• 18-24 Year Old Survey – Hope Not Hate / NUT

    ICM conducted an online survey of 18-24s, on behalf of Hope Not Hate supported by the National Union of Teachers.

    This 18-24 group is of primary interest to the election polls right now, with their actual turnout next Thursday being a crucial indicator of Labour’s strength.

    We post full data, noting the methodological difficulties of conducting vote intentions among a population sub-group. It is impossible to apply the standard suite of techniques (including our turnout probability model) to an 18-24 sample, simply because the necessary weighting target data is not available.

  • The Guardian – Campaign poll 8 (26-29 May)

    Nerves are now certainly jangling in Conservative Central Office, with a Yougov poll last weekend showing a drop to only a 5-point lead, before easing to a 7-point lead. Survation, out with a phone poll this morning, split the difference with a 6-pointer for GMTV.

    This, from an ICM 22-point Conservative lead just three weeks ago.

    We too see a continuing Tory tumble with our latest Guardian poll out this morning, which shows a more comfortable, but still rapidly dwindled 12-point Conservative lead. The Tories have dropped two points since our last Guardian poll a week ago, and one point compared to our Sun on Sunday poll published yesterday. Labour remain stable or are up one, depending on your comparison preference.

    This poll was completed before last night’s leaders’ grilling on Sky/Channel 4.

    The published numbers are (versus last Guardian poll published on 22nd May):

    Conservative 45% (-2)

    Labour 33% (nc)

    Lib Dem 8% (-1)

    UKIP 5% (+1)

    SNP 4% (nc)

    Green 3% (+1)

    Plaid Cymru 1% (+1)

    Other 1% (nc)

    The dramatic shifts in polling numbers have been argued in many places to be a function of a sudden surge in young voters and/or 2015 non-voters, motivated by Jeremy Corbyn’s populist platform including the abolition of student tuition fees and return to state funded grants. The Survation poll this morning revealed that 82% of 18-24s would/already have voted, which compares favourably with the next two older age cohorts and is only a tick below that of the uniformly voting 55+ cohorts.

    Either this requires a full re-writing of the psephological textbook or needs to be viewed with extreme caution. Our own poll suggests that about half that number (44% saying 10/10 certainty of turning out) of 18-24s will actually vote (even when fully unweighted, it was only 50% of them).

    Clearly, this difference does bring to a head the new methodological battleground. Some pollsters, especially ICM, believe that the 10-point turnout scale no longer has value in disentangling voters from non-voters, because the fieldwork process (phone and online) predominately fails to reach the latter who are less interested in politics and by corollary, less interested in answering survey research. ICM stopped phone polling after the EU referendum, partly because we found it incredibly difficult to reach certain demographic groups – especially 18-24s.

    We, along with other pollsters typically reached half or less of the 18-24 target (by phone). We note with interest that Survation did a brilliant job in reaching them though – a full 80% of the target number (up-weighting them takes care of the missing residual). Whether Survation achieved this through full Random Digit Dialling or whether they utilised some targeted sample would be interesting to know, but either way, the great irony about being good at their job is that this success could easily introduce the very skew that kills the poll’s accuracy. If the 18-24s reached are in some way different to the 18-24s not reached, i.e in saying they will disproportionately vote and vote Labour at that – when their wider counterparts will not and do not – it’s likely that the same polling failings of 2015 will be very much embedded in this sample.

    So how pollsters address the turnout issue is now central to what a poll says. We at ICM turnout weight using a matrix that assumes younger people will be less likely to vote than older, and less affluent people will be less likely to vote than the wealthy. This has been the general pattern of General Election’s for an age, and whether you believe our poll findings or those of others will depend on whether or not you think Jeremy Corbyn can actually buck that trend.

    What impact does it have today? Well, if we still used the 10-point scale for our turnout weight, we too would have been looking at Survation-type numbers.

    In other news, the poll assessed how well Theresa May handled the Manchester atrocity, with over half (53%) saying she did well; only 17% saying badly. If Corbyn had been PM and had to handle it, the same number (17%) think he would have done so better than May, but twice as many (32%) think he would have handled it worse.

