Archive for the 'Pollsters/polling' Category


The latest Ipsos MORI finding should worry all politicians

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

The increasing lack of faith in politicians & governments needs to be reversed if politicians want to be ultimately successful

One of the many reasons I like Ipsos MORI is that their polling goes back forty years plus you can help current figures into context and spot new trends.

So this new addition to the Issues Index is very noteworthy, what makes it very noteworthy is that this is based on prompted questions but what is unprompted spontaneously mentions by the respondents.

This finding isn’t surprising as we’ve seen across the world faith in politicians, governments, and national institutions fall, this has seen the rise of what has been characterised as populism

I’d like to see the precise split between a lack of faith in all politicians and the government to see if this driven by a general unpopularity of the government or not. I suspect whatever shade of Brexit Mrs May delivers this figure will increase in the short at least as she’ll end up disappointing a lot of voters.

You can access the full Ipsos MORI data tables by clicking here.



Why you should be wary of hypothetical polling

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

The tweet thread above by the HuffPo’s Polling Editor is very useful when we see this type of polling.

It is the second tweet of this thread that is particularly noteworthy, so the next time you see a poll about voters being more or less likely to vote for a candidate if the candidate did X thing remember this thread.

In the next few days I’ll do a fuller a thread on why for similar reasons polling asking what the voting intentions would be if parties were led by X,Y, or Z are similarly flawed.



A big August polling development has been the restoration of TMay’s double digit “best PM” lead

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

I love tables like the one from YouGov featured above showing the trend in responses to a political tracker question. This one is on who would make the best prime minister and what seems quite striking is that Theresa May has held up pretty well apart from July when her numbers slipped following the critical response to the Chequers agreement.

The big mover, of course, has been the Labour leader Mr Corbyn who has seen a fair amount of slip back which if you look at the dates sort of links to the start of the anti-semitism row which began at the end of March.

The problem with best prime minister ratings is that the incumbent almost always gets a boost and I think the numbers have to be looked at in that context. The other highlight thing about recent polling on this question is that the don’t knows are now the biggest segment.

What appears to happen is that when Corbyn’s numbers slip it is the don’t knows that increase which could point to something worrying for the Labour leadership.

What might have helped the Prime Minister during this holiday month is that the has been much less focus in the media on the huge Brexit divide within a party. When that starts to be getting the attention of the media again then maybe we could see a slippage.

Mike Smithson


Just 19% of LAB voters believe Israel’s more to blame for the lack progress on Middle East peace than the Palestinians

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Sure the Deltapoll for Prospect finds that three times as many LAB voters than CON ones blame Israel but it is the huge “both equally” numbers that are a surprise. Here as the chart shows there’s really not that much difference between supporters of the two main parties and the whole sample.

This does suggest at the very minimum that this is far from the top of most people’s concerns.

Given the polling it is hard to disagree with Martin Boon of Deltapoll who is quoted in the latest edition of Prospect magazine as saying:

“The great irony about Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party being consumed by the Jewish question is not only that personal reputations are sinking as a result, but that infinite amounts of emotional and political energy is being drained on a subject that very few Britons know much about, and probably care even less. Exactly what Labour hope to get out constant introspection on Israel and Palestine is an absolute mystery”.

The damage for Labour is that for months the party has appeared to be totally split and we know that voters don’t like parties to be divided.

Of course what has put this on the agenda has been Corbyn’s history- things he said and did before he became leader. This has been driven by what’s available on the record and by the media. The result has been so much energy is being directed at the internal Labour battle and there is also the opportunity cost – the summer could have been better spent by the main opposition fighting the Tories.

The problem, of course, is that the leader himself is so much involved and this is all about him. In those circumstances the party machine has to back the boss. If there is indeed a split within Labour then antisemitism will have made a contribution.

Mike Smithson


New polling analysis finds that enthusiasm for Brexit amongst working class voters is fading

Saturday, August 25th, 2018

Ammunition for those pressing for a change in LAB’s stance?

