BludgerTrack UK: CON 43.0, LAB 38.0, LD 7.4, UKIP 4.1

Analysis of British election polling, and lots of of it.

With four days left to go, my trend measure of British opinion polls finds the gap continuing to narrow, with the Conservatives down 0.9% since last week to 43.0%, Labour up 2.6% to 38.0%, the Liberal Democrats down 0.5% to 7.4%, and Ukip up 0.1% to 4.1%. The Conservative lead of 5.0% is 1.5% less than the 2015 result, a swing that would give Labour a net gain of 10 seats from the Conservatives in England and Wales if uniform.

Then there’s Scotland, where a separately conducted poll trend calculation produces results of Scottish National Party 42.7% (down 7.3% on the 2015 election), Conservative 27.2% (up 12.3%), Labour 19.3% (down 5.0%) and Liberal Democrats 5.8% (down 1.7%). However, the error bars here are rather wide — most of the data points are small sample breakdowns from national polls, with the most recent Scotland-specific poll, from Ipsos-MORI a week ago, having Labour and the Conservatives level on 25%. For what it’s worth though, crudely applying these swings to the 2015 vote shares results in the SNP dropping eight of their 56 seats, with seven going to the Conservatives and one to the Liberal Democrats.

All told, that suggests a result of 327 seats for the Conservatives, down from 330 at the 2015 election, and 242 for Labour, up from 232, out of a total of 650 — assuming no change to the Liberal Democrats’ seven seats in England and Wales, and making no effort to account for the 18 seats in Northern Ireland.

As I discusssed at length in Crikey on Friday, the more interesting story to emerge from the polling is the disparity between voting intention of younger and older respondents, such that pollsters’ findings are heavily dependent on the relative weightings they apply to them. This is demonstrated in the chart below, which records Labour’s gain among respondents aged 18-34 has been twice as great at among those aged 55 and over, from a base that was already remarkably wide to start off with.

Age loomed large in the polling industry’s failure at the 2015 election, with Anthony Wells of YouGov and UK Polling Report observing that the single biggest issue was that pollsters surveyed “too many younger people who were too engaged and too interested in politics”. Broadly speaking, one of the approaches to dealing with this issue has been to construct turnout models based more on the age and class structure of the voting population at the 2015 election, as recorded by post-election surveys — and it is these pollsters who have recorded the strongest results for the Conservatives.

ComRes, ICM and Kantar have followed this pattern throughout the campaign, while Panelbase has done so since a methodology change that has applied to the latest two out of their six campaign polls. The effect in each case has been to downweight younger respondents, and hence support for Labour. If Labour’s hope of a turnout surge among younger voters is borne out, these polls will no doubt be found wanting.

Indeed, various other methodological adjustments by these pollsters appear to be producing a turnout population that is somewhat older than that in 2015 (see table below). In the case of ICM, which is weighting by self-identified political interest levels, one recent poll was calculated by Wells as producing a Conservative lead eight points greater than would have been the case using the pollsters’ 2015 models.

Survation, which famously produced an accurate result on the eve of the 2015 election but shied away from publishing it, has not made any radical changes to its methodology, which continues to rely heavily on self-identification for turnout. Its age structure has varied considerably from poll to poll, but overall it has projected stronger turnout among the young than in 2015, and has accordingly produced strong results for Labour.

ORB appears to be splitting the difference between self-identification and turnout by age and education as recorded in 2015, and has produced the strongest results of all for Labour — albeit that this is heavily influenced by one outlier result in late April, when it recorded a Conservative lead of a mere 11%, as opposed to the trend measure of 19.6% at that time.

YouGov has received considerable attention for its strong results for Labour late in the campaign, but it has only been since mid-May that any such lean has been evident. This pollster has sought to redress the failings of 2015 by weighting by self-identified political interest level and education qualification, again with the aim of matching their results to post-election surveys. Its age model makes it hard to compare with other pollsters, since it uniquely breaks the middle groupings into 25-49 and 50-64 cohorts. However, its modelled turnout population looks more like the population at large than turnout in 2015.

