The Guardian Prediction Poll - 7th June 2017

So, there we have it. A 12-point victory for the Conservatives is ICM’s preliminary call on our final poll, up from a 7-point victory for David Cameron just two years’ ago, representing a swing to the Conservatives of 2.5% (remembering that both party shares have increased compared to 2015).

This final poll confirms the pattern that ICM has produced over the last fortnight: a fairly healthy and static (aka strong & stable) Conservative share with consolidation of the Labour bump first witnessed after the manifesto publication.

Our PRELIMINARY numbers for publication are (based on 1,532 interviews and compared to last Monday’s poll in The Guardian:

Conservative 46% (+1)

Labour 34% (nc)

Lib Dem 7% (-1)

SNP 5% (+1)

Plaid Cymru *% (-1)

Green 2% (-1)

UKIP 5% (nc)

Other 1% (nc)

This compares to the 11-point lead published in The Guardian on Monday, this implying precious little movement in the last few days of the campaign.

We should note that ICM continues to interview, aiming for another c.500 interviews by the end of the day. The numbers might change, but we would not expect them to do so by much.

According to Electoral Calculus seat projections. This would yield a Conservative majority of 96, with 373 seats in their possession compared to 199 for Labour (which might be seen by party insiders as a decent outcome). Not so much for the Liberal Democrats though, predicted to drop to only two seats on this modelling.

Speculation about the polls being right or wrong is ubiquitous right now, with much of it concentrating on closer run polls produced by Survation and Yougov compared to us and ComRes. Intriguingly, a number high profile political journalists continue to predict that the Tories will do better than even our poll is saying (given musings they hear from the ground), so this really has become a nail-gnawing electoral event, rather than the absolute rout that we all were fixed on just a month ago.

The public, though, may not have been reading the journo’s stuff. Only one in ten  (12%) expects a Tory majority at the 100+  top end of the range, with a plurality (38%) believing it will be secured, but only by double figures. Fewer than one in five (17%) expect a hung parliament, with the great optimists being the 7% who think Labour will secure the keys to Number 10 (18% of Labour voters they Jeremey Corbyn will smash it).

But whatever the outcome, there’s a strong chance that Corbyn will stay on, according to the public. As many (24%) think he should do so no matter what (a few delighted Tories are included in this number), with the same number saying so only on the basis of a Labour victory. One in five (20%) thinks he should do so, so long as Labour do better than their 2015 showing – although that’s not a very high bar given the return to two-party politics. Beating Ed Miliband’s 31% in 2015 should not present a great difficulty now, given the implosion of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats general malaise.

So the UK goes to the polls, with voters apparently armed with sufficient information to make an informed choice – 57% say they have been on enough of a receiving end to cast their ballot effectively, with Tory voters more so (72%) than their Labour counterparts (62%). Cynics amongst us may conclude that Theresa May’s policy-light manifesto didn’t take long to consume.

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 1,532 GB adults aged 18+ on 6-7th June 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been wighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

28th May 2017 Poll Results

Storm clouds have gathered in this General Election campaign. Rarely can there have been a more tumultuous and stunning sequence of events during a week of General Election campaigning,

The delivery of a hugely populist Labour manifesto with giveaways for all compared to a policy-light document hitting core Tory voting pensioners in their pockets hardly seems like a fair contest. The fact that the Tories had to quickly U-turn on social care then heaped on the impression of unreliability rather than Presidential-style strength. It might not have done though actually; more people (42%) respect the fact she’s capable of changing her mind and correcting her mistakes than think she can’t deliver strong and stable government (30%).

But some polls have moved as a result. That said, maybe we should just pump the breaks a little on this Tory collapse narrative. Our poll in today’s Sun on Sunday gives the Tories exactly the same pretty monstrous 14-point lead they had in our poll at the start of last week. If right, that’s a Tory majority in the House of Commons of 126 seats (they currently sit on a majority of only 16 seats). So the Tories are not shipwrecked after the storm, they’ve just had a bad week, and the storm clouds always move on elsewhere.

