As well as the YouGov poll in the Telegraph this morning, there is also one in the People tomorrow. The topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 31%, LDEM 18%.

I’ve not put any changes in the vote, since this poll would have been carried out at roughly the same times as the Telegraph poll (I forgot to note down the actual dates, and the People haven’t published them yet – Nigel Nelson just twittered the topline figures). The difference between this and the other poll, which had figures of CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 18% will be just normal sample variation, and compared to YouGov’s previous poll in mid-January this one shows no difference whatsover.

It’s a reminder that a lot of movement in polls is just down to sample error, and doesn’t signify anything whatsover. If a poll shows just a point or two’s difference, then unless it is part of a broader trend reflected in several polls it doesn’t mean much.

130 Responses to “But a second YouGov poll shows no change”

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  1. Anthony

    “It’s a reminder that a lot of movement in polls is just down to sample error”

    I agree but, how is it that AR seem to be immune from sampling errors?

  2. 40 min. is very important for Cons.

    It looks very consistent across pollsters-including AR.

    Since October the % of all polls each month at or above 40 for Cons is :-

    Oct 100%
    Nov 30%
    Dec 85%
    Jan 85%

    For Labour the % of all polls each month at or above 30 is :-
    Oct 9%
    Nov 10%
    Dec 38%
    Jan 46%

    They are definitely firming up.

  3. Some of the worst excesses of a 1% swing to Labour being seen by some posters as the final curtain for centre right politics in Europe, seems to have subsided. Thank goodness. Perhaps the sage words of Mr Wells can be inwardly digested by the those who still get over carried away by probable sampling errors.

  4. Yet reading the papers one would be forgiven for thinking no-one at all will vote Labour. The Tories MUST be worried by these polls – there has been a definite shift to Labour for some time now and Labour haven’t started campaigning. What’s more they’ve had the most ghastly press of all time surely – Chilcot, Hoon & Hewitt, only the economy is positive for them.
    With question marks hanging over DC on weak policy content, he would surely hope to be much further ahead when the election is called?

  5. Traditional CONS are voting against LAB not for their own party. They are becoming disenchanted with the Cameron/ Osbourne duet. CONS may yet be the party that suffers from their potential voters staying away or voting UKIP as a protest.

  6. Colin has it spot on earlier – the tory position is weakening and the Labour position is strengthening.

    If you think the economy is positive, what would your idea of negative be?

    As a life long Tory voter, I am not disenchanted with Cameron or Osbourne. There have been 4 polls this week, 3 of them have the Tories on 40 as ever. So what, exactly are you talking about?
    The one poll with Tories on 38 seems to be a sampling error.
    The Labour vote is firming, but the Tory vote is not collapsing

  8. @Roland:

    Presumably negative economic news would be if we were still in recession.

    I’m with you on the Tory/Labour vote analysis. Labour are gaining, the Tories are a tad down from their peak of 41/42 but still basically unchanged at 40.

  9. It seems to me that Cons support has maintained at around at around 40 wilst Lab support tends to be fluctuating above and below 30. I dont see any significant decrease in the Cons lead as some people seem to be.

    I think there are a few people getting a bit over excited when they think that Lab catching up.

  10. Sorry about the mistakes in that previous post.

  11. Rob,

    Excluding Angus Reid, 6 out of the last 7 polls have the Conservative lead at under 10 points.

    THAT is why people are excited.

    Labour ARE closing the lead.

    (And, before some of the usual misfits show up, I’d remind them that I say that as a member of a French Conservative political party. Not as a Labour supporter).

    Whether Labour close it further, or whether the Conservatives re-open a double figure lead, remains to be seen.

  12. Basically we are where we have been since the conf season polls settled down a narrow con majority (due to doing better in marginals than UNS) likely but a small swing away from a large majority or NOC.
    The official end of the recession makes little difference as people vote on theor own experiences; the only impact is via market sentiment affecting the media narrative.

  13. 7 of the last 20 polls have shown the Cons to have a 9 point lead over Labour.

    But even when we exclude the AR polls, the average lead for this period is slightly higher at 10.

