Archive for the ' General Election' Category

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The best guide to GE15 will come from single constituency polls NOT the national surveys and the seat calculators

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

At what level majority will Lord A find the Tories holding on in the marginals?

In the past year we’ve seen a revolution in British political polling which is totally transforming the way wrong look at General Elections.

Rather than the focus being on national polls from which we can project seat numbers we are seeing an avalanche of constituency polls coming mostly from Lord Ashcroft and initiatives funded by wealthy UKIP donors.

These are serious polls of single constituencies with proper sized samples and should not be compared with the marginals polling of yesteryear. In the Ashcroft ones the standard sample is 1,000 and we get both the specific seat data and the overall aggregate whenever a new round is published

So far we’ve had polls in just under 90 Westminster seats from Lord A, Survation and ICM. and there are said to be new ranges of constituency in the pipeline. Lord A gave us a taster in a recent post:-

“…Labour would become the largest party if results in the seats I have already polled turned into results on election day – and there could well be more to come: while my polling has moved into seats with bigger Tory majorities I have not yet come to the “bite point” at which the potential losses end and Conservative seats consistently start to stay blue.

Research I currently have in the field is looking at some of these safer seats in search of the point at which the damage stops. If and when we find it, that should define the boundary of the real Conservative-Labour battleground.

But other unknowns remain. For example, are there vulnerable but hitherto unpolled Lib Dem seats in England and Wales? Could UKIP be making a significant impact in places we have not yet looked at> And what is happening in Scotland, where the big SNP gains some expect could change the equation significantly, especially if they are at the expense of Labour?..”

I wonder how that bite point will compare with national polling when fed into a seat calculator. Based on what we’ve seen so far there’s a bigger CON-LAB swing in the battleground. In LD held seats it is hard to draw any conclusions. In some areas seat polling is going with national polling – in other areas it isn’t

As I keep on saying general elections are not determined by national aggregate vote shares but by 650 separate votes in individual seats and I for one am hugely grateful to Lord A for helping us see what is happening where it matters.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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When ComRes tested impact of prompting for UKIP the views of women barely changed. Male support however jumped by 8%

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Two pollsters, three polls, and UKIP shares between 16% and 24%

With all eyes on UKIP polling shares following their by election successes the online survey by ComRes for the Indy on Sunday and Sunday Mirror carried out a test to see whether, as many purple enthusiasts argue, their shares are understated by firms that don’t specifically prompt for the party.

So the ComRes sample was split in two with the first using the conventional approach and the second including UKIP in its main party prompts.

The problem with this is that the sample sizes became so small, down to 782 in one case, that the margin of error increases substantially especially when trying to analyse the UKIP voting subset.

In fact the difference between the two approaches can almost all be explained as standard margin of error.

    With that caveat a big move was apparent between the two ComRes polls. The views of women barely changed when UKIP was prompted – men, however increased their support by 8%

Read into that what you will! Maybe prompting says more about how men and women respond to online polling than it does about UKIP support.

Another difference was that non-2010 voters amongst UKIP support amounted to 7% in normal poll, but 13% in the prompted one.

Meanwhile the latest YouGov, with a later fieldwork period than ComRes, has UKIP down 3% from dizzy heights of last week to a more normal looking 16%.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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A Con-UKIP electoral pact? Forget it. It isn’t going to happen

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Westminster twlight

Too much pushes the blues and purples apart

Split parties do not win elections, so the saying goes.  Nor, by extension, do parties whose natural support base is divided between parties, particularly under FPTP – which is why from time to time we hear calls from some on the right-of-centre for an electoral pact between the Conservatives and UKIP, who look at the 45-50% that the two parties poll between them and dream of landslide governments rather than impotent oppositions.  It won’t happen, not least because such dreams ignore certain inconvenient realities.

One such reality is that there is a very clear message from history as to what electoral pacts mean, which is the end of at least one party as an independent entity.  That may come through merger, takeover or reduction to irrelevance but come it invariably does.  Where one party is clearly the dominant member of an alliance, a pact effectively means a delayed takeover.  The Conservatives have particularly strong form on this, having taken over the Liberal Unionists that split from Gladstone, the National Liberals that split in 1931, and dominated the Lloyd George-led government between 1918 and when it fell at a time of their choosing.

