After the most intensive polling week of the year the one thing that we haven’t got is clarity

December 19th, 2014

Following poor results for LAB from Ipsos-MORI & Lord Ashcroft YouGov ends the week with the party 5% ahead

Four and a half months from the big day

The week before Christmas is always an intensive one for polling as the monthly surveys all get concentrated into a few days. This has been added to this year by latest batch of marginals single seat surveys from Lord Ashcroft.

The big picture would not have been hard to deduce if it had not been for yesterday’s Ipsos-MORI CON 3% lead and the smaller swings to LAB coming from Lord Ashcroft. EdM could be feeling quite pleased.

    As it is we have a very mixed picture of polling snapshots with something for everyone provided they turn a blind eye to numbers they don’t like

The LDs are in a range of 6% from YouGov to 14% from ICM. The Greens saw 9% from Ipsos-MORI to 2% from ComRes online while LAB shares ranged from 29% with Ipsos-MORI to 35% in the latest YouGov.

We haven’t even got a methodology divide with the phone pollsters pointing one way and online another.

Still to come, and perhaps most important of all, is a Scottish poll. The monthly survey by Survation for the Daily Record is due and could tell us whether Scotland’s new LAB leader is going to help in coming months.

If pressed I’d probably say I still think LAB most seats but with a real possibility of the Tories coming top in national vote share.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Local By-Election Preview : December 18th 2014

December 18th, 2014

St. James on Kingston upon Thames (Con defence)

Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 28, Liberal Democrats 18, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 8)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,250, 1,188, 1,082
Liberal Democrats 729, 719, 696
Labour 598, 494, 485
United Kingdom Independence Party 386, 361
Green 212
British National Party 100
Trade Unionist and Socialist 34

Candidates duly nominated: Jack CHEETHAM (Con), Stephen DUNKLING (Lab), Alex NELSON (Green), Ben ROBERTS (UKIP), Annette WOOKEY (Lib Dem)

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Kingston (and all the other London boroughs) following the re-organisation of local government in the capital and as a result have become the longest lasting councils in the whole of the UK (having not been touched by the hand of various secretaries of state creating unitary authorities). Back in those first elections in 1964, the Conservatives won control of the council with a majority of 20 but it was not over the Liberals, it was over Labour as back in the mid 60′s the idea of the Liberals winning a seat on the council, let alone controlling the council, was just a mere pipe dream.

It was not until 1974 that the first Liberals were elected, but just four years later they had been defeated and when they came back in 1982 the Conservatives were still solidly in charge. However that all changed in 1986 when the Alliance came within 2% of winning the popular vote and within two of becoming the largest party as they forced the council into a state of No Overall Control for the first time in the council’s history and it stayed that way until 1994 when on a wave of anti Conservative support the Liberal Democrats polled 42% of the vote and won control of the council which lasted for a whole four years before the Conservatives topped the poll by two and forced the council back into NOC, only for the Lib Dems to win it back in 2002 and then hold it in 2006 and 2010 before finally losing control back to the Conservatives this year so will this been seen as a referendum on the first six months of Conservative control of Kingston since 1982 or will UKIP use it to prove that in Liberal Democrat / Conservative battlegrounds such as the Kingston and Surbiton constituency the ward lies in, UKIP will decide who wins.

Ollerton on Nottinghamshire (Lab defence)

Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 34, Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 8, Mansfield Independents 2, Independents 2 (Labour majority of 1)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Labour 1,603 (58%), Conservative 594 (22%), United Kingdom Independence Party 549 (20%)
Candidates duly nominated: Ben BRADLEY (Con), Colin HART (UKIP), Michael PRINGLE (Lab), Marylyn RAYNER (Lib Dem)

Nottinghamshire has for decades symbolised the dominance of Labour, you only have to look at some of the MP’s elected from the county to get an idea of this (Geoff Hoon from Ashfield, Paddy Tipping from Sherwood, John Mann in Bassetlaw, Vernon Coaker from Gedling) so it gives you an idea of the disaster that befell Labour in 2009 when, for the first time in it’s history, Nottinghamshire county went Conservative.