Another big-name pollster, Ipsos MORI, has persisted with weighting by self-identified likelihood of voting, and accordingly has a young turnout model as compared with the 2015 election. However, this has not translated into particularly strong results for Labour, albeit that it has only published three results in the course of the campaign. The pollster has sought to address the industry-wide problem with over-representing the heavily engaged by weighting by education and newspaper readership, and using a range of indicators to exclude potential non-voters.

Opinium has been an odd man out in that its age breakdowns resemble those of ComRes, ICM and Kantar, but it has not produced correspondingly strong results for the Conservatives. Whereas the latter pollsters have purposefully weighted to a specific age model, Opinium appears to have achieved a similar effect through weighting to reported vote in 2015.

For further illumination on these matters, the following table shows how much weight each pollster has given to its various age cohorts, using averages of their polling over the campaign period. The final column is an averaged measure of how much the pollsters’ recorded Conservative leads have differed from the trend measure.

And finally, self-explanatory trend charts with the Conservatives shown as blue, Labour as red, Ukip as purple, the Liberal Democrats as gold, and the Scottish Nationalist Party as teal.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

118 comments on “BludgerTrack UK: CON 43.0, LAB 38.0, LD 7.4, UKIP 4.1”

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  1. I’m going to stick my neck out & say Corbyn is going to come home like a steam train. There is a huge groundswell since yesterday’s attack. The clip of the police officer calling the Tories liars is doing enormous damage. Theresa May is doing enormous damage to herself & I can’t see how she can survive. Not debating was foolish. Their policies are being exposed as enormously damaging to the country.
    On the other side of the ledger Corbyn hasn’t put a foot wrong. He goes from strength to strength. He’s standing tall.
    I hope he wins. He deserves to.

  2. If it comes down ti Northern Ireland the results are highly predictable:
    Unionist of various stripes = 10 seats – historically Tory
    SDLP = 3 seats – are a Labour party
    SF = 5 seats – will abstain
    This will be enough to get the Tories over the line

  3. Saying “enough is enough” is hardly Churchillian. It’s what you say when your kids won’t do what their told and you’ve run out of ideas.

  4. Silent – if an incumbent PM can’t turn this into a Khaki election, she is absolutely hopeless. The big problem for Theresa May is that yes, she is absolutely hopeless.

  5. Anton
    Yes you can hardly imagine Churchill saying “enough is enough with this Anschluss. I won’t mention anyone by name, but there is a European leader I am cross with”.

    May is like Abbott – an opposer and political opportunist, but a builder of nothing.

  6. It beggars belief that Labor is not streets ahead. May is a hopeless campaigner. The Tories are riven by disunity. The have cocked up their policies. As for Brexit… which is what this election is supposed to be about… don’t mention the war. All significant economic indicators are going backwards. The election is unnecessary.
    And still Corbyn is losing!
    Chap’s a doctrinaire dinosaur.

  7. I can see justifications for using 2015 turnout % and ignoring self reported compeltely, but this is ridiculous.

    Most pollsters are predicting lower youth turnout and higher elderly turnout than 2015, despite the fact that self reported youth turnout is higher than it was before 2015.

    That is going to leave a lot of red faced pollsters come election day.

  8. Gary
    Monday, June 5, 2017 at 11:11 am
    Hey Rex, use your own nom de plume, not Boerwar’s.

    My thought too Gary. It’s almost a replica of the type of argument Rex bores us with day after day regarding Shorten.

  9. Anything less than a major landslide for May is a lost for May, considering how far ahead the Conservatives were at the start of the campaign.

    If Labour doesn’t win, I’m happy to see May in minority government territory and go through the turmoil of herding cats.

  10. @Anton

    “Enough is enough” is a truly terrible sound-bite. Was enough not enough before? Were the Tories waiting for just the right amount of terrorism to take place before really doing something about it? It’s only now that they’ve had enough? So the Manchester bombing was fine, but now the terrorists have really crossed the line? May should be mocked mercilessly for saying this.

