Predictably there’s much talk this morning about David Cameron’s poll bump following his EU speech on Wednesday. There are four polls this weekend (Opinium, YouGov, ComRes and Survation). As you’d expect, in most of the polling there has been some movement from UKIP back towards the Tories.
So far so unremarkable.
Yet any significant rise in Tory vote share (and shortening of Labour’s lead) usually leads to some mild panic in the Labour Party – especially the doomsayers who are
secretly hoping bracing themselves for some sort of 1992 style polling collapse.
Although I was disappointed that Ed Miliband didn’t seize the initiative on Wednesday – looking at the polling it’s fairly clearly that Labour shouldn’t be unduly concerned. Here’s why:
Labour vote share – First things first. The most important number for Labour is (of course) the percentage of people who say they will vote Labour. Labour’s vote share hasn’t dropped significantly with any of the pollsters this weekend (the biggest drop is a fall of two points with YouGov from Friday – which is easily within the margin of error). If – as expected – boundary changes are finally killed off on Tuesday, and Labour goes on t0o get above or around 40% in the 2015 General Election, then it would take a very brave person to suggest Ed Miliband won’t be Prime Minister – regardless of a UKIP to Tory shift.
Smaller than the “veto” bump– That said, we should be clear that something is happening here. David Cameron is getting a poll bump from the three pollsters (YouGov/Survation/Comres) who polled entirely after the Europe speech (the Opinium poll was conducted both before and after the speech). Yet Cameron’s poll boost (Up 2 points with YouGov and Survation, and 5 points with ComRes) is (so far) much smaller than the bump he got from the EU “veto” in December 2011. And perhaps most importantly, even after this mini-bump – the Tories are still lower in the polls now than they were before his 2011 veto.
About that ComRes poll – The ComRes poll shows a 5 point surge for the Tories, which has caused the most debate (meanwhile showing Labour’s vote share as static). But that’s a five point bump based on the last ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday/Sunday Mirror which had the Tories on an unusually low 28%. Compared to the most recent Comres poll on December 18th, the Tories are up just two points (with Labour down two points) – well within the margin of error, and suggesting little change. Additionally (and confusingly) much of the change from UKIP to Tory may well be because f a change in methodology too. Suddenly that big ComRes bump looks less interesting than it did.
About that Survation poll – The only pollster (as far as I’m aware) to mention UKIP in the voter intention question is Survation, which tends to produce a higher (or in the view of the pollster, more accurate) percentage for the anti-EU party. So if there’s a big UKIP to Tory swing, it would be shown up in their polling. Yet it isn’t. There’s just a 2 point drop for UKIP, and a similarly small 2 point rise for the Tories – that’s well within the margin of error.
About that YouGov poll – a 6 point lead for Labour s low for YouGov in recent weeks (and the most concerning bit of post-Cameron speech polling), but isn’t unheard of. In mid-December the pollster showed a Labour lead of just 4 points, the next day the Labour lead was 10 points. One poll is means little in the context of a daily tracker.
GDP figures – Crucially, the polling this weekend takes into account the Cameron Europe poll, but doesn’t fully take into account the awful GDP announcement on Friday. Therefore until we see polls that show the public reaction to the Tories shrinking the economy (again) and the risk of a triple-dip recession, we’re only seeing half of the data.
Update: Seemingly there’s also an Angus Reid poll in the Express showing Lab 39 (-3) Con 30 (+3) but I haven’t seen the tables for this one yet so can’t comment further on what this means.