Archive for the ' General Election' Category


CON takes 12% lead in ComRes/Mail poll which uses new methodology to deal with turnout

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

In its first post GE15 phone survey for the Daily Mail ComRes is reporting a 12% CON lead. In an attempt to learn the lessons of May 7th the firm has developed a new Vote Turnout Model which seeks to refine the standard likelihood to vote questions that are common across many firms.

This is how the firm describes its new approach:-

“Our approach has been to look at the polls from an “external” perspective. That means looking at other data – actual results, census data, population projections, and so on – to ensure external anchor points for the design of our voting intention surveys.

By using this non-survey data we have now established an important principle: that the extent of this overstatement varies among different demographic groups.

In particular, our modelling of the election result, based on constituency-level turnout data as well as ward-level turnout data from local elections held at the same time, strongly suggests that less affluent voters are more likely to exaggerate their turnout likelihood.

Some have called this ‘Lazy Labour’, an unfortunately pejorative label, which also focuses too much on its effect on one party. In fact, when we looked at the 2010 results, we saw much the same level of overstatement in less affluent areas – especially those with high levels of ‘multiple deprivation’.

The modelling also identified a clear correlation between age, social grade and deprivation and turnout levels (particularly at the extremes of the scale), giving us a better idea of what the voting public actually looks like…”

Well done to ComRes for being the first pollster to publish a poll after looking at what happened at GE15. I know others are also working at it. This does appear to be on the right lines. Clearly the issue from May 7th was that significantly more people were telling pollsters that they were voting LAB than actually did so.

My own concern with phone polls concerns the sampling and whether those who respond and agree to take part are representative of the electorate as a whole. No doubt that and other issues will be looked at by the BPC inquiry.

Mike Smithson


This morning’s MUST READ: the Guardian account of how it all went wrong for LAB/EdM

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


There’s an extraordinarily comprehensive account by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian this morning of how right up to the moment the exit poll was published at 10pm on May 7th that Ed and his team really believed he was about to become PM. The report opens:

“This is the story of how the election defeat came about, based on extensive interviews with many of Miliband’s closest advisers. It is a story of decisions deferred, of a senior team divided, and of a losing struggle to make the Labour leader electable. At its heart are the twin forces that would prove to be the party’s undoing: the profound doubts about Labour’s instincts on the economy and the surge of nationalism in Labour’s onetime Scottish heartlands. Once those issues – embodied by Miliband’s memory lapse and his rushed deployment of aides north of the border – were skilfully fused together by the Conservatives in the election campaign, they would prove lethal to Labour. And they would ensure that by 8 May, a matter of hours after he had genuinely believed he was about to become Britain’s prime minister, Ed Miliband was gone…”

In another article Wintour focuses on the polling on what the party believed was happening.

Both pieces are well researched outline of what led up to that dramatic night and how so many people, myself included, were so misled by the published polling which, as will be recalled, was turning Labour’s way on election morning.

The hero from the Tory perspective is Lynton Crosby.

Mike Smithson


If LAB’s polling gap with CON had throughout been 6% worse than it was Miliband would have been replaced

Monday, June 1st, 2015

YouGov monthly averages 2013-15

What kept him in place were LAB’s good voting intention numbers

The table above shows the YouGov monthly averages from its daily polls for the period 2013-2015. These numbers are being highlighted to make a statement about all the pollsters – that for much of the last parliament Labour enjoyed substantial leads and it was only in recent months that this started to decline.

These voting intention shares were being recorded in poll and after poll even though Ed’s personal ratings remained very poor and, of course, his party trailed badly on issues relating to the economy.

The general view was that by polling day the numbers would have sorted themselves out. But as we all know that did not happen and all the surveys published beforehand got it badly wrong.

All of this is making me wonder about the counterfactual. What would have happened if the polls had actually been showing LAB in a 6% worse position in relation to the Tories throughout? Could that have led to Ed not staying the course and another leader chosen instead?

At several stages there were suggestions that this was being discussed with at one point Yvette Cooper being tipped as the likely replacement and at another point Andy Burnham.

My guess is that if the voting intention numbers had been 6% worse a leadership change would taken place in 2011 or 2014 and who knows we could have had a different general election outcome.

The polls saved Ed and helped Dave to his majority.

Mike Smithson


PB/Polling Matters Podcast: What does Labour do next?

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Polling Matters is an independent, non partisan podcast providing, in conjunction with PB, expert polling news and political analysis in the aftermath of the 2015 General Election.