Labour have recovered somewhat it’s true, and at 32% in this poll it implies a better performance from Jeremey Corbyn than Ed Miliband managed two years ago.

But nearly all the fundamentals still point to a strong Tory result. Who would run the economy better? Duh. Hammond and May over Corbyn and McDonnell twice over.

Who would make the best Prime Minister? Despite a bad look this week it’s still hands-down Theresa May, 48% saying so compared to Corbyn’s 27%.

What about trust? Well, what have the Romans ever done for us? On defence, the nuclear button, terrorism, the nation’s finances, avoiding a recession, immigration, Brexit negotiations and helping with household finances it’s Prime Minister May over Prime Minister Corbyn every time. He does get a look in on the pretty important future of pensioners, the NHS and schools though.

And for dessert, what words do the public associate with each leader? For May, top of the list are: strong, intelligent and convincing. For Corbyn, he’s seen to understand people, and intelligence is in there but only in conjunction with being out of touch, weak, dangerous and irresponsible. Probably not the kind of endorsement he’s looking for.

Polls will go up and down, but despite the apparent improvement in Labour’s position, they are still in second place by a country mile. This leaves the question of what happens next for Labour? With some mutterings about the need for a new Centre-Left party we tested the idea among recent Labour voters. Most of them will stick it out with Labour even with Captain Corbyn still at the helm, or some other handpicked member of the hard Left.

After Manchester, the resilience and magnificence of the British public has been on full display. Most won’t be cowed in the face of the terror threat. Six in ten don’t fear for their personal safety now any more than they did last week, although 37% (mostly younger members of society) might think twice. The reintroduction of the death penalty might help – a full 65% would approve of it in the case of terrorist acts and for the murder of children, while 58% think it should apply to the murder of on-duty police officers. This has hardly moved from when we last asked it, back in November 2005.

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,044 adults aged 18+ online, on 24-26th May 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

22nd May 2017 Poll Results

After the delivery of the party manifesto’s, polling over the weekend has indicated a resurgent, if still rather distant Labour Party. ICM has been the stickiest pollster for the Tories, and while we probably still are, our poll today reinforces the impression that Labour have won the short term manifesto battle. They rise to 33%, up five-points on last week, while the Tories drop a point to stand on (a still heady) 47%.

The Tories have had a flat out bad weekend, and the wind does feel as if it’s suddenly blowing in a different direction, but we’ve seen short term effects like this before, and we’ve seen them dissipate. This is still a massive 14-point Tory lead, and still their election to throw away.

The headline figures are:

Con 47% (-1)

Lab 33% (+5)

LD 9% (-1)

SNP 4% (nc)

PC *% (nc)

Green 2% (-1)

UKIP 4% (-2)

Oth 1% (nc)

It is almost a whole year since ICM last saw Labour on 33% (June 2016), so it’s a surge that has been a long time coming. However, it does not arise in conjunction with a precipitous Tory collapse, and their 47% remains a number that the party will be wholly delighted with. Electoral Calculus predict an overall majority of 134, with the Tories only just shy of 400 seats. Labour do recover to 177, largely because their polling in their own marginal seats is much improved: a deficit of only 3-points compared to 17-20-points that we have seen in such places on ICM’s recent polls. It’s a step in the right direction.

UKIP drop to 4%, the lowest online share we have ever allocated to the party. This is partly the result of a methodology change. ICM is able to systematically allocate every respondent to their political constituency via their full postcode, so this week we built into the interview software constituency-level information that precluded UKIP as a party to vote for in those seats where they are not standing a candidate (thus forcing people living in such places to make an alternative choice). We believe this is a good addition to our polling methods; it will explain part of the further UKIP drop but perhaps not all of it.

