Posts Tagged 'Opinion Polls'

UKIP: Where is that surge?

After the European Elections we saw some pollsters, notably Survation, claim that their predicted share of the vote would have been correct if only people hadn’t mistakenly voted for Mike Nattrass grouping, ‘An Independence from Europe’.

A number of UKIP’s outriders on various forums and newspaper comment threads suggested that UKIP would have done even better in the election but for the media’s smear campaign against Nigel Farage and the party – this despite saying for weeks that the smear campaign would only serve to increase UKIP’s support and vote.

We also heard that polling was showing anything between 60-75% of UKIP voters would stick with the party at the General Election ensuring the party a record vote – fuelling claims from the Faragistas that UKIP could hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015 on the back of this ‘surge’.

So, what to make of two separate polls this week that show a uniform pattern?

This week’s general election poll for Lord Ashcroft shows UKIP down another two points, which is a repeat of last week, meaning UKIP has dropped four points in a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the regular poll for ComRes, showing the favourability rating of the party leaders, shows Nigel Farage has dropped six points on the index overall since April.

This isn’t a gloat.  This is merely confirmation of what we have been saying for some time.  There is no surge.

The European Elections were the outlet, for those who could be bothered to vote, to either stick by their party or register a protest safe in the knowledge the result is utterly meaningless.  This country could have sent 73 Monster Raving Loony MEPs to Brussels and it would not have changed a thing.

For too many people UKIP has become a religion.  Too many are setting aside reality and pushing arguments based on emotion and faith, they seem to have a need to demonstrate belief.  The problem is their faith is in a party which has missed open goals time and again and a man who has demonstrated his pledges are no more ‘cast iron’ than those of David Cameron.  The party is ignoring its core proposition and jumping on any issue where it thinks it can get votes.

The subject of leaving the EU is less important to the party’s supporters than stopping immigration – something UKIP cannot deliver because it has no plan and plainly does not understand the governance of immigration in the modern world.  Farage dived onto immigration simply to hoover up the votes of those who are vehemently against it.  As such the focus on leaving the EU is diluting month on month.

The current polling suggests that UKIP will be holding a bad hand in May 2015. It will not have a chip in the big game or be able to influence what happens in Westminster.  The only impact the party will have is to deprive some Conservatives from winning seats.  While that might make UKIP followers pleased as punch, it will do nothing to advance the cause of leaving the EU and will be followed by a slow decline as people peel away from the party, realising that supporting it is not making any difference.

These are not good times for the anti-EU side.

Opinion pollster ‘house effects’ revealed in report

As party political attention focuses on the General Election – albeit with the likelihood of a by-election in Cambridgeshire South when Andrew Lansley is packed off to Brussels to be the UK’s contribution to the Commissioner Corps -the opinion polls will become increasingly important in telling us the possible outcome for May 2015.

The Political Betting blog reports that  the “Polling Observatory” at Manchester University have released their latest report in which they seek to estimate current electoral sentiment by pooling all the currently available polling data, while taking into account the estimated biases of the individual pollsters (“house effects”).  This allows them to assess whether the reported vote intention for a given pollster is above or below the industry average.

This is interesting as party supporters have their favourite pollsters, who they rate more highly than the others. For example, UKIP supporters love talking up Survation polls and many reject You Gov polls because Peter Kellner is married to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton. Tories on the other hand prefer the results that Populus publish, while contending that Survation always understates the true level of Tory electoral support; and so on.

While the results are on the Manchester Uni page linked above, Political Betting’s love of Datawrapper has seen them plot the results on a party by party basis.  Makes interesting reading….

This becomes even more interesting when you look at these ‘house effects’ with the European Elections in mind, where we have already covered the accuracy of pollsters in light of the election results.

The issues seem to have their basis in both polling method (phone or internet) and adjustment methodology (how they deal with undecideds and those who won’t say who they plan to vote for).

A poll finding that should concern all who want to leave the EU

Ask voters which party they most associate with wanting the UK to leave the EU and they will reply UKIP.  This is despite the declining importance of the EU question that has become evident among UKIP supporters.

So You Gov’s poll findings that voters feel a lot more negative and less positive about UKIP  than they did five years ago, as covered on Political Betting, should be a concern to all people on the anti-EU side.