  14. @Sue,

    Actually I don’t think the recent press for Labour has been at all ghastly. If anything it’s been more positive than it has been for a while. Brown has been able to portray himself in the one way that is vaguely appealing; solid, stoic, serious and businesslike. Noone is talking about the decisions that he took between 1997 and 2007 which are the real Achilles heel for his premiership. It seems that Labour has clawed back some of its vote from Other parties.

    Whatever is happening, it is not the reversal of fortunes. Tories/Cameron are still riding high and Labour/Brown are still in a ditch. The relative height/depth may be marginally smaller but at the end of the day Brown has realistically about another 8 weeks to turn things around or his tenure will go down as one of the “failed Prime Ministers” of the 21st century.


    17 not 7

  16. All these polls are probaly just pre election jitters. As said previously, all polls are getting into a pattern. Dose anyone think this is a re-run of 1992 or will we have a Tory Government (Minority or Majority) in the next few months?

  17. Brown is able to look a bit more statesmanlike, by showing a lead in trying to solve problems in Northern Ireland (even if he fails, he tried, and it’s due to typical N.I. intransigence), also showing a lead in bringing the world to the UK to try to make a good future for Afghanistan.

    Initiatives of this kind project an image of a world leader and it’s difficult for Cameron to do similar till he’s in Office.

  18. another view might be that as the real election becomes closer people are starting to make decisions based upon how they feel about all of the parties rather than just about the Government.

    As more scrutiny is given to what the ‘change’ actually might be I am not surprised that the polls are closing, even if only slightly at this stage. I am expecting the GE to be much closer than the 2008 2009 polls and elections suggest because now it is getting real and the tories haven’t convinced enough people that their alternative is attractive

  19. Paul Smith

    I think there is a real feeling of
    “It’s always best to cling to Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.”

    that can take hold.

  20. It remains to be seen how the “official” election campaign will affect things, if at all.

    My personal hunch is that Brown will be slightly less comfortable in the “political” milieu than in the “statesmanship” one, and Cameron the reverse.

    And the equalised exposure created by the election campaign should in theory rebalance some of the recent rather Brown-centric coverage, although of course that’s only positive for Cameron and Clegg if they do something useful with it.

  21. I get the impression that a lot of disgruntled Labour voters are in a bit of a dilemma: they want the government to do badly in the election because they think it’s failed to do many of the things they expect of a Labour administration, but at the same time they don’t want to endorse Cameron and the Tories. So it may depend which dislike is uppermost in their mind at any given moment as to whether they tell pollsters they are intending to vote Labour (thinking about Cameron potentially in No 10) or intending to vote Green/LD/PC/abstain (thinking about the disappointments of Brown’s tenure).

  22. @ IAN BAILEY

    I certainly feel that the Labour position is strengthening-with reference to a 30% target

    I didn’t say, and am not yet convinced that the Conservative position is weakening-with reference to a 40% floor.

    I stll think that the Campaign proper (when GB finally calls it) & the TV debates ( if they go ahead) will be critical.

    This is a phoney war at present.
    Brown is involved in stuff.
    Darling’s next platform is the Budget.
    Cameron is fairly quiet.
    No formal manifestos yet.

    We need the whiff of grapeshot in our nostrils.
    We need to see the whites of their eyes in battle.
    We need those tell tale signs of fear & panic.

    The roar of the crowd.

    Pollice verso

  23. Andy Stidwill

    Of course, I am mortally offended that you didn’t mention SNP in that list! :-)

    But your post follows on from discussions on previous threads on similar lines.

    After those I decided to have a look at a couple of local Westminster seats and allocate the 2007 Holyrood constituency votes to their Westminster equivalents (we have the actual votes for each polling station in 2007).

    I fully accept that the 2007 elections were fought on different “national” issues than 2005, but they be indicative.

    Kilmarnock & Loudoun
    Party, 2005, 2007
    Lab, 47%, 43%
    SNP, 28%, 40%
    Con, 11%, 11%
    LD, 11%, 5%

    North Ayrshire & Arran
    Party, 2005, 2007
    Lab 44%, 32%
    Con 18%, 18%
    SNP 18%, 31%
    Ind Nat, -, 14%
    LD 16%, 6%

    Of course, if Lab/SNP floaters are equally annoyed with the SNP Government they are no better off for choice!