ICM interviewed 2,004 adults aged 18+ online, on 19-21st May 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

15th May 2017 Poll Results

In a week when the eagerly awaited but already much discussed manifesto’s drop, Theresa May can head into it confident that her poll lead is largely impregnable. While other polls of late have seen Labour increase its share into the 30s, (beyond the share that both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband secured), ICM still puts Jeremey Corbyn’s party on 28% (which is up one-point compared to the Guardian’s last poll earlier this month.

The question as to why ICM has consistently lower Labour shares than other pollster is fairly easy to identify – our turnout weighting mechanism is doing exactly the job we intended it to, reducing the power in the sample of those historically less likely to vote in General Elections, and doing the reverse for those typically most likely to vote. Other methodological adjustments do, of course, leave their own imprint – sometimes underpinning and sometimes counter-balancing the turnout weight, but turnout weighting is undoubtedly pivotal to our headline numbers.

The numbers for publication are:

Conservative 48% (-1)

Labour 28% (+1)

Liberal Democrat 10% (+1)

UKIP 6% (nc)

Green 3% (nc)

SNP 4% (nc)

PC *% (nc)

Other 1% (nc)

Other questions probed the importance of various challenges for the next government. The problem for policy-makers is encapsulated in questions like these, where pretty much everyone thinks everything is important. The NHS (89%), managing the economy (88%), protection from threats (84%) and Brexit negotiations (81%) top the list, but with the lowest scoring area (surprisingly, controlling immigration at 69%) there’s not much separation.

However, in a chink of light for Jeremey Corbyn, he is trusted to do a better job on three of them compared to Theresa May: on making a fairer Britain, protecting the NHS and improving the quality of public services. It is only a chink though ,as the gap on those three between the two leaders is marginal, and May leads by a distance on other matters including  the economy, Brexit negotiations, protecting the public and immigration.

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,030 adults aged 18+ on 12-14th May 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

8th May 2017 Poll Results

The local council election triumph for the Conservatives has given pollsters much food for thought.

On one hand, the probable Conservative landslide is now more securely etched onto the electoral canvass, confirming the general picture that polls have been showing since just after the Brexit referendum. However, in recognising that the Tory leads like this – a 22-pointer which is an outright record in the Guardian/ICM series dating back to 1983 – are now underpinned with real votes (even if there are difficulties translating outcomes from one election to polls measuring another), we must also reflect on the fact that the Projected National Share (PNS) from the council elections predicts a closer General Election race.

First things first. This poll is remarkable, and historic. It puts the Conservatives on 49%, and Labour on 27%, implying that 22-point lead. Not only is the lead an outright record for any ICM poll, but the Conservative share is a record in the Guardian/ICM series. It is only beaten by a 49.5% share that we recorded for the Sunday Mirror in May 1983, when ICM was called Marplan. Also noteworthy is the continued decline of UKIP, now measured at 6%, its lowest share from ICM since January 2013.

The top line figures are:

Conservative 49%

Labour 27%

Lib Dem 9%

UKIP 6%

SNP 4%

Green 3%

PC *%

Other 1%

So how should we reflect on a 22-point Tory lead when the PNS suggests ‘only’ an 11-point lead (Professor John Curtice estimated the PNS at Con 38%, Lab 27%, LD 18% UKIP 5%). First of all there’s the long established recommendation to look at the shares not the lead. Every point off Labour snaffled by the Tories equates to a 2-point move in the lead, therein making a nice story but somewhat exaggerating the underlying positions.

Secondly – and this is not meant to be a positive spin story – we can be moderately pleased that in this poll, we exactly match the Labour share, and it’s almost smack on UKIP’s. The story of polls for just about forever has been the over-statement of Labour’s position, so if it’s the case that we’ve solved that riddle, well, it’s a good start. But the jury is very much still out on that and only the General Election will vindicate us, or not.

Clearly, if we are to take the PNS as the best evidence available of the current state of play, we’re over-stating the Tories and seriously under-representing the Liberal Democrats. This is a whole new experience for the polling profession, well versed as we are in pretty much doing the opposite. With the last two years spent on the development of polling methods specifically devised with the intention of confronting the Labour problem, the question must be considered that we’ve gone too far the other way.

