Archive for the 'Pollsters/polling' Category


That Survation 7% LAB lead poll looks very much the outlier – but then so did the firm’s final GE2017 survey

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018


Looking at all the published polls for 2018 that Survation 7% lead survey a couple of weeks back looks and very much out of place.

The other best polls for LAB this year were a Survation 3% lead one in January and a similar margin in Ipsos-MORI phone survey with fieldwork starting three days beforehand.

In normal circumstances we would just regard the latest Survation as one on its own and concentrate on the latest ICM/Opinium/YouGov which have CON leads of two or three percent.

The problem is that Survation’s final GE17 survey, with a 1% CON lead, topped the accuracy table when all the other established firms were showing blue margins of up to 12%.

This is going to continue until we see the polls tested once again in a general election and we might have to wait for four years.

Mike Smithson


Huge variation opens up in the polling for November’s US MidTerms

Thursday, March 1st, 2018


The US phone-online survey divide

By far the biggest elections that we know are taking place this year are the November US midterms when the whole of the House of Representatives is up for election and about a third of the Senate.

The main national picture in the polling is seen in the data in the RealClear Politics data above – the 2018 Generic Congressional Vote where we have seen two almost totally contradictory polls in the past couple of days. A CNN phone poll had the Democrats opening up a 16 point margin while a YouGov US online for the Economist has the gap down to just two.

I’m am very wary of making judgements on the online-phone polling debate because of experience of recent UK elections.

It is reckoned that the Democrats need a national margin of about 8 points to be on course to take control of the House. This is because the boundaries currently very much favour the Republicans. The latest Betfair betting has punters rating the party’s chances at 57%. Because of the Senate races that are up this year Betfair has the Republicans with a 60% chance of retaining a majority with a 26% chance of it being tied.

Generally speaking first term Presidents, like Trump, have poor midterm elections which come exactly two years after their election. If Trump was to come out of the election with his party still holding both houses it would be a great achievement and a good pointer to 2020 when he is up for re-election.

Mike Smithson


TMay in third place as “best PM” in latest YouGov London poll

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Best PM?
NOTA 36%
Corbyn 31%
May 24%
Cable 9%

London Local elections voting
CON 28
LAB 54
LD 11

London GE voting intenton
LAB 53%
CON 33%
LD 8%

With the votes in London at the May local elections likely to dominate coverage a new YouGov poll QMUL has bad news for the Conservatives.

The numbers in the local elections voting suggests that the Conservatives could be facing the loss of several key Boroughs to LAB and having tough fights to hold onto to 2 SW London Boroughs where the LDs are the main contender.

I’m highlighting the best PM figures because they show a great lack of support for all the main party leaders although in this case Corbyn has the edge over May. The striking figure, though, is the numbers who simply don’t know which exceeds the totals for all three mentioned.

The data shows that just 59% of GE17 LAB voters were ready to back Corbyn and 69% of CON one Mrs. May.

Mike Smithson


Quantifying the great cultural divide: those wanting blunt leaders versus those who think you shouldn’t cause offence

Monday, February 19th, 2018

There’s some new polling just out by YouGov for the latest Prospect Magazine which appears to identify and quantify a divide amongst voters based on a series of questions that I don’t recall being asked in this form before.

The one that is most telling is where voters were asked what they preferred in a leader. Overall 45% preferred “politicians who spoke bluntly, without worrying about who they offend,” against 38% who opted for a leader who “spoke carefully” to avoid “unnecessarily offending people.

Tom Clarke, Prospect’s editor, observes:

..In an age when the news is punctuated by outrage at Trumpian swipes at women, Mexicans and Muslims, this is a sobering reminder that for a very large proportion of voters— much larger than those who ever backed Nigel Farage’s Ukip— “speaking before you think” is politically preferable to being more considerate and cautious. Populist leaders will be encour- aged by that.

More striking even than this overall result on the question of unvarnished leadership is the split between different parts of the population. The preference for the “plain speaker” leader is far higher among Conservative voters (62 per cent) than Labour supporters (33 per cent). And indeed, whereas there is a 20-point lead for the leader who avoids unnecessary offence among EU Remainers (53-33), among Leavers, there is, by 38 points (62-24), a preference for a leader more in the Trumpian
mould on this count…

Although not unexpected the Leave-Remain splits amongst respondees is striking and indicative of the success of the appeal of Trump and Farage and Rees-Mogg. You may not agree with them but they are not mealy-mouthed and have clear positions.

My hesitancy about the polling is the way that the choices were expressed to the sample. The plain speaker notion sounds much more attractive than the alternative offered and even voters who are clearly aware of the necessary nuances of political life might have opted for it.

Having a plain speaking leaders winning an election is no guarantee that they’ll be able to repeat the process. Trump might survive his first term but could find that his approach is a turnout driver for the opposition and an inhibitor to the more marginal groups of his own party’s base.

We’ll get a clearer indicator of that following the US midterms in November. Also the possible arrival of Mitt Romney in the Senate could be a real threat to the President within the GOP.

