Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Lord Ashcroft’s latest round of marginals polling finds that UKIP is hurting LAB more than CON

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

UKIP in lead in two of the seats polled

But there is good news for Ed Miliband

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Polling UKIP: The recent record shows that YouGov got closest with ICM in second place

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

With so much variation in the UKIP share in recent polls it is perhaps worth recalling that the firm that got it most right the last time they were tested, the May 22nd Euros, was YouGov.

The figures are in the chart above and it is interesting that YouGov and ICM, the ones that did best on May 22nd, are continuing to show UKIP with smaller shares for the general election compared with other pollsters.

Later this morning Lord Ashcroft is publishing his latest CON-LAB marginals poll. This covers 14 CON held constituencies and has a sample of 14k.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


My anaylsis of 100+ polls shows that the 2010 LD voters who’ve switched to LAB are sticking and that’s bad news for the Tories

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Curtice is right: LD switchers aren’t going back “any time soon”

In a broad-ranging interview just published Britain’s leading political scientist, Professor John Curtice made these observations about Labour’s polling position and GE2015.

“..basically the reason why the Labour party is in the lead is because of the loss of Liberal Democrat support to Labour. It goes all the way back to 2010 and it’s not obvious that it’s going to go back anytime soon…

..I see no reason why the general election should result in a transfer of voters back from Labour to the Liberal Democrats unless there is a severe decline in Labour’s ability to offer anything. Because in a sense those Liberal Democrat voters that are going to Labour are primarily there because of push rather than pull..”

This has prompted me to look at the polling in more detail and to produce the trend chart above showing the monthly average in the twice-weekly Populus polls of 2010 LD voters now saying that they’ll vote Labour.

I chose Populus because there are at least 8 polls a month with an aggregate sample of more than 15k and it presents its data in a manner which makes this analysis easier. While YouGov polls show the proportion of LD>LAB switchers they exclude the don’t knows and refusers. I wanted to show the switchers as a proportion of all those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 including the large numbers of those who have still to make up their minds.

The Populus series started just over a year ago and there have been about 100 polls each of which has been analysed.

At GE2010 the Lib Dems secured just under 24% of the GB vote and a quarter of that represents a large slice of the electorate. Because of the importance of this to the general election outcome I plan to continue collecting data and producing regular reports right up to polling day.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Lord Ashcroft’s latest round of CON-LAB marginals polling would be even more informative if the candidates were named

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Are the blues getting a first time incumbency bonus?

I got into a good natured Twitter exchange last night with Lord Ashcroft about the seats that will be included in his next round of marginals polling due to be published in the next few days. In fact I needn’t have bothered because on the Saturday after the May 22nd local elections he said the following to a ConHome conference:

“This is the first in a series of similar surveys I will be conducting in the run-up to the election. In the next few weeks I will be publishing a poll of our battleground with the Lib Dems, and then Labour’s battleground with the Lib Dems. We will return regularly to each group of seats to track progress over the year.

So it’s pretty clear that the constituencies being polled will be the same as those in May.

Intriguingly Lord Ashcroft promised some surprises in his latest round and more, but no doubt, we’ll have to wait for publication before we know what those are.

One feature I really hope that Lord Ashcroft will incorporate is to name the candidates in each seat in the voting intention question. Many Tory hopes are being placed on first time incumbents in the key seats being defended doing better than national or regional swings and including their name could help measure this.

In almost all of the 14 seats the Labour and Conservative candidates are in place and it would not take much to incorporate their names.

In some of the seats Labour had taken the Broxtowe approach and chosen the ex-MP who lost in 2010 and it’s a moot point whether this will, in part, neutralise the effect.

I’ve no doubt that Lord Ashcroft is looking at his methodology with each new poll and I do hope that at some stage the named candidate approach will be incorporated.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Say hello to the Lilac Tories

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

New cabinet (1)

David Herdson on Cameron’s line-up for GE2015

Squaring circles is part of the business of politics.  One such conundrum David Cameron has to face is how to simultaneously make the party he leads more appealing to centrist floating voters while also attracting back those who’ve defected to UKIP.  On the face of it, those are two incompatible objectives: how can a party move both left and right at the same time?  The simple answer is it can’t; the more complex one is that it doesn’t have to.

There’s been some criticism that Cameron’s reshuffle is mere window dressing.  That if he was serious about the changes then he’d have made them before now, when the government still had serious parliamentary business to get through before the election.  That misses the point.  Cameron is not looking at this parliament; in making the changes now, he has put together his team for the next one.  (In any case, keeping ministers in place while they’re in the middle of something is actually a good thing).

What he’s also done is put together his team for the general election campaign and that’s where the circle-squaring comes in.  Replacing Michael Gove with a woman in her early forties is the most dramatic element of the image management surgery which has left the Tory front bench visibly younger and less male-dominated.

