Archive for the 'Pollsters/polling' Category


Remember that at the 2014 Euro elections YouGov, by some margin, was the most accurate pollster

Monday, May 20th, 2019

2014 Euros polling – Wikipedia

The others overstated UKIP lead by upto 7%

With polls coming thick and fast at the moment the one big trend is that YouGov has been showing markedly better numbers for TBP and the LDs than just about all the others. At times like this it is useful to look at the record and what happened last time.

The table above shows how well YouGov did in 2014 compared with the other firms and overstated Farage’s then party the least.

Clearly that was all five years ago but it is worth highlighting. The key to polling low turnout elections is to ensure that as far as possible your numbers are based on the views of those who have or will actually vote. It is here that YouGov, who first got into online polling nearly 20 years ago, has probably got an edge if only because of the data it has on its polling panel.

But who knows? GE2015 was a shock followed by the Brexit referendum in 2016 and of course GE2017. Might we see something like that when the Euro results start coming out a 1opm on Sunday night?

Mike Smithson


The big post Euro election question is whether the Westminster polls will revert to normal?

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Above is the latest YouGov polling with the most extraordinary Westminster voting figures that I can recall in recent times. For four parties to be within six points of each other is extraordinary and for the CON+LAB aggregate not to exceed 50% is completely unprecedented.

There is some historical precedents for Westminster voting polls to go slightly haywire before the Euro elections and in the past things have settled down quite quickly afterwards.

The Brexit party rise was largely predicted but what’s worrying both Labour and the Conservatives is that the Lib Dems have made a remarkable recovery with the highest poll share since the coalition was formed in May 2010.

There’s said to be a worry in LAB circles about the party’s defence of the London Mayoralty in eleven months time.

The voting data is the 9k+ sample YouGov poll that was mainly focus on the Euro elections that was published yesterday.

Mike Smithson


The updated Wikipedia polling table for next week’s Euros

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

What is very marked is the high level of variation between the firm’s most recent surveys.

Change UK are recorded as being in a range of 2-6%

The Brexit Party from 26% to 34%

LDs from 11% to 19%

GRN from 6% to 11%

The Tories are in a much narrower range of 10% to 15%.

The possibly outlying figures from BMG might be down to the fact that in its poll the Euros voting intention was put first. With the others it was after the Westminster question.

Whatever the big picture is the Brexit party looking strong with both the LDs and Greens moving up

Update Latest Ipsos-MORI

Mike Smithson


Leading pollster, Martin Boon, ex-ICM now of DeltaPoll, raises questions about current Brexit Euros polling

Monday, April 29th, 2019

How much can we rely on polling for the Euros?

The above was the start of a Twitter thread over the weekend from Martin Boon who has been a major figure in he British polling industry for several decades. He was with ICM and is now part of DeltaPoll.

His Tweets raised questions on the mechanics of polling which given how the surveys were five years ago is relevant today.

The first thing online pollsters seek to do is to establish the broad demographic profile of those responding to an invite email to assess whether they match their requirements for an overall balanced sample. Some segments will fill up faster than others. His observation about “bed-blocking” suggests that certain groups that responded to the invitation email almost instantly could distort the overall pattern. Thus once the, say, males aged 45-60 cohort is full then no more respondees in that group would take part.

A problem arises for a pollster can arise if the instant responders are not representative of the cohort as a whole. Clearly firms send out far more survey invites than the total required for the poll and some pollsters now have mechanism to try to deal with this effect.

The Tweets above were followed by these from Boon:-

UKIP were overstated in many polls, which may or may not have been down to a phenom like this.

The Brexit Party are now going ballistic in latest polling. Coincidence? I’ve noticed that in recent polls past vote recall of UKIP is materially higher than their actual vote share.

UKIP 2017 quota cells are, you guessed it, filling up in quick-step time, alongside Brexit Party ceiling breaking.

No doubt we are going through a period of unprecedented political change and the conditions are bang on for the Brexit Party.BUT, just remember that overstating of a anti-European right of centre party in poll after poll is not unheard of, nor misunderstood as to why it might be the case.

In 2014 Farage’s UKIP touched 38% in the Euros polling more more twenty points ahead of the Tories. In fact it ended up with UKIP on 27% just above LAB and 3.6% above the Tories.

There’s little doubt that The Brexit Party is going to do very well but maybe not as well as some of its best polls.

Mike Smithson



The May 23rd Euro elections – how the pollsters did last time

Saturday, April 13th, 2019


With, unless there’s deal with the EU before then, Euro elections taking place in the UK on May 23rd we are going to get a lot of polling on the elections that few expected to take place.