That, of course, is one of the main reasons why the larger party agrees to it in the first place and why those Conservative supporters who advocate it now, do so.  UKIP would in effect be given a certain number of MPs while their capacity to operate independently would be slowly extinguished.  The dynamics are simple: once there are several dozen (say) UKIP MPs whose future presence in the House relies on continuing to be given a free run by the Tories, it becomes extremely difficult for them to act in such a way that would provoke an ending of the alliance.

However, that self-same dynamic is also the biggest stumbling block to such a deal.  Many UKIP activists left the Conservatives because of disillusionment at the policies and tone of its leadership.  Why then set their new party on a course back to where they started?  For those who left a party of government for one on the fringes, a share of power alone is an insufficient inducement otherwise they’d have stayed in the first place.

This is before you add in the antipathies, egos, pride and other personal factors that would prevent the two from working amicably together.  Not the least of the problems would be identifying which party would stand in which constituency; decisions that are fraught with the capacity for upsetting the candidates and foot-soldiers of each party alike.

That’s compounded by the fact that many UKIP voters – and to a lesser extent, activists – don’t identify with the Conservatives as fellow-travellers who’ve simply slipped from the right path.  An increasing number are ex-Labour or at least have values that align with where Labour once was.  We know from the polling that a sizable minority prefer Labour to Tories and in the absence of a UKIP candidate (which would be the case in most constituencies were there a pact), those UKIP votes would transfer red rather than blue, if they get cast at all.  The electoral benefits of any Con-UKIP pact would be far lower than a simple sum of the scores would suggest.

    There is one alternative that may prove attractive, however, if the Tories have the ambition and audacity to seize it: a pre-election advocacy of PR. 

If implemented, it would do away with the need for pacts.  It would also greatly diminish the effectiveness of negative campaigning and tactical voting – two aspects of modern politics that have proven so corrosive to public trust. Getting in ahead of the game may also be tactically wise in case the election produces a particularly unfair result.  On the other hand, if a hung parliament results, virtually all the minor parties might be expected to view PR with favour and with a manifesto commitment, there’d be no need for a referendum.

The new four-party line-up also fundamentally changes the political battlefield, as the Conservatives now have one potential ally to either side of them on the spectrum while Labour doesn’t.  That might change if the Greens could up their support but on their current polling they’d still be of only marginal significance under most systems of PR.

What is clear is that despite the damage FPTP does both parties, there won’t be a pact before 2015: there are just too many things pushing UKIP and the Tories apart.

David Herdson



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Polling analysis: UKIP’s hurting CON even more in the marginals than it was 2 months ago

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Latest churn figures from main parties to Farage’s

One of the great things about the Lord Ashcroft marginals polling is the sheer scale of it and the size of the overall samples. He tends to operate with samples of 1,000 meaning that the latest batch involved talking on the phone to a total of 11,002 people which is the equivalent to almost a year’s worth of ICM or Ipsos-MORI polls.

The benefit is that the aggregate data from all the constituencies provides large enough sub-samples on which to do analysis and in this post I look at the breakdown of the UKIP vote. The data in the chart above is produced by taking the total number of UKIP voters and dividing that by the numbers who voted for CON, LAB and LD at GE10.

I did a similar exercise with Lord A’s August round when he was polling CON held seats with smaller majorities.

As can be seen far more 2010 CON voters in these battleground seats have switched to UKIP than 2010 LAB or LD ones.

The comparison between the two two of polling is even more pronounced with the percentage of CON>UKIP switchers in the UKIP total up by more than eight points. The LAB switching is up by nothing like the same scale. LD switching, meanwhile, drops a bit.

How’s this going to shake out on May 7th next year? We do see in this polling that when asked to think about their own seats some UKIP supporters switch to the main two parties but not that many. My reading is that the UKIP will decline because the high-octane campaigning by both the red and blue teams will present the fight as a choice between them.

In other less marginal seats I expect that UKIP will hold up far more.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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The polling’s not all good for UKIP: See this worrying data for Farage’s party from YouGov and Ipsos-MORI

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Last month Ipsos-MORI had them the most disliked & least liked party

Could we be seeing the basis for anti-purple tactical voting?

