Archive for the 'Pollsters/polling' Category


YouGov polling on the reasons LAB voters from last May who’ve now switched give for their change.

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Survey Report

This is how it looks in a word cloud

Cqe1US3XgAA20Gl (1)


The polls might still be overstating Labour

Saturday, August 20th, 2016


Disillusionment and disengagement rather than defection is the danger

The Ipsos-Mori poll this week contained a paradox. On the one hand, Labour’s headline voting intention share was 34%, some way up on their General Election performance. On the other, Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings were awful. His overall score of -34 was bad enough but his net rating with Labour’s own voters, at -7%, was considerably lower than Theresa May’s approval rating of some +16% with those same voters. In fact his true overall rating may be even worse: 13% of Conservatives stated they were satisfied with how Corbyn was doing his job, which is not necessarily an endorsement of his effectiveness in leading Labour. What’s going on?

The simple answer to that is that Mori report Labour to be picking up support from the Lib Dems and UKIP faster than they’re shedding it. The increased Tory lead is the consequence of a better retention rate of 2015 voters (though both are high: Con leads with 94% to Labour’s 90% among the sample that generates the headline figure), and the Tories gaining former UKIP and Lib Dem voters even faster than Labour.

The Conservative figure I can understand. A new leader is in place and against the divisions or irrelevance of her opponents and the tarnished reputation of her predecessor, she is being bathed in a very favourable light. That won’t last but for now she can enjoy her honeymoon with the public.

The Labour score makes a lot less sense and we ought to interrogate it far more closely.

Mori do apply a turnout filter – only those who say they are 9/10 or 10/10 to vote are counted – but I’d question whether even that is tough enough. The public invariably overestimates their willingness to cast a vote. There are some technical reasons for why a 100% turnout is impossible such as double-registration of students studying away from home but these aren’t sufficient to account for the difference between the actual turnout and those the polls suggest would happen.

Mori report almost 70% as ‘certain’ to vote, 75% as 9+ out of 10 (the base they use for their headline figures), and 80% as 8+. By contrast, the last general election achieved only a 66% turnout and that was the best this century. It is true that the EURef generated a 72% turnout but it would be foolhardy to read that across to a general election, where different factors are in play and where the result that each vote contributes to is in many cases much less in doubt than the referendum was.

And Labour voters above all have a history of not turning out. The ten lowest turnouts in the 2015 election outside of N Ireland were all in seats won comfortably by Labour. If they were the only place that a discrepancy between anticipated and actual voting took place, it wouldn’t matter. They’re not.

For all the attempts to rework methodology over the years, polls seem to retain an enduringly stubborn bias to Labour when it matters. To answer why that is is to seek the holy grail of polling but one factor I suspect is at play is that those with a broad inclination to Labour are disproportionately more likely to say that they’ll vote and then not follow up on that claim than their Tory equivalents.

Were it only in safe seats that the phenomenon displayed itself then it wouldn’t matter for the outcome. A seat won on a 40% turnout is worth the same as one won on double that. However, that’s probably not the case. Seats are not homogenous throughout and the key marginals will contain strong Labour and strong Tory areas; areas which in local elections exhibit a similar trend of differential turnout are likely to carry their habits of voting or not voting into a General Election.

Similarly, we know that Labour’s support is skewed to the young and the Tories’ to the elderly, and we also know which group is far more likely to actually cast their ballot papers. The polls should be correcting for this but if the polls are wrong about intended turnout – and they invariably are – then they may not be correcting enough.

To some extent we shouldn’t make a general case out of the Mori poll. The 34% they reported was well above the level that other pollsters have found (generally, a couple of points either side of 30% for the last two months; ICM recorded a 28% Labour share this week), but the general question still applies: is it really credible that a party with a leader that is viewed so poorly across the board, and particularly by those who say they’d vote for it, would really poll at or above the level they achieved in the 2015 election?

The evidence from real elections is mixed. The results from both May and from local by-elections point to churn rather than any consistent movement to or from Labour – which might suggest that they should be at least at their 2015GE share. However, William Hague’s Conservatives also recorded good interim election results in 1998-2001 which flattered to deceive when it mattered (although Hague’s Tories were so far behind in the national polls that they weren’t so much out of sight as lapped).

Successful prediction is the art of sifting useful evidence away from that which misleads. Which of today’s evidence is misleading us? My guess is that it’s the Labour retention figures; that were they asked to, far fewer of those inclined to Labour but who aren’t satisfied with Corbyn would turn out than say they would at a time when the government of the country was at stake. And unless Labour can sort out its leadership problem or the pollsters can sort out their problems with their intention to vote figures, that structural error is likely to remain.

David Herdson


Making sense of this week’s UK and US polling – the PB/Polling Matters TV Show

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Hardly a day’s gone by without some new UK poll much of it focused on the new PM and, of course, the Smth-Corbyn battle for the Labour leadership. On top of that WH2016 gets closer and the question is being asked of whether a Hillary Clinton is now inevitable.

Discussing this with Keiran Pedley is pollster Rob Vance and polling analyst Leo Barasi.