In the last weeks, we’ve been paying close attention to the individual value of each of our post data collection methodological techniques, to see how far each is actually pushing the vote shares in different directions compared to raw data. Much more on this will be revealed at a later date, but the evidence so far is that the techniques are working in exactly in the ways, and with the relative strengths (for the main two parties) we were looking for.

Indeed, although this is an exercise in the absurd, if we had applied these techniques to our final prediction poll before the 2015 election, instead of predicting a 1-point Labour win as we did, we would have predicted a much more accurate election outcome.

But of course we have sought to correct an error that has affected the main two parties, and now we live under significantly different electoral conditions. The performance of the Liberal Democrats in the council elections – at least in terms of vote shares rather than seats – implies we have a new, but real problem with them if PNS is correct. That said, my view prior to 2015 was that we were over-stating the extent of their fall, but in the event we were largely not.

Some readers may feel my pain.

It would be rash for a pollster to panic themselves into methodological revision at this point. Too often of late, we have seen last-minute methods moves that worsened predictive performance, and brought associated accusations of herding. It would be wrong for any pollster with their reputation on the line to rule out methodological tweaks, especially if it’s obvious that final poll samples are clearly out of kilter, but better to trust in the methodology than to rush into error.

2nd May 2017 Poll Results

The “Labour surge” being suggested over the weekend as a result of improvement in a couple of polls is not really being seen in these parts, as our latest Guardian/ICM regular poll returns another 19-point lead in favour of the Conservatives. This matches our poll on the weekend and only reduces the Tory lead by 2-points, from its record setting high of 21-points spotted twice earlier this month.

The nightmare scenario for Labour of, once again, being over-stated in the polls allied to a worse performance in the marginal seats compared to nationally is still an unsettled prospect – for them and for pollsters alike. We shall see if Labour’s share (28% in this poll but topping 30% in others) drops back from the party’s 2015 and 2010 performances, but it remains true that the Tories hold a commanding 14-point lead in Labour held marginal seats in England and Wales where they have a majority of up to 25%. Numbers like these would be true meltdown territory – such an outcome would yield a Conservative majority north of 140, and put them within touching distance of 400 seats in Parliament.

Adopting a wisdom of crowds approach to predicting the result in 2017 will not help settle Labour’s queasy stomach. One in three (34%) expect an overall majority of 100+ seats, with another 38% suggesting a smaller overall majority will occur. Bundled together, almost three-quarters of the public are expecting to return with an overall majority. Labour intenders remain somewhat optimistic though, with half expecting their party to be part of a coalition (26%) or indeed to win an outright majority of its own (23%). It’s fair to say that either they, or this and other pollsters, will be quite wrong about things.

Being perceived as a no-hoper does not help Jeremy Corbyn. As many (15%) are put off voting for him as motivated to do so (14%) by the idea of a crushing defeat , which implies that Labour cannot even find solace there.

The ‘ground war’ also appears to be going the way of the Conservatives. In terms of impressions gained of the campaign itself, the Tories have a positive impression (+3), but Labour are on -6. The Lib Dems (-7) and particularly UKIP (-12) have campaign work to do. Theresa May has received some stick for failing to respond to press invites or to speak directly to the public, but it looks like a canny strategy thus far: four in ten (41%) think she’s running a good campaign, almost double the number of Jeremy Corbyn (21%).

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 1,970 adults aged 18+ online between 28th April and 2nd May. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

28th April 2017 Poll Results

In a poll conducted for the Sun on Sunday, a slight fightback is recorded for Labour, but not to the extent identified in a couple of other polls. Indeed, this lower Conservative lead is a largely based on ICM’s methodological adjustment, which returned 2-points to Labour directly from the Tories as part of the Partial Refuser adjustment. Without that, it would have been “as you were”.

Headline figures:

Con 47%

Labour 28%

Lib Dem 9%

UKIP 8%

Green 4%

SNP 4%

PC/Oth *%

24th April Poll Results

The latest Guardian /ICM poll has another 21-point lead for the Conservatives, notching up a record 48% share of the vote.