    Other poll questions include how the campaign has impacted on probability of voting for different parties, with (unsurprisingly given the headline reduction in the Conservative lead) people now less likely to vote Conservative and more likely to vote Labour as a result of campaign action they have seen or heard about.

    Despite May’s problems over the last week, she has a net campaigning impact score of only -2, while Corbyn scores at +2, begging the question: how much does campaign activity really make a difference to national perceptions?

    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,002 adults aged 18+ online on 26-29th 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.

  • Sun on Sunday Campaign Poll 3 – May 28th

    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.

  • The Guardian – Campaign Poll 7, May 19-21

    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.

  • A post-truth era? Fake news and the general election

    A new survey has revealed a shocking 52% of British adults are struggling to tell the difference between real and fake news in the run up to the General Election.

    As campaigns from all parties ramp up ahead of 8th June, a quarter of those surveyed (25%) have seen fake news about the UK general election, rising to 43% among 18-24s. Despite scale of the fake news issue, only 6% have actually reported it to an authority.

    Most people point towards social media companies as a potentially untrustworthy source of information – half (51%) do not trust general election coverage on social media.

    Of the media outlets tested in the research, the BBC is the most trusted source for news about the General Election – however, less than half the population trust it at 45%. Only a quarter (27%) say they trust UK newspapers.

    The ICM survey also found:

    • A majority of the public believe that more action should be taken to deal with fake news about the election. Nearly one in three (28%) believe social media companies need to do more to deal with fake news, while around one in five say the same about UK newspapers (19%) and the BBC (18%).
    • One in five (21%) have cross-checked a news article about the general election to see if it was fake news, rising to 31% among savvy 18-24 year olds.

    There’s also a clear generational divide on fake news. Older people are significantly more likely to find it difficult to identify, with more than three in five over 65s (63%) saying they find it difficult to tell fake news from real news about the general election compared to around half in younger age groups. Younger age groups are also more confident about identifying fake news and are significantly more likely to have reported fake news.

    However, 14% say it’s not the responsibility of organisations to deal with fake news about the election, suggesting that individuals should be able to judge if something is fake news or not.

    ICM interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,038 GB adults aged 18+. Fieldwork was conducted online between 5 May and 7 May 2017.

  • The Guardian Campaign Poll 6

    In a week when the eagerly awaited but already much discussed manifestos 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 Jeremy 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 pollsters 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 Jeremy 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.

  • Brighton Pavilion Poll

    ICM Unlimited interviewed 1,001 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 27th April-1st May 2017. Interviews were conducted across the constituency and the results have been weighted to the profile of all constituency adults.

  • The Guardian – Campaign Poll 5

    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.

     ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,038 adults aged 18+ online, on 5-7th 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.

  • Sun on Sunday Campaign Poll 2

    The giant Tory lead continues to be steady and stable, with our poll this week showing it at 18-points over Labour, just one down on last week. The Tories do drop a point, now sitting at 46%, with Labour steady on 28% for the third ICM poll running and as it was last Sunday.

    Figures for publication are:

    Con 46% (-1 on last Sunday)

    Lab 28% (nc)

    LD 10% (+1)

    Green 4% (nc)

    UKIP 8% (nc)

    SNP 4% (mc)

    PC *% (nc)

    Oth *% (nc)

    If the headline figures are not miserable enough for Labour, their apparent capitulation in their own key marginals continues to look like a real prospect. On this poll the Conservatives lead in such places by 19-points – slightly out performing their national share –  putting them on the highest figure yet we’ve seen in these crucial constituencies. This would imply wipe-out for Labour, losing to the Tories by such a margin according to these numbers that Theresa May would return to Downing Street armed with an overall majority of at least 132 seats.

    ICM Unlimited interviewed 2,020 adults aged 18+ online on 3-5th 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.

  • The Guardian – Campaign Poll 4

    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.