Archive for the ' General Election' Category


The first general election after the AV referendum looks set to see unprecedented levels of tactical voting

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Many electors will vote AGAINST LAB/CON/LD/UKIP rather than FOR

Reproduced above is some fascinating data from today’s YouGov/ST poll on questions which try to tease out how people would cast their ballots if their party of choice didn’t look like winning in their constituency.

The responses above are broadly in line with what Lord Ashcroft has found with his marginals polling when he asks his two stage voting question.

What YouGov didn’t cover, which is highly relevant after the Heywood & Middleton by-election, is what voters would do when the two most likely winners in a constituency are LAB and UKIP.

For me the surprising numbers relate to CON voters tactically voting LD in yellow-red encounters. This runs in the face of previous elections where there’s been very little ANTI-LAB tactical voting.

All of this is going to make GE15 extraordinarily difficult to poll. It’s also going to create problems for the standard seat calculators.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


If Ed Miliband wasn’t polling so badly then what’ll happen on May 7th would be a lot clearer

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The question is how much of a liability is the LAB leader

Last night more polls were published than on any day since GE10. We had surveys of all sorts from YouGov, ICM, Opinium, Survation and Lord Ashcroft and it is hard to draw any conclusions.

In the voting polls LAB was ahead in all but Survation which recorded the biggest share for UKIP ever and had the two main parties level. The cross sub samples (all the usual caveats apply) had UKIP the top party on 37% in southern England leading to a projection by John Curtice that UKIP could take 128 seats.

Like in all cases when numbers seem to be out of line the best advice is to wait to see if other polls have the same trend. Tomorrow we should have the October ICM phone poll as well as the regular Populus and the Ashcroft weekly phone survey.

Given the electoral geography any LAB lead or even level pegging would normally point to the party coming out with most seats and most likely a majority.

    But it is the ongoing poor figures for Ed Miliband that make me cautious. Will at the end of the day people vote for a party if they view the leader in such a negative light?

YouGov found by 9 to 1 that those sampled think the party would be better off without him. LAB voters by 46% to 13% also think it would be better off if he quits. But how come LAB leads continue in the voting figures? You’d have thought this would be priced in.

On top of all of that we have some very negative views of Cameron from the biggest group of swing voters – those now supporting UKIP. Just 10% of them, according to the latest large sample Ashcroft poll, are satisfied with Dave.

But killer point for the Tories from Ashcroft is that 92% of UKIP voters say they aren’t feeling the effects of the recovery. That suggests that its going to be hard squeezing the UKIP share into single figures.

Confused? I am.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


In 2010 only 47% of voters had decided the way they were going to vote before the election campaign began

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

If the 2015 general election is like the 2010 election, then over half the voters still won’t have made up their minds until after the campaign starts next year.

Whilst most of us have been poring over the polls in recent days, I noticed this analysis by YouGov asking voters back in 2010 when they had made up their minds which way they were going to vote. I was surprised that over half the voters still hadn’t made up their mind by March 2010.  It fits in with the perception that voters are disengaged with politics until the actual election campaign begins. The campaign period will be crucial for all the parties, especially if we have the debates.

The question above was asked on the 4th and 5th of May 2010, which was 1/2 days before voting day.

You can view the full data tables here.




CON hopes are based on the LDs flourishing in LAB-CON marginals but not in CON-LD ones. The opposite is the case.

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

GE2015 will see the return of big time tactical voting

Because so much has been going on politically in the past few days very little attention has been paid to the latest round of marginals polling that was published by Lord Ashcroft last Sunday afternoon. The focus was on Lib Dem seats and the chart above is based on Lord A”s aggregate data from 17 separate polls.

We’ve talked so often before about the collapse of the Lib Dem vote providing the main boost to Labour in its CON targets. This polling shows what’s happening in seats the Tories need to win but where LAB has little interest.

The big figures are that the coalition partners are level pegging on 32% each which represents a swing from LD to CON since GE2010 of just 2%. This is the best performance by Clegg’s party in any polling and will give heart to his beleaguered party as delegates gather in Glasgow for their party conference – an event that had to be put back from its usual mid-September because of the IndyRef.