We added a new cross-break showing how voting patterns break down in the marginal seats, with the Tories on a stunning 48% vs 31% in those seats currently held by Labour on a majority of less than 15%. It is only a cross-break based on 168 voters, and should be treated with much caution, but indicates significant losses for the Labour Party.

Headline figures:

Con 48% +2

Lab 27% +2

LD 10% -1

UKIP 7% -1

SNP 4% =

Green 3%

PC 1% +1

Oth *% -1

21st April 2017 Poll Results

In a poll undertaken in the middle of last week  and published by Peston on Sunday on ITV, the headline numbers were:

Con 48%

Lab 26%

LD 10%

UKIP 8%

SNP 4%

Green 3%

Plaid 1%

Other 1%

 

This 22-point Conservative lead is the highest ever recorded by ICM. Quite a thing.

18th April 2017 Snap Poll Results

This morning ICM/Guardian published an orthodox poll showing an 18-point Conservative lead. This reflected our position over the last two weeks, but was somewhat behind the brace of 21-point lead polls we saw over the weekend, one from YouGov and one from ComRes.

Maybe those two polls were the straws that broke Theresa May’s back, and responded with a U-turn on calling an early General Election. ICM immediately set in motion our election planning agenda, generating a Flash poll sample of 1,000 people, completed within four hours of the announcement.

Voting intentions compared to this morning’s poll are as follows:

Con 46% (+2)

Lab 25% (-1)

LibDem 11% (+1)

UKIP 8% (-3)

Green 4% (nc)

SNP 4% (nc)

PC *% (-1)

Oth 1% (nc)

But how the public respond to the snap election is key to this snap poll, and the PM can take heart from an immediate, positive response. Over half (55%) support her decision with only 15% against. But the pattern of response is not heavily weighted to 2015 Conservative voters – a narrow band of support is found across all the parties (with the slight exception of UKIP, whose supporters may fear what’s coming). Indeed as many (65%) Labour intenders support May’s decision as Tory intenders (64%) which must imply that its core is itching for the electoral fight.

The public recognises that May needs a mandate of her own, particularly with regard to Brexit. Six in ten (58%) think she is right to have called an early election, with only 17% thinking it wrong given the mandate she already has. A similar number (54%) believe that the situation has changed and the PM is right to have changed her mind.

And the public are pretty sure that she’s headed to a whopping overall majority. A quarter (24%) think it’ll be over 100 seats, with a further 29% suggesting it’ll be an overall majority but less than that number. With a third (33%) not knowing, that leaves only 14% who think another outcome is likely. It should be noted that 44% of current Labour intenders think the Tories will win some overall majority.

Brexit will undoubtedly feature strongly in this campaign, but the public won’t treat this as a second referendum. Indeed two in three (67%) will treat it as a normal General Election, with only 17% saying it’s a second Brexit referendum by proxy. This might explain why Brexit is only third on the list of issues important to people (23%) just edged out by immigration (24%) and jobs, prices and wages (25%). For many, Brexit is now priced in – easily the most preferred policy on it to promise Brexit no matter what (36%), with a further wanting it so long as negotiations work out well for the UK (25%). Only 15% want to reverse Brexit, which may dampen enthusiasm somewhat over at Liberal Democrat HQ.

So we have a 7-week campaign in front of us, and few would imagine that the Tory attack dogs will leave the Labour top team alone, constantly reminding the public of who the nation’s alternative leaders are. Well might they, sitting on a fat margin on economic competence (51% for May & Hammond vs 12% for Corbyn and McDonnell) and approval ratings for the PM of +33 compared to Corbyn’s -48.

As we enter this campaign it’s clear that Labour have an electoral mountain top climb, and its leadership appears to have left its ropes and crampons at base camp.

ICM Unlimited interview a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ online immediately after the announcement that General Election had been called on April 18th 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.