Tom Clarke’s full article is well worth reading.

Mike Smithson


EU/Europe: The issue that’s cost the last 3 CON PMs their jobs. Will TMay be next?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Polls show that concerns about Europe/EU are linked to whether the Tories are in power or not

I like the above chart which makes a strong point that the EU becomes an issue amongst voters when the Tories are in power.

The data comes from the Ipsos-MORI Issues Index in which those sampled are asked unprompted what they think the major issues facing the country are. It has operated like this for more than 40 years and it is widely regarded as a good measure of salience.

What is striking is that the main developments of Britain’s relationship with what became the EU happened when the Tories were in government. Ted Heath in the early 70s took the UK in and it was his successor as CON leader, Mrs Thatcher, who played a big part in the evolution of the single market.

John Major’s period in office from 1990—1997 was totally dominated by the EU which exposed the huge fault lines within the party.

It was Cameron, of course, with his commitment to a referendum that had led to Brexit and the current divide within the party over the shape of that. Brexit cost Cameron his job as Europe/EU played a huge part in the departures of Thatcher and Major.

This has totally dominated the news for several years and will go on doing so.

The Conservative party had most of gain and most to lose from the success of Brexit.

Mike Smithson


Case Not Proven: The suggestion that there’s been a LAB>CON shift amongst women

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

This has only been picked up by YouGov

With the apparent sharpish shifts that we’ve seen in recent days in the polls to the Conservatives there has, inevitably, been a lot of examination of the detailed data.

One thing that’s featured is there’s said to have been a noticeable move by women voters from LAB to CON who, in recent times, have mostly leaned more to Labour. This has led to a lot of speculation as to why this has happened including one suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn had alienated the Mumsnet audience over transgender issues!

The discussion come out of detailed analysis of the latest YouGov/Times poll that had CON overall 4 points ahead.

In order to establish whether others pollsters have found the same I’ve produced the above chart based on the datasets which have just come out.

This is based on the three polls so far in February:

Opinium/Observer; fieldwork Feb 6-8; sample 2002
YouGov, fieldwork Feb 5-6; sample 2000
ICM, fieldwork Feb 2-4; sample 2021

The chart is self-explanatory. YouGov is showing very different gender splits from ICM and Opinium. It might be that YouGov is supported by other polling but at the moment there’s nothing to reinforce the analysis based on one poll.

There’s an aspect of male-female splits in polling that is quite important. Women have a tendency to be less certain about their likelihood to vote which means their responses are discounted in the certainty computations. So the numbers we see have a male response bias which is not supported by actual voting behaviour.

Has there been a move as described? Maybe. Maybe not. We need to see it in more polls.

Mike Smithson


What LAB has not factored in is that TMay’s successor will get a huge polling boost and won’t surely be as bad

Friday, February 9th, 2018

A new CON leader will be a very different proposition for Corbyn

The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush has an excellent piece linked to above on how the red team is viewing their little polling hiccup. It is staggeringly complacent with some in the party, apparently, believing that because some, though by no means all of the polls got GE17 wrong then the same could be happening again.

Certainly LAB was helped last year by the very long, seven week, election campaign which meant that the period under which the broadcasting balance rules prevailed was far longer than usual. That won’t happen in 2022. Even if the election is earlier the campaign period will be far far shorter.

    But there is one factor that nobody has mentioned and which could play a very big part. We must assume that the Tories will not going into the next election with Mrs May as the flag carrier. There will be a new leader and that leader’s great strength initially will be that he/she is not the failed Mrs May

Previous experience tells us that when prime minister’s are replaced midterm then their successor gets a big polling boost. It happened in 1990 and early 1991 when John Major took over from Mrs Thatcher who had seen a Tory polling collapse. He had one great thing on his side which stayed with him until GE1992 – he was not Maggie.

Another example is June 2007 when Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair. The first few months of his leadership were dominated by a dramatic recovery by Labour in the polls and leader ratings with Cameron looking as though he was a loser It seemed a breath of fresh air that the Prime Minister was no longer Blair and Brown was judged in a very different way. That ended, of course, with the election that never was in the October.

We also saw the same turnaround in the polls for the Tories when Mrs May took over in July 2016. For nearly a year she could do no wrong with her honeymoon polling boost continuing really up to General Election day and the exit poll coming out.

Prime ministers starting in these circumstances are judged against the person they are replacing which, given what we know about TMay, should be an easy challenge.

That, of course, might not last all the way until the general election but it could. Who knows how Brown would have done if he had not let early election speculation get out of hand in 2007?

Mike Smithson


What makes people proud to be British by party and Brexit choice

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Why the NHS is so politically sensitive

The above YouGov polling sets out clearly how important the NHS and the memory of what Britain did during the war are central to national identity.

The party splits are not that large and underpin the approach of all parties with the exception of UKIP whose former leader, Mr Farage, made controversial comments about the NHS a few days ago that were picked up and Tweeted up by Trump.

Smart politicians shouldn’t attack what Brits are most proud of.

Mike Smithson