  24. “they be indicative.” = “they may be indicative.”

  25. Sue
    ‘ there has been a definite shift to Labour for some time now and Labour haven’t started campaigning’

    Yes exactly which hides the fact that people havent been able to decide acording to what labour stand for. Onve they do start campaigning then they will AHVE to spell out what cuts what tax rises etc etc they intend. They cant hide forever behind the Tories and once people find out what they intend I suspect an increase in the Tory share. So far its been voters perhaps being frightened of whats in store if the Conservatives win. Wait to see how many are frightened by labour

  26. Barry P (2.29pm) Perhaps AR are cheating – their results look too consistent. There should be some variation.

  27. Its just so much easier to be tribal. Take me for instance, lower middle class upbringing in Hertfordshire in the 50s and 60s.
    Now an old man of 63 who is middle middle class = Tory.
    Fred Bloggs brought up in a North Eastern pit village closed down by the Baroness = Labour
    As for these people who change their voting intention because of Camerons poster, or because Brownie sweats on television, well they are a damn nuisance.

  28. Roland Haines

    Youngster! What would you know? :-)

  29. @ ROLAND
    “middle middle class = Tory”

    Now you’re confusing me Roland.

    Gordon definitey said that he is middle class-always has been. I heard him say it. He sounded as if he meant it.

    And HE said Tories were for “the very richest and the very poorest” in a speech just a few days ago.

    So since my parents were working class I can definitely be a Tory…..but I don’t see how you can with your background.

    Can you help me with this -or I might vote for the wrong party.


  30. The tories need to capture more seats in 2010 just to win a majority of 1 than they have captured at any election since 1931, and they have to do it with the electoral system biased against them.

    The polls do not show that they are going to manage this electoral earthquake. They should be 25 points ahead in the polls right now.

  31. The budget will be presented at the end of March, maybe even third week. The election will be on held on 15th April [ 80% ]. 22nd April [15%], 6th May [5%]

    Contrary to the opinion of many here, Labour will not pass up the opportunity to present a full year’s budget. It is Labour’s only chance to present exactly the savings to be made. The Tories will be presented with a simple choice. Vote for or against. Presumably, they will vote against on the grounds that the “cuts” are not enough. The Finance Bill will be rushed through. Patliament dissolved. The Tories would not be able to prevaricate any longer.

    They will have to say, where the “other” cuts or tax raising measures will be. The people will have a clear choice.

    I think many here have not grasped that Labour does not have to “win” the election. 32% might be enough. 33% would be very nice. It is the Tories who need at least 40%.

    The way the electoral map pans out, the Tories have two enemies and quite distinct. In the urban areas it is, of course, Labour. In the shires, it is mostly Liberal Democrats. I would imagine that of the top 50 LD marginals, maybe 5 is against Labour. Apart from a few Rochdale type seats, it is either C-Lab or C-LD. Very few Lab-LD. A few C-Lab-LD.

    Most LD activists see the Tories as their main opposition. Can you imagine the reaction of the vast number of Liberals in the South West if their party backed a minority Tory governmemt ? I feel any hung scenario effectively leads to a minority Labour government unless the Tories are short by just a few seats in which case it will be a minority Tory government backed by UUP, DUP [ maybe ].

    So, Elections on April 15. What’s the betting like ?

  32. Daily Mail excerpt:

    Research by Ipsos Mori for the Daily Mirror put Gordon Brown’s party on 32% – up six points since last month.

    Meanwhile, the Conservatives were down three points at 40%, giving them an 8% advantage. The Lib Dems were on 16%.

    If the findings were reflected at the ballot box, there would be a hung parliament with David Cameron in charge of the largest party.
    However, the data indicated that turnout will play a crucial role in determining the outcome.

    The headline figures were based on the 52% of those quizzed who said they were certain to vote.

    But if all 78% who expressed a preference were included, the Tory lead drops to just 4% – 38% to 34%.