As can be seen in 2074 the Tory share barely varied in the final three weeks while UKIP, then with Nigel Farage, bounced round quite a lot. A few polls had LAB ahead but the majority pointed to a victory for the purples.

This is a much more difficult election to poll than general elections. Overall turnout was 35.6%  five years ago which is little more than half what happens at general elections and assessing turnout is a huge challenge for pollsters.

Also five years ago in large parts of the UK the Euro election took place at the same time as local elections which helps the turnout level.

Mike Smithson


What four years of Govey as EdSec did to the teaching vote

Monday, March 25th, 2019

But was this more down to Dominic Cummings?

With Theresa May’s long term prospects in the job not looking very good there’s a lot of focus in the betting markets on who will succeed her as Conservative leader and Prime Minister. Currently the joint favourites are the ex-Mayor and former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson and the current environment secretary, Michael Gove.

It is the electoral potency of the latter that this post is about particularly the way he ran Education from 2010 to 2014.

The data from the above two polls in was first published on PB in July 2014 shortly before the reshuffle that cost Michael Gove his job as Education Secretary in Cameron’s cabinet

The polling was by YouGov and although commissioned by the NUT covered all teachers and not just those who were members.

As can be seen there was a whopping decline in the Tory share and a huge increase in those of EdM’s Labour.  This was much more than the margin of error.

In many ways the contrast between the two sets of data does not come as a shock because it was fairly well known and widely publicised that Michael Gove had alienated the teachers during his period in charge at the Department for Education. It was widely reported that staff in his office use the term the “blob” to describe those working within education.

Perhaps the relationship between the party and teachers wasn’t helped by the fact one of his senior AIDS was Dominic Cummings who was later to make his name running the leave campaign. A very aggressive individual who was determined to make an impact.

It has been widely reported that Gove got the boot in the 2014 reshuffle on the advice of Lynton Crosby who was influenced the PB post. Maybe

Ir is noticeable that Gove’s period at Justice and Environment have struck very different tone.

Mike Smithson


Since TIG was formed the Tories have enjoyed leads of between 4% and 11% in the standard voting intention polls

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Assessing the impact new group after its first month

It is now almost a month since Chuka Umunna and others made their much publicised departure from LAB joining the new the Independent Group. The Wikipedia table above shows that’s happened in the standard voting polls since.

These are separate from the surveys where there has been a special prompt for the new grouping which has produced some quite dramatic outcomes. In many ways responses have been dependent on the format of the question that it is put in the online surveys.

In the standard polls the interesting column in the table is the “others” one. This is where you would assume those who planned to vote for the Independent group at the next election would make their choice. As can be seen the “others” figure has not been unusually inflated with the exception of the two YouGov polls where Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party has been included in the prompts.

TIG is not yet a political party and we really have no idea how it sees itself developing. But we have one and possibly two sets of major elections coming up in the next few weeks and the question is whether TIG will seek to put up candidates.

If it was following the SDP model of the early 1980s it would be flooding the local elections and picking up seats and certainly participating in the Euros if those in fact take place.

A problem about TIG not being an official party is that it makes it harder to participate in elections. Certainly independent group candidates could stand but there would be no logo attached alongside the candidate’s name as you would see in relation to other parties.

We’ve also had Tom Watson’s new grouping within LAB which might have had an impact in stemming the flow of defectors though what Watson’s objectives are in the long-term we do not know.

Chuka and his colleagues need to decide pretty quickly what they are trying to do to avoid just being a historical footnote.

Mike Smithson


Ed Miliband’s ‘immorality’ might explain why he lost the 2015 general election and why voters never really took to him

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Being seen as the worst brother since Cain didn’t help Ed Miliband chances of becoming Prime Minister

I’m fascinated by this polling by YouGov about the seven universal moral rules as developed by anthropologists from the University of Oxford. You can read the study by clicking this link here.

It is clear that helping your family is seen as the most important. When Ed Miliband became Labour leader all the focus groups really knew about him was that he was David Miliband’s brother and that he had stabbed his brother in the back to become Labour leader.

It could explain why he had such poor personal polling consistently trailing David Cameron in the leadership/approval ratings. I think the Tories ruthlessly exploited this theme, memorably when Ed Miliband tried to exploit divisions between Cameron and Nick Clegg, Cameron responded with “It’s not that bad, it’s not like we are brothers or anything!”

Then there was the 2015 general election campaign which saw David Cameron’s Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, say during the campaign “Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.”

Then again if Ed Miliband and his supporters disagree with these findings then he can dismiss it as being from the University of Oxford, a place with such low standards they let in Jeffrey Archer.