The data in this chart above has been extrapolated by the political scientist, Prof Matt Goodwin and shows a pretty clear picture about the view on Brexit amongst the C2DEs – working class voters.

It was this group, of course, that turned most strikingly against staying in the EU during the referendum campaign so any change here could have some political significance.

I congratulate Matt on picking up the trend which is something that I haven’t observed even though I follow the YouGov Brexit tracker very closely. This comes as Labour prepares for its conference next month when there is a big effort likely to take place to commit the party to backing a second referendum.

Maybe the easing off of support for Brexit is down to increasing worries about jobs and general economic security as we get nearer to the day. Those who’ve been able to afford overseas holidays this year will know that their pounds are worth a fair bit less than a few months ago and are down by quite some magnitude on what it was prior to the June 2016 referendum.

Whatever as we get closer to the day polling like this is going to be given much greater scrutiny.

Mike Smithson


That YouGov CON 4% lead poll looks very much out of line

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

An outlier or the a sign of the trend?

One of the problems with polling analysis is that the outliers tend to get much more publicity and attention than those that are broadly in line with everybody else. We saw that with the latest YouGov poll showeding Labour down at its lowest level since the general election four Points behind the Conservatives.

So I thought it a good idea to try to put it into context by reproducing the latest Wikipedia list of recent UK voting polls.

The two main parties are broadly neck and neck within the margin of error between them. Both Labour and the Conservatives are in the 30s which is somewhat down on where they were just three or four months ago. UKIP the greens and the Lib Dems are up the latter now getting double figures in the majority of surveys.

In terms of translating the current position in the seats Labour needs a margin of at least 2% in order to be sure of winning most seats. A big issue that could affect the outcome of the next election will come in the autumn when the boundary commission finish the report and this gets put to the House of Commons.

Will TMay push this to the vote? It gives her party an extra boost beyond its already favourable position.

Mike Smithson


Answering a poll question is NOT the same as having an opinion

Friday, August 10th, 2018

The above tweet from former Labour Party pollster James Morris strikes me as being very apposite and goes to the heart of how we use polling outcomes. For unless there is some effort within the poll to ascertain how strongly people feel about a subject then it can be hard to interpret results.

We know that with voting intention surveys almost all pollsters now try to ascertain how certain it is that respondents will actually vote but what about other findings? Those sampled might have a view when pressed but how strongly do they feel about it.

Are, for instance, ordinary voters really going round saying how angered they are about Chequers or do they not feel that strongly about it. Clearly those who are hostile, like the MP named in the tweet, are going to give an interpretation to a polling outcome that most supports their own position. A better measure, I’d argue, are the TMay leader ratings.

I’m sceptical of polling questions which require a very long preamble to explain what it is that an opinion is being sought. If the issue isn’t known to the respondent and doesn’t come over simply then you cannot assume that people really have the knowledge to make a judgement.

The other thing that does annoys is when the pollster knocks out all the don’t knows and refusers and gives you a net number so the total adds up to 100%. We really do do need to know what the other figure is so we can pass judgement. I tend to ignore these polls.

I’d argue that the fact that 40% of samples now have no view on whether Corbyn or May is the best prime minister says more than saying that Corbyn is 12 points behind on this question.

I like long-term tracker questions where they are sufficient data points to see if there is a trend when the same question as has been asked in the same format.

Mike Smithson


Why I’m expecting Boris to fail in his bid to be Theresa May’s successor

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

Picture: ConHome next Tory leader polling from December 2015

Following the recent ConHome polling Mike noted that Boris Johnson had once again become the favourite to be Theresa May’s successor but I’m going to explain why I’m continuing on laying Boris as next Tory leader/PM.

1) Polls are not immutable.

Look at the picture atop this thread, back in December 2015 George Osborne had led the ConHome poll for a fifth successive month, polls are not static, they can rapidly change. It isn’t hard to see the next Tory leadership contest being held in vastly different circumstances to today.

With Liam Fox saying no deal is now odds on, anyone who is associated with Leave and said no deal was Project Fear will see their ratings fall if we get no deal.