With current Lib Dem seats it is very hard to find common trends. In some places they are doing poorly while in other defences there is a CON to LD swing since GE2010.

    The most interesting feature and one that will concern Tory planners is that the polling shows that once again LAB voters are ready to switch to stop the Tories. 22% said they’d do so in this latest round.

That’s based on looking at the two-stage voting intention question which Lord A uses. An initial one and then a second asking responders to focus on their particular seat. So we can see from the data the scale of change.

That the LDs might be winning back some of this vote is critical because much of the Lib Dem success in previous CON battles has been down to persuading LAB voters that their best interest lay in switching.

With relations between the coalition partners inevitably getting worse as we get nearer to polling day the easier it will be for the Lib Dems to win over more tacticals which is why I’m expecting the party do do better in terms of seats than even the latest Ashcroft polling suggests.

Expect the very public spat this week between Theresa May and Nick Clegg to be amplified in Glasgow. That helps the yellows.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Lord Ashcroft tells the Tories that first time incumbency bonus is not a right – its something that has to be earned

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Why things might be very different on May 7th next year

One of the great hopes that the Tories have clung onto as their polling deficits continue is what’s known as “first time incumbency bonus” – the extra benefit that those MPs defending their seats for the first time have experienced in the past. The chart above shows the average increases in CON votes shares last time based on different categories of seat.

As can be seen new candidates seeking to retain CON seats saw the smallest increases while first time incumbents saw the largest. But will the same happen next May?

In his now large number of single constituency marginal polls Lord Ashcroft has sought to test the impact of incumbency by asking a two stage voting intention question. The first being the standard one and the second asks respondents to think specifically above their own seat and what they might do.

In his report on the latest batch of CON-LD battles the first question results in the LDs being on 20% and the Tories on 36%. The second question responses take this to 32% each which represents a swing of just 2% from LD to CON since 2010.

That’s a colossal turnaround and one which keeps yellow hopes alive. But for Tory incumbents there’s been a very different experience with in some seats no increase being found at all. This is from Lord Ashcroft’s analysis.

“… Historically, MPs standing for re-election after their first term have enjoyed a bigger (or suffered a smaller) swing than their party more widely. My constituency polling, with its two voting intention questions, has allowed us to see to what extent the supposed incumbency advantage is taking effect. Reviewing the results of my seat-by-seat surveys published since May we find that while the Lib Dem vote climbs when voters in Lib Dem seats are asked to think about their local area, this is not always the case for the Conservative vote in Conservative seats. Indeed in the last group of Conservative-held marginals I surveyed in July, the Tory vote fell on the “own constituency” question more often than it rose.

So what is going on? Much of the discussion about this subject effect seems to assume that the incumbency effect is something that just happens to a politician. But it is not – it is something he or she creates (or doesn’t). Incumbency is not so much an advantage in itself as an opportunity to build a profile, make a reputation, and achieve the things that will ultimately be rewarded on election day. I suspect new MPs, knowing they will have a battle to hold on to their often marginal seats, have in the past worked harder than most, thereby creating what has become known as the “first-time” effect. I further suspect that some have registered the existence of the phenomenon without having understood the reasons for it, and now think it will be bestowed upon them gratis by a benevolent electorate. The MPs who enjoy the biggest boost from incumbency will be the ones who earn it.

I’d add another big reason. The Tories are currently the main party of government and there’s data to suggest that incumbency is less of a benefit.

Whatever wise words from Lord A.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Lord Ashcroft poll is out – Labour is on course for a majority

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

There’s a 6 point swing from Con to Lab in this polling – This would put Ed Miliband into Downing Street with a majority of 62, assuming UNS.


It also makes for unpleasant reading for the Lib Dems, as Lord Ashcroft notes, A lesson from the blue-yellow marginals. Incumbency is not enough, it appears that the Yellows are on course to lose seats to both the Tories and Labour.

All the Lord Ashcroft polling is available here.

What makes the Ashcroft polling so good is the large sample sizes in each of the constituencies (usually around 1,000, which is the same as some of some GB wide VI polls), so we can draw definitive conclusions.

