• 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.

  • Sun on Sunday Campaign Poll 1

    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 *%

     

     

  • ITV Poll for Peston on Sunday

    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.

  • The Guardian April Campaign Poll 3

    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

  • The Guardian – April Poll (2, pre election annoucement)

    This poll was published just after the Prime Minister announced that a General Election would be called, but ALL fieldwork took place on the Easter weekend prior to the annoucement.

    A second ICM poll, all undertaken after the annoucement was published on the ICM website prior to this publication.

    Vote intention headline figures from this poll are:

    Conservatives 44%

    Labour 26%

    UKIP 11%

    Liberal Democrat 10%

    Green 4%

    SNP 4%

    Plaid Cymru 1%

    Other 1%