General Election 2015: Take a punt - what the pollsters are predicting


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The Independent on Sunday asked the bosses of the 10 top polling companies active in Great Britain during this election for their predictions.

Enough of them made specific enough forecasts to allow us to combine them into an average prediction for the House of Commons that will be elected on 7 May: Conservative 280 (average prediction in January: 273), Labour 273 (301), SNP 45 (22), Liberal Democrat 25 (26), Ukip 4 (5), Plaid Cymru 3 (3), Green 1 (1), Respect 1 (1).

In other words, it would be a hung parliament in which David Cameron would be four seats short of being able to stay on in government with the support of the Lib Dems, the DUP and Ukip. Only Labour would be able to form a government, with the support of the SNP and the Lib Dems.

We will be reporting each week until the Sunday before polling day how their predictions change, and how they see the campaign unfolding.


Martin Boon, director, ICM

The most accurate pollster in 2010. (In January, Boon predicted Labour on 290 seats.) “I’m tempted to say: how should I know? I’m just a pollster. But I feel that Miliband may just have raised himself from the grave, so I’ll add a couple to where I had them before. Everyone else largely becalmed although, I see the Greens disappearing from view and Ukip sliding a touch. Tories 34 per cent, Lab 32 per cent, Lib Dems 14 per cent, Ukip 12 per cent. I don’t trust any academic model that translates vote shares into seats, so a seat projection from this is a pure and simple guess, which is Labour to be touching 300 seats with the Tories just behind.”

James Endersby, managing director, Opinium

One of the newest polling companies, founded in 2007. (In January, he put Labour on 320 seats.) “Despite the recent weekly statistical ties, we’ve witnessed the faint whispers of movement in the air and a slow, unsteady sway towards the Tories. How this shift plays out over the coming weeks obviously depends on a huge number of factors. My call, if this holds fast and momentum gathers: Conservatives 288, Labour 267, SNP 45, Lib Dems 24, Plaid Cymru 3, Ukip 3, Greens 2.”

Michelle Harrison, head of political and social, TNS

Formerly Taylor Nelson Sofres, with a history going back to the 1940s. “It’s less a case of who wins but who can scrape over the line. Labour polls better on the NHS; the Tories poll better on the economy. Can any claim additional territory from the other over the remaining weeks? Probably not. But our polls show that the public thinks the Tories will be the largest party. In the absence of a firm lead, I’ll go with the wisdom of crowds.”

Andrew Hawkins, chairman, ComRes

The Independent on Sunday’s pollster since it was founded as Communicate Research in 2003. (In January, he predicted Labour would be the largest party, possibly with a small majority.) “My position has moved: no party can win a majority now. I have also shifted in favour of the Conservatives winning more seats than Labour. That, however, assumes that the current Tory momentum is maintained and that they don’t do anything daft or careless between now and polling day. But the underlying pattern is distinctly in their favour.”



Damian Lyons Lowe, chief executive, Survation

Another new entrant, set up in 2007. (In January, he expected Labour to be the largest party in a hung parliament, by 40-50 seats over the Conservatives.) “On Survation’s public polling, Ed Miliband remains the person most likely to form the next government. However, he’s far from the workable majority figure required [321]. Friday 8 May will remain a day of deals and discussions with other parties to form the next government.”

Nick Moon, managing director, social research, GfK

GfK took over long-standing British pollster NOP in 2005. (Prediction unchanged since January.) “Something would need to change dramatically for there to be any chance of a one-party majority government. My guess: the Tories will be largest party, but some way short of forming even a two-party coalition. A Labour minority government seems most likely, but I won’t be putting money on it.”

Rick Nye, managing director, politics, Populus

Market research company founded in 2003. (In January, Nye expected a hung parliament in which Labour would win most seats but not necessarily most votes.) “Since January, the Conservatives have clearly improved on the polls relative to Labour to the point where I’d expect the Conservatives to win the most seats as well as the most votes on 7 May. What’s less clear is whether the Conservatives would be able to form a government.

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori

The Mori part has been polling in Britain since 1969, and which was taken over by the French market research company Ipsos in 2005. (Last time, Page said it was a “mug’s game” to make predictions four months before an election.) “Stuck in ‘too close to call’ mode still, made harder by the way votes translate into seats in Parliament. If the parties remain neck and neck, Labour might just end up with more seats, but not a majority. We still have weeks of the campaign to go and no clear picture for the marginals, where the polling being done suggests a lot of local variations that have plenty of potential to surprise us in May.”

Joe Twyman, head of political and social research, YouGov

Set up by Peter Kellner, Stephan Shakespeare and Nadhim Zahawi (now a Tory candidate) in 2000 and YouGov was the first company to show that internet polling could work in the UK. (In January, Twyman said: “Gun to my head? Labour minority government.”) “Probably: a ‘well-hung parliament’. Possibly: Conservatives winning most votes and seats, thanks, in part, to SNP gains at Labour’s expense. Speculation: Conservatives unable to form another coalition, not having enough seats with just the Lib Dems, but Labour better placed with SNP and Lib Dems – albeit informally.” 

Michael Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party who resigned as a peer last week

Has run Lord Ashcroft Polls since 2010, using other companies’ field operations. He refuses to make predictions. “My polls are snapshots, not predictions.”

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