To howls of derision, copious amounts of abuse, occasional smears and some more measured and polite dismissals by UKIP supporters, this blog has tried over many months to explain that the approach of UKIP’s leadership (in particular Nigel Farage, as he sets the direction in autocratic fashion) was actually setting the party up to fail at a time when everyone has been pointing at higher polling, membership and votes in elections.

This You Gov poll puts meat on the bones of my many blog posts on the subject.  UKIP is hitting a glass ceiling where its support is at its maximum.

While it might have formed a hard core of committed, fervent, extremely vocal, almost evangelical supporters – many of whom use social media and newspaper comment threads as echo chambers to increase mention of the party, encourage each other, and aggressively gang up on anyone with a criticism – they are gradually alienating an increasing number of middle of the road voters they need to attract if they are to make a political breakthrough of any substance.

Ordinary voters who share many of UKIP’s concerns, particularly rejection of the UK remaining in the EU, are increasingly choosing not to support the party because of the unrefined and hollow rhetoric on immigration, the behaviour of supporters on the internet, and the vacuous, policy-lite hotch potch of ‘aspirations’.  But as they turn away from UKIP, many will also turn away from the anti-EU side of the EU membership argument just as it looks possible a referendum could finally be held.

This blog has long considered itself a critical friend to UKIP, despite the attacks by those who consider themselves virtuous defenders of the cause.  But if UKIP looks set to hamstring the prospects of the anti-EU side by acting as a repellant rather than a recruiter, then the friendship has to end and UKIP has to be taken on and defeated.

I wish there was an alternative to this.  But there’s far more at stake in a referendum than there is in preserving the ambitions of Nigel Farage.  UKIP’s failings must not be allowed to drag down the chances of the anti-EU side of winning a referendum.

I am often asked just what my agenda is as people cannot believe I want to leave the EU, but remain critical of UKIP.  It is very simple. We need UKIP to sort itself out and shape up, or we need to get it out of the way so we can take on and defeat the Europhiles.

That anti-EU vote, again…

Following on from the previous post, asking where the anti-EU vote the media keeps talking about is, ComRes has published the findings of a poll of UKIP voters at the European Elections asking them to prioritise the issues that determined why they voted for the party.

The details, published on Political Betting, show that leaving the EU trailing a long way behind controlling immigration in the priorities of those who voted UKIP.

So even though this a ComRes poll, we are once again left to ask where this huge anti-EU vote – which the legacy parties and media are determined to use as an explanation for the UKIP vote and justification for the fantasy EU reform agenda – is.

In years gone by UKIP members would have ranked leaving the EU as their number one issue by a very long way.  But that is clearly no longer the case.  Immigration has become the big issue, despite UKIP having no understanding of the global dimensions of immigration rules and no policy to address them, and it is that subject which has seen support for the party increase.  The anti-EU cause is being diluted and eroded.

This is leading to the other parties and media applying an outdated and inaccurate interpretation that they wish the metrics would underpin, rather than an interpretation of what the metrics actually show.

Survation and ComRes least accurate pollsters for European Election

There is some justified crowing going on over at You Gov following the European Election results. The pollster highlights that:

YouGov was the only company to get the top two, UKIP and Labour, right to within 1 point; YouGov was the only company to get all parties right to within 2 points; YouGov was the only company to rank all five parties in the right order (with Greens coming 4th and Lib Dems coming 5th).

It appears You Gov is setting the standard with the way it handles the data in order to generate the most accurate prediction of voting intentions.  Survation and ComRes gave the least accurate predictions as can be seen from the graph below:

In fairness to Survation and ComRes, they at least both correctly identified UKIP as the election ‘winner’. ICM on the other hand understated UKIP’s vote and overstated Labour’s by four points in calling the election for Labour.

We won’t go as far as to suggest Alan Bown should consider getting his money back for Survation’s polling for UKIP in marginal constituencies. But perhaps UKIP should be careful to note the performance of all the pollsters and their handling of responses where voters refuse to say who they plan to support, or say they are undecided about who they will support, before deciding which constituencies the party ‘throws the kitchen sink at’ in 2015.

An additional factor to bear in mind is that the results above were generated using larger sample sizes than the ones in the constituencies that have been carried out for the parties, and therefore the scope for error is likely to be even larger in those very targeted polls.

