UKIP’s marginal seat polling – fun with hyperbole and badly spun numbers

Alan Bown’s money is generating headlines for UKIP that are better than the actual polling numbers themselves suggest.

The headline figures of these UKIP commissioned polls are being reported somewhat selectively.  I don’t know why this is happening, but with such a small sample in each constituency (only around 500) and by only publicising the figures that exclude undecided voters and those who refused to say who they would vote for, the poll is largely meaningless.

For example, in Great Grimsby the realistic polling figures (page 6 of the table, figures rounded) are:

Labour 29%
UKIP 16%
Conservative 15%
Lib Dems 8%
Others 4%
Undecided/Refused to answer 28%

With nearly a third of respondants not knowing or not saying who they will vote for, this poll really tells us nothing.  Bown is wasting his money, or at best paying well over the odds for some favourable short term headlines in the Tory hating press.

Looking at the figures objectively, the Labour lead is no surprise.  This was a seat the Tories failed to win, even against the most unpopular Labour government in history, falling 700 votes short of Austin Mitchell in 2010.  Looking at that result gives the impression of this seat being a marginal.  But in reality, the Tories have shot their bolt and now they are part of an unpopular government they were always going to fall away to more normal levels of support.

To put things into context, below is the result from Great Grimsby in 2005, which shows the more normal order of things in the constituency.

Getting back to this Survation poll for Bown/UKIP and the comparison with 2010, the Guardian’s report is little short of ludicrous:

Meanwhile Ukip is significantly outperforming its projected figure from most national polls, up 15 points on 23%, far above the 15% projected from national polling.

The UKIP vote was 6% in 2010, but when you look at the full numbers in the Survation poll, including the all important undecideds and refusals, UKIP is up 10 points to 16% – which is 50% less than the Guardian is trying to spin and completely in line with the 15% vote share projection from national polling.

It’s not a bad increase, but it is nothing like what the media is trying to spin.  This is another example of the lamestream media trying to concoct a story out of nothing.

Further, when one considers UKIP’s recent election results have seen increases in their vote directly correlating with the previous BNP vote that has lost its home, the 16% today is only 5% higher than the combined UKIP/BNP 2010 share in Great Grimsby of just under 11%, shown below:

Of course, in this poll some of the refusals might be UKIP supporters and some of the undecideds could break for UKIP in 2015, so a 23% vote share is still possible, if somewhat unlikely.  But as with the polling numbers released last week for Thanet South, the media coverage seems to be following an agenda that gives UKIP false hope that they are performing better than they actually are.  The devil is in the numbers that are being deliberately ignored.

I have not yet looked at the Dudley polling, but I’ll wager the pattern is continued there and the headline numbers are overstating the real support the parties are getting.

15 Responses to “UKIP’s marginal seat polling – fun with hyperbole and badly spun numbers”


  1. 1 matthu 04/12/2013 at 7:05 am

    The figures you quote e.g. from Grimsby 2005 also exclude voters who did not come down in favour of any particular party. So when the media talk about an increase from 3.8% in 2005 or 6.2% in 2010 to 23% in the most recent poll, this is comparing on a like for like basis.

    Otherwise you need to take into account the 51% turnout in 2005.

    Of course, if any of the 4 major parties were to offer a uniquely different set of policies in 2015, one might expect the turnout to be markedly higher.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 04/12/2013 at 8:52 am

    Your assertion is wrong. The poll also shows the number of people who say they will not vote.

    The figures I have given has a base of people who will vote, but of those around 30% are undecided or will not reveal who they plan to vote for. That is the swing vote, the all important section that will decide the extent of Labour’s majority or whether UKIP will break above 16-17%.

    Bookmark this comment matthu, then after the 2015 election come back and we’ll compare the poll percentages I use with these reported number and the actual outcome.

  3. 3 matthu 04/12/2013 at 9:45 am

    AM – you say in your blog for example:

    “The UKIP vote was 6% in 2010, but when you look at the full numbers in the Survation poll, including the all important undecideds and refusals, UKIP is up 10 points to 16%”

    But the UKIP figure of 6% in 2010 that you quote comes from your second graphi which shows a turnout of 53%.

    The complete figures from this table are:
    Labour 32.7%
    Conserv 30.5%
    LibDem 22.4%
    UKIP 6.2%
    BNP 4.6%
    Independ 2.5%
    PNDP 1.0%
    and thiose figures add up to 100%

    The 6.2% is a proportion of the 53% of the electorate who actually voted and excludes those who could not decide.

    So it is reasonable to compare this figure to the 23% who indicated UKIP in the latest poll and not meaningful to compare it to 16% as you do.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 04/12/2013 at 11:35 am

    And your reasoning is wholly flawed because it was not undecideds who intend to vote who stayed away in 2010, it was people who refused to vote.

    In the survey 22% of those polled indicated they intend to vote but are undecided. You’re comparing apples with snooker tables. If all of the current undecideds vote for Labour, UKIP’s share will drop lower than 16%. Excluding those who intend to vote but have not said who that vote will go to is like assuming night will never end because the sun has not yet risen.

    It seems your desperation to believe UKIP is on 23% trumps all else and is clouding your logic.

  5. 5 theboillingfrog 04/12/2013 at 12:06 pm

    As joker card to consider AM, is UKIP may benefit from publicity come an election. It’s a similar phenomenon to LIb Dems where polling usually underestimates the actuall poll rating they get – because they receive more publicity at election time.

