Two new polls

Two new polls this weekend have caused less of a stir than last week’s ICM poll but are actually rather more interesting.

Scotland on Sunday cover a Scottish Opinion poll on voting intention for the Scottish Parliament elections next year, which has the SNP ahead on 33% to Labour’s 29%, the Lib Dems on 19%, Tories 10%, Greens 5% and SSP 2% – though it did not distinguish between the constituency and list votes, which is important.

The poll clearly shows a surge for the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens on the 2003 results, at the expense of Labour, the Tories and SSP. Most polls proved over-generous to Labour last time, though 42% of people are undecided and opinion was volatile in 2003, so Alex Salmond’s claim to be planning his first days in office is a little premature.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an SNP administration should concentrate minds, not least that of Blair as he ponders departure.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported on their latest YouGov tracker poll, which like MORI shows Labour on 31% but unlike them has the Tories and Lib Dems unchanged on 38 and 31 points respectively, with the defecting Labour supporters switching to minor parties instead.

Anthony King suggests that YouGov’s larger sample size makes it less liable to outlying results than MORI.

The Telegraph‘s claim that voters prefer Cameron to Brown as PM 43-36 is, however, not strictly accurate. The question asked was actually a “forced choice” question – would you prefer Labour under Brown, or the Tories under Cameron, with no other option.

Cameron’s lead is consistent with previous polling on this question, but actually on the “best PM” question, Cameron has only a 2 point lead over Blair and in other polls is usually behind Brown. Blair’s approval rating has plummeted, but Cameron has yet to reap the benefit directly on this question.

Perhaps more damaging for Brown is the steady decline in economic confidence, which does seem to back up some of ICM’s findings.

YouGov have also published aggregate data – findings of all their polls over six months, giving a sample large enough to give a statistically reliable breakdown by region, gender, etc.

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5 Responses to Two new polls

  1. fairdealphil says:

    In the eighties and nineties, Labour was consistently 20 points ahead of the Tories in every poll except the one that mattered.

    Let’s not be complacent, but let’s not panic either….

  2. Matthew says:

    I think you are right Phil – the election is very much ours to lose and the Tories being a few points ahead shouldnt worry us. It is a wake up call for activists to get active locally though – and for the govt to start taking the needs of footsoldiers a bit more seriously (by delivering on the 8 days extra holiday we went round promising in the last election for example!)

  3. Al says:

    To give some sense of perspective… throughout the following, the second figure is always the PR list vote…

    Private (Labour IIRC) polls leaked to the Sunday Times back in May: Lab 30%/27%, SNP 29%/26%, LDem 19%/21%, Con 15%/14%

    A poll by (I think) Mori in June… SNP 30%/28%, Labour 28%/26%, LDems 19%/19%, Con 15%/16%, Grn (PR vote only) 6%.

    In other words the only recent change has been an apparent swing from the Tories to the SNP. Do note that the SNP tends to do worse in actually elections than in polls, while (in Scotland for sure) the opposite is the case for the Tories.

    Basically, it’s neck and neck and has been for months. Which is bad enough in itself.

  4. The topline VI figures get all the headlines (which usually wildly exaggerate) but they’re often the least useful thing in polls.

    I noticed that Andrew Rawnsley was the latest pundit to wrongly state that Labour was at a 19-year low in the polls – as I pointed out previously, we were at 31 points in ICM polls back in 2003 and still won the next election.

    The biggest difference now is probably that the Tories look more credible – but they’ve not got it in the bag. People are yet to be convinced by Cameron, but they’re leaning his way at the moment and we have to work out how to turn that round.

  5. The Scottish polls, of course, are rather more urgent with the elections there less than a year away. Last time round System 3 over-estimated both Labour and SNP votes in the constituency section, while MORI massively over-estimated Labour and the less so the SNP, while all the other parties were under-estimated.

    SO didn’t do any public polls then to my knowledge but I definitely don’t think we can assume that they’ve under-estimated our support.

    However, probably the most interesting thing about that SO poll was the 42% don’t knows. That seems a v high number and it may be that the people who have deserted Labour are now in limbo rather than defecting en masse, or it may be that the poll is an outlier – interesting comparison with the other polls you’ve posted above.

    The Scottish electorate seems pretty volatile – last time round we rallied in the polls during the short campaign, but that may have been due to a short-lived “Baghdad bounce”. We can do so again, but we better start thinking how.

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