When looking ahead to the 2015 elections, observers can clearly do worse than treating You Gov’s polling outputs as the most likely indicator of voter intentions.

One political earthquake looks likely to be replaced by another

National polling over the last few days has caused some ripples among political anoraks.

As Political Betting has highlighted, Labour and Conservatives are now level pegging on 34% according to You Gov.  The last time that Labour was that low with the firm was in June 2010 only weeks after the party’s GE2010 defeat.   With four pollsters in two days showing the same broad picture the trend is becoming clearer Labour is down.

Miliband effect kicking in?

It seems no one has quite ‘got’ why this has happened yet. Most people are not political anoraks and therefore take little or no interest in politics until the week before they are going to vote.  Now there is a nationwide election due and we are less than a year from the General Election, so more people are inevitably taking a look at politics, whether they will vote and if so who they will vote for.

This is forcing people to look at Ed Miliband for the first time in a while and consider whether they seem him as this country’s next Prime Minister.  It seems they are concluding that he is not Prime Minster material and slowly turning away from Labour.

Where’s the UKIP bounce?

What is interesting is that there does not seem to be any rise in UKIP support, as the national polling for 2015 still shows the party rooted firmly in the 15% range.  UKIP has made much of its belief that more of its voters in the forthcoming European Elections will stick with the party in May 2015, and that a political earthquake will result.

What this assessment seems to ignore is that only around 30% of the electorate will bother to vote in the Euros, with UKIP mobilising just about all its support.  Most Labour and Tory voters and a good many Lib Dems will stay at home.  In May next year around 65-70% of the electorate will turn out for the personality politics vanity contest.  UKIP’s current vote will be significantly diluted.

Make no mistake, UKIP has the capacity to hurt the Tories next year.  But if  Labour support continues to fall back and the UKIP polling share doesn’t advance then the Tories may mitigate a lot of the damage.  UKIP’s political earthquake would then only have power comparable to a fart on a waterbed as the classic two party squeeze returns.

A lot can change between now and next May.  But as things stand it’s hard to see people’s perception of Miliband changing, particularly as the economy continues to improve.  Similarly it’s hard to see where UKIP will make any new breakthroughs, particularly as its immigration strategy is permanently alienating many more potential supporters than it is attracting.

One earthquake fails to materialise, but another might loom

Cameron could well be on course for a second term in Downing Street.  It’s not a prospect that fills me with joy, but as a result of that the UK would be on course for an in/out EU referendum in 2017.

This could be the best opportunity for the ‘out’ side to secure a Brexit from the EU. That would be an earthquake right at the top end of the political richter scale.

2017 is a date well before a point by which Cameron could ever hope to deliver on his renegotiation pledges.  There is no prospect of treaty change, which Cameron acknowledges some of his pledges require if they are to be delivered.  Four years after promising reforms he would have achieved nothing and would fight a referendum on a platform of promises that he can deliver, eventually.

People would see the reality that repatriation of meaningful powers to nation states just will not be allowed to happen.  Just like that crushing moment when a child discovers Father Christmas is not real, many pro-reformers will finally see their fantasy for what it is and admit at last the only options are in or out.

At least that is what will happen, if UKIP don’t secure enough votes in 2015 to deprive the Conservatives of some seats they currently hold in Parliament.  UKIP supporters face a paradox:

  • fight the Tories and do enough damage to prevent them winning the 2015 election, handing Downing Street to Miliband and thus losing any hope of bringing about a winnable in/out referendum.  Or,
  • don’t fight the Tories in the hope that they win the election and present EUsceptics with the golden opportunity they have craved for decades, to have and fight a winnable referendum and take Britain out of the EU

Welcome to the often soul destroying world of realpolitik.  After more than 20 years of campaigning to get the UK out of the EU, UKIP may find itself in a position where putting party first actually deprives voters of the chance to escape from the control of Brussels.

What cannot be ignored about that Survation poll for UKIP in Eastleigh

What is clear from the Survation poll of the Eastleigh constituency, commissioned by UKIP’s Alan Bown, is that local factors are at play in Eastleigh that are seeing UKIP maintain strong support compared to nationwide polling.