It will be the equivalent of Gordon Brown saying he had abolished boom and bust then overseeing a rather deep recession. We all know what that did to Gordon Brown’s polling and ratings.

2) Not everyone expected to stand actually does stand.

Looking at that ConHome poll from December 2015, of the top eight candidates only three of them actually stood in the next leadership contest. The first choice of 62% of ConHome voters didn’t stand six months later. The person who actually finished second wasn’t even on the list. Boris Johnson has form for not standing in Tory leadership contests he was expected to win.

3) Polls aren’t that good for Boris when you focus on them.

The last few years have not been polling industry’s finest, and there’s a lot of scepticism around voting intentions, particularly amongst the political classes.

The YouGov poll that showed a half percent Lab to Con swing if Boris replaced Mrs May was presented by many Boris Johnson fans as a sign that only their man can win the Tories the next election.

A half percent swing is pathetic given Boris Johnson’s supposed electoral appeal and even if that poll was accurate it would likely result in a Labour led government. With other contenders doing badly the party will look to the next generation of MPs.

A YouGov poll conducted at roughly the same time gave an indication that the appeal of Boris is ephemeral. 43% of Tory voters thought Boris was an asset to the government, and the government would have been better if he had stayed, whereas 39% disagreed.

In these hyper partisan times a net 4% rating on this question from your own side is very bad for someone who hopes to lead his party.

4) Tory MPs control the first part of the leadership contest (This probably the most important factor).

This isn’t something that isn’t discussed often enough, whatever members might like, they may not get because MPs get to control who the final two are.

Tory members might pressure their MPs to vote for a certain candidate, in a secret ballot a Tory MP can back whomever they wish despite their public pronouncements.

Tory MPs have been described as the most sophisticated and duplicitous electorate in the world, Boris may find out that Ted Heath’s reported maxim that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” is accurate.

Additionally one thing Tory MPs have learned from the Labour party is that they will not be voting anyone purely to widen the debate, Tory MPs don’t want their own Corbyn, Corbyn after all lost last year’s general election. They won’t risk the possibility of the court jester becoming monarch.

5) The voting system will likely hinder Boris Johnson.

With the quasi-AV voting system the Tory party uses to elect their leader it is very possible for a candidate to win (or eliminate someone before they reach the final two) by being the stop X candidate.

John Major won in part because he wasn’t Michael Heseltine, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith won because they weren’t Kenneth Clarke. You could argue Mrs May won because she wasn’t Andrea Leadsom, nor Michael Gove, nor Boris.

There’s history for winning the Tory leadership because of who you aren’t rather than who you are.

It is very easy to see someone positioning themselves as the stop Boris candidate succeeding.

6) The next Tory leadership contest is going to be brutal, especially for Boris.

With what is at stake for the party and country it will strongly fought leadership contest with no one willingly giving ground and using all the tricks to win

A Westminster acquaintance of mine described Boris Johnson as a ‘Fortnum and Mason Jeremy Corbyn.’ Their logic was given how the Tories are focussed heavily on Jeremy Corbyn associations with various holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, Tories opposed to Boris would focus on Boris Johnson hanging around with Steve Bannon and the fact that Boris has used words like ‘piccaninnies’.

His tenure as Foreign Secretary will not help him win the leadership, just look at the stunts he pulled on the day he resigned. A British citizen had been murdered, most likely by Russia, a COBRA meeting had been called and Boris Johnson skipped the meeting.

My Westminster acquaintance said the actions of Boris could only be described in the language that I use when describing Mark Reckless and that’s even before we discuss Boris launching a pretty naked leadership bid the day a failed terrorrist attack in London last September.

Nobody who says Boris Johnson’s tenure as Foreign Secretary confirmed his suitability to be Prime Minister would be expected to pass a breathalyser test.

If Boris is expecting bouquets he’s going to be in for a shock.

Executive Summary

Like the many mistresses of bonking Boris I’m going to keep on laying him, it was profitable last time and I expect it will be again, there’s plenty of evidence to show why Boris wont be Theresa May’s successor.