Less than a week after Mrs. May’s GE2017 announcement YouGov’s Brexit “right/wrong” tracker moves to level-pegging

April 24th, 2017

It did have Brexit “right” 4% ahead

Given the overwhelming importance of the Brexit negotiations in Mrs May’s stated reason for the early General Election then it is important to continue to follow how voters now view that decision last June.

The one regular tracking poll on this is the YouGov question featured above and as can be seen the split has been fairly stable since the first poll to take place shortly after Theresa May entered number 10 Downing Street.

Now this might all be down to margin of error come up and we need to see other surveys, but less than a week after the prime minister’s big announcement we find a move to remain so that the tracker is totally split 44% thinking Brexit was wrong 44% thinking Brexit was right.

Some of the cross tabs are interesting. Just on a third, 32%, of Conservative voters at the last general election are in the Brexit was wrong camp. That seems a very high proportion given the huge emphasis being put on this by Mrs May and other polling that has the voting intention figures moving sharply to the Tories.

Mike Smithson


The geography of Emmanuel Macron’s first round victory

April 24th, 2017

So Le Pen isn’t going to be another Trump

As it has turned out the polling in the French presidential election has proved to be pretty accurate. Macron has, as I write, 23.9% of the first round votes with Le Pen on 21.4%.

The Betfair exchange betting now splits 88% to Macron with to 12% Marine Le Pen.

It is now very hard to envisage the circumstances that have anybody other than the young former investment banker as the next president of France.

What is striking about the Wikipedia map of how individual parts of France voted is the East-West divide with the former departments more likely to go for Le Pen.

As a betting event this has been huge even though French law makes it very difficult for those inside France to bet with online British bookmakers. This suggests a huge interest in this election in the UK.

The final round of voting takes place on May 7th three days after the British local elections which could provide a good guide to the general election on June 8th.

The polls have been proved very right in France – is that going to be the experience here or is Nate Silver right about his criticism of British polling?

Mike Smithson


Exit poll says Macron and Le Pen make it into round two.

April 23rd, 2017

Looks like the French have lost that lovin’ Fillon

But given that both François Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are fewer than 2 points behind Le Pen, and we’ve not had any votes counted yet, don’t start spending winnings yet or write off those losses. Though if this exit poll is accurate I expect Macron to win in a fortnight.

Though I’m glad I laid both Fillon and Le Pen.



Are radical policies the answer to Labour’s slump?

April 23rd, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast Leo Barasi talked about the state of the parties and the race ahead with Conor Pope of Progress and political consultant Laurence Janta-Lipinksi. You can listen to the episode below or by clicking here.

Despite using Easter to announce several policies, Labour is making little effort to pretend it knows what it would do with power. The party’s website still invites visitors to “help shape our next manifesto” and Corbyn semi-loyalist Dawn Butler suggested on Newsnight there might have to be a “rolling manifesto” while policies are developed.

This isn’t just a lack of detailed policies. It’s also about what Labour stands for and who it is trying to appeal to.

Corbyn ran for the leadership with the promise of a “radical economic strategy” yet the recent announcements have largely been repeats of earlier Labour policies. Free meals in primary schools was floated for the 2010 election. A plan to pressure big companies to pay suppliers on time was in the 2015 manifesto. The triple lock on pensions was another Miliband pledge.

You could argue that Labour’s recent policies go further than previous ones. But no-one can seriously claim they would revolutionise the economy. As such, they seem designed for the same voters progressive but not radical – that the 2015 manifesto aimed to win over.

Yet Corbyn’s Labour has also made some radical pledges that wouldn’t have made it into recent manifestos. Among its current 10 pledges are rent controls and nationalisation of the railways.

This week’s Opinium poll for the PB/Polling Matters podcast tested public views of eight possible and actual Labour policies.

The policies that did best were a mix of the radical and the incremental. Two of the top-scoring were 2015-style measures: a £10 minimum wage in 2020 (more radical than Miliband, but hardly socialist) and requiring companies to pay suppliers on time.

Also among the top-scoring was “control rents so landlords cannot keep increasing the amount they charge”, which 47% of those considering Labour strongly supported. Surprisingly, that measure was most popular among the 55+ age group, and least popular among the ‘generation rent’ 18-34s.

Other radical policies were much less popular though. A citizens’ income of £6000 and railway nationalisation were strongly supported by only 29% and 32%, respectively, of people who would consider Labour.

So Labour might find support for a mix of tangible incremental policies, and radical policies aimed at tackling a well-known problem. With 49% saying they would at least consider Labour, these policies appear to win the strong support of around a quarter of the population – suggesting there is still a 25% strategy open to Labour.

But while this might suggest Labour could avoid slipping further, there are two problems with this approach.

First, such an incoherent mix of policies would leave voters struggling to know what Labour stands for. One set of policies suggests Labour would govern as social democrats. The second set suggests Labour wants to revolutionise major parts of the economy.