Several outlets report on the poll, including the UKIP website, declaring that UKIP is on course to win the seat at the General Election because Survation has them attracting an incredible 32% support.

However, here we are seeing the same problem with the figures that are being reported as we saw in Survation polls for UKIP at the end of last year in Great Grimsby and Thanet South, where selective use of the polling data is giving a distorted view of the electoral calculus in the constituency.

What is being reported on and played up by the media is Table 5 in the Survation poll.

The data presented concerns this:

Q3 Voting Intention Tables – Normal Weighted Table and Likelihood Weighting
Q3. If that general election were to be held tomorrow, which party do you think you would be most likely to vote for in your Eastleigh constituency?

The results given, and being used as a sensational story, are:

UKIP – 31.7%
Conservative – 28.8%
Lib Dem – 25.7%
Labour – 12.0%
Green – 1.1%
Party not listed – 0.7%

But the figures do not give the true picture because they only show the preference of 316 people and crucially ignore the responses of a significant proportion of those polled:

Base : Respondents likely to vote in May 2015 election and Excluding Undecided/Refused

It is the exclusion of undecided voters and those who refused to say which party they would support which makes these headline figures basically worthless.

For the meaningful figures one must look at Table 4, for that is where we find the polling data for respondents who are likely to vote in the May 2015 election, including those who are yet to decide who to vote for, or who refused to tell the pollsters who they will support.  The numbers based on a sample of 472 people in the constituency are:

Undecided – 25.7%
UKIP – 21.2%
Conservative – 19.2%
Lib Dem – 17.1%
Labour – 8%
Refused – 7.6%
Green – 0.7%
Party not listed – 0.5%

No less than 33.3% – or exactly one in three people polled – are yet to make up their mind how to vote or have refused to say how they will vote.  If that is representative of the electorate across Eastleigh then of the possible 53,760 votes that might be polled (the 69% turnout in 2010) up to 17,900  votes are still up for grabs and are currently going to an unknown destination.  That is a huge number – larger than the winner of the 2013 by-election received – and ultimately it is those votes that will decide which party’s candidate wins the election.

This is not to do UKIP down.  Of course, it could be good news for UKIP if most of those people choose to vote for the party.  They would win a Parliamentary election for the first time.  But it could still be bad news for UKIP because those undecideds could break for the Conservatives or Lib Dems, putting either of those candidates into Westminster. There is an ’embarrassment factor’ in polling that first emerged clearly in 1992, which particularly affects the Conservatives, where voters who are leaning towards voting Tory decline to say so because of the party’s unpopularity in the media.  That is one of many factors which underlines why there is a need for realism and perspective when looking at these polling figures.

In Eastleigh there is still everything to play for.  It remains a three-way marginal and UKIP is polling over 21% – which is way above their nationwide average.  But things are not necessarily as rosy for UKIP as the sensationalist headline suggests and events between now and May could change things in Eastleigh dramatically for or against UKIP.

Undecided voters coming off the fence for Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems slip

Two polls out tonight have the Conservatives closing the gap with Labour to just 1%, with UKIP and the Lib Dems falling back.

Political Betting‘s Mike Smithson reports that:

Tonight’s Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday provides a massive boost for the Tories following the budget.

The pollster, which pioneered prompting for Farage’s party, has traditionally had the biggest shares for UKIP. That’s down 3 to 15% while the Tories jump 4. The LDs also see a 3% drop.

My understanding is that a big driver of the Tory advance is that far fewer 2010 CON voters are now saying don’t know. On top of that there are fewer 2010 CON voters switching to the purples.

There’s a long way to go to Election 2015, but this week’s Budget and Labour’s appalling response to it seems to have resulted in a Conservative bounce at the expense of the smaller parties.  If tonight’s polls are not outliers, it could signal the early start to the two party squeeze this blog has been predicting.  If that happens, and more undecideds come down on the Tory side to prevent Miliband taking the keys to Downing Street, then Labour is not yet a dead cert to win the election.

The UKIP delusion

Yesterday, Iain Martin in the Telegraph caught my eye with the article above.  Having been pondering the Scotland independence campaign in recent days and what we are learning from it, with a view to covering it on this blog – and given the added UKIP dimension – it was of interest to see where he would go with his piece.