Note: Re Watford, the Ashcroft polling has it as a Labour gain, but the fieldwork was conducted before the Lib Dems selected their Mayor as their candidate, even before that, the Lab only had a lead of 4% of the Lib Dems, and only 2% ahead of the Tories.

But should Ed Miliband start measuring up the curtains for Downing Street? In October 2009, the politics home marginals poll had the Tories on course for a majority of 70. As Lord Ashcroft notes today “Most of those who have switched from the Tories say they will still consider voting for the party next May……But to most people the election might as well be eight years away, never mind eight months. Most of the uncommitted voters who took part in my research had given it little or no thought and did not intend to until much closer to the day. There is still time for the Tories to their fortunes around before next May.”



As we await the Lord Ashcroft polling this afternoon

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Here’s a preview of what to expect

(Note these are my selected highlights)

  1. Just over a quarter of those who voted Conservative in 2010 said they would vote for a different party in an election tomorrow.
  2. Nearly three-quarters of these now support Ukip, with most of the remainder going to Labour.
  3. Most of those who have switched from the Tories say they will still consider voting for the party next May.
  4. About 1 in 8 of those who did not vote for the party in 2010 say they may do so next time. These people are united by a positive view of the prime minister and the belief that the Tories are on the right track and need more time to finish the job.
  5. But for most people the election might as well be eight years away, never mind eight months. Most of the uncommitted voters who took part in my research had given it little or no thought and did not intend to until much closer to the day. There is still time for the Tories to turn their fortunes around before next May.
  6. Nearly 9 in 10 Tory loyalists and those who have switched to the party since 2010 said either that they were already feeling some of the benefits of the recovery or, more likely, that they were not feeling any better off yet but expected to do so at some point.
  7. Meanwhile, more than 4 in 10 defectors said they had not seen an improvement in their circumstances and did not expect any. Ukip voters were the most likely of all to think any recovery would pass them by.
  8.  More than three-quarters of loyalists and 7 in 10 Tory converts said cuts needed to continue for the next five years; nearly half of defectors said either austerity was no longer necessary or had never been needed in the first place.

Lord Ashcroft’s article for the Sunday Times is available here, it is not paywalled

I’m expecting the full polling out at 2pm, I’ll do a thread on that, what makes the Lord Ashcroft polling so interesting, is the large sample sizes, in this instance 8,000 people were polled.

But based on these excerpts so far, given the events of yesterday, there’s enough grounds for optimism for the Blues, particularly points 3 and 5. However 1, 7 & 8 will cause some alarm for team Blue.



It’s like back to the 90s for the Tories on what is turning out to be Cameron’s Black Saturday

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Today reminds me of the 1990s and the end of John Major’s administration.

First up was Mark Reckless’ defection to UKIP and in the last hour or so, Brooks Newmark, the Conservative minister for civil society, resigns after being caught sending explicit photographs of himself to women over the internet. 

For those who were optimistic that the Tories would remain in power post May 2015, today probably extinguished those hopes.

I still think there’s one defection to come, timed for maximum impact for Cameron’s conference speech on Wednesday.

It should be remembered that Cameron’s best conference speech was in 2007, when it looked inevitable that Gordon Brown was going to call a snap election and win, Cameron’s speech and the wider conference stopped Gordon Brown’s momentum.

Tonight’s polling see’s Labour’s lead up four to six points with ComRes for the Independent on Sunday/Sunday Mirror.


The usual caveats of conference polling apply, in the past, polling conducted during the conferences can be volatile, and sees a boost for the party holding the conference during the week of the fieldwork.

For those hoping that coming up with a solution to the West Lothian Question might be a vote winner, ComRes asked “The government has more important questions to deal with than whether or not Scottish MPs vote on English laws” 57% agreed with that statement, 24% disagreed, and 18% said Don’t Know.

ComRes have also published their unfavourable/favourable ratings, where there is an * next to the name/organisation/party, that means this is the first time they have polled on this topic.

I’m expecting an Opinium poll for the Observer and the usual YouGov for the Sunday Times, I’ll update this thread, when they are published.

Update – Opinium poll is out

Update II – YouGov Sunday Times polling