  11. Well, a Telegraph poll published in our local West is in no doubt that the Tories will win – this being the UK Telegraph and, of course, completely Tory in its outlook – with the comment that there has been a surge back to the Conservatives away from Labour in the last 2-3 days…………….I think they put a couple of percent on to the Tories to take them to 43% or thereabouts and about the same off Labour taking them down to the mid-30s. Whether the Telegraph has this poll to encourage the troops or how accurate it is against William’s comprehensive approach will be shown in the next few says.
    My understanding is such is the uncertainty of all the UK polls that any result from a Tory landslide, through hung parliament to a Labour victory are all possible. I guess this is the curse of a fragmented Kingdom and FPTP voting……….

  12. And another factor, Tricot. Non-compulsory voting.

    And something I’m not too familiar with: do voters have register for every election there, or do they have to only register the first time like it is here?

  13. @ raaraa – only have to register once, but if you move house, you have to reregister. So the number of people registering for each election does include some people that were registered last election.

  14. I reckon May will get 43 per cent or (quite likely) a bit better on the day and win fairly comfortably: most likely a swing of a handful of seats her way. But she will not achieve anything like the landslide result for which she had hoped when she decided to go early.

    It is largely her own fault for running such a poor campaign: why on earth would a Tory Party leader even think of highlighting a policy cutting assistance to the oldies? Corbyn, whatever one might think about him (and I’m no more of a fan than Boerwar), is a seasoned politician who has been around a lot longer than May and he has campaigned quite proficiently. The Tories should have expected this, but they got carried away with themselves. May became PM with the Stephen Bradbury strategy: ie, by running dead on Brexit during the referendum. She’s got some charisma (but not one-tenth of David Cameron’s), but she doesn’t really stand for anything in particular and is inclined to waffle in weasel words.

    I also reckon that the UKIP vote could be a fair bit higher than the polls are showing: a lot of voters thinking of voting for them are likely to be ashamed to own up to a pollster. And the events of the past two weeks surely might have swayed a few voters their way.

  15. Thank you William for that detailed and considered overview.

    It certainly appears that Labour has closed the gap considerably over the last few weeks, a narrowing that looks to have been stalled by the Manchester bombing, and presumably again by the events of the weekend. This leaves Labour 5-8 points behind the Tories, which is where I suspect it will end up on the day.

    Personally I’m sceptical of a reliance on increased turn-out among the young. Older people typically are much more reliable voters (maybe nothing else to do?), and as we all know, they skew Conservative.

    Labour really has no business being so competitive – they are beset by infighting, are led by a hitherto ineffective leader, and have credibility issues with the economy and national security. And yet here they are within spitting distance of pulling off a remarkable victory. Corbyn has had a strong campaign, and has been much more effective than I gave him credit for.

    However, the main reason, I think, is an astonishingly bad campaign by May and the Tories. It’s like the have bet themselves that they can alienate as many voters as they can and still win. Or maybe deep down they don’t want to deal with the fallout from Brexit. Whatever the reason, it is probably the worst campaign by a favourite incumbent that I have ever seen.

    So, prediction time. My best guess is that the Conservatives will be returned with a slightly increased majority, Labour’s vote share will go up, but they won’t win many new seats, and the Lib Dems and UKIP will flatline. Con: 338 seats (43%); Lab: 234 seats (34%); SDP: 48 seats; LD: 7 seats; NI: 18 seats; others (PC, Green): 5.

  16. All these polls tell us is just how un/dis-united/disjointed/fragmented the United Kingdom is at the moment – the provinces seeming to be going their own way, Hadrian’s Wall being a new reality, the ‘haves’ of the South-East being a different breed to the ‘have-nots’ of anyone living north of Birmingham, London a law unto itself from an economic point of view, the old, glued-on to the Tories, the young disenchanted but perhaps not enough to get out and vote and the Tories riddled with contradictions as is Labour at the moment.
    The election, supposedly called to give the PM a stronger hand for Brexit, seems to be a fading reality while the economy seems also to be in the doldrums.
    So, all in all, nothing very Great or United in the Old Dart at the moment.
    If the old Queen were to pass away in the near future then times would be interesting. The British always take as a virtue their ability to muddle through, but over the years ‘muddle through’ is all that is left after stuff up.
    The classic line from Fawltey Towers from one of the German guests was “How did they ever win the war?”…..which is also a puzzle to many, like me, who actually love the place.

