Labour Losing Ground In Last Two Weeks

-edited

Polls have mostly stabilized since the end of October. On average, Labour has lost a percentage point.

The above chart from Opinion polling for the 2019 United Kingdom general election.

The blue horizontal line represents the November 11 Brexit Party announcement that it would not compete in districts won by the Tory Party in 2017.

Since the end of October, the Tories, on average have gained about 1 percentage point over Labour.

A set of charts and tables I created shows these trends better.

Tory Party Poll Trends

Labour Party Poll Trends

Tory Party Polls Since October 30

Labour Party Polls Since October 30

Gains

  • The polls show a pickup by the Tories primarily at the expense of the Brexit Party
  • The polls show a pickup of Labour primarily at the expense of the Liberal Democrats

What matters most is the trend of the Tories vs the trend of Labour. That's what my next chart shows.

Tory Spread Over Labour by Date and Pollster

Notes

  • Ipos Mori has not had any polls in the desired period.
  • Oct 30 is a bit stale but otherwise Survation would only have a single data point.
  • Wikipedia does not have the latest Deltapoll so it is not shown in the lead chart. I do not know the survey date other than "since November 9". I used November 14.

Why are the Polls Telling Such Different Stories?

Mat Singh asks Why are the Polls Telling Such Different Stories?

Since there are many ways in which methodologies can differ, and many of them interact with one another, it can be difficult to unpick exactly why two or more pollsters consistently arrive at different estimates of public opinion. But sometimes the source of the variation can be inferred.

In 2017, for example, final polls varied wildly on the size of the Conservative lead. In this case, the primary reason was clear. Those showing narrow Tory leads over Labour were basing their turnout assumptions on how likely people said they were to vote. Those showing wider leads were using complex turnout modelling instead. Some of these models went very over-the-top, leaving too few Labour voters among those expected to vote.

In 2019, there again seems to be a clear explanation for at least part of the discrepancy. Among the possible weighing variables mentioned above, many UK pollsters weight their samples to ensure that the way their respondents voted in the last election matches the result. In theory, this makes complete sense – a representative sample should match the result.

In practice, it’s not so simple. Though it may sound strange to political anoraks, a lot of people are very, very bad at remembering which way they voted, even in the recent past. A number of pollsters have conducted experiments where they interviewed people who had said just after the 2017 election that they had voted Labour, and asked them once again how they had voted in 2017. In one case, about one in five, or about 8 per cent of all 2017 voters, thought that they had voted for a party other than Labour.

So it follows if we have the right proportion of actual 2017 Labour voters (41% of the Great Britain vote) we would have a much lower proportion of those remembering having voted Labour last time. If we were to weight people’s recalled 2017 vote to the result, we would then end up with too many 2017 Labour voters.

There are a few ways to deal with this. Some online pollsters, including YouGov and Opinium, past vote weight using 2017 votes collected at the time, thus taking memory out of the equation. Others, such as Kantar and Deltapoll, weight using recalled past vote, but to a target adjusted for false recall. And still others, namely Number Cruncher and Ipsos MORI, don’t rely on past vote weighting at all.

The average Conservative lead among this set of pollsters in polls so far during the campaign has been 13 points. Among the rest, it’s been 8 points. Does this mean that the set showing the wider leads are right and the others are wrong? I would exercise a degree of caution here.

The methodologies that lead to bigger Tory leads have ways of dealing with or avoiding a known difficulty for pollsters while the others do not. But in any election, particularly one as complicated as this, there are a number of other potential sources of error that could affect polling accuracy in either direction. And as always, polls are a measurement of the present, not a prediction of the future.

So while the true gap between current Labour and Conservative vote shares may be a bit likelier to sit near the wider end of range of polls, the fog of uncertainty remains.

Reflections on Current Trends

  1. The smallest current leads are by Survation +6 (down 2 since prior poll) and ICM at +8 (up 1 since prior poll). Survation only has a couple recent polls to look at and the first isn't all that recent (Oct 30).
  2. If you are a Labour backer, not only do you need the Survation and ICM polls to be more correct, you also need gains in the polls in general. However, the most recent ICM poll went the other way.
  3. Recent poll-to-poll comparisons with the same pollster over time, shows a net 1 percentage point gain of the Tories vs Labour.
  4. For Labour, this represents two weeks of going nowhere, at best, unless Survation alone is on track.
  5. While it is possible that Survation alone has things correct, it seems unlikely. And even still, a six point pargin rates to be enough (albeit barely), for a Tory majority.
  6. At this point, every poll needs to be wrong for Labour to win.

Sticking With My 351 Tory Seat Projection

Given that the polls have essentially gone nowhere for two weeks, I am sticking with my 351 Tory seat projection as noted in UK Election Math: What are the Odds of a Hung Parliament?

Election in 3 Weeks plus 5 days!

