Who we’re winning back (and why)

January 30, 2012 2:08 pm



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Last week I looked at the detail of who the polls said had stopped backing Labour during our slide in the polls in the last two months.

I didn’t expect to be able to report just a week later on who we had won back.

Yesterday’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, the same poll for the same newspaper that I had looked at a week previously, showed Labour gaining 4% in just a week to go back up to 40%. The Tories are down 2% to 39% and the Lib Dems down 1% to 8%.The SNP and Plaid Cymru are also down 1% to 3%, and the Greens are down 1% to 2%.

In terms of retaining our 2010 General Election voters, the share of them sticking with Labour has gone up from 85% to 90%. The share of 2010 Lib Dems backing Labour has gone up from 31% to 42% (i.e. more Lib Dem 2010 voters now back us than back the Lib Dems). But we are still not making headway with former Tory voters, attracting only 4% of them, up from 2% last week.

We have gone up 3% amongst men and 4% amongst women in the last week, so the gender gap – our relative unpopularity amongst men – has actually widened.

On age, the last week has seen us restore our historic pattern of support: decreasing with age. We’ve gained a whopping 24% to hit 51% amongst 18-24 year olds, 4% to hit 44% amongst 25-39 year olds, and 6% to hit 34% amongst the high-turnout over-65s. Oddly we’ve lost 6% amongst 40-59 year olds to go down to 38%.

By social class we have stayed steady on 33% with middle class ABC1s but gained 8% to reach 49% (an 18% lead) amongst working class C2DEs.

The regional splits show us down 1% in London in the last week (but still on a healthy 43%), up 1% in the rest of the South, unchanged in the Midlands and Wales, but making dramatic progress in the North (up 9% to 56%, a 29% lead) and Scotland (up 13% to 37%).

Overall this seems to show us consolidating our support amongst voters normally seen as our core vote in the last week: Northerners, Scots, working class voters, the young, and women.

To open up a real lead, especially in the seats that determine the General Election, we now need to add to the coalition we have already assembled more support from middle class voters, southerners, older voters, and people who voted Tory in 2010. To some people this is obvious but it needs to be spelt out as some colleagues seem to think you can build a winning coalition without doing this.

Why the 4% increase in support this week? Perhaps because the week before senior figures in the movement were publicly attacking Ed Balls and Ed Miliband and this week they were not. Disunity seems, based on these figures, to switch off our core support. It certainly doesn’t look like the clarification of our economic stance was unpopular.

It’s a shame that when we dip in the polls the Labour community online goes manic; attempting to attribute blame, but when we get a poll that shows a 4% increase in our vote it is ignored. I can understand the media ignoring it, they have an anti-Ed Miliband, anti-Labour narrative to sell, and reality cannot be allowed to intrude on it, but when we ourselves don’t cheer when our team scores a goal, we need to ask why.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on Luke- especially last paragraph.

    It was a blip after all- surprise surprise!


    • Anonymous

      I would be more interested in the big poll in three years time that’s the one which will settle it.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not me who’s following the polls Robert- but it is something taken seriously
        by parties, media and commentators- perhaps as a barometer of public opinion.
        I think it’s true to say very little coverage of Labour’s gains, yet any slight blip downwards and a huge media storm erupts of late.

        That seems pretty biased to me- and perhaps more to do with who’s controlling agenda at present.

        I don’t mind fair and balanced coverage, whoever is gaining in the polls at any given time.

        • Anonymous

          I did the polls last week and I did one today, I get 50p for each one and after a year I will get £50 cheque it helps for Christmas, I will be honest I’m long past caring who wins.

          But I can remember being in the Meeting with Kinnock at the CLP he was my MP at the time and we though god look at the Polls , look at the people they are sick of Thatcher, go home and get read,” to be in opposition again”.

          I do think the Tories are heading for a winter and summer of discontent,  hammering the Police and the nurses, teachers, and I think labour will lift up, but in two years time and it will happen the Tories will and I do not care what anyone thinks, will have a give away to their voters who in the main are middle class.

          We will see.

  • charles.ward

    I think Luke should look up “margin of error” before he does another poll comparison.  I think I’ll stick with politicalbetting.com and ukpollingreport.co.uk for polling analysis for the time being.

    • Luke Akehurst

      Hi Charles, I do understand margin of error. It’s +/- 4% on the subsets of 500, which therefore  doesn’t explain away gains of 8% among C2DEs and 9% among northerners. It’s +/- 3% on the whole sample – but even if this means margin of error accounts for the lift from 36% to 40% then the subsets still explain how you get from 36% to 40% even if you haven’t yet done so.