The Conservatives polled in that election 39% of the vote (+6% on 2005), Labour polled a miserly 25% (-10%), with all the other parties picking up the remainder and that 8% swing from Lab to Con saw the Conservatives pick up 10 seats and Labour lose 25 seats with the Liberal Democrats doubling their number of seats matching the Independents and allowing UKIP to win a seat.

So you can imagine what a huge relief it was to Ed Milliband that Nottingham was a Labour gain in 2013, and whilst there was a swing of 12% from Con to Lab the fact that UKIP gained some 16% as well gave everyone cause for concern so the question has to be can UKIP top off what has been an amazing year by winning another local by-election from Labour in a part of the world where (if the Euros were any indication) UKIP rule the roost.

Harry Hayfield

The by-elections tonight will be the last of 2014, but that does not mean I can now pack up shop until the New Year, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, I shall be reviewing the year in local by-elections and producing a Westminster forecast based on this year’s local by-elections


Farage joins the minus 20 leader dissatisfaction club

December 18th, 2014


Ipsos Mori sees the Tories retain their 3% lead

December 18th, 2014

Whilst the headline figures appear to be the same as last month for the Tories and Labour, what will delight the Tories is prior to the certainty to vote filter being applied, last month the Tories and Labour were tied, this month, the Tories lead by 4% .

Before the Tories get too excited, this poll sees them polling just over their 1997 nadir, and given Labour are polling close to their 2010 level, it could well be that the next general election is a case of the resistible force meeting a moveable object.

As noted yesterday, there’s been a fall in economic optimism, but unlike ICM the Tories haven’t seen their vote share fall. I suspect the the real polling position is a Labour lead of somewhere between zero and two percent, and the ICM and Ipsos-Mori polls are the outliers at both ends of the spectrum.

Of the three phone polls this week, have had the Greens on 2%, 5% and 9%. Sometimes this political betting game can be quite difficult when we have such variance.


For me the most interesting polling find from this is Nigel Farage’s ratings have a fallen by a net 14 points in a month, it could be the negative publicity UKIP have experienced over the those vying to be the UKIP candidate in Basildon and the debate over his comments on public breastfeeding. To put this fall into context, David Cameron’s ratings fell by 15 points in the immediate aftermath of the revelations about Milly Dowler’s voicemail.

Often a significant fall or rise leader’s ratings can be a harbinger for that party’s VI further down the line. We will have to wait until the New Year to see if this is merely a blip or a trend. But before Kippers get too despondent, Farage is still the best performing party leader (or technically speaking, the least worst) Labour supporters will be happy to see their man is ahead of Nick Clegg this month.



The latest Lord Ashcroft marginals poll is out

December 18th, 2014

The latest round of Lord Ashcroft marginal polling is out. He says Two types of constituencies feature in my last round of marginals polling for 2014. First, the next tranche of seats the Conservatives are defending from Labour; second, a selection of seats where Labour may be under threat from UKIP. I have also returned to the solitary Green constituency, Brighton Pavilion.

I have just been on the phone to Mike, and his initial cursory thought that this is bad news for Labour, as the general trend is the Con to Lab swing in the marginals is getting smaller, as the below graph shows. Is this the famed swingback taking place?

Lord Ashcroft concurs with Mike’s assessment, he says “Moderate Tory cheer and a fright for Labour in my final marginals poll of 2014″ He adds though Unfortunately for the Tories my constituency polls have so far found Labour ahead in 39. However, some of the margins look very slim, not just over the Tories but over UKIP. Moreover, we have not yet looked in detail at Scottish constituencies, which could potentially change the equation dramatically. My fieldwork north of the border will begin in the New Year.

As ever, Lord Ashcroft reminds us, a poll is a snapshot and not a prediction.

Looking at the Lab held seats, the initial voting intention question makes good reading for UKIP, as they are ahead in 3 and tied in 1, however on the second question, Labour hold all four but not as comfortably as you’d expect the main opposition to do so. The 13.5% Lab to UKIP swing shows, as evidenced most memorably in Heywood and Middleton, UKIP can be a threat to Labour as well the Tories.

