The final Sunday before the election. There should be plenty of polls out tonight (certainly we should see ComRes, YouGov, Deltapoll and Opinium – and perhaps others). I will update this post as they appear, and then round up at the end.

The first to appear is SavantaComRes. Slightly confusingly they have two polls out tonight, conducted using slightly different methods, over different timescale and showing slightly different results.

The first was conducted for RemainUnited, Gina Miller’s anti-Brexit campaign, and was conducted between Monday and Thursday. It has topline figures of CON 42%, LAB 36%, LDEM 11%, BREX 4%. The second was conducted for the Sunday Telegraph, with fieldwork between Wednesday and Thursday. Topline figures there are CON 41%, LAB 33%, LDEM 12%, BREX 3%. Tables for the SavantaComRes/Sunday Telegraph poll are already available here.

The previous ComRes poll was conducted for the Daily Telegraph with fieldwork on Monday and Tuesday, so the RemainUnited poll actually straddles the fieldwork period of both polls. It was also asked a little differently. The most recent two ComRes polls for the Telegraph have prompted people with the specific candidates standing in their constituency (i.e. someone would be asked if they will vote for Bob Smith – Labour, Fred Jones – Conservative, etc, and not be given the option of voting for any party that is not standing in their area). In contrast, it appears that the ComRes poll for RemainUnited was conducted using their previous method, where candidates were just prompted with a list of parties – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and so on. For some reason, ComRes seem to find a higher level of support for “other others” when they prompt using party names.

Putting that aside, the SavantaComRes poll for the Telegraph earlier in the week had a 10 point Conservative lead. Comparing the two SavantaComRes/Telegraph polls that used the same methodology shows the Tories down 1, Labour up 1. A small narrowing in the lead, but nothing that couldn’t just be noise. I’m expecting a fair number of polls tonight, so we should be in a position to see if there is a consistent trend across the polling companies, rather than getting too excited about any movement in individual polls.

UPDATE1 – Secondly we have Opinium for the Observer. Topline voting intention figures there are CON 46%(nc), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 13%(nc), BREX 2%(nc). Fieldwork was conducted between Wednesday and Friday and the changes are from a week ago. There is obviously no movement at all in support for the main parties here. The fifteen point Tory lead looks daunting, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Opinium have tended to show the largest Conservative leads during the campaign.

UPDATE2: The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 43%(+1), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 13%(+1), BREX 3%(-1). Fieldwork was Thursday and Friday, and changes are from their midweek poll for the Times and Sky. Again, no significant change here. YouGov’s last four polls have had the Tory lead at 11, 9, 9 and 10 points, so pretty steady.

Finally (at least, as far as I’m aware) there is Deltapoll in the Mail on Sunday. Changes are from last week. Their topline figures are CON 44%(-1), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 11%(-4), BREX 3%(nc). A slight narrowing there, leaving the Conservative lead at 11, but again, nothing that couldn’t just be noise.

Looking at the four companies who’ve released GB opinion polls for the Sunday papers, we’ve got ComRes and Deltapoll showing things narrowing by a little, YouGov showing the lead growing by a point, Opinium showing no movement. The clear trend towards Labour we were seeing earlier in the campaign appears to have petered out. The average across the four is a Conservative lead of 11 points, though of course, these are tilted towards those pollsters who show bigger Conservative leads. Taking an average of the most recent poll from all ten pollsters producing regular figures gives an average of 10 points.


I wrote about this in my last post – exploring what, if anything, we could tell from the polling about whether Boris Johnson would get the blame if Brexit did indeed end up being delayed past the 31st October.

With the government now pushing for an election in December the issue has now arisen again, with lots of people dragging out a ComRes poll from the 16-17th October that asked how people would vote in an election if Britain had NOT left the European Union on 31st October, showing Labour one point ahead. Some people are sharing it with excitement, others with dismay. Both should probably calm themselves.

As a general rule, you can only usefully ask people a polling question if they actually know the answer… and most of us aren’t actually very good at predicting how we will respond to hypothetical situations. If you take this specific question, it was asking people to imagine quite a lot. How had the delay come about? Had the government fought it, or gone along with it? How had the government explained and reacted to the delay? Given the dates of the fieldwork, many respondents wouldn’t even have known about the deal. All of these things will impact how the public react and whether they blame the Conservatives or not… but were impossible for respondents to know.

In short, polls measure current public opinion. They can’t predict the future. While you can ask respondents to predict their own future opinions, they aren’t necessarily very good at it.


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There were two polls in the Sunday papers. ComRes had a poll conducted for BrexitExpress (a pro-Brexit pressure group) prominently but poorly reported in the Sunday Telegraph. The voting intention question included The Independent Group as an option, producing topline figures of CON 36%(-2), LAB 34%(-3), LDEM 8%(-2), TIG 8%(+8), UKIP 6%(nc). Most polling companies are not, at present, including the Independent Group in polls – something that will presumably change as they take steps towards actually forming a party and clarifying their future intentions. The tables for the poll are here.

