Archive for November, 2009

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Labour close the gap to 10 points with ComRes

Monday, November 30th, 2009


CON 37%(39)
LAB 27%(25)
LD 20%(17)
OTHERS 16% (19)

But have the seat calculators got it right?

There’s a new poll out tonight from ComRes for tomorrow’s Independent which has the Tory lead down to ten points but with the Lib Dem continuing to do well.

For the Tories another poll having them below the 40 mark might add to the jitters as we enter the run in period to the election. Only ICM of the six firms that regularly poll UK opinion has recorded a share above that mark.

The simple additive seat calculators are suggesting that this would leave Cameron just short of a majority though it has to be said that these have never been tested when there has been such a chunk of support going to others.

So we get the odd situation that if the lead had stayed exactly the same as this poll’s 10 points but with shares of C41 – L31 then the projection would be for an overall majority.

As I’ve been arguing for a few weeks I’m far from convinced that the projectors can cope with “others” in the mid-teens.

Mike Smithson



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Will day-time counts mean we have to rely more on this?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Is the wise strategy not to bet on exit polls?

If there is a huge increase in the number of day-time counts, as many are predicting, then the general election exit poll is going to become even more important.

For its projections will be what will dominate perceptions of the election for several hours and maybe into the following morning.

Arrangements, I understand, have been made for just one such survey to be mounted which will feed all the main outlets. The field-work will be carried out by Ipsos-MORI and the analysis and projections will be in the hands of a team of professional psephologists including Professors Curtice, Rallings and Thrasher.

They’ve got quite a task on their hands although in 2005 the exit poll projection of Tony Blair’s majority proved to be very good.

Factors that will make it much more complicated are that in England and Wales there are new boundaries and we are likely to see a bigger share going to “others” than ever before in modern times. How accurate are the calculations on the 2005 notional results?

In my betting I have a long record of making my biggest mistakes on elections days themselves. I’m resolved not to do so again next time.

  • In 1992, of course, not only did the pollsters fail to predict John Major’s 8% winning margin but the exit poll on the day, see above, did not cover itself in glory.
  • Mike Smithson

    Mike



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    Remember this poll – exactly a year ago today?

    Monday, November 30th, 2009

    CON 37 LAB 36 LD 17
    ComRes: Nov 30 2008


    UKPollingReport

    Whatever happened to Brown’s Bank Bailout Bounce?

    On November 30 2008, precisely a year ago today, ComRes finished their monthly poll for the Independent which had Labour just one point behind – figures which suggested that Mr. Brown was within a whisker of an overall Labour majority.

    This followed an extraordinary couple of months after his widely acknowledged role in the bank bailout – not just for the UK but globally as well. His confidence was at a high and the media narrative was with him and his party.

    At the time, as the PB thread shows, the initial reaction was to dismiss the survey as a rogue but other surveys in the run-up to Christmas suggested that the gap was narrowing sharply though to nothing like the margin that ComRes was showing.

    Perhaps the most startling was ICM’s December Guardian survey which found a margin of just five points compared with the fifteen recorded only three weeks earlier. Something was happening out there.

    Then we had Mr. Brown “saviour of the world” slip at PMQs and the collapse of Woolworths. The mood started to turn and the poll gap edged up again.

    Was December 2008, I often wonder, the last time that Brown could have gone to the country and staved off a Tory victory? His argument could not have been more simple. The challenges required a government with a clear mandate not constrained by an imminent general election.

    Brown didn’t and the spring of 2009 saw the Damien McBride dismissal and the MPs expenses explosion.

    Mike Smithson



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    Which party should be most pleased by this?

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009


    YouGov/Citizenship Foundation

    But how much importance can we attach to it?

    Thanks to Gabble for spotting that YouGov have put up on their web-site the result of a 4,000 sample poll of 14 – 25 years olds which was carried out over the past fortnight.

    The dataset runs to an enormous 200 pages and covers a whole range of issues about this age group’s view of the politics.

    There was a voting intention question which asked “Which TWO or THREE, if any of the following political parties are you MOST likely to vote for at the next General Election you can vote in or will you not vote? (Please tick up to three options.)” making it difficult to draw conclusions.

    As far as I can see the only question where respondents were asked to choose between the parties is the one above and each of the three main parties is “winning” in at least one segment.

  • Labour are ahead amongst the 16/17 years old
  • Lib Dems are ahead in the oldest segment – the 24/25 year olds
  • Conservatives are ahead in all the other segments
  • The only ones who can vote, of course, are those of 18 and above and, quite surprisingly, there is not that much support for lowering the age of voting as Labour has suggested.

    Mike Smithson



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    Are UKIP and the Lisbon driving the Tory poll decline?

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009


    BBC news – Nov 4th

    Can Dave win back the Tory doubters?

    All seventeen polls published between the end of the Tory Party conference and Cameron’s dropping of his pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty had the Conservatives on at least 40%; of the eight published since then, only twice has the Tory share broken into the forties.

    Two conversations I’ve had in the last week give anecdotal evidence that Cameron’s move has gone down badly in sections of the party. Both raised the issue unprompted and spoke disparagingly of Cameron and the new, vague, policy. Both were with people who appear typical of UKIP’s membership and support (middle-class males aged 55+), both were lifelong Tories, both have been moderately senior within their local parties (former councillors, constituency officers etc.).