    It’s the last bit which caught my eye. Surely the turnout will not be 52%. More like 70%, if not even higher like 1997. At 70%, the lead could be as little as 5% ! Labour might even be the largest party !

  33. Surbiton

    I agree most LibDem activists are more anti Tory than anti Labour but LibDem voters currently seem to narrowly favour Tories over Labour as their second preference. If the LibDems allow Gordon Brown to remain PM when he has won fewer votes than the tories, and especially if he has won fewer seats, unless Parliament lasts for over 3 years (unlikely with hung ones) the Lib Dems risk a backlash from their voters who would have expected the Tories to form a government if they get most votes/seats.

    The Lib Dems gain at the moment from being able to be all things to all people. In a hung Parliament they will have to choose and alienate some of their voters. They want a reason they can explain their actions. Clegg’s one that they will back the party with the most support (seats or votes) is that answer. Given the Tories almost certainly will win most votes and are likely to have most seats that points them to backing Cameron in a hung Parliament.

    This instinct for self preservation may force the Lib Dems to reluctantly prop up a Tory minority government. Not that I’d expect the Lib Dem activists to be happy about it or it to last long.

  34. @Surbiton

    The likelihood to vote filter usually hurts Labour most, so as turnout goes up (i.e. the lower the threshold applied to the LTV filter), so does the Labour share.

    However, as MORI don’t weight on past vote, they often overstate Labour share in comparison to other pollsters, by sampling too many former Labour voters.

    So it could be MORI have too many former Labour voters in their sample.

    I’ll await an ICM and a Populus before concluding, but there are definite hints of a continuation of the trend from conference onwards, of a gradually narrowing lead.

  35. @ Surbiton
    So if the Labour HQ are taking those figure seriously then i suppose you woudl expect them to focus to some extent on turnout.

  36. AW

    Can you give a response to the following comment made by jfsl at Political Betting:

    ‘Now someone might have explained this before but how do Yougov justify their political allegiance proportions?

    Looking at their poll detail it seems the rough breakdown of their samples is (including non aligned voters/ dont knows)

    Lab 32
    Con 26
    LD 12
    Oth 3

    Or excluding nonaligned and don’t knows

    Lab 45
    Con 35
    LD 15
    Oth 4

    Yet as we know the equivalent election figures in 2005 are including DNV’s

    Lab 22
    Con 20
    LD 14
    Oth 5

    Or the actual result

    Lab 36
    Con 33
    LD 22
    Oth 9

    Furthermore, these ratios seem unchanged from back in 2008. Unfortunately I cannot check back further to how long such ratios have been used.

    Now, as a recent British Social Attitudes survey suggests more people now consider themselves ‘Conservative’ (IIRC in 2007 it was Con 25 lab 34 in 2008 it is Con 32 Lab 25)than Labour, could not the fact that these Yougov ratios have not changed be a reason why Yougov’s figures (and perhaps others?) have seemed increasingly more sympathetic to Labour in recent times? I only ask because I find the breakdown of the sample in terms of party allegiance used by Yougov somewhat skewed in light of this.’

  37. @Surbiton

    The only possible flaw I can see there is that for Labour to poll 34% on a 70% turnout would mean that Labour have managed to generate a significant absolute increase in their vote of about 13%.

    I can’t see Labour after this third term getting 13% more votes – their vote has been in long term decline.

    It would be quite some achievement though – if it happens, given the exceptional circumstances, I’d have to rate this current Labour government as the most electorally successful team of all time.

    And, I’d wager, David Cameron will be hunted down by scarlet-clad mounted tories and torn to shreds.

  38. Devonchap,
    I can appreciate the logic of your poins re ‘What would the LDs do in a Hung Parliament?’ but my instincts lead me to agree with Surbiton on this..
    The LibDems could perfectly reasonably argue that ALL the parties are minority parties and that there is no obligation on them to give support to what happens to be the largest minority party.It would surely make more sense for them to support whichever party they feel closer to on key policy issues.
    I would also suggest that the LibDems would have much more leverage over a minority Labour Govt in terms of its parliamentary programme. A minority Tory Govt – at least in the short term – could pretty well do whatever it liked and dare the other parties to bring it down.