To be honest Martin didn’t add much if anything to our understanding of the dynamics at play north of the border.  But his opinion regarding UKIP’s fortunes and by extension those of Nigel Farage did make one eyebrow rise somewhat.  As Martin opines:

It is curious that Salmond should be blowing up just as Nigel Farage starts to blow up. The two great guerilla leaders of our age – both expert at mounting effective raids on Westminster and discombobulating their much bigger opponents – are in trouble.

This is a ridiculous assertion.  UKIP has never even come close to mounting a raid on Westminster.  While the SNP has most seats in the Scottish Parliament and also returns MPs to Westminster, UKIP has a relatively small number of councillors in England and Wales and has only once come within a couple of thousand votes of ever having an MP elected under the party’s banner (Eastleigh).  However, setting aside such a daft claim, Martin did rehearse a point that we have made on this blog several times:

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

We have mentioned this glass ceiling effect previously and all the current polling bears it out.  The trend of UKIP support in the polling numbers is downward and even in the party leader ratings, Nigel Farage has seen his number decline. There is simply no sign of UKIP being close to breaking through and significantly increasing its stock.

The reasons why we believe UKIP is stuck in second gear on the political motorway have been covered in detail here over many months. But what is worth noting today is the extent to which UKIP’s supporters, the vocal ones who lurk on the Telegraph’s comment threads seeking out criticism to attack, could be responsible for a lack of improvement in the party and letting Farage and his top team get away with poor performance at a time when the party should genuinely be surging ahead.

Looking at this subset of UKIP supporters, we can see from their contributions they are angry about Martin’s observations.  They refuse to deviate from their view that UKIP is on a surge, they see his piece as an attack on UKIP requiring an all-out retaliatory assault while at the same time accusing the media of circling the wagons around the main parties, they are desperate to state time and again that the party increased its vote five-fold in Wythenshawe to come second only to Labour, and a number of them claim that the almost the entire postal vote was fraudulent and that this robbed them of victory.

Is it any wonder the party leadership is able to actively resist change and improvement when in the eyes of an extremely vocal minority of members the party and its leadership does no wrong and when things go badly it’s always someone else’s fault or the result of a vicious conspiracy?  Let me explain by taking the points above in turn.

The fact is all the polls still show UKIP bumping along within a point or so of 13% nationally.  There are exceptions in some constituencies of a particular political composition where the party scores higher, but despite this they have been rooted around 13% for a while, having seen a drop from their polling highs around May last year.  This is in no way a surge that they claim it to be.  Arguing there is a surge merely ignores the evidence.

Perhaps Martin’s piece was an attack.  Journalists have reader numbers in mind, it’s all about the traffic they can drive, so anything that stirs a reaction and draws in more readers is grist to the mill.  Of course, Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems have all been attacked at some point and their supporters resent it, often biting back.  But UKIP supporters act as if attacks have never happened before in politics and believe they are under so concerted an attack it is as if the very core of their being and everything they believe in is at risk of destruction.  The resulting aggression and spite this sparks, as evidenced in their outpourings, is truly a sight.

The meme that is circulating in newspapers and blogs, that UKIP increased its vote in Wythenshawe five-fold, is a masterclass in spin.  A candidate who only got 2 votes could increase their vote five-fold next time around and it would still only be miniscule at 10.  UKIP supporters don’t like seeing the cold hard fact that they polled only 4,301 votes and although placed second, the party was so far behind Labour it was an irrelevance in the contest.  This is despite the UKIP vote being mobilised and motivated to turn out.  Before the election some of these people were declaring Wythenshawe to be in play and a possible UKIP gain!  Any attempt to point this out then moves smoothly to the next item on the list…

It requires quite a flight from reality to argue that the overwhelming majority of postal votes that went to Labour were fraudulent and that if people had to vote in person and produce ID, the ballot would have been much closer.  But that is what is being said in UKIP supporter circles.  The clear implication is that Asians in the constituency have engaged in electoral fraud and therefore stitched up UKIP.  No evidence has been provided and they say the establishment would ignore it anyway because it resulted in UKIP falling badly at the hurdle.

Farage and Co must love this.  These arguments let them completely off the hook for such a piss poor performance against a backdrop of real anger at the main parties.  While a small number who have rejected the main parties in frustration have indeed gone into the UKIP camp, UKIP is not picking up the majority of those who are turning their backs, because it is being seen as just another party that is no different to the rest.

