aspects to their characters… or do people think of May as similar to Thatcher because of the obvious superficial similarities (a female, Conservative, Prime Minister with a strict demeanour) and have, therefore, assumed that May will have the same sort of characteristics as Thatcher. In short, do people think May is like Thatcher because she’s tough, or think she’s tough because she’s like Thatcher? Or, as these things tend to work in real life, do they reinforce one another?

Tabs for voting intention are here, tabs for May are here.


ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian is out today and has topline figures of CON 43%(-2), LAB 25%(-1), LDEM 11%(+2), UKIP 11%(+1), GRN 4%(nc). The 25% for Labour equals the lowest in the ICM/Guardian series of polls, previously reached during the nadir of Gordon Brown’s government in 2009.

Looking ahead to the Brexit negotiations ICM also tested out some of the compromises that Theresa May may have to make in the years ahead:

  • By 48% to 28% people said they would be happy to give EU citizens preferential treatment compared to non-EU nationals when coming to work in Britain
  • People were also happy to accept, by 54% to 29%, continued freedom of movement during a transitional period
  • By 47% to 34% people said it would be not be acceptable to continue to follow ECJ rulings during a transititonal period (though given the widespread confusion between the European Court and European Court of Human Rights I do ponder how mant thought this was a human rights question)
  • The trickiest bits were, however, on spending – all three different financial settlements that ICM tested were rejected by the public: only 33% thought it would be acceptable to pay a £3bn “exit fee”, only 15% thought a £10bn fee would be acceptable, only 10% thought a £20bn “exit fee” would be acceptable. How and if the government manage to sell the financial settlement part of Brexit to the public is going to be interesting…

Full tabs are here