This week, host Keiran Pedley discusses why Labour lost and what’s next for the party featuring interviews with Lord Foulkes and Professor John Curtice and analysis from regular Polling Matters contributors Rob Vance and Leo Barasi.

Keiran tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley


How Scotland and the LD collapse almost completely reverse the bias in the electoral system

Friday, May 29th, 2015

The dramatic shift in Britain’s political landscape

As we all know one of the constants in British politics over more than a quarter of a century has been that the electoral system has been “biased” towards Labour. Essentially for a given vote share the red team will have more MPs than the blue one.

Well the big news from May 7th is that that is all over and now the Tories will get more seats for an equal vote share than Labour. This is largely because of the total LAB collapse in Scotland and the Lib Dem decline.

The details are set out in illuminating article by Tim Smith of the University of Nottingham just published. He writes:-

“The largest contributor to this shift was third party victories, which swung from a Labour lead of 21 seats to a Conservative lead of 39 seats. The pro-Labour element of this had been mainly due to the fact that there had been far more Liberal Democrat MPs in seats where the Conservatives would otherwise have won than in those where Labour would otherwise have won. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats to just 8 seats eliminated most of this. Meanwhile, the SNP landslide in Scotland then pushed the bias in the other direction making Labour the primary victim of third party wins…

..In the UK system the boundaries are not deliberately gerrymandered by partisan redistributions, but nevertheless, they now very much favour the Conservatives whose votes are much more efficiently distributed. When the parties’ vote shares are equalized, Conservative wins waste far fewer surplus votes than Labour, with the latter now tending to pile up larger but ultimately unnecessary majorities in safe seats. The reason for this big increase in Conservative efficiency was caused by their very strong performance in the right places, i.e. marginal seats, and this was helped by the large number of first term incumbents standing for re-election for the first time. Labour did best in its safest English seats.”

This means, of course, that new boundaries would make the system even more favourable to the Conservatives.

Mike Smithson


The latest state of play in the battle to become LAB leader

Thursday, May 28th, 2015


Looking back to those final GE15 phone polls one thing stands out about LAB backers…

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

There were more non-GE10 voters in the LAB totals than in CON

The British Polling Council inquiry into what went wrong with the GE15 is well under way and no doubt many will be putting forward theories about what caused them to be so wrong.

One of the factors that I believe was partly responsible for the overstatement of LAB shares is featured in the chart above – a larger part of its support according to the surveys was coming from those who did not vote for the main parties at the 2010 election.

From the data that’s made available by the pollsters it’s not possible to identify whether these were non voters or not but given that 90%+ of the overall 2010 vote went to LAB-CON-LD it is a reasonable assumption that the above is a good pointer.

Part of this is accounted for by those in the 18-23 age bracket who, clearly, could not have voted at the previous general election and they were more likely to be LAB backer but that is only a partial explanation.

The same happened in much of the by-election polling over the past year. LAB was attracting more non-voters at the previous election than other parties.

    All the evidence is that the best guide to whether you will vote in the next election is whether you voted in the last one.

The BPC needs to address the way pollsters deal with likelihood to vote. It should be more than just telling the interviewer that you are 10/10 certain.

Mike Smithson


The widespread assumption that Dave won’t lead CON into the next election might be wrong

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

How much should we attach to the famous Landale interview?

Whenever people discuss the next election they will invariably point out that the Tories will not, unlike 2010 and 2015, be led by David Cameron.

All this is based on the televised kitchen conversation that the PM had with the BBC’s James Landale in March a week or so before the official campaign began.

    My reading after watching the video again is that this was not a firm commitment to stand aside and that we cannot necessarily conclude that a new person will lead the Tories in 2020.

A key factor, of course, is that Cameron’s comments were made when virtually nobody, himself included I guess, thought a Tory majority was possible. Now that he has pulled that off he’s in a much stronger position within his party and the country. Cameron is now what he wasn’t in 2010 – an unequivocal winner.

Of course there is a lot that could go wrong in the next five years. The EU negotiations and referendum won’t be an easy ride but I wonder whether having tasted a clear victory on May 7th will have impacted on Cameron’s career planning. He is, after all, a relatively young man and would only be 53 at the next election.

If you are prepared to lock up your stake for 5 years then the William Hill 16/1 that he’ll cease to be CON leader in 2021 or later looks a value bet.

Mike Smithson