Archive for the ' General Election' Category


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


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

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


And so to Rochester & Strood which has become a “must win” for both the Tories and UKIP

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Will the CON all postal primary get them into the game?

Inevitably UKIP go into the upcoming Rochester & Strood by-election with their tails up high. Clacton, and even more so, Heywood have given the party the “big mo” which they hope will carry over to the next contest.

Although the only public poll had them 9% ahead the demographics of the constituency make it a much bigger challenge than Clacton. Carswell, as the massive early poll leads showed, never looked beatable and the Tories from the start treated it as a damage control operation.

In R&S this will be very different. The blues want to stop the rot here and have already shown their intent by announcing a full postal primary to choose their candidate in which every single elector will get a ballot pack and be able to vote. This is a very costly exercise which the blues hope will give them an edge.

    The intention is that the primary will raise the profile of whoever wins who will be presented to the constituency as the “people’s choice”.

Then the campaign will take on the intensity that we saw in Newark in June when for the first time in 25 years the party successfully held onto a seat in a by-election while in government.

Already this is being talked up as a make or break moment for Cameron with suggestions from the Speccie’s James Forsyth at the weekend that the PM could face a leadership challenge if the battle is lost.

This is also massive for Nigel Farage. For a failure by Mark Reckless to retain the seat would seriously dent UKIP’s remarkable surge and make it far less likely that other CON MPs will jump ship.

Whichever way it goes R&S will, have an impact on GE15.

LAB appears to have decided not to take this too seriously and, like in Newark, not to put the resources in. The LDs expect their usual lost deposit.

The betting is very much on UKIP which I think has moved in too far. I’ve put a bit on the Tories.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


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