It could have been so much different and it should be so much different.

‘Stop sniping from the sidelines, get on board, get behind us and influence the leadership if you want to change the approach’, is a mantra often heard from vocal UKIPpers who object to such observations and any criticism.  Incidentally they never engage on the substance of the criticism, but the details above show they never will because they are in an echo chamber, inhabiting a parallel plane where things like facts are dismissed with a sneer and promises of an earthquake to come are made.

But how could anyone try to change things from the inside when the leadership, irrespective of fault or error, is blessed with reinforcing confirmation bias in its totality from people who have gone beyond loyal and behave with quasi-religious reverence for the leadership and repeat every utterance as an inviolable truth that must not be questioned?

Where people cannot see any fault at all, there is no pressure on the party leadership to get its act together.  This is why UKIP is where it is.  This is why Iain Martin, for all his own failings, got the thrust of his piece correct.

This idea that too many in UKIP are deluding themselves about the party’s performance and prospects, has been given more credence by a YouGov ‘Voting Intention Predictions’ exercise – as covered by Political Betting – where people were asked to say where in the polls the main parties will be at the end of 2014.

While supporters of the four largest parties all rated the prospects of their own party more highly than supporters of other parties did, the predictions from UKIP supporters really stand out from the rest, as you can see below – believing they will have double the polling numbers supporters of any other party predict for them.

Until they return to the real world, UKIP supporters, not just the leadership, will see to it that the party never develops and never breaks the mould.  They are no longer an insurgency, they are just another party.

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.

Things always look better after a bit of a polish

When you pay the cherrypicker and get to pick out the cherries you like the look of, you tend to get what you want.

This is true of this week’s Alan Bown-funded poll for UKIP, carried out by Survation in the Thanet South constituency.  Political Betting makes the polling its main story with a headline that UKIP is just 5 points off winning Thanet South, pushing figures that have UKIP polling at 30%, ahead of the Tories on 28% and behind Labour on 35% as shown in their graph below, if a General Election was being held tomorrow.

The problem is this selective snapshot is only made possible by excluding from the model those people who replied ‘Don’t know’ or refused to express a party preference.  That is 35% of the respondants, and makes the cherrypicked data virtually meaningless.

If you look at the poll numbers themselves rather than this top level take that Guido and others have seized upon without looking at the actual data, and include those who are yet to make up their mind and those who may well vote but refuse to tell the pollster which party they will support, we find somewhat more realistic figures (rounded from page 3 of the data).

Labour 23%
UKIP 19%
Conservative 18%
Lib Dem 3%
Other party 2%
Undecided 24%
Refused to say 11%

Make no mistake, 19% for UKIP, given their diminishing focus on the core issue of sovereignty, isn’t that bad.  As this is Kent, we are talking about a county that has suffered more than most from illegal migration, via France, of people from around the world.  In these circumstances, UKIP should be out of sight – not trailing behind the very Labour party that more than any other political entity threw open our doors to migrants regardless of the legality of their status or value to our society and skills base.

Thanet South is reportedly one of the constituencies Nigel Farage is considering parachuting himself into, in the hope of achieving his burning ambition of becoming an MP.  If he chooses to drop himself into Thanet based on the figures being played up, he should prepare himself to be disappointed.

Given previous polls about which parties voters would never vote for, the likelihood is that a majority of the undecideds will break towards Labour or the Conservatives, reducing UKIP’s overall share in the constituency.  UKIP’s core base across all polls is around 13-14%, and there is much between now and 2015 that could see floating voters drift elsewhere.

There is also a possible ’embarrassment factor’ to consider, which came to prominence in polling models after 1992 when Tory supporters who did not reveal their voting intentions because of the party’s unpopularity skewed polls to make Kinnock’s Labour appear more popular than it was.  The 11% who refused to declare their preference could easily break for the Tories, Lib Dems or even Labour.

When you take all this into account the picture looks rather different.

Thanks for nothing, Farage and UKIP

In May this year, when UKIP had its ‘big’ electoral ‘breakthrough’ opinion polls asking people their views on the UK’s membership of the EU had 47% in favour of leaving, and 30% in favour of staying.