Without a unifying argument, Labour’s pledges would be easily forgotten. Ed Miliband didn’t lack popular policies but the failure to stake out a clear position, and stick to it, cost the party at the election.

Second, the poll also suggests even well-scoring policies may be less popular than they seem. Over Easter, Labour’s policy that got the most coverage was the pledge for free school meals. Yet this was the least popular of the policies tested.

It’s hard to be sure why it did so badly, but free food for children doesn’t seem an inherently unpopular measure. Its failure in the poll might be because it is now associated with Labour. If that’s the case, more policy announcements might do little to stop Labour’s vote sliding further, even if they were popular before they become linked with the party.

You can listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast with Leo, Conor Pope and Laurence Janta-Lipinksi below:

Leo Barasi

Leo Barasi tweets about politics and public opinion at @leobarasi


Marine Le Pen’s best chance of becoming President of France is if she faces Fillon in the 2nd round

April 23rd, 2017

Head to head: Fillon-LePen

Head to head: Melenchon-LePen

Head to head: Macron-LePen

Today the people of France are going to the polls in the first round of the Presidential Election. The polling stations close at 1900 BST and we should get the first exit polls shortly afterwards.

If the exit polling is close then we might see some delay before any figures are published. Unlike the UK where there is one single exit poll in France several media outlets have their own polls.

Since BREXIT and the election of Trump the big focus has been on whether the far right anti-EU Marine Le Pen could win.

For much of the time in the past year she had led the first round polling but in France coming top is not enough – the top two in today’s elections go forward to the run off two weeks today on Sunday May 7th.

The tables above show the hypothetical second round match ups covering the top four in the polling for today’s election.

As can be seen the person that Marine Le Pen least wants to face is the 39 year old independent who has been the huge surprise of this election. The French Republican party candidate, Francois Fillon, who has been very troubled during the campaign by a financial scandal would probably be a better opponent for her.

Before that scandal broke Fillon looked to be in with a very strong chance and the talk in the closing days of the campaign has been of “shy” Fillon supporters understating his polling strength.

In the betting Macron remains the odds-on favourite.

This has been the biggest non UK/US political betting event ever.

Mike Smithson


Why a 1997 style landslide or even a 1983 style landslide might not happen, but maybe a 2005 style majority of 66 could

April 23rd, 2017

Judging by the polls, the political mood, the intuition of most political watchers, and pretty much everyone in the country, sans the Corbynites, are expecting Mrs May’s Tories to win so comprehensively the only thing in doubt is which three figure number will be the size of the Tory majority, but today I’ll explain why that might be wrong, and why Mrs May could end up with just a modest double digit majority.

But here are the reasons why I think the Tory majority won’t be as massive as people think

1) Tory complacency

It seems every day new record breaking polls come out implying that the Tories are going win a stonking landslide on June the 8th, whilst Jeremy Corbyn and Labour would suffer less punishment if they booked 400 dominatrices concurrently that night and chose ‘mower’ as their safe word.

This is likely to depress turnout as voters, especially Tories think the result is in the bag. This could see Labour holding on to seats they should be losing if the polls are accurate because of low turnout.

2) Shy Labour voters

With Jeremy Corbyn as leader, you can see why Labour voters would be shy about admitting voting for Labour, this isn’t just conjecture on my part, there’s actual evidence for it.

ICM’s spiral of silence adjustment is reducing Tory leads on a regular basis by a few per cent each time. It is entirely possible that ICM are underestimating it because of 3)

3) The Love Labour, hate Corbyn voters.

If you’re a long standing Labour voter who hates Corbyn but like your local Labour MP, such as Wes Streeting or John Woodcock for example, who happen to be a vocal critics of Corbyn, what are you going to do? A) Let in a Tory MP, or B) back that anti-Corbyn MP? It’s B isn’t it, a no brainer as some would say.

These are the sort of people I suspect tell pollsters they won’t vote Labour as way of trying to force Corbyn out.

4) Labour could get the ‘sympathy shag vote’

This is  the antonym of 1) There are lots of voters out there who like the Labour party as an idea, as a concept, as a force for good and who whilst might not like Jeremy Corbyn want neither a result so bad that Labour can’t ever recover from/or take decades to recover from, nor do they want the Tories to have such a huge majority so they can do whatever they wish. So these voters pity Labour’s plight in the polls and give them their vote out of sympathy.

5) Whisper it very carefully, Mrs May might not actually be that popular

First of all there’s the polling that shows her popularity is equally down to her not being Jeremy Corbyn nor would she be losing the majority of the Tory gains from the Lib Dems that her election strategist found, a PM with polling leads of 25% really shouldn’t be doing that.

People compare her to Mrs Thatcher, but what has Mrs May really achieved that is comparable to Mrs Thatcher had prior to her 1983 and 1987 landslides? No war won, no massive reform of the UK, so far only a slogan, ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

Plus Mrs May’s a crap campaigner, no wonder she’s frightened to meet real voters or to debate Corbyn, given her failure to consistently crush him at PMQs. Macavity May hid during the EU referendum, as PM she can’t hide during a general election campaign. Mrs May is a crap campaigner, this is a narrative I and others expect to develop, especially if she refuses to debate Corbyn and the other party leaders.