The Sunday Telegraph headlined on a finding that 44% of people agreed with a statement that “If the EU refuses to make any more concessions, the UK should leave without a deal”, suggesting rather more support for no deal than almost all other polls. I would advise a lot of scepticism here – agree/disagree statements are a rather suboptimal approach towards asking polling questions (I’ve written about them before here) that tend to produce a bias in the direction of the statement. The problem is they give only a single side of the argument – the question only asked people if they agreed with a statement supporting leaving with no deal in those circumstances. It did not offer people alternative options like a delay, or accepting the deal, or having a referendum. One can imagine that a poll asking “In the event that the EU does not agree to further changes to the deal, what do you think should happen?” would have produced rather different answers. Indeed, later on the survey asked which outcomes people thought would be best for the UK economy and best for UK democracy, which produced rather more typical results.

Note also that the Sunday Telegraph’s claim that the poll showed an increase in support for No Deal is not accurate – the poll back in January asked a differently worded question (it was structured as support/oppose, rather than an agree/disagree statement, and was in a grid along with other options) so they are not directly comparable.

As well as the ComRes poll there was a BMG poll hidden away in the Independent. The figures were unusually reported without excluding don’t knows or won’t votes, with the Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 27% and 8% for the Liberal Democrats. According to the Independent the Conservative lead is five points once don’t knows are excluded – that implies something along the lines of Con 40%, Lab 35% and Lib Dem 10% – though the full figures are yet to appear on the BMG website.


Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor poll for the Standard was published yesterday. Topline voting intentions were CON 39%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5%. The two point lead is unchanged from MORI’s previous poll in September, and are very much in line with the other recent voting intention polls since my last update. YouGov and Kantar polls last week both showed 5 point Conservative leads, a Survation poll a one point Tory lead.

While voting intention polls continue to show a small Tory lead, the underlying figures remain poor. People don’t rate the government or the Prime Minister (net satisfaction for the government is minus 48, for Theresa May it’s minus 32), economic optimism is low (61% expect the general economic condition of the country to get worse over the next year) and confidence in May’s ability to get a good Brexit deal continues to trickle downwards, this latest poll has 19% saying they are confident, 78% saying they are not.

Full tabs for the MORI poll are here.


Today’s Observer has, inevitably, news of someone else who wants to set up a New Centrist Party (NCP). Hence, to save some of the phone calls I’ll get tomorrow asking whether the polls suggest a NCP would actually do well, here’s my answer.

First, one should not assume that there is actually a big appetite for a new party in the place some in the commentariat seem to think there is. While most of the public consider themselves to be at or around the political centre, this does not mean there is a consensus about what that centre is, or that those people who consider themselves to be in the “centre” necessarily share their views with what the Westminster/media think the “centre” means. Public opinion tends to the left on economics, and is quite right-wing on more cultural issues like immigration and crime. There may well be a gap for a political party putting forward that combination of views, but it doesn’t seem to be the same gap that most of the proposed centrist parties are seeking to fill, which often seem to be aimed at a far more liberal worldview.

Even assuming there is a gap to be filled, can we tell how well it would do? Could you do a poll asking how many people would support a new party is one of the most depressing questions I get asked. It is one of those things that opinion polling simply can’t do very well. If you were setting up a NCP there is certainly lots of useful things market research could tell you about which demographic groups are most open to considering it, which messages would chime, what obstacles it would face – but in terms of predicting how well it would actually do? No, it can’t be done in any sort of useful way.

Imagine someone set up a new NCP in the UK. How would you ask a question measuring its support? Well, you can’t just say would you vote Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem or NCP, as no one would know what the hell NCP was or what it stood for. But if you tell people in the question all about this new party, then you are essentially giving it a little advert, pushing all its positive attributes in the question and putting it at the forefront of people’s minds, so that would be hideously leading. Also, what about all the other things that drive voting intention apart from policies? What about existing party loyalties? Who the party leader is? What about about how seriously the media take it? What about whether your friends and collegues are all talking about it, or have never heard of it? What about whether it is seen as a serious contender, or as a wasted vote in a tight Con -vs- Lab battle? Whether people would vote for a new party is dependent on so many unknown hypothetical questions it is impossible to expect people to give any sort of useful answer.

Today’s Observer has a news story about another NCP that may or may not be launched. Except, wasn’t there another one of those a month or two ago? And another one a few months before that? Didn’t George Osborne’s old Spad set one up? If you look throught the Electoral Commission’s list of registered parties there are a fair few examples of people setting up new Centrist, pro-European parties over the last couple of years, none of which have made any impact at all. This is not because of their political positioning (I expect all have espoused very similar views), but because no one really noticed them or considered them a serious electoral contender.

A party with £50 million to spend on publicity should at least get noticed, but a lot more will depend on how seriously it is taken. Do established MPs who bring credibility and a voice in Parliament defect to it? Is it reported along the main parties in media? Does it make a leader who is known to the public and seen as a viable, potential Prime Minister? How, under FPTP, does it propose to deal with the Liberal Democrats who are fishing for the same vote? Those are the actual obstacles facing a new party getting off the starting line (let alone actually being a success at elections), and opinion polls can’t predict how well they’d deal with them.