On this week’s podcast the team continue the new format of the show. Each guest picks a polling topic to talk about and the group discuss it. Topics covered include whether victories for Theresa May and Hilary Clinton are inevitable. Also discussed what the new PB/YouGov poll on the public’s favourability towards different parties and politicians tells us about UK politics. The PB/Polling Matters team also discusses a recent YouGov poll showing Margaret Thatcher as Britain’s most popular Prime Minister since she took office and what that tells us about the future of British politics.

You can follow Keiran @KeiranPedley, Leo at @leobarasi and Rob @RobVance.

The audio version is here available below



Introducing the PB/YouGov Favourability Ratings – a new development by the site

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

First survey has Corbyn ahead of Trump, Putin AND Cameron

As many will know I am a great fan of leader ratings which I believe are a better pointer to political outcomes than voting intention numbers. There are several different formats. Ipsos-MORI ask about “satisfaction”, Opinium goes for straight approval number while the standard YouGov question is asking the sample whether those named are doing well or badly.

The format I like best and the one which the standard in the US is favourability which I have been encouraging UK pollsters to adopt over the past few years. ComRes does them intermittently and occasionally Survation and Opinium have asked questions in this form but that’s about it. My view is that we need standardised favourability questions asked at regular intervals so we can make comparisons.

So I am delighted to announce that under an arrangement between PB and YouGov we will be able to have these on a regular basis and we will cover organisations like political parties as well. The net numbers from the first set are in the chart above.

One of the comparisons that is very striking is to look at responses based on EURef vote as in the table below. REMAIN and LEAVE voters have such a totally different view of the world.

The full data set from the poll should be published on the YouGov site later today.

Mike Smithson


New ComRes Indy/S Mirror poll finds Corbyn a staggering 46% behind Theresa May on net favourability

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Com (1)

As the table shows May is a net plus 18% while Corbyn a net minus 28%.

  • 80% of Conservative voters are favourable towards Theresa May, compared to 60% who are favourable towards David Cameron and 55% who are favourable towards Boris Johnson.
  • · 43% of 2015 Labour voters are favourable towards Jeremy Corbyn, compared to 30% who are unfavourable towards him. 17% are favourable towards Owen Smith, against 25% who are unfavourable towards him.
  • · With 76% of Britons unfavourable towards Donald Trump, this makes him more unpopular than Vladimir Putin, of whom 55% were unfavourable towards in November 2015.
  • com (1)

    Mike Smithson


    LAB only 7% behind according to YouGov but another, from TNS, has the gap at 13%

    Thursday, August 11th, 2016

    may corbyn

    And more dreadful rating numbers for the embattled LAB leader

    With the ballots due to go out in the LAB leadership contest in two and a bit weeks every new poll is going to be looked at in the context of its impact on the race.

    The main case against Mr. Corbyn is that outside his group of wildly enthusiastic supporters he looks like an election loser. If the party is to have any chance at all, his detractors argue, then he has to be replaced.

    There is a little bit of comfort for Team Corbyn in one of the the two new polls out today. YouGov have it as

    CON 38% (-4)
    LAB 31% (+3)
    LD 8% (-)
    UKIP 13% (+1)
    OTH 11% (+1)

    CON 39%
    LAB 26%
    UKIP 11%
    LD 10%
    GRN 7%

    But that was not all as the following Tweets set out. But TNS published another poll with a very different picture with various findings which are directly about the Labour leader who less than two month ago lost a confidence motion when 80% of his MPs voted again him.

    Mike Smithson


    At the end of April YouGov had Corbyn beating Theresa May by 7% on its “best PM” ratings?

    Monday, August 8th, 2016

    How Britain’s politics have totally changed

    Back at the end of April when the Tories were totally split on the referendum YouGov tested how Corbyn did in its “best PM” polling against Cameron and a number of possible other contenders for the Tory leadership.

    The LAB leader trailed the then PM by just 7% and was only 5% behind Boris. Perhaps not remarkably he had a 13% lead over Osborne and what’s interesting now is in the chart – Corbyn had a 7% lead over the the then home secretary Theresa May.

    Now the new Prime Minister has a 34% lead over the current leader of LAB party.

    The contrast between the two polls highlights the weakness of such comparative polling and how important incumbency is on this question.

    It also shows the dramatic change that we’ve seen in British politics in just a quarter of a year. As well as that, I’d suggest, it demonstrates the opportunity that LAB had in the spring when the Tories were so weak because of the BREXIT vote. Corbyn played the referendum badly and the rest is history.

    Mike Smithson


    Hillary Clinton appears to be doing much better in polls conducted with live interviews

    Friday, August 5th, 2016

    “Shy Trump” supporters – possibly?

    Above is the national WH2016 polling for the past ten days. Clinton’s ahead in all but notice the big difference between those surveys which were conducted by live interviewers over the phone and those which used the internet or automated phone calls to get responses.

    The trend is clear. Hillary does much better when those sampled are talking to a real person. When that’s not how the poll was conducted we see a different picture.

    Given the massive negative media coverage that Trump is getting at the moment I wonder whether his supporters are a little bit less likely to volunteer their view to a live person rather than the anonymity of a computer based system.

    In broad terms we saw a similar picture in the BREXIT polling. LEAVE was invariably doing better in online surveys, REMAIN with phone interviews.

    It has long been argued that the interviewer effect can play a part. People might be less likely to reveal their real views to a real person.

    Mike Smithson