    Europe has for years been low on the lists of priorities that get mentioned when people are asked for the issue/s of most concern to them. That, however, doesn’t always reveal the full extent of an issue’s political impact.

    What gives Europe a booster factor is that for many people actively involved in politics, it’s important to them. Cohesion or disharmony among local activists feeds through to the effectiveness of campaigns on the ground. The same is true of parties in parliament.

    Another factor is that these disillusioned Tories do have alternatives. An Angus Reid Strategies poll earlier this month asked those who answered that they were less likely to vote Tory as a result of the policy change who they’d vote for instead.


    PB Angus Reid poll

    This, of course, follows UKIP’s second place in the EU election in June and their continuing solid figures in several of the polls. There’s form, availability and impetus. Beyond the switchers, just as Labour’s MORI share has improved as their support firms up, so the Tory share may have dropped as previously firm supporters identify themselves as less likely to vote at all.

    Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if not all of those who are less favourable towards the Tories switch as a result, or if some weren’t going to vote Tory anyway: if Labour is polling in the high twenties as most pollsters indicate, it only takes a loss of two or three percent more for the Conservatives to move from having a comfortable majority to being a minority government.

    Both the logic and evidence suggests that if such a move was to take place, it should already have done so. The question is, has it (or was the timing of the change in poll numbers a coincidence and due to something else), and if it has, will it last?

  • PaddyPower has a market on the number of votes that UKIP will get at the election – and the betting suggests a significant increase on 2005.
  • David Herdson



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    Does dropping out of the 40s safety zone matter?

    Saturday, November 28th, 2009

    What does it mean for the election outcome?

    I’m not sure whether there’ll be any new polls in the Sunday papers and it would be really good to see a new ICM survey.

    For the big trend in the past few few weeks has been the decline of the Tory share into the 30s so that now only ICM is showing a figure above that threshold. Polls tend to move in step changes and that might be what we have been seeing.

    But does it matter? Are not the gap over Labour and what’s going on the the key marginals the really important indicators?

    I’m not so sure.

    Mike Smithosn



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    Who is betting on the blues in Buckingham?

    Saturday, November 28th, 2009

    Is laying the Tories here an almost total certainty?

    Like one or two other punters, it seems, I have been taking as much as is available on lay bets on the Tories in the Betfair Buckingham market.

    My reasoning is quite straightforward – this is the seat of John Bercow, the Speaker, who in the traditional way renounced his link with his former party and all others when he got elected to the post in June.

    At the coming general election he will stand as “The Speaker” and the convention is that he will not be opposed by the main parties. Certainly there will be no Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democratic candidates in the constituency.

    So Betfair appear to have made a big cock-up in listing the Conservatives as a runner. The party won’t be standing and if you think that Bercow is going to do it then the correct option is “Any Other”.

    Fortunately the market has only recently gone up and only £945 has been traded. But of that the vast bulk, £882, has been for or against the “Conservative”.

    My guess is that those who have bet on the party have done so in the belief they were backing Bercow. Those who’ve “laid” have recognised this error and are taking as much as becomes available.

    I couldn’t decide whether to go on quietly placing my bets here or to write a post about it. I’ve decided on the latter course.

    Mike Smithson



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    YouGov: “8 percent LAB>CON swing in northern marginals”

    Friday, November 27th, 2009

    Does this show that marginals are behaving differently?

    The first information about the YouGov poll of Northern marginals is just coming out.

    We haven’t seen a report yet of the poll and much detail is missing but an editorial for tomorrow’s paper has been published and contains the crucial headline figures.

    It notes that the Conservative party: “…. leads Labour by 42 per cent to 36 per cent in northern marginal seats. Indeed, the Tories appear to be doing better in marginals than they are nationally: the results reveal a swing in these seats of eight per cent since the 2005 election, as opposed to 6.5 per cent nationally.

    But we suspect that, for David Cameron and his strategists, the most interesting statistic might be the only one that shows Labour ahead. Working-class voters in these seats favour Gordon Brown’s party by a margin of 40 to 38 per cent. In other words, Labour’s lead among its core voters in battleground seats has shrunk to only two points.

    That is tantalising indeed, for it suggests that Mr Cameron is close to replicating Margaret Thatcher’s greatest electoral trick: poaching the votes of people who were previously regarded as the Labour faithful…”

    What we don’t have yet are details of which constituencies were polls or when the survey was carried out. Assuming that it did take place this week it will shed further light on the poll that had been driving the media narrative – the MORI “Labour’s only six points behind” one.

    Given the way that the September PoliticsHome poll was reporting very different pictures in marginals in different parts of the country this polling approach is very useful.

    UPDATE: But the Tory national lead down to just 10%

    CON 39%(-2)
    LAB 29%(+2)
    LD 19%(+1)
    OTHERS 13% (-1)

    So the YouGov national survey sees Labour close by four notches and is not that far off what Ipsos-MORI was reporting.

    If it wasn’t for the marginals poll then the Tories might be feeling a bit uncertain tonight.

    My guess, given this week’s Scottish YouGov poll putting Labour back to 2005 levels is that a signifcant part of the move to Labour in this latest national poll is north of the border.

    I’m expecting the ComRes survey for the Independent to be after the weekend.

    Mike Smithson