  39. @Richard – see Weighting link on the panel to the left and look for the You Gov section. Basically YouGov weight their current samples to the response to their political allegiance question from 2005.

  40. Roland Haines

    So you don’t remember Harold MacMillan boasting about building more council houses than Labour, or Winston Churchill nationalising the railways, then?

    That was when the Conservatives had safe seats in the parts of the country that have been taken by the LibDems and the SNP & PC.

  41. I think the LibDem grassroots reaction to a coalition with the Tories would vary around the country. Without wanting to be prejudiced I’ve always seen the LibDems as something of a federation of pretty varying political strands in different regions of the UK. In areas with rural, eurosceptic, anti-Labour inclinations (the Southwest, rural Wales etc) the LibDem voters would probably prefer to let in the Tories than perpetuate Labour rule. In other places it might be the reverse (Bermondsey perhaps).

    I don’t set much store by Clegg’s remarks about “the party with most support”. He knows that a straight answer to the “who would you back as PM” question is a lose-lose for the LibDems so he’s quite sensibly obfuscating. The LibDems will back whoever will give them PR (or at least AV). Only if that is not on the table would other considerations intrude. LibDem advancement strategy (a little like the nationalists) is usually aimed not at the next election but at the ones beyond that.


    “I agree most LibDem activists are more anti Tory than anti Labour but LibDem voters currently seem to narrowly favour Tories over Labour as their second preference”

    Given the recent firming up of the Tory economic position i.e. “We mean austerity” and “If we cause a double dip recession, so be it” I would be incredibly surprised if LD voters (let alone members) go for Tories as second preference in any other than a small minority of cases.

    Unlike America which is a truly centre-right country by a vast majority the UK has always been a Centre/ Centre Left country: though if faced with the choice between extreme-left (as in Labour in 1980’s) they will vote right/ centre-right as a preference. Indeed Cameron’s original tacking to the centre-left (and triangulation)- the ‘vote blue get green’ / ‘hug a hoodie’ / ‘we are the progressives’ / ‘let’s all play with the huskies in Svaalbard’ was an acceptance of that and a clever tactical move. However, roughly since November and PBR, the Tories have visibly and audibly been moving back to centre right/ right positions in several key areas (namely the economy) and that is already turning off voters who moved to Cameron’s ‘new Tories’ against Brown as a person in 2007-2009. It will have turned off more by the election itself.

    Furthermore quite clearly this is not an extreme left wing government so Cameron’s Tories won’t pick up any votes trying to portray them as such circa 1992 !!!

  43. Rob Sheffield et al,

    Even the most discouraging polls for the Conservatives show them as comfortably the largest party (the most encouraging polls give them a big lead).

    It’s unlikely that Labour and Lib Dems could muster enough MPs to form a government, even in the best of circumstances.

  44. But isn’t the LibDem front bench arguing for even more stringent fiscal policy than even the Tories are?

  45. Richard – Statto has essentially pointed you in the right direction anyway. YouGov don’t weight to past vote, they vote to party ID, which is substantially different (basically Labour party ID was a lot higher at the last election than their vote, as lots of people who said they identified as Labour either abstained or voted Lib Dem) – hence you can’t compare the weights to either the 2005 votes, or the weighting targets of other companies.

    YouGov do not ask party ID in each survey, they ask it when people join the panel. Originally they weighted using the figures people gave in 2005, to the shares of party ID that people had in 2005. Overtime they have occassionally shifted those targets to take account of people who joined the panel later, and therefore at periods of time when Conservative party ID was rising.

  46. @Sean Fear

    “Even the most discouraging polls for the Conservatives show them as comfortably the largest party (the most encouraging polls give them a big lead). it’s unlikely that Labour and Lib Dems could muster enough MPs to form a government, even in the best of circumstances.”
    Oh I totally agree- just critiquing the asserion made by some here, that LD voters and members prefer Tories; and also staking claim for notion of swing voters being put off by the rightward shift of Cameron’s Tories in the last 3 months.