6) Sir Lynton Crosby might not have enough time to work his magic at this general election

In 2015 Sir Lynton spent two years polling, focus grouping, and message testing the hell out of what strategies and memes would win the election, such as the long term economic plan. This election he might have only a few weeks to do all that, and his end product might not be his best or even a match to his 2015 work product.

7) Perhaps Sir Lynton is overrated and not the master strategist we think he is

Yes he did help win the 2015 general election, and oversaw Boris Johnson’s two wins as London Mayor, but he also oversaw the Tory election defeat in 2005, and the less said about the his contribution in Zac Goldsmith’s unsuccessful campaign to be London Mayor last year. Even Zac’s sister criticised the whole approach, that’s how bad a campaign it was, with many describing it as “dog-whistle racism.”

Perhaps 2015 was won purely down to Cameron’s leadership, Osborne’s magnificent stewardship of the economy, and the fear of a Labour/SNP coalition government.

8) No Lord Ashcroft constituency polling to blindside the Tory opponents this time

One Tory activist I spoke to in the aftermath of the election victory in 2015 said the party owed Lord Ashcroft a debt of gratitude for his constituency polls, which inadvertently led the Lib Dems to feel more confident (and possibly) overconfident about their chances of holding their seats from the Tories.

Whilst the polls also reinforced Labour’s belief in the ground game, where the polls indicated Labour was doing better in the Lab/Con marginals.

This allowed the Tories to campaign under the radar and win whilst their opponents believed the Ashcroft polling.

9) That expenses saga might be game changers on two levels which doesn’t help the Tories

Given allegations from last time, I suspect we won’t see Tory activists being bussed in to key seats, this  might make the Tories  to lose seats they hold and fail to take the seats they are expected to gain.

Secondly if charges are brought during the campaign, as Hillary Clinton found out, things like this can change the polls.

10) After all the polling failures in recent years, is anyone 100% confident that the polls are accurate.

Just look at that (in)famous Guardian front page from two years ago, during the last general election campaign, and the failures some pollsters had during the EU referendum, is anyone truly confident the polling problems have been entirely sorted out, especially with the reasons listed above? Last night’s polls and the reactions therein had a similar feel at times, or even the Cleggasm, and we all know how those turned out.

I expect Mrs May will win a decent majority, and I know a few PBers who last night bought the Tories at 378 seats for £30 a seat, I’ll be joining them in the morning, but if come June 9th that bet becomes a loser, it’ll be for the reasons listed above. Success equals performance minus anticipation. Right now the anticipation is for a three figure majority, anything less will feel like a disappointing night for Mrs May, she should help lower expectations.




Labour reduce the Tory lead to 23% with YouGov in the most incredible polling night I can ever remember

April 22nd, 2017


The polling that made me swear out loud. Scotland could have 12 (Twelve) Tory MPs

Betting post – William Hill: Total Conservative Party Seats In Scotland Over/Under Over 9.5 at 20/1 – FILL YOUR BOOTS

The real story of tonight is the cratering of UKIP which is helping the Tories, for those in Labour who think things can only get better…..

There are some other polls due tonight, I’ll try and update the thread when they come out.



Opinium sees the Tory lead up 10% in a week to 19%. Labour are on course for an absolute hammering if the polls are right

April 22nd, 2017

Since Theresa May announced the general election, we’ve had three polls, with leads of 21%, 24%, and now 19% for the blues. The trend is not Labour’s friend. We might need to come up with a new adjective for  just how rubbish Corbyn is.

This poll presages an absolute shellacking for Labour. If Labour had any sense they’d depose the voter repellent in the next week.

In the write up

Separate analysis by Opinium, which has been tracking the same 2,000 voters throughout this parliament, found that only 53% of those who had said they intended to vote Ukip in February are still planning to do so in the 8 May election, with 30% of them saying they will transfer allegiance to the Tories.

The crumbling of backing for Ukip appears to be the main reason for the dramatic surge in enthusiasm for May’s party. Labour’s fall may be the result of voters who were strongly in favour of Remain in the Brexit referendum last June deserting the party for the anti-Brexit Lib Dems.

When those who now choose the Lib Dems were asked to give the main reason they are deciding to back Tim Farron’s party, 50% said that it was because of its stance on Brexit. Just 6% of Labour voters said Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit was their main reason for backing Labour.

For me one of the most interesting aspects of this poll is the Lib Dems are on 11%. Due to the house of effects Opinium, the Lib Dems do quite poorly with this pollster, they had the Lib Dems on 4% last summer. So 11% with this pollster is very impressive for Tim Farron’s party.

Depending on the right odds I might fancy a bet on whether we will have at least one poll from a BPC registered pollster to see the Lib Dems ahead of Labour.

Tonight I’m also expecting a GB wide YouGov poll in The Sunday Times and a Scottish poll in one of the Scottish papers.