Despite Eurosceptic UKIP’s ‘surge’ the signs have been clear that the number in favour of staying in the EU would rise.  This is because of the concerted campaign that has been conducted by the Europhiles and their corporate sponsors to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the impact on the UK of leaving the union.

This blog has not held back in accusing UKIP of failing the Eurosceptic side because it has utterly failed to use its prominent platform to even attempt to counter the flood of misinformation, lies, manipulated statistics being pumped out.  This isn’t a case of UKIP struggling to get attention for its rebuttals of the Europhile FUD, it has simply not devoted a single moment to rebutting the Europhile nonsense.  In return this blogger has been attacked by some UKIP supporters who refuse to accept any criticism of their party.  Time and again this blog has said that if there is no rebuttal by the prominent Eurosceptics to counter the lies, using evidence and facts, voters will start to believe the Europhile claims are true and increasingly – however reluctantly – opt to stick with the status quo.

This blog’s UKIP detractors and naysayers have rubbished this argument. Voters, they claim, do not want lots of detail in rebuttal of the Europhile lies.  UKIP’s simple ‘we want out’ message, they assert, is far more effective than explaining the truth.  No one is that interested, they say, in an argument that extolls the opportunities and benefits of the UK freeing itself of EU control.  This blog explained why these arguments are wrong, but to no avail.

So it is that a YouGov poll question, ‘If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?’ returned the following results:

Taken from PoliticalBetting.com

Richard has his own analysis of the findings over at EU Referendum.  He points out the trend that is emerging, this being the lowest margin of the year so far, dropping 17 points from the peak in 9-10 May when the “outers” stood at 47 percent and the “inners” took 30 percents. By August, the margin had dropped to 12 points and last month it stood at a mere five points.  While Richard points out the linkage between anti-EU sentiment and UKIP support is no longer clear-cut, for me the linkage between this decline in support for the ‘out’ campaign and UKIP’s silence in the face of Europhile FUD is clear.

It does not give me any pleasure.  There is no smug self satisfaction about this.  But it was so bloody obvious.  What it does is make me want to scream in frustration at those cult-like morons who blindly follow Farage regardless of any evident failings, both political and strategic, and adopt a tribal defence of UKIP even though it is clearly letting down the Eurosceptic side – even reducing the argument to things such as misdirections where they demand I compare how many Google returns there are for UKIP as opposed to The Harrogate Agenda, as if that refutes UKIP’s failure.

With only a small handful of blogs reaching out to their audience of readers in low five figures, getting the message across to voters is an almost impossible ask.  With UKIP having run  away from the fight, because Nigel Farage is frightened of the debate that needs to be had and won, it is clear that no political party is going to devote the kind of focus to this issue that a campaign requires.  A non-party political campaign is not now preferable, it has become essential.

For all its talk of a ‘surge’ in support, its boasts of thousands of new members added to its roll, and its predictions of a big result in the European elections in 2014, UKIP has done the sum total of nothing to push the positive reasons for leaving the EU and nothing to counter the flood of spin and deception that characterises the Europhile media blitz.  The Europhiles are in the ring throwing punches while UKIP is searching for the fastest car away from the venue.

My message tonight to Nigel Farage and his Praetorian Guard in UKIP, is short and sweet.  Thanks for nothing.

How offering false choices produces meaningless answers

Over on Political Betting yesterday, there was a post about recent polling as reported by You Gov for the Sunday Times.

PB, which has been keeping an eye on Labour’s polling fortunes since Ed Miliband’s junk status promise to enforce a 20 month price freeze for energy,  focused on one question which offered respondents a clearly biased selection of choices…


The Miliband pledge of an energy price freeze for 20 months:

Not only unworkable because it assumes wholesale market prices are static and factors that can increase or reduce price do not exists, but easy to circumvent by companies putting up energy prices before and after the period to recoup the same revenue they would have collected anyway.  It’s a false choice, a bit like the mythical ‘renegotiation’ option as an alternative to leaving the EU.