Of course, that image management only works if those coming in are up to the job themselves, which is something that remains to be seen.  Still, with education and immigration two of the electoral battlegrounds, we can expect to hear more Conservative women’s voices on the TV and radio in the months to come.  Few people will change their vote simply because the minister for whatever is a woman rather than a man (or indeed, any one politician rather than another).  However, the overall public impression of the party is very much affected by those making the case for it and to that extent, it will make a difference.

It should be noted that simply putting a woman in a job, even if she’s competent, won’t necessarily help in attracting women’s votes.  Women voters, as with any group or set of individuals, will still need to identify with the party in question, both in terms of empathy and policy – does the party understand them and the issues they face, and does it have the solutions to those problems?  A woman robo-politician will do no better than a male robo-politician; both appear equally out of touch.

Then there’s the other side of the equation: winning back the UKIP defectors.  The cabinet changes marked a definite Eurosceptic shift; one which should become more apparent once the election approaches and ministers can advocate party policy more and government coalition policy less.  Certainly, Europe is only one reason for the Con to UKIP switchers (if an important one), but again, just as the original defections were rarely prompted by a single policy in isolation but by a cumulative effect over years, so switchback, if it happens, is likely to occur due to the effects at the margin of many events.

It would be wrong to claim that Cameron’s cabinet changes were entirely a marketing exercise.  Some of the old guard left of their own accord and Cameron would not have chosen the team he’ll now have to take into the second term he aspires to if he thought they would then let him down.  Even so, there’s no doubt it’s also been put in place to chase the Lilac Tories; both those of a Blue-Purple persuasion and those who prefer a softer shade to their politicians.

David Herdson


On a uniform swing Nicky Morgan’s Loughborough goes LAB even if CON win most votes nationally

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Ladbrokes make it LAB 10/11 and CON 10/11

The above table is based on the Electoral Calculus projection of what happens on national vote shares of CON 36, LAB 35.6, LD, 12, UKIP 9.

The seat highlighted is Nicky Morgan’s Loughborough which as can be seen would go LAB even though EdM’s party would be behind on national vote share. This would be the 316th LAB seat leaving the party ten short of an overall majority.

Morgan, who yesterday took over Michael Gove’s job as Secretary of State at Education, is the Tory cabinet minister who is most vulnerable at the election. Her seat is so on the margin that currently Ladbrokes have both CON and LAB as 10/11 joint favourites.

My purpose is to highlight the challenge facing the Tories because of the way the electoral system works. If by any chance the above national vote shares happened and the swing was the same in every seat LAB would come out with 28 more MPs than the Tories.

    In fact the Tories would still be losing seats to LAB even if they had a 6% national vote lead.

A part of this is down to the boundaries but not that much. The main reasons why the system appears to work so much in favour of the red team are much lower turnout levels in heartland seats and that the party finds it much harder to get its vote out in constituencies where the result is a foregone conclusion.

All of this can be upset by incumbents, particularly first time ones like Morgan, performing better than the national swing. Tory supporters shouldn’t rely too much on that. Some of the Ashcroft polling has shown that there is disproportionate LD-LAB switching in key battlegrounds.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Extraordinary. Gove was killed by Lynton Crosby’s private polling of teachers

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

This matches YouGov polling pre-GE2010 and 2014


Why Blairites like John Rentoul have got to stop looking at GE2015 through the prism of 1997

Monday, July 14th, 2014

It’s a totally different election with very different dynamics

There’s no doubt that Tony Blair’s GE1997 victory, coming as it did after four election defeats over the previous 18 years, was a stunning success. Blair did it by reinventing his party so it would appeal to large swaithes of voters who never before had done anything other than vote Tory.

But because that result was so good for the party doesn’t mean that the Blair approach is the only one that will work for the Red team or that it is even possible now. Take this from the Blair biographer and ongoing Blair enthusiast, John Rentoul in yesterday’s Indy on Sunday:-

“My view, and this cannot be based on opinion polls, is that when the voters come to choose they will shy away from the prospect of Miliband as prime minister, just as they shied away from Neil Kinnock in 1992.”

I’d suggest that it is very dangerous to ignore the numbers, as Rentoul is suggesting, and base analysis on gut feelings, anecdote, or previous positions.

In 1997 the Blair challenge was to attract 1992 CON voters. At the coming general election all the polling points to very little switching between 2010 CON and 2010 LAB. The main movement has been the big post-coalition shift of 2010 LD voters to LAB and the biggest priority for the red team is to retain them in the key marginals.

That’s still holding up and notice from the table above how this key segment views Mr. Miliband. This is a view of Ed that has been seen in mega-polls whenever the sub-sample of switchers has been shown.

Would Rentoul’s choice for LAB leader, David Miliband, have had anything like this level of appeal to the voters that matter?

Mike Smithson

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