This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 42%, LDEM 11%. Eleven percent is actually the highest Lib Dem score that YouGov, who tend to show the lowest figures for the Lib Dems, have shown for just over a month. Nevertheless, it is less than stunning for a conference boost. As ever, I’ll post a full report when the tables appear tomorrow morning.

In the Sunday papers there are also some figures from a YouGov poll for IPPR in the Observer*, which asked how likely people were to vote for each party, giving us an idea of the core vote and the ceiling for each party. For the Conservatives 19% of people would always vote Tory, 42% would never vote Tory; for Labour 24% say they would always vote Labour, 30% would never vote for them; for the Lib Dems just 5% would always vote for them, 36% would never vote for them.

(*and for those somewhat surprised to find YouGov conducting telephone polls, it’s just a mistake in the Observer. It was an online poll as usual!)

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian is out tonight. Topline figures are CON 37%(nc), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 14%(-3), Others 12%. Fieldwork was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday, so in the middle of the Lib Dem conference but before Nick Clegg’s conference speech. Clearly there’s no boost in their ratings, 14% would be a high Lib Dem score for any other pollster, but is the second lowest this year from ICM. Things were a bit more positive for Nick Clegg himself though – his net approval was at minus 8, up from minus 21 when ICM last asked it in July.

There were also questions on cuts and Ed Miliband. On cuts, 32% supported the cuts, 62% opposed them (the question rolled together whether they were too deep, too fast, good for the economy and necessary which disguises some of the nuances of public opinion. We know from YouGov’s regular bank of cuts questions that people’s views are actually more complicated: they tend to think the cuts are too deep, too fast, bad for the economy… but necessary).

Turning to Ed Miliband, only 28% of people agreed with a statement that Ed Miliband had the right qualities to become Prime Minister, 60% disagreed (amongst Labour’s own supporters 51% agreed). 30% of people (and 49% of Labour supporters) agreed with a statement that Ed Miliband was the right leader for the Labour party.


Tonight’s daily YouGov poll in the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%. After a few polls showing even narrower leads at the end of August, including a couple as low as 1 point, they seem to be stablising at around 5 or 6 points. Don’t be surprised if conference seasons produces some up and down though – there is clearly no sign of such a movement from the Lib Dem conference yet, but the most significant movements normally come after the leaders’ conference speeches, so look out for the results tomorrow or at the weekend.

At the weekend the Sun had some YouGov polling for the conference, that I said I’d come back to once the tables appeared. Most of the questions were repeats from the same Sun pre-conference polling a year ago, and show some interesting changes in attitudes towards the party. It’s not necessarily good or bad for the party… just that the challenges they face are changing.

The changes from last September are predictable, given how the Lib Dem poll ratings have continued to decline since then – Clegg’s approval rating is now at minus 29 compared to plus 8 a year ago, the proportion of people who support the coalition agreement is down to 34% from 43% a year ago. Asked to pick from a list of positive contributions the Liberal Democrats have made to the government, 40% say nothing at all, compared to 34% a year ago.

The more subtle and interesting movements come in the list of statements about the Lib Dems that were repeated from January. YouGov asked if people agreed with various statements about the Lib Dems, 5 broadly positive for them, 5 broadly negative.

Two of the statements sought to measure perceptions that the Lib Dems had broken people’s trust or betrayed their supporters – agreement with both of these fell. The statement that people “could never trust the Liberal Democrats, even if they left the coalition” had net agreement of +13, down from +25 in January. Net agreement with the statement that the Lib Dems have “broken their promises and betrayed their supporters” was down to +32 from +43. There was smaller movement on the statement that the Lib Dems had sold out their principles, or were propping up an extreme government, but nevertheless, it suggests some of the public are starting to view the party through less of a prism of betrayal, some of the hostility is starting to fade.

Less good news is on how distinctive they are. “I’m no longer sure what the Liberal Democrats stand for” was the most agreed with statement (63% agreed), and its net agreement was up from +29 in January to +41 now. Tempering that slightly, 30% agreed with the statement that the Lib Dems offered “different and distinctive policies from the other two parties”, up from 25% in January.

Looking at agreement with the more positive statements, 26% of people agreed that by entering coalition the Lib Dems had managed to get “real Liberal policies put into action”, 36% agreed that they had made the coalition more moderate and centrist (up from 33% in Janary), 41% agreed they had done the responsible thing by entering government at a time of crisis – the most agreed with positive statement, but marginally down since January.

Here’s a final post on the proposed boundary changes for the time being, I’ve had a chance to look at the marginality of seats. Now, as I said in an earlier post, on the levels of support at the 2010 election the proposed English boundaries would have given the Conservatives 5 fewer seats, Labour 18 fewer seats and the Liberal Democrats 7 fewer seats. That’s a gain of 13 seats for the Conservatives relative to Labour.

However, it doesn’t follow that there would be the same impact if levels of support had been different. What if, for example, Labour notionally lost lots of seats at 2010 levels of support, but the new boundaries produced lots of seats that could be won on a very small swing – it could be that the new boundaries were better for Labour than the current boundaries in a scenario where the Conservatives had slightly less support.

Hence the table below shows what the distribution of seats would be with various uniform swings between Labour and Conservative.

These suggest that while the proposed boundaries are beneficial to the Conservatives under 2010 levels of support, they would be much less beneficial to them compared to the current boundaries if there was a swing to the Conservatives (with a 2 point swing to the Tories – the equivalent of an 11 point GB lead – these boundaries would only see the Conservatives gain 3 seats relative to Labour). On the other hand, in a scenario where there was a swing towards Labour these proposed boundaries would be much better for the Tories. If there was a three point swing to Labour (putting the parties roughly neck and neck in GB support) then the Conservatives would win 2 more seats than on the current boundaries, Labour 26 less – a relative gain of 28 seats.

That particular level of support is most advantageous to the Tories, their gain declines again on bigger Labour swings. The point is, however, that in terms of marginality seats are not evenly distributed, so a particular set of boundaries that is good for a party when they are x% ahead in polls may not be good for them when they are y% behind.

The headline figures of gains and losses at 2010 levels of support can be somewhat misleading, given it ignores whether more seats become winnable marginals or safe seats. The best measure will probably be what percentage leads the two main parties need in order to get a majority on the new boundaries. Currently the Conservatives need about an 11 point lead, Labour about a 3 point lead.

We can’t tell exactly what leads they’ll need on the new boundaries until we see Scotland and Wales, but the Conservatives will need at most a lead of 9 points (since on these boundaries, that size swing would give over 300 seats in England alone) and I expect it will be a bit less unless the Welsh boundaries are truly horrific for them. On the old boundaries Labour could win an overall majority with a lead over the Tories of 3%, but given they win far more seats in Scotland and Wales than the Tories do, we really will need to wait for the other Commissions’ reports before we can make any estimates about how their target will change.

With all that done, below is a spreadsheet of the notional figures for all the proposed seats, carried out the same way – ready for people to crunch and experiment with in their own way.

Notional results for Provisional English Boundaries (excel) (csv)

I’ll add the caveat I provided last time I did this, these notionals are just the product of estimating how general election support is distributed throughout each seat, based up which are the stronger and weaker wards for each party in local elections, and then reallocating the wards to their new seats. There is little or no human judgement here – if just how the numbers stack up once they are all pumped into the spreadsheet, so if it is an area you know well you may very well have a better idea of how the party support in your area actually stacks up. It’s not a perfect system of projecting notional results, and sometimes later election results suggest individual seats were off, but one the whole it performs pretty well. That said, if you spot anything spectactularly odd do mention it – it may be an error.