Excess profits tax on energy companies:

The key word here is ‘excess’.  Who determines what is reasonable and what isn’t?  Add to this the fact that most of the money energy companies make is from generating and selling energy to the wholesale market.  Is that what will be taxed?  They don’t say.  The profit from energy customers is around 5%.  Is that what will be taxed?  If so, is 5% profit ‘excessive’?  In any case, how does a tax help we consumers?  Will it be paid back to us, or just become another sum bundled in with general taxation for the government to fritter away as it sees fit? Anyway, we have to ask, how many companies would happily trot along working for just a 5% mark up on the cost of delivering a good or service?  Another false choice.

Reducing green taxes:

More popular than a windfall tax, but less popular than the Miliband con trick.  The obvious thing here is reducing green taxes and keeping them down will have a longer term effect on prices than a 20 month price hike holiday that only delays the inevitable.  But what this does not do is change the policy that sets a target for the percentage of renewable generated power in the energy mix.  So we still end up paying, whether through our bills or through general taxation, unless the Climate Change Act is repealed.  So this is also a false choice.

All of this shows that the polling was utter garbage.  Heads are being filled with ideas that are unworkable or non existent options that are no antidote to the problem of politically motivated rises in energy costs.

As a result the poll responses are utterly meaningless and does nothing but keep consumers in ignorance of the real reasons for much of the energy price rises.  There was no more value to it than asking people whether a phoenix, a minotaur or a winged horse should be the next 10 Downing Street pet.

The self inflicted decline of UKIP

The blog post title on PoliticalBetting yesterday said it all…  ‘All the firms have UKIP in the same direction’.

Courtesy of PoliticalBetting.com

Courtesy of PoliticalBetting.com

One wonders if there is still time to get Farage out of the pub and talking to the issues.

The polling data is bad news not just for UKIP but also for the wider Eurosceptic community.  It suggest support for UKIP is drifting to the Conservatives, despite Cameron’s strongly pro-EU messaging, and the negative and dishonest picture he and the Tory outriders such as Roland Rudd, Open Europe and the CBI have painted about the future the UK could enjoy outside the EU.  In the absence of leadership the masses will turn to the loudest voice they hear.  Thanks to Farage’s warped priorities, the EUphiles are the only voices being heard.

This blog has been castigated by some in the Faragista cult for daring to criticise Farage and for saying that he represents the biggest threat to UKIP success because of his questionable past, his refusal to do detail and his fear of engaging in the important debate where the EUphile are using lies and misinformation to frighten people into thinking the Only Way is Brussels.  It is too soon to claim we have been vindicated, but it is certainly heading that way and we take no pleasure from it at all.

Despite a spurt in electoral support, Farage’s failure to challenge the fear, uncertainty and doubt spread by the Tory machine and its external allies, and his dumb mute act on the substantive issues about how the UK could leave the EU, enjoy political freedom and still prosper economically as part of the single market, is giving voters the impression that UKIP is all fur coat and no knickers.  People want to know how UKIP could get us out of the EU and Farage won’t commit to an answer and hammer it home time and again.  The lack of substance is being reflected in the opinion polls.

If Farage was doing his job instead of engaging in daft self promotional stunts, UKIP would not only be holding its new supporters, but adding to their number and strengthening the Eurosceptic cause.  This could be an opportunity lost for UKIP and the prospective ‘Out’ campaign.  Getting the support back after it has lost confidence will be harder than winning it the first time around.  Farage is possibly the best ally Cameron has.

Nigel Farage – UKIP’s electoral asset or liability?

For those UKIP supporters who hold Nigel Farage in high esteem and hurl brickbats in the general direction of this blog (which supports most of the UKIP policy platform, such as it is) when deference is not forthcoming for the blessed Nigel, a poll by YouGov for The Times will not make happy reading.

The format follows the favourable/unfavourable methodology used in the US in identifying whether voters have a positive or negative view of political leaders.  The question asked was, ‘Generally speaking, do you have a positive or negative opinion of the following people?’  The responses (as displayed on Politicalbetting.com) were:

Positive

Negative

In addition to the personal ratings shown above, 36% or respondents said they would never consider voting for UKIP, which is more than the 33% who would never consider voting Conservative, 32% against the Lib Dems and 23% against Labour.  This means for UKIP that Farage is more unpopular than his party.

The message looks pretty clear.  If UKIP are basing a strategy to build more support on the back of a Farage personality blitz, they are going in the wrong direction.  Farage is not the electoral asset his fans think he is.


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