Archive for October, 2013


LAB spinners pull off the old “it’s a private poll” ruse

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

There’s been a bit of a flurry after a piece on the Speccie Coffee House blog about the “private polling behind Labour’s energy bill swagger”.

There’s nothing it seems, that journos like more than being given sight of “private polling”. Suddenly something that might be run of the mill has that extra dimension to it and it is more likely to get covered.

For over the past month there have been any number of polls on Labour’s energy price freeze plan. The findings were that most people support in the same way that they like Christmas presents – who wouldn’t?

But there have been differing polling views on whether the public thinks it’s workable and a lot depends on how the questioning is structured. This is how the LAB private YouGov poll worded it:-

The Conservatives have attacked Labour’s plan to freeze energy prices for 20 months as unworkable. Which one of these do you think is their main reason for saying this?

    15% responded The Conservatives genuinely believe that freezing prices is unworkable and there is no way they could force the energy companies tofreeze bills even if they were determined to do so.

    31% responded The Conservatives are taking the side of the energy companies who don’t want to do anything that could cut their profits

    20% responded The Conservatives are not taking sides, but think it is better for prices to be determined by market forces rather than set by the government

    20% responded The Conservatives are just attacking Labour’s
    policy because it’s not their idea

Is it any wonder that they wanted this in the public domain?

Mike Smithson

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Looking at the trend in YouGov polls since mid-Sept it does seem that LAB has had 2-3 pc boost

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

A year ago the party was in the 42%-44% range

The two great rules of polling analysis are focus on party shares not leads and always look at the trend.

This is what I’ve tried to do in the above chart focusing on the LAB share since Miliband’s conference speech pledge on energy prices. This has driven the political narrative since.

As can be seen from nearly seven weeks of polling LAB has edged up and a boost of 2-3% is being sustained. It should be said that in the period before the party had been very much under pressure and the trend had been downwards.

But before the red team gets too excited they should look at what was happening exactly a year ago.

    Throughout October 2012 LAB was never out of the 40s – in fact its lowest share was 41%. So there has been a decline which has mostly been down to seepage to UKIP.

Next week we will be just a year and a half from GE2015. There is still plenty of time for events to intervene and things to change.

Mike Smithson

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CON drop 5 in latest ComRes phone survey to equal the party’s lowest point ever point in this polling series

Monday, October 28th, 2013

But what’s behind the 5% increase for others?

The latest ComRes phone poll for the Indy out and sees a big drop in the CON share to equal its lowest ever share with the firm. At the same time we see OTH increase from 8% in September to 13% now.

This seems remarkable and like all big changes it might well be an outlier. We need to wait for other polls before coming to the conclusion that the Tories really are on the decline.

I am writing before seeing the detailed data and there might be something in that big move up for OTH.

There’s good news for the Tories on the economy. Asked whether they trusted Dave & George to make the right decisions about the economy, 33% agreed (up from 29 in March). Asked whether they trusted the Two Eds make the right decisions about the economy, 25% agreed (up from 22% in March).

NOTE: ComRes phone polls are presented as a totally separate series from ComRes online. It is only one of three phone pollsters that remain.

Mike Smithson

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Marf on a windy day and LAB still struggling to win CON converts

Monday, October 28th, 2013

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The chart shows the broad make-up of the current LAB vote according to today’s poll. Although there is the normal variation from pollster to pollster and poll to poll the big picture is the same – very few CON voters from last time have moved into the LAB camp.

Looking back at previous elections where the main opposition party has seen a substantial increase in support from the previous election a large component has been CON>LAB and LAB>CON switching. That is simply not happening this time and if it wasn’t for the seepage of CON votes to UKIP things would look a lot more competitive.

The consolation for for EdM in all of this is that he still retains the 2010 LD switchers.

Mike Smithson

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Questions on satisfaction with your own MP should become a regular part of polling

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Our vote is not for a party or PM but for an individual MP

A key aspect of UK elections that seems to get sidelined is the nature of what we are actually doing when we vote at general elections. We are not, except in the EU parliament elections, voting for a specific party and we are not voting for a Prime Minister.

Our choice is for an individual to represent us at Westminster and to many voters that, as we have seen, can override party choice. Increasingly parties are making the personality and strengths of those selected a key part of the ground campaign which can make a difference in tight seats.

    What I find interesting about the Nottingham University/YouGov polling above is the very great gap between views of MPs generally and “your own MP”. The local factor is important.

I’ve made this point before here but we talk about leader ratings all the time but, apart from this polling for an academic project, the MP element seems to get totally ignored.

The size of parliamentary constituencies and the sheer cost and effort required for a seat specific poll mean that we are never going to see much local polling. But we can get a generic picture using the questions featured here.

Given, for instance, that so many blue hopes are resting on the “first time incumbency bonus” in the seats won last time then generic findings like those above are very useful.

It would also help us when betting on specific seats. Richard Nibavi had a guest slot last week on the mismatch between overall GE2015 outcome betting and the constituency prices. Maybe perceptions like the ones above are a factor.

Mike Smithson


Calling all PB Football Fans!

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Hello PB’ers,


This is Robert, Mike’s son and the technical administrator for the site. I’d just like to use the site as an advertisement for a business I’m involved in, Crowdscores. The idea is simple: crowdsourced football scores. Fans watching games record goals, and the like, and this means that we have the fastest football scores around. (We also have a nice line in fan generated commentary.)

Currently, we do Premiership, SPL, and European games. But this idea is perfectly scalable, and I think the real opportunity lies in getting live score data (and more) on leagues that are simply too small to be covered by the traditional media, the Press Association and the like.

To celebrate leaving closed beta two weeks ago, we’re having a little competition – sign up, report goals, full-time, etc., and win a football shirt for the team of your choice. We’ll be rolling out additional prizes, on a club-by-club basis, for the most accurate scorer, the fastest, and the like, as well as for people who write the best commentary.

So go on, while you’re watching football – either at the stadium or on TV – help us get the freshest and most accurate scorelines. And, while you’re at it, contribute to the commentary too.

Please: go to Crowdscores and give it a try.

Thanks, Robert


The Miliband energy price freeze might not have produced better voting numbers but it continues to poll well

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Today’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has LAB lead at 6
Con 33%
Lab 39%
LD 9%
UKIP 12%

  • By 73% to 19% YouGov finds backing for special profits tax on energy firms to help elderly with their bills

  • h1

    Tories get closer in Mail on Sunday Survation poll

    Saturday, October 26th, 2013

    60% back the abolition of green taxes

    By 60% to 18% those in the poll said they opposed when asked this question: “At the moment the average annual household energy bill includes £128 in “green taxes”, used to subsidise items such as wind farms, and other government measures. By 2020, this figure will be around £270 Do you support or oppose the existence of these charges?”

    Just 25% told the firm that Cameron was rolling back green taxes because he was worried about families facing high energy bills. 43% said the move came because he was worried about popularity of EdM’s price freeze and 17% because of John Major’s intervention.

    By 61% to 11% those sampled said they supported the Cameron’s move.

    54% of those sampled said they thought that the EdM price cap would not work because the energy firms would raise prices before and after.

    47% in the poll rejected David Cameron’s description of EdM’s plan as a “con” – 34% said it was.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news