  17. Prediction Time.

    The average turnout that pollsters are predicting is

    21.7% for youth, down from 22% at 2015 election.
    43.9% for old, up from 43% at the 2015 election.

    Trusting these pollsters gives WB a 5% gap between Tory and Labour.

    I can’t see youth turnout being below 2015 figures and oldth turnout being above 2015, not when we have Corbyn’s policies on education and May’s Dementia tax. Even using what I would say is worst case, of 2015 numbers, that would take a decent chunk off May’s lead, as the Tory gap is 30 points for old voters and -30 for young.

    So I would say the gap will be 4.5%, with potential for upside if Corbyn can improve youth turnout compared to 2015.

    With 6.5% gap, May only just squeaked over the line. While we will see some significant regional swings against the national swing, I don’t think May can get over the line to majority government with 4.5%, unless the Tories vote in Scotland is very concentrated into about 20 seats.

    My prediction is for minority government of some sort. Most likely Tories will be less than 20 seats away from minority, and end up with confidence in the Commons.

    Followed a week later by May resigning to spend more time with her family!

  18. To me, May has made a serious tactical error by deciding to have a premature election despite the Fixed term Parliaments Act being in place.

    The Tory leadership believed that they could run an election with the premise of an increased mandate to negotiate a better Brexit deal with the EU. However, IMO they did it because they saw that the polling suggests that Labour is languishing in the polls and that they could sent them to the wilderness for the next few elections.

    Even if the Conservatives can come back with an slightly increased majority, May already looks wounded by the way she ran the campaign. First it was the debacle with the “Dementia Tax” and later with a 2015 video of her addressing a Manchester police officer in which she dismissed him as scaremongering, when he highlighted that May as Interior Minister should not reduce police funding as it will possibly reduce the police into an “emergency service” level of response (i.e. they can only do ad-hoc responses to emergency calls, they no longer can do patrols or make any measures to prevent crime) and be unable to counter acts of terrorism. There were also some news reports of the Muslim community lodging calls to the terrorism hotline on the Manchester bomber being met with no response or callback.

    It also doesn’t help that ISIS, seemingly on their death throes in the Middle East, has decided to use the month of Ramadan to sent out commands to increase the attacks in the way that we’ve seen the last few weeks. Coincidentally, this fell during the same time as the election campaign. Admittedly, the Tory leadership couldn’t have anticipated this.

    In contrast, Labour despite their flaws and infighting managed to run a strong campaign, and it might set them up as a proper opposition as they seem unlikely to win a majority. Should the Conservatives win, they will have to do the hard yards towards the next election in 2022.

  19. My prediction is that’s May will win but my hope is that it is with a reduced majority and she will have to wear the responsibility for this dirty political play and she is either replaced as leader or the Tories reputation is ruined until the next election cycle. A bit like dear old Malcolm and his double dissolution.

  20. TBH there is a lot of similarity between the UK election and the Aus 2016 election, austerity, healthcare under threat, a posturing conservative leader without much substance, an election called for all the wrong reasons, an under-estimated LOTO who the media have tried and mostly failed to destroy. It’s every to see it all play out again and I think the result will be much the same.

  21. I don’t understand why Jeremy Corbyn isn’t hammering Theresa May for slashing police numbers in her time as Home Secretary. The police response was, as everyone agrees, astonishingly good: eight minutes. Surely if Corbyn drove this point home, it would undermine whatever political benefit May is receiving from this supposedly hard-line speech.

  22. Socrates
    Monday, June 5, 2017 at 9:15 am
    Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn for being the first western leader to say the truth we all know about most recent terro attacks. The money and extremism behind them come from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states. I hope he wins.

    My Comment:
    Amen to that! So sick of hearing our leaders tell Muslims that they need to de-radicalise their young people, when the money funding the radicalisation is coming from our own “allies”

  23. Voice Endeavour
    Monday, June 5, 2017 at 11:13 am
    I can see justifications for using 2015 turnout % and ignoring self reported compeltely, but this is ridiculous.

    Most pollsters are predicting lower youth turnout and higher elderly turnout than 2015, despite the fact that self reported youth turnout is higher than it was before 2015.