In a week that has been dominated by positive GE15 voting numbers for YouGov there’s some other data from firm for the Economist, see top panel, that might make uncomfortable reading. The way the party is perceived by a representative sample of voters.

Those numbers are not good for the party and raise the prospect, I’d suggest, of anti-UKIP tactical voting with people not supporting their allegiance but the party most able to beat Farage’s party. It was suggested that this might have happened in the Newark by-election in June.

Several people who were “on the ground” during that by-election have told me how they’d come across quite a level a “cross-over” voting for this purpose with ex-LD and even ex-LAB voters shifting to CON for the election to stop UKIP. We have seen this in the past where the BNP have been strong in a seat.

The conditions for this, I’d suggest, are where it looks likely that the purples might be in with a shout and where highly intensive ground campaigning is taking place increasing overall awareness of the election – Rochester on November 20th perhaps?

Much publicised surges can have their negative side.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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UKIP hit a record 18% from YouGov in the latest daily poll

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

The reverberations from Clacton continue

After the strong UKIP performances in the most recent Survation, Ashcrfot and ICM polls YouGov is reporting this morning that the party is on 18% – the highest ever figure from the firm.

Survation at the weekend had the party on 25% while ICM on Monday saw UKIP move up 5% to 14%. The same day the Ashcroft National Poll had the party on 19% which equalled the previous record share.

So there’s strong polling evidence now that UKIP has, as you’d expect, benefited enormously from the winning its first ever MP at Clacton last week and the coming so close in Heywood.

    The latest YouGov has CON 30%/LAB 34%/LD 8%/UKIP 18%

With the upcoming Rochester by-election on November 20th there’s a strong chance that the party can remain at high levels. Insurgent parties need publicity and by-election successes can keep them in the spotlight.

As I’ve said in previous posts Rochester is by far and away the most important by-election of recent times. Quite simply the Tories have to stop the Farage band-wagon here or else prospects for GE15 will look even bleaker. At the same time a failure by Mark Reckless to hold onto the seat with his new allegiance would be a severe set-back for UKIP.

For those, like me, who love by-elections Rochester and Strood is a contest to savour. My guess is that the next polling will be after the Tory primary has been completed and the survey can name the main candidates.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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The single issues that look most set to determine GE15 votes: ICM’s new approach to what’s salient

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The gaps between the 2010 LDs and UKIP voters are enormous

In its latest phone poll for the Guardian ICM takes a novel new approach to testing the salience of specific issues and the impact on voting.

As can be seen in the chart above the sample was asked to state the single most important issue that would influence their vote. For me the big surprise is that immigration is pipped for top place by the NHS and that the key personal financial areas of jobs, prices, and wages come in third.

The NHS, as has been widely reported, is an area that Lynton Croby doesn’t want the blue team to talk about.

For the chart I’ve separated off for special analysis the two key groups of wing voters since GE10 – those now saying UKIP and those who voted Lib Dem. Click on the separate tabs to see how they responded and you have a totally different pattern of what’s considered to be important.

Whilst immigration his 43% as top issue for UKIP voters just 7% of 2010 LDs say the same. Surprisingly considering their age profile UKIP supporters are far less concerned about the NHS and just 2% made dealing with the deficit their top priority.

    This all illustrates the strategic dilemma for for Tories. Going hard on immigration might be the right way of winning back some of the voters who’ve gone to UKIP but it is not going to cause many 2010 LD switchers to return to their allegiance.

In fact it might be that strong immigration messages from the blue team reinforces the views of 2010 LD switchers making the Tory challenge even greater.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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UKIP move up in tonight’s phone polls while the Tories slip back

Monday, October 13th, 2014

The day has seen three new GE15 polls all of them completed after UKIP success in the by-elections on Thursday. Populus online which came out this morning showed no change for the party but the two phone polls, ICM and Ashcroft, reported increases.

ICM had Farage’s party moving up 5% to 14% while Ashcroft recorded 19% for the purples – up 2 and equalling the highest ever share that his polling has found.

So less than two weeks after the Tory conference the party is slipping back mostly due to UKIP which continues to attract far more ex-CON voters and ex-LAB ones. The ratio is continuing to run at more than two to one.

Mike Smithson

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