Keir Starmer comes third in a two horse race

Following a weekend of negative headlines for the government over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, any cross-party truce to hold off criticism of the Prime Minister while he recovers is well and truly over. However, one group with whom Boris Johnson remains popular is the general public. In recent weeks, the Conservatives have enjoyed some of their best approval ratings since Johnson entered office. The election of Keir Starmer as Labour leader was billed as something that could change this. However, so far any Starmer effect has failed to materialise. A YouGov poll asking who out of Boris Johnson or Keir Starmer would make the best Prime Minister puts Johnson in the lead at 46 per

Tory lead more than halved in final YouGov MRP poll

When the first YouGov MRP poll of the election campaign was published last month, it was a cause of anxiety in Conservative Campaign Headquarters. The projection of a Tory majority of 68 was seen as overly optimistic – and there were concerns that it could lead to complacency in the polling booth. The second – and final – YouGov MRP poll of the election campaign does not carry the same baggage. With two days to go until polling day, it now suggests the Tories are on course for a small majority of 28. Were the election held tomorrow, YouGov forecasts that the Conservatives would win 339 seats with Labour on

Why YouGov’s MRP poll will worry the Conservatives

When the 2017 snap election result came through, it proved a shock to many who had been covering the campaign in depth. The bulk of the polls had suggested Theresa May was on course for a comfortable majority. However, there was one poll that had predicted a hung parliament – YouGov’s MRP model. This poll of 100,000 people uses a different method than normal – with predictions focussed on small geographic areas based on a mix of data and demographic. In 2017, it suggested the Tories were on course to lose 20 seats. Tonight’s poll paints a different picture – it suggests the Tories are on course for a large

Theresa May’s good news: poll finds Prime Minister is the least worst option

Finally some good news for Theresa May. After a tawdry few weeks in which Conservative MPs have taken to Twitter, newspapers and the airwaves to criticise the Prime Minister, May’s premiership looks on shaky ground. Reports on the number of letters calling for a confidence vote in May are said to be getting perilously close to the magic number required. But any MPs considering firing off a letter to Sir Graham Brady – the chair of the 1922 committee – would be well-advised to look at the latest YouGov/WPI poll first. In a survey of Conservative voters (which took place 28-29 January), over two thirds back Theresa May to remain

Battle of the pollsters: Jim Messina blasts YouGov for ‘another stupid poll’

Today Westminster has been abuzz with speculation over the general election result after YouGov analysis suggested the Conservatives are on course for an electoral upset which could see them lose their majority. The YouGov team have been busy defending the numbers behind the headline, with Joe Twyman appearing on today’s Spectator’s Coffee House Shots podcast. However, despite their best efforts, some are unwilling to accept YouGov’s findings. Step forward Jim Messina. The former Obama adviser — who did the Tory’s micro-targeting campaign in 2015 and is involved again this year — has taken to social media to brand the YouGov poll ‘stupid’: Spent the day laughing at yet another stupid poll

Tom Goodenough

Listen: YouGov’s Joe Twyman defends shock election poll

Can we trust the pollsters? Bruised by Brexit and caught out by Trump, the psephologists claim they’ve finally learnt their lesson. If so, that’s a big problem for the Tories: today’s YouGov poll predicts that the party is on course for an electoral upset which could see them lose their majority. YouGov have been busy defending the numbers behind the headline this morning, and the company’s Joe Twyman has been doing just that on the Spectator’s Coffee House Shots podcast. So, given YouGov failed to get it right in 2015, why should we believe them this time? And will the pollsters end up tweaking their assumptions? Here’s Joe Twyman: ‘We are

Tom Goodenough

YouGov poll suggests Tories could fall 16 seats short of overall majority

There’s a nasty shock for the Tories in the Times this morning, with the paper publishing a YouGov poll suggesting the party could lose 20 seats at next week’s election. The estimate says that we could be heading for a hung parliament and that the Conservatives might fall 16 seats short of an overall majority. Even more remarkably, YouGov’s numbers indicate Labour could up their tally of seats by almost 30. It’s difficult to overestimate just what a disaster such an outcome would be for Theresa May. The Prime Minister made the decision to call this election herself with only the guidance of her tightly-knit Downing Street team; if she fails