For the Greens, they are holding Brighton Pavillion, on the second question, quite comfortably, but losing on the first question. Overall the second quesiton should be a better predictor than the first question, as it refers to how you would vote in your own specific constituency.


The Ipsos-Mori phone poll is out, I plan to do a separate thread on that this afternoon.


What makes Jim Murphy so dangerous to the SNP is that for the first time in years LAB has a credible alternative First Minister

December 18th, 2014

Why I’ve now become an SNP seller

It is worth recapping why we are where we are in Scotland. Back in early 2011 it looked as though Scottish LAB was in a position to make a return to power in Holyrood ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections that May. At the start of the year all the polling had the party well ahead so that by the March, with only eight weeks to go, you could have got a bet on the SNP at odds longer than 3/1 that they’d win most MSPs.

Then at the start of April there was the first TV debate of the campaign and it was totally apparent that the then SLAB leader was simply not a credible alternative to Alex Salmond who was then running a minority government.

Suddenly the election became one of leadership not of parties – a recent precedent that should cause Ed Miliband and his team some concern.

As we got closer to polling day LAB and the other parties faded while the SNP rose and in the election the party was returned with an overall majority. It was that election victory that paved the way for the referendum.

It is into that context that Murphy comes into the picture. He did himself a power of good during the IndyRef campaign being seen as someone ready to take on the Nats. His controversial tour that attracted do much attention and protest from YES campaigners helped build up his profile.

Since the referendum on September 18th the SNP threat to the unionist community has never appeared so great and for the first couple of months LAB appeared impotent. Now that has changed.

A key part of Murphy’s approach in the coming weeks will be to galvanise pro-union tactical voting which could just help LAB save some seats.

GE2015 in Scotland is starting to look totally different and I’ve had a punt that the SNP will fall short of 21. They currently have 6 Westminster seats.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


There’s an inexorable feeling that the next election will be just like 1992

December 17th, 2014

Will the next US Presidential election could well be Bush v Clinton, again?

The big news in last day was this tweet

Back in February I advised backing him as Republican Party Nominee at 10/1, he is now trading as low as 9/4 right now.

A poll for NBC/WSJ found that

Just 31% of all voters say they could see themselves supporting [Jeb Bush] for president, while 57% say they can’t. He’s more popular among Republicans (55% support, 34% can’t support), which is the second-best GOP score in the poll behind Mitt Romney. But he fares worse among Democrats (9%-79%) and, more importantly, independents (34%-52%). These numbers follow our Nov. 2014 NBC/WSJ poll, which found Bush’s fav/unfav rating at a net-negative 26%-33%.

The same poll however found

A whopping 71% of American voters want the next president to take a different approach than Obama’s; Clinton served as his first-term secretary of state. And by 40% to 38%, voters prefer a Republican to win the White House in 2016 instead of a Democrat. “This is an electorate –by a large margin — looking for change,”

The betting markets would seem to indicate that the 2016 Presidential Election will be Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton. I think if it is those two, the sheer emotive ability of their surnames will galvanise their opponents and that probably favours Hillary Clinton, if those Dems who voted for Obama are thinking of not voting.

I’m expecting the Democratic Party Candidate to still win, because of the demographic changes that don’t favour the Republican Party, but the Republican Party’s chances of winning the White House in 2016 are enhanced, because if they have any hope of winning the White House, they need to take Florida and her twenty nine electoral college votes, and having the former two time Governor of Florida as your candidate should help.

The odds on the US Presidential election are available here



Guardian ICM phone poll sees the Tories down 3 and the Lib Dems up 3

December 17th, 2014

The Tories are down to their lowest share of the vote since May 2013 with ICM But the Lib Dems will be delighted as ICM is the third pollster this week to have them in double digits, two of them being phone pollsters.

But did George Osborne’s Autumn Statement contribute to the Tory slump?

The fieldwork for the ICM poll was the 12th to the 16th of December.

Meanwhile Ipsos-Mori finds that economic optimism is the lowest since July 2013