    This can be seen during party conference season which affects on a weekly basis a party’s ratings depending on whose conference it is and also may account for the high poll ratings for UKIP around last May’s local elections.

  6. 6 blingmun 04/12/2013 at 12:24 pm

    In footballing terms. UKIP is hoofing the ball up the middle and then a big striker is heading it in the net. Autonomous Mind/Richard North have been researching the history of umpiring in the Harrogate area and can’t bear UKIP’s ability to win actual games of football.

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 04/12/2013 at 1:14 pm

    blingmun, if UKIP are getting the ball into the net, why are the tracker polls consistently showing them in the 12-14% range? If that represents a winning team, I suppose they must be fighting relegation from the Skrill League.

    I can’t speak for Richard, but what I can’t bear is UKIP’s repeated stupidity in latching on to false stories, shying away from the core issue of how EU membership negatively impacts the UK and undermining the credibility of the EUsceptic cause with their behaviour and false/mistaken assertions.

    Even though my view is that voting outside of referenda changes nothing because elected representatives don’t have power over the issues that matter, I would actually love to be able to support UKIP and encourage them as an EUsceptic organisation. But I can’t because the party is badly led, misguided, shallow and lacks intellectual coherence. With a few notable exceptions, the party purposely ignores valuable information and details it could use to improve its campaign, because it was researched and developed by people who dare to be critical of the party.

    If you want to criticise or knock me, at least get your facts right. It would then make your points valid.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 04/12/2013 at 1:21 pm

    TBF, I believe UKIP are deliberately cherry picking numbers from the poll to give the impression there is a bandwagon building, in the hope people will be more minded to join it. The Guardian are all over the figures because they can mock the Tories and energise Labour.

    Of course, UKIP could build a real bandwagon if it presented a positive and well thought out vision of an independent Britain and countered the economic rubbish coming out of the CBI and Open Europe. But they don’t.

    Instead UKIP falls into traps like flags on food packaging (myth) and the latest one over road signs, citing EU interference and rejecting the ideas out of hand, when in actual fact the measures proposed originate globally from UNECE and in any case harmonisation of signage would be a safety bonus given the increase in cross border road travel, irrespective of political control.

  9. 9 Andrew Watson 04/12/2013 at 5:55 pm

    In my experience The Guardian, whilst undoubtedly sceptical of the Tories,is also pretty sniffy about Labour, despite having the odd pro Labour commentator, Polly Toynbee for example. In 2010 the paper backed the Liberals and it has a long history of Liberal support going back through its Manchester Guardian days to its foundation. Its iconic editor for over 50 years C P Scott was a Liberal MP. I would view it as being a liberal metropolitan paper these days a la BBC,rather than a left wing one. The one paper that consisitently supports Labour is the Mirror. Agree 100% with one of the founders of UKIp, Dr Sked that UKIP are beyond the pale.

  10. 10 Anthem 04/12/2013 at 10:43 pm

    The only poll that matters is the GE.

    This country is turning to shit. LibLabCon are only dragging it further into the mire.

    Vote UKIP or start making your emigration plans.

    Personally, I’m doing both.

  11. 11 Andrew Watson 05/12/2013 at 8:31 am

    Any chance you could bring your emigration plans forward, Anthem? Where would you go? Your arrival as an immigrant abroad might be seen as somewhat ironic given your support for UKIP.

  12. 12 blingmun 05/12/2013 at 9:06 am

    Ok so let’s write off UKIP. You left the Tories, and clearly you won’t be joining Labour, LD, Greens or the BNP.

    Are you actually interested in who wins the next election?

  13. 13 Autonomous Mind 05/12/2013 at 10:19 am

    You may as well emigrate, Anthem. UKIP don’t have the support or ability to change anything.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 05/12/2013 at 10:27 am

    blingmun, I’m not particularly interested, no.

    It doesn’t matter which of the main parties wins the election, the outcomes are pre-ordained. The same crap will continue to be done unto us. The EU is our government and the people elected to Westminster, while nominally a government, are merely executives carrying out the orders they receive from Brussels.

    UKIP can’t win the election, they party has limited itself and does not have the reach to attain beyond a couple of seats at the most. It will eventually fade away and after Farage finally relinquishes control the bloodletting will be pretty much fatal. It could have been very different of course, but Farage puts his own interests first and has total control of the party.

    Without a wholesale reform of the system to implement democracy, what the people want will continue to be ignored. Only binding referenda matter. Elections are now completely meaningless and are a charade to give the impression of democracy where there is none.

  15. 15 Anthem 06/12/2013 at 11:46 pm

    @that Watson thingy – I don’t vote UKIP because I don’t agree with immigration, I vote UKIP because I don’t want to be a part of the EU.

    As I’m sure you know, as long as we’re a part of the EU, immigration is completely uncontrolled. All of Europe could decide to live here if it so wished.

    As long as we’re a part of the EU, we stand no chance of really getting this country back on an even keel. It may well be the case that it has gone beyond the point of rescue.

    I will be voting UKIP in the next GE because the established parties need a kick up the arse.

    In the meantime, I’m making my escape plans. It’s not easy. The idiots have taken over everywhere.

    If Labour get in next time ’round, you won’t even need to switch off the lights… they won’t be working anyway.


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