Middle May

Once, politicians remained in their safe spaces and elections were fought in a handful of swing seats. This time Theresa May is campaigning in Labour heartlands, pitching herself at people who have never considered voting Conservative before. Tories are targeting seats they have not held since the 1930s and social class seems almost irrelevant. Pollsters YouGov recently observed that class now tells us ‘little more about a person’s voting intention that looking at their horoscope or reading their palms’. As Tony Blair might have put it, the political kaleidoscope has been shaken and the pieces are in flux. A picture of a Britain with new fault lines is emerging. To

How Corbyn failed to transform PMQs

Prime Minister’s Questions is now regarded in Westminster as being even more pointless than it used to be before. The general weakness of Jeremy Corbyn and his parliamentary party’s ongoing but powerless dissatisfaction with the Labour leader means that it is rarely a session where the Opposition lays a glove on the Prime Minister – and even more unusually a session which Labour MPs leave feeling proud of their party. It’s not just Labour that makes the session feel a bit miserable: even when Corbyn does score a hit, as he has done on social care in recent weeks, Tory backbenchers forget that their job as members of the legislature

Why I lie about voting Leave

There are lies, damned lies and pretending to back Remain. I lie because I am a coward. I hug friends who burst into tears, petrified by life without the European Union. I sympathise with strangers, who act like Lady Di just died and there’s nowhere to lay flowers. I obfuscate, I mutter, I am evasive. And I am not alone. There are hordes of us who’ll not admit we voted Leave to our best friends, our next of kin. We learned to keep schtum a long time ago — thanks to social media — since they’d defriend us if said we’d vote to leave. Now they are outraged, deeply confused

Is it a case of Tim-Nice-But-Dim for Remain?

Another day, another Brexit poll. This time YouGov claim to have discovered what a name can tell you about someone’s voting tendency. If you’re called Sheila or Graham you’re most likely to vote Leave, whereas those by the name of Kathryn and Samantha are most likely to fall into the undecided category. However, the poll finding that caught Mr S’s eye relates to Remain. It claims that when it comes to men, those by the name of Tim are most likely to plump for In. So, is it a case of Tim-Nice-But-Dim for Remain? Harry Enfield’s Old Ardinian comic creation — a parody of pleasant yet intellectually challenged public schoolboys — said ‘yah to the euro’ back in 2002 (before admitting

Latest polls show a swing back to Remain

We are now in the final week of the referendum campaign and the swing back towards the status quo appears to be in full force. We at YouGov have published two polls this morning, one conducted for ITV’s Good Morning Britain between Wednesday and Thursday, and one conducted for the Sunday Times on Thursday and Friday. After the clear leads for Leave that polls were showing a week ago, both of our polls published today show the race coming back to neck-and-neck again: a two point Leave lead in the Good Morning Britain poll, a one point Remain lead in the Sunday Times poll. While there will be speculation about

What Muslims think

Do you have sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria? It’s a hard question to answer: perhaps you’d wonder who the ‘fighters’ were. Or whether the ‘young Muslims’ were 14-year-old girls, groomed by fanatics to be jihadi brides. But if you answer ‘yes’, you may be surprised to find yourself described as having ‘sympathy for jihadis’. Such are the perils awaiting British Muslims who respond to opinion poll questions. The Sun this week found itself in a row about a front-page headline: 1 IN 5 BRIT MUSLIMS’ SYMPATHY FOR JIHADIS. The poll, by Survation, had asked a rather different question: what level of ‘sympathy’