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (33)
No. 1-11
Scooot
Scooot

Opinion & Yougov out now showing a 16 & 17 point lead respectively

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

I don't think Labour is going nowhere. If they are really squeezing the Libdems, then they are on the right track. Weakening the LibDems is essential. The Tories have much smaller space to grow in the remaining weeks. I think Farage is close to his minimal support already.

Of course, it is not guaranteed that the LibDem squeeze will continue to work and there are a lot of other uncertain factors, too. Mostly about local differences that are really difficult to follow.

Scooot
Scooot

Danger is that if the Tory lead gets too big, people might get complacent & not bother voting.

avidremainer
avidremainer

Well, forget the polls, UK polls are garbage. Labour dominated the front pages and news bulletins on three counts. The free broadband offer, the Tory response to the floods in the north and the governments appalling performance on the NHS. None of this was good for the liar. Indeed his reception in Derbyshire and Yorkshire was awful. The A grandmother in Yorkshire was given wall to wall coverage for calling the liar an " arsehole". Rees-Mogg has been relegated to the sidelines. His crime was to suggest that the people who died in the Grenfell Tower disaster did so for lack of common sense. He did not say this but sadly for him the believed urban myth is that a Tory toff said that the people in the Grenfell Tower died because they were thick. [ cf the Conservative candidate in Wales suggesting that people on benefit street should be put down]. I think it is fair to say that the Tories had a bad week and this will be reflected in the polls next week. Something else that can be said is that, in his own way, the liar is just as bad a campaigner as May was. He was asked on BBC 5live, a popular national radio station, how many children he had. People think he has 5 or 6 children by several different women. We still don't know the answer. The question and his non answer was all over the place. The LibDems haven't had much of a look in and Farrage, apart from diehard believers appears to be regarded as a joke.

Mish
Mish

Editor

"Corbyn has had a coruscating bad press since he became leader of his party. It didn't work in 2017 and there is no reason to believe it will work this time."

Corbyn had a honeymoon in 2017 vs May

Avidremainer You truly have blinders on.

Mish
Mish

Editor

This is amusing

Mish
Mish

Editor

More amusement

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Another interesting article about polls: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/10106

They make the point about how some publications shoot for weekends, some for weekdays and how this has an effect on trend analysis:

" A word about trying to discern trends in support. As regular readers will know, the different methodological approaches taken by pollsters mean there tend to be some consistent differences between their figures, one company may typically have higher figures for the Conservatives, one may have higher figures for Labour. These are known as “house effects”. Currently ICM, ComRes and Survation tend to show lower Conservative leads. Deltapoll, YouGov, Opinium are tending to show higher Conservative leads.

The way the publication schedule has panned out, the companies showing higher leads are tending to publish more at the weekend (because they are polling for the Observer, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday) while the polls for the companies with smaller leads are tending to come out midweek (as they are polling for the Daily Telegraph and Reuters). What this means in practice is that you’re liable to get two or three polls in a row showing smaller leads mid-week, and two or three polls in a row showing bigger leads at the weekend. It doesn’t mean the lead is falling and rising, it’s just the different approaches taken by pollsters. The thing to look at is the trend from the same pollster – is the lead up or down compared to the last poll from the same pollster? Are other pollsters showing the same trend? If so, something is afoot. If not, it’s probably noise. "

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Although the country is sick and tired of it, Brexit is still the Elephant. In terms of tactical voting, Brexit Party will fade out I suspect except in a few districts where visceral hatred of Tories is just too great. That said, there are quite a few interviews of late flying around of lifelong working class midlands-to-north Labour voters praising Boris, whom they seem to like generally, and disparaging Corbyn, who comes off as more of a suburban/Islington Marxist intellectual than a 'man of the people.'

I like your work, Mish, it's fun and informative. But I suspect the Cons - barring some sort of cataclysm possible in any election - are going to gather significant momentum and get a historically positive result in the heartlands. And he might do better than expected in London given his work there as Mayor not so long ago.

Anyway, the best thing about British elections is how short they are. One of the great benefits of NOT having fixed terms. If only they could do something like in the States where the four-year cycle has pretty much destroyed the democratic process. As Churchill famously remarked, democracy is wobbly at best, just better than all the other worse alternatives. But it's been getting worse and worse of late, in pretty much all Western democracies, so the shorter they are, probably the better they are. Less time for endemic corruption....

Mish
Mish

Editor

"But I suspect the Cons - barring some sort of cataclysm possible in any election - are going to gather significant momentum and get a historically positive result in the heartlands. And he might do better than expected in London given his work there as Mayor not so long ago."

I can show they already have. It's huge (if accurate).

djhowls
djhowls

Same thing happened last time and Treason May lost the Cons majority at the last hurdle . That being said BoJo is far more charismatic than that damp squib of a woman but it is all his to lose