Friday, June 19, 2015

Straw in the wind from Ipsos-Mori suggests SNP still have an enormous lead

We're still hopelessly stranded in polling Antarctica, as the various firms lick their wounds after their humbling on May 7th.  The one full-scale Scottish poll we've had was obviously hugely encouraging for the SNP, but the fieldwork predated the death of Charles Kennedy. That might conceivably be of some importance, due to the disgraceful attempts of some right-wing journalists to exploit the tragedy to damage Alex Salmond.  However, we now have a second straw in the wind from a GB-wide poll conducted well into June, and so far there is no hint at all of the SNP surge going into reverse.  Yesterday's Ipsos-Mori Scottish subsample has figures of : SNP 56%, Labour 22%, Conservatives 17%, Liberal Democrats 5%, UKIP 1%.  As with the ICM subsample that had the SNP in the high 40s, the number of respondents is very low.  So the information for June is still extraordinarily limited, but there is certainly no obvious cause for concern so far.

Ipsos-Mori's Scottish sample report a different preference for Labour leader from respondents in the rest of Britain, narrowly plumping for Yvette Cooper over Liz Kendall by a 15% to 12% margin.  Andy Burnham, the Britain-wide favourite, trails in a poor third.  However, that may well be a freak result caused by the small sample size.

The most significant finding of the poll has only been released today - across Britain, support for remaining a member of the EU has reached a 24-year high, with the equivalent of the Yes campaign in the referendum leading by 61% to 27%.  That's based on the long-running tracker question that was asked to half the sample.  The other half were asked the actual referendum question, producing an even more dramatic result - 66% Yes, 22% No.

So is it game over before we even start?  Answer : no, or at least not until we get some clarity about the reason for the disparity between the results produced by telephone and online pollsters, which is every bit as extreme as we saw in the independence referendum (if not more so).  Recent YouGov online polls have shown a Yes lead, but a very modest one.  It's easy to jump to the conclusion that telephone polls must be more accurate, or that the truth must be somewhere in between the two extremes - in which case Yes would have a handsome lead.  That's not necessarily the case - for example, in the 2008 London mayoral election, YouGov's internet polls comprehensively got the better of Ipsos-Mori's telephone polls.

The other thing that needs to be borne in mind is that the electorate tends to behave in a much more volatile way in referendums than in regular elections.  Ipsos-Mori may never have reported a 3-1 No lead in the independence referendum, but they did report a 2-1 lead at one point.  We all know how dramatically the race narrowed afterwards.


  1. The recent slew of favourable polls (For the Yes side) certainly isn't the final word on it. There have been ebbs and flows in EU referendum opinion polling, with polls last year often showing a narrow majority in favour of withdrawal. It's early days yet and there's still plenty of time for big swings in public opinion.

    My hunch is that the UK will vote to remain in the EU, though not by a huge majority. Maybe the sort of 55-45 margin we got during the independence referendum.

    1. I reckon that sounds about right Stoat.

  2. Any thoughts, James, on how a 55-45 Yes would be played by Cameron, and just as importantly the Tory Euro-sceptics and UKIP? I can't see either of these groups giving up unless it is a crushing defeat, like 75-25.

    1. I wonder if the MSM will bother to ask Farage if the EU referendum should be a "once in a generation" event? They certainly hounded Alex Salmond about it during the Scottish referendum in 2014.

    2. " I can't see either of these groups giving up unless it is a crushing defeat"

      Of course they won't.

      There is some truly hilarious delusional thinking going on in the tory party right now about the EU referendum.

      It's complete head in the sand stuff worthy of Clegg's ostrich faction. Those who are going to have to follow the party line to support IN somehow don't seem to understand that at least half of their own party are going to go after them viciously in the same manner that Europe supporting tories like Ken Clarke have had to put up with for decades.

      The Cameroons are the Ken Clarke's now and no amount of vapid renegotiation posturing will stop their own party from splitting right down the middle into chaos.

      The Clarke's and EU supporters are still around even if they are treated like dirt so they clearly won't give up if they lose. That's also the future the IN tories can look forward to from now on, win or lose. To become the next generation of Ken Clarke's in the tory party.

      OUT tories and Eurosceptics will self-evidently not give up either as they have been around since Heath and they sure as fuck didn't hide away and behave when the last weak tory PM John Major was about.

      We've already seen the coward Cameron desperately trying to appease his backbenchers after his John Major style "back me or sack me!" moment turned him into a complete laughing stock.

      The weak Cameron is already back to the usual nasty party muslim and immigrant bashing just today in a desperate sop to placate his rabid right-wing backbenchers.

      So take any polling this far out with a truly massive pinch of salt.

      The farcical spectacle of Cameron's own referendum being vehemently opposed by half of his own party is going to be impossible for the public to ignore.

      Nor will Eurosceptics play nice and refuse to say a word against him or campaign till two weeks before the vote. The very idea is utterly preposterous. They are playing for keeps and they've been at this for slightly longer than the fop and his chumocracy have been about.

      They caused utter chaos for Thatcher and Major over Europe so are somewhat unlikely to roll over and play nice for Cameron when it comes to the biggest EU vote of their lives.

  3. Bang on there, Mick.

  4. Who is going to lead the No campaign?

    It's as I've said, we are not going to leave the EU. So anybody who is gaming on a second indyref on there being a different national result needs to think again.

    How fickle are the English electorate though. A few months ago it seemed like it was hanging by a thread.

    1. No, there's a big misunderstanding here - there is no evidence at all of any change in favour of Yes over the last two months. YouGov have shown a steady position over that period, or if anything a decreasing Yes lead. They also show a very tight race.

      This is about methodological differences, not about a sudden Yes surge. We saw this kind of problem all the time during the independence referendum - people comparing apples with oranges, and wrongly declaring that there was some kind of surge for one side or the other (usually No) that simply wasn't there.

      Anyone who looks at this poll and thinks we already know the result of the referendum needs to be frogmarched to YouGov's last datasets for a close look.

  5. Where are the jibes of "narrow nationalist" or "separatist" or "isolationist" or "dragged into mid-Atlantic" or any of the myriad of smears attacking those who favour Scottish self government ?
    Will the BBC pack their talk shows, or panels with a 4-1 bias on one side ?
    Will the BBC slant the news to accommodate one particular viewpoint?
    Will the BBC employ only those of one particular political hew ?

  6. In relation to the GE I am going to spout a conspiracy theory since the pollsters were fairly accurate about the Scottish results at least those that put SNP at c 50%. How did they get the English vote so wrong, well I am going to argue that they didn't because the Brit Nat Press and Media wanted a certain narrative of Millibland being propped up by the wicked, bad and evil SNP in Westmidden. The pollsters kept pumping out what their paymasters wanted.

    I for one wouldn't be surprised to see a wide divergence in EU polls on a whole manner of subjects according to whom the paymaster is. I wouldn't be surprised to see some propaganda outlets on the Yes side for instance screaming that Cameron wins an opt out on immigration for instance.

    Cameron isn't going to get any kind of renegotiated deal whatever the CBI will say on the matter.

    I will not trust any poll on the EU or anything I read in any British Press and Media outlet.