Labour supporters are still backing Jeremy Corbyn in droves

The Tories may be steaming ahead in the national opinion polls but the Labour grassroots are still pleased with Jeremy Corbyn. According to a new poll from The Times and YouGov — who surveyed the Labour membership during the leadership contest and predicted Corbyn’s victory — two thirds of members think the leader is doing ‘well’. He continues to have the overwhelming support of those who backed him during the leadership contest too: 83 per cent of this group say he is doing well. It’s not just the Corbyn backers within Labour who are pleased with his performance — almost half of those who voted for Andy Burnham this summer think the leader is doing

Public backs David Cameron on Syrian airstrikes, according to new poll

The terrorist attacks in Paris appear to have shifted public attitudes on both refugees and airstrikes. According to a new poll from the Times/YouGov, 20 per cent think we should accept more refugees — down 16 points from September — while almost half said we should accept fewer or none at all, which is a 22 point increase from September. Other factors may have played into this shift in opinion but what has happened in Paris will surely have played a big part in it. The poll also reveals that the public backs the decision to to kill Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John, via a drone strike. 76 per cent said it was the

Jeremy Corbyn: the most unpopular new opposition leader in the history of polling

Labour’s conference in Brighton might not have been the disaster some expected but it hasn’t done much for Jeremy Corbyn’s standing with the public. A new YouGov/Sun poll shows the Labour leader’s personal rating is minus eight — the lowest since polls of new opposition leaders began with Hugh Gaitskell in 1955. As the chart below shows, Corbyn is eight points lower than Michael Foot in 1980 and Iain Duncan Smith in 2001. This rating also puts him 34 points behind Ed Miliband in 2010. This poll follows a trend: Ipsos MORI’s first tracker for Corbyn put him on minus three in their net satisfaction ratings — five points behind

Andy and Yvette — a tale of two ‘Anyone But Corbyn’ strategies

Who has the best chance of beating Jeremy Corbyn: Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper? The Burnham and Cooper camps are vying to be the clear ‘Anyone But Corbyn’ candidate, and trying to grab as much of the low-hanging ‘soft’ Corbyn vote as possible before the ballot closes on 10 September. Burnham is most blatant in his adoption of the ABC strategy. For example, in an op-ed for the Independent today, he says ‘I believe it has come down to a straight choice between Jeremy Corbyn and myself’ and outlined five policy areas he will pursue if elected leader to build a ‘bolder, more principled Labour party’. On housing, Burnham said he will oppose the extension of

Why a politician-free House of Lords is the only democratic solution

In my business, there’s a lot of fretting about the idea of representativeness. Pollsters put questions to, say, a thousand people – and take them as a sample of the country. How to be sure that you have the right sample? You need the right number of men, women, northerners, middle class, Lib Dem voters etc – but that’s the easy part. Your method of selection matters hugely, and it can skew the sample in other, less tangible ways. Every pollster is vulnerable to this so-called ‘selection bias’ . If you survey people on high streets, for example, you’ll get people tend to be out-and-about – rather than at home. If you survey

Our railways are better than ever. They don’t need renationalising

Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn have both pledged to bring back British Rail. Why? In a speech yesterday, Corbyn justified his position: ‘I think the public mood is there, absolutely there, saying, “Bring our railways back into public ownership.” And we’ll all get a better and much more integrated system as a result’. Headline figures from recent polls suggest he may have a point: a YouGov survey from early August said 58 per cent supported ‘bringing the railways, water companies and other utilities back into public ownership through renationalisation’. But this could be classified as a ‘would you like a pony’ polling question; it offers no explanation of what renationalisation would entail, only hinting

Can we trust the Labour leadership polls?

Is Jeremy Corbyn’s steaming ahead in the Labour leadership contest? Is he going to win on first preferences alone? The best quantitate answers we have come from two YouGov polls conducted for the Times — one in July and another last week. The first poll put Corbyn 17 points ahead of his nearest rival on first preferences and six points ahead in the final round. In the second poll, Corbyn was 31 points ahead on first preferences and 14 points in the final round. Can these polls be trusted? Given that YouGov, like all the other pollsters, called the general election incorrectly, scepticism is rife in Westminster about any polling. On the World at One today, Peter Kellner of YouGov pointed out his company correctly