      I will happily not report any further 4% lifts for Labour, writing them all off as due to margin of error, if people who want to talk down Labour or Ed Miliband will similarly not report any falls in Labour’s support for the same reason.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

      “The two main parties remain extremely close, but we’re seeing more
      marginal Labour leads than marginal Tory ones (in the last fortnight’s
      YouGov polls there have been 7 Labour leads, 3 Tory leads), suggesting
      the underlying position is a very narrow Labour lead”.  (Anthony Wells ukpollingreport, 2/2/2112. Looks like Luke Akehurst was right on the ball.

  • http://twitter.com/tommilleruk Tom Miller

    Two points. The first is obvious – week on week shifts within margins of error mean very little.

    Do however feel that this looks like the beginning of a longer running trend.

    We need to do something extra for pensioners, particularly those with private pensions?

    • http://twitter.com/tugsandtost matthew bond

      And bet lots of pensioners not keen on quantitative easing which has been George Osborne’s back up plan.

  • http://twitter.com/eljmayes Edward Mayes

    The major worry for Miliband has to be his personal ratings which are dire even amongst his own supporters across the polls.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SKUIBA5QF5QV4LRMURWBNMSGOI Lisping Ed

    ” I can understand the media ignoring it, they have an anti-Ed Miliband, anti-Labour narrative to sell…”

    Aaawwwww poor old Ed and Labour, victims of the nasty media. What utter bollocks.

  • http://twitter.com/tugsandtost matthew bond

    Great stuff.  Wondering how we are we going to go after 2010 Conservative voters?  Don’t buy elite disagreement on Twitter affects shifts in public opinion.  

  • Anonymous

    Overall this seems to show us consolidating our support amongst voters normally seen as our core vote in the last week: Northerners, Scots, working class voters, the young, and women…..  
    we now need to add to the coalition we have already assembled more support from middle class voters, southerners, older voters, and people who voted Tory in 2010.”

    The danger, of course, being that today’s leadership will repeat the mistakes of Blair and Blairites, and take the core vote for granted, while Lammy goes on about child discipline and Byrne tries to outdo Duncan-Smith & Grayling, and Labour becomes another version of the Conservative Party: the working class etc have nowhere else to go?. Well, they do and they did, which was one of the reasons Blair dropped from a majority of 166 to  67 in 2005.

    Something for everybody and nothing for long is not a winning formula – you fall between two stalls: too right wing for true Labour supporters and not quite right wing enough for Col. Blimp and Luke Bozier.

    Didn’t Polonious have it?: “to thine own self be true”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697126564 Paul Halsall

    What is the standard margin of error in these polls?

    I rather suspect obsessive number-tracking is a waste of time.

  • Alan Griffiths

    This kind of social stratification

    “By social class we have stayed steady on 33% with middle class ABC1s but gained 8% to reach 49% (an 18% lead) amongst working class C2DEs”

    is about, skill, culture, education,income and savings. It is important to advertisers selling for businesses, but its not the same as class.

    Some of us believe that class is about an individuals relationship to the job market.

    I recommend a read of “How Britian Votes” by Heath, Jowell and Curtice, not to mention anything by the one, the only and the magnificent John H Goldthorpe, all of whose works are classics.

  • http://twitter.com/francessmith frances smith

    those in the 40 to 59 age bracket are either the same age, or older than miliband. but expect to have a prime minister to be within their age bracket, older people expect the prime minister to be young.

    i don’t personally feel comfortable with someone who looks like a sixth form student wanting to be prime minister, maybe that age group is more concerned about his lack of prime minsterialness,  its hard to explain, but once you are a fully fledged adult you sure as hell want the people running things to look like proper adults too.

  • Jameswilliams

    I’m not sure as another poster has said, if this really is a statistically significant shift. 
    Personally I don’t think its necessarily what we’ve done, so much as what the coalition haven’t. It’s been clear to the public, over the past week or so, that regulation of the financial sector has been totally disregarded by the coalition, and some comments by Tory MP’s have been incredible. The fact that our position after the past week hasn’t been stronger is that quite frankly we haven’t really been voicing support for financial market regulation.In fact we look as though we are trying to pitch ourselves as a non threatening alternative.  Its all  very “bonuses oohh that is awful !!” while never really criticising the endemic problems that continue or proposing real change. We have managed to look as though we are just the same bunch of Goldman-Sachs educated ‘useful idiots’ as the coalition, and its only core voters who can see some kind of respite if Labour win in 2015.


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