    That is going to leave a lot of red faced pollsters come election day.

    This is starting to look uncannily similar to the US election. A candidate universally mocked and derided. Given no chance of winning by the commentariat. However, he is talking about issues that connect with the electorate, whilst his opponent, a woman with no policies or substance, runs her campaign on soundbites and meaningless platitudes. As with the US, turnout will be key. Whose base will have the greater motivation??

    The Tories lead by 6% according to the Pollbludger average… but the SNP will have close to 50 seats, so the Tories will need to be at least 2-3% ahead to overcome this. Given that most of the pollsters are using a turnout model based on 2015 when Labour was lead by a cardboard cut-out character who couldn’t motivate a drowning man to grab a lifebuoy, its highly likely the polls (and therefore the Pollbludger average) is overestimating the Conservative lead. If that’s the case, the Conservatives don’t have any margin for error at all, and reaction to the events of the weekend will likely determine the outcome.
    If Tory + 10 (ie NI Unionists) does not equal an absolute majority of seats, they will be toast! The way things are looking right now, I think that is the more likely outcome.

  24. So to borrow our phrasing from the U.S. election, when we said that Donald Trump was only a “normal-sized polling error” away from winning the Electoral College, May’s Conservatives are now only a normal-sized polling error away from a hung parliament.
    There will be a lot of egg on centrists’ faces if that happens. Heck, there’s already a lot of egg there based on their petulant and ill-considered support for neoliberal economics.

  25. Thanks Raaraa.. However I notice just now that Corbyn is today calling May to resign over police numbers – so he has ramped it up more than a notch or two. Up to 11, I would say.

  26. Meher Baba suggests… “I also reckon that the UKIP vote could be a fair bit higher than the polls are showing: a lot of voters thinking of voting for them are likely to be ashamed to own up to a pollster. And the events of the past two weeks surely might have swayed a few voters their way.”

    If this hypothesis is correct then it may damage the Tories vote as most UKIP voters may take votes from the Tories and make it harder for the Tories with FPTP.
    A second hypothesis is that former Liberals are realising that to defeat May they will need to vote Labour this time. This also may increase the likelihood of the Tories losing seats.

    My prediction is a hung Parliament with the Tories at least 30 seats away from a majority. The fun will be in the “negotiations”. I think May is out no matter what the result.

  27. I agree with this assessment of Corbyn’s impact on the future of UK Labour:

    Regardless of how things turn out this Thursday, keep in mind:

    Corbyn has established himself as the leader of a vital Labour party and showed that the days of Third Way head-fakery are past. Before Corbyn was fighting for survival against the Blairites. He will still face many rearguard battles in rousting them out, but where the future of the party lies is now clear.

  28. Latest Survation (midnight UK time) has Labour 1 point behind. For what it’s worth, Survation was the only pollster which got the Tory win right at the last election 2015. However, it didn’t publish the poll because it didn’t believe it! I understand it’s methodology is the same.


    I agree with the premise of this article that Corbyn being unelectable is ‘received wisdom’ and therefore an idea that needs to be perpetuated by even those likely to vote for him in order to be taken seriously, which is why I think there is a bit of a shy Labour effect going on in this election, unlike, but probably acting alongside the shy Tory effect. The question is, who’s shyer and which effect will be greater?

    Also I think this is spot on…

    “the principal problem with the notion of electability is that it is promoted on the premise that what has not been tried cannot possibly succeed. It suggests the way people see the world at any given moment cannot be changed through argument and activism and instead erects borders for what is permissible discussion and polices them determinedly. Those who dream outside those borders are utopian; those who speak outside them are fools”

    The problem I think is that it is much harder to have an argument than it used to be largely due to the shamelessly biased and partisan MSM.

  30. BC – Corbyn must be as tough as an old boot. 80% of his own party said he should resign and he is sticking it right up the Tories. Totally unfazed. Theresa is the one who looks dreadful.

  31. Thanks GG, I was coincidentally just in the middle of reading and about to post the same article.

    On the subject of terrorism which as always is more of an existential threat than a literal threat, the two parties policies appear to be broken down to this.

    Labour: More police
    Conservatives: More powers for national security services and internet censorship.