    In a previous thread I have posted that if- and it is getting more likely- there is a hung parliament then Clegg

    (a) HAS to go into coalition with someone (the chaos of minority rule a la Belgium and the difficult decisions on tax and spending that must be taken will force his hand on this- he’d be blamed for that if he held out and refused to cooperate;

    and that

    (b) this HAS to be- credibly- the Tories as despite the number of seats they have they will likely get significantly more votes than Labour (all those impotent southern and Eastern English votes piling up on top of each other). Clegg might even be able to get Cable installed as CoE- at least that is a perfect excuse for Cameron to get rid of the useless Osborne !

    At the moment the trend is towards a hung parliament- but that (in this of all years) could turn back towards a Conservative- Ulster Unionist coalition or a small 10- 20 majority for the Conservatives themselves.

  47. Labour will not wait until 6th May – the election MUST be before the Q1 GDP figures come out. If the camlaign was in full flow and they were negative that could well be it for Labour.

    So I agree with the mid-April hypothesis. Had Q4 been really strong a snap election was possible, but now a budget will be needed, and that means a mid-April poll.

    The Tory position is markedly softer than at any time since autumn 07, with Cameron now even wobbly on cuts (when you go to Davos and every other government, the IMF and all the collected economists tell you Boy George has it wrong its not surprising he is wobbling). Anything feels possible from a small Labour majority to a comfortable one.

    And lets rule out a LibDem – Tory coalition. They are poles apart on most issues – I can’t even see them supporting a minority Tory Finance Bill without it being watered down – which the Tory right would vote down. Lets be clear – only a working majprity is enough for the Tories.

  48. Conservative supporters on these pages seem surprised that the negative arguments against Labour that they find so compelling have not impressed the electorate and that the Labour vote has not collapsed as they think it should have done.

    The Scottish Conservatives have put out some “Key findings from ORB Poll of Scottish Voters (Dec 09)” which is headlined as “Bad news polls for Labour, SNP and LibDems.”

    No bad news for Scottish Conservatives then?

    Well, they say that:

    “73% of Scottish voters agree that Labour look tired an failing.”

    I’m surprised it isn’t more than that actually. Many loyal Labour voters would agree.

    Yet they also claim that:

    “More than half believe David Cameron would make a better Prime Minister than Gordon Brown. David Cameron gets 54% while Gordon Brown gets 46%.”

    So even if all the 27% that DONT think Labour is tired and failing think that Gordon Brown is the better PM, that still leaves 19% who would rather have more of a government that is tired and failing than a Conservative Prime Minister.

    It can’t be DC that is the problem, he’s more popular than his party (which is why the publicity is focused on the leader not the policies).

    So the bad news for Scottish Conservatives is that the number of people that will vote for them is about the same as the number that would prefer another four or five years of a TIRED AND FAILING government, so the expectation must be that they will be even worse, and that “the Nasty Party” will get the better of the nice leader.

    Neither of the large parties can be happy with the position they are in, but the big question is: Why are the LibDems, and SNP not doing better than they are, given that they are up against a tired and failing government and something even worse?

    At least Conservatives can take some comfort from the fact that however badly they perform in government, expectations are so low that they cannot fail to exceed them.

  49. Sean, I agree in full. I recon the bottom line here is the Conservatives want an election with a landslide “wow” factor as seen in the Thatcher victory of ’79 and the Blair victory of ’97.

    The Tories are certainly on track to win, I believe they will but with an extremely feeble majority, possibly even relying on the Ulster Unionists and others to give them a pathetic single figure or low-teen majority.

    The issue is simple- the majority of people realise Brown’s past and present shortcommings both as a chancellor and a PM. Cameron should be portraying the Conservatives and himself as the party able to impliment robust systems to deal effectively with the issues hanging over our head and improve things for everybody. He is not doing this at all and will merely sneak in, grinding and staggering past the finishing line as opposed to sweeping into power in the way the Conservatives could do given the current state of the country.

  50. To be honest, Tories agonising about why they get so few votes in Scotland is about as relevant (in a UK GE context) as Labour agonising about why noone votes for them in Mid-Devon.

    No scenario for a Tory GE win envisages more than a small handful of Scottish seats at most.

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