    I certainly know which one I’d prefer. Making the argument about policing and pointing to Mays cuts is a really savvy political manoeuvre. All the moreso as May can’t dispute it. I imagine the police are quite popular now in the wake of recent events, so championing them should win some votes from centrists and conservative leaning former Labour supporters that have been lost in the wilderness. I just wonder if the messaging will cut through.

    Calling on May to resign based on her police record is I think an insurance measure for Labour failing to form government, so that even if May wins there will be sufficient public discontent and support for her ouster and replacement. It’s sowing the seeds of dischord for if / when the Conservatives fail to win their increased majority and everyone is looking around for someone / something to blame. Corbyn is often perceived as a bit of a wuss, but that’s a pretty savage move. He might be a sensitive human-being, but a politician he has some real teeth. That is I think the dichotomy about him that his opponents have failed to understand.

  32. @Anton

    He had odds of 100/1 to win the leadership and said that he was merely running because no-one else stepped forward and he wanted to “promote some causes”.

    It’s funny, because this is how politics used to work. An MP had some causes close to their heart they wanted to support, they argued for them with the party, debated them in the house of commons and then if given the opportunity, took them to the public. This was back before politics was all spin, personality, image, posturing and marketing.

    The one I have a particular problem with is marketing. In my opinion, marketing and in particular the ideology of branding has ruined politics. I think it’s a large factor in the political cynicism that is on the rise today and part of the reason for Corbyns success. he is aggressively not a brand, doesn’t speak in slogans, doesn’t wear ‘the uniform’ and tries to genuinely connect with people and avoid the spotlight. The whole ‘Maybot’ meme says more about her opponent than it does about her. Corbyn is an aggressively normal human-being. New Labor by comparison was all brand. The Tories too are still caught up in this brand and slogan, politics-as-advertising approach. It’s time for this to go away. Younger people are more savvy about how manipulative advertising can be so it makes sense that younger people are the most politically cynical and also the biggest supporters of Corbyns style of politics. I hope he wins so this trend can die and the marketting gurus and brand experts are banished from politics back to the advertising industry where they belong.

    People have been discounting Corbyn for a long time. It’s become habit now. When someone keeps beating the odds so consistently you’d think the bookies would wise up.

    I don’t know if you saw this Vice documentary on Corbyn. It was made a few years ago, but it gives a good insight into his character, origins and his many enemies.

  33. Corbyn has been the target of a relentless attack by the Tory press in the UK ever since he was elected as leader. They have used everything from lampooning to straight out naked attack. This is to be expected. On the other hand, his Labour colleagues seem to support the point that political opponents sit opposite you in parliament, but you enemies sit behind you.
    A win be JC is unlikely but his so-called Labour members sitting in parliament are a disgrace.
    An email from an English friend today – Conservative supporter to the soles of her feet – is totally unimpressed by Teresa, thinks Brexit is a huge mistake and considers an election win by JC as “unthinkable”. She is not a happy Vegemite – or Marmite as it would be in the UK.

  34. I hope Corbyn wins, it will be amazing to watch him Govern if he does. Unlike Shorten and McGowan on the Labor side, I think Corbyn gets the problem. What isn’t clear is if he has a solution that can be implemented and ‘work’ in the eyes of his supporters. Watching Trump on this one is interesting, it is pretty clear he can deliver almost nothing he promised, and a lot have peeled off, but less than I would have thought. But then he has a strong brand and they have mastered media that tells you nothing you don’t want to hear in the US in a way the rest of the world hasn’t got to yet.
    There is a large part of the Trump / Saunders / Corbyn / Abbott / Hanson crowd that just cannot be pleased because essentially for them the boat has sailed and no-one (with the possible exception of Mr. Bowe’s own Nicky) is talking about turning it around.
    I am doing a test of Grammarly for other purposes, it is interesting having a bot popup and massage sentences as you go.

  35. BC,

    Corbyn is within striking distance and that is simply amazing.
    I’m also sensing him as the anti-Trump candidate atm which is resonating everywhere (See NZ today). Trump just made Khan an international celebrity by simply criticisng him for being focussed and getting on with his job.

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