Opinion polling for the 2005 United Kingdom general election

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In the run up to the general election of 2005, several polling organisations carried out opinion polling in regards to voting intention in Great Britain (i.e. the UK excluding Northern Ireland, which is usually excluded from such voting intention surveys). Results of such polls are displayed below.

The election took place on 5 May 2005. The previous general election was held on 7 June 2001.

Details of opinion polling[edit]

Since each MP is elected separately by the first past the post voting system, it is impossible to precisely project a clear election outcome from overall national shares of the vote. Not only can individual constituencies vary markedly from overall voting trends, but individual countries and regions within the nation may have a very different electoral contest that is not properly reflected in overall share of the vote figures.

Therefore, the first past the post system means that the number of MPs elected may not reflect the overall popular vote share across the parties. Thus, it is not necessarily the party with the largest share of the popular vote that ends up with the largest number of MPs. (See details of the elections in 1951 and Feb 1974) Since 1935 no party has achieved more than 50% of the popular vote in a British general election. The voting system favours parties with relatively concentrated support: a widely distributed vote leaves a party at risk of getting a large vote share but doing poorly in terms of numbers of seats (as the SDP-Liberal Alliance did in the 1980s), whereas parties with localised votes can win seats with a relatively small share of the vote.

That said, in previous elections, approximate forecasting of results were achieved by assuming that the swing in each individual constituency will be the same across the country. This system, known as uniform national swing (UNS) is used by much of the media in Britain to assess and extrapolate electoral fortunes from opinion poll data, though there has been criticism that such predictions may be naive and unreliable, even from providers of such data.[1]

Normally governments can easily survive for a full parliamentary term on a majority of more than 20 seats over all other parties. Below that level there is a danger of by-elections and MPs crossing the floor of the House reducing the government to a minority such that it would be at increased risk of losing a vote of no confidence.

Election battleground[edit]

The 2001 general election, which had the lowest turnout of any general election for more than 80 years, saw the Labour government of Tony Blair re-elected with a second successive landslide majority, which left the political landscape almost completely unchanged. William Hague resigned as leader of a Conservative opposition which failed to make any real progress from its heavy defeat in 1997, and was succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith.

The Labour government remained ascendant in the opinion polls, but its popularity began to suffer from Mar 2003 as a result of Tony Blair's decision to send British forces to collaborate with the American forces in their invasion of Iraq, which led to the end of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, as well as his eventual capture, trial and execution by a new democratic Iraqi government. However, there was a public outcry that the invasion of Iraq failed to uncover weapons of mass destruction which had long been believed to exist in Iraq. By the summer of 2003, several opinion polls were showing a narrow Conservative lead, and the Liberal Democrats were also shown to be enjoying a surge in support, largely seen to be the result of Charles Kennedy's anti-war stance.

However, opinion polls showed that Iain Duncan Smith was not a popular choice with voters as a potential prime minister, and there was also the fact that Labour still had a huge parliamentary majority, while the Tories would have to almost double their share of seats in parliament to form a majority. Duncan Smith was ousted as leader in Nov 2003 following a vote of no confidence by his own party, was succeeded uncontested by the former Home Secretary Michael Howard, who helped the Tories keep close behind Labour in the opinion polls and oversaw strong showings in the local council and European parliament by-elections of 2004.

A general election was called for 5 May 2005, with Labour winning for a third successive time, but its majority dropped from 160 seats to 66 seats, with both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats enjoying substantial gains.

Tony Blair had already decided that the 2005 general election would be the last he would contest as Labour Party leader if re-election was achieved. Michael Howard announced his resignation shortly afterwards, feeling that he was too old to lead the party into the next general election (knowing that it was unlikely to be held until he was almost 70 years old), and Charles Kennedy stepped down eight months later following revelations about his personal life.

Graphical summary[edit]

  Labour
  Conservatives
  Liberal Democrats

Poll results[edit]

Poll results are initially listed in reverse chronological order showing the most recent first, using the date the fieldwork was undertaken, as opposed to the date of publication.

The figure given in the 'lead' column is the lead held by Labour or the Conservatives over the second placed of the two parties.

2005[edit]

Date(s) Conducted Polling Organisation/Client Sample Size Lab Con Lib Dem Others Lead
5 May 2005 2005 Election Results (GB only) 36.2% 33.2% 22.7% 7.9% 3.0%
3–4 May 2005 Ipsos MORI/Evening Standard 1,164 38% 33% 23% 6% 5%
2–3 May 2005 Populus/The Times 1174 38% 32% 21% 8% 6%
1–3 May 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,178 38% 32% 22% 8% 6%
29 Apr – 2 May 2005 Populus/The Times 866 41% 27% 23% 9% 14%
27–30 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 863 42% 29% 21% 8% 13%
25–28 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 853 40% 31% 22% 7% 9%
24–27 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 841 40% 31% 21% 8% 9%
24–26 Apr 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,209 40% 32% 21% 5% 8%
23–26 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 835 40% 31% 21% 8% 9%
22–25 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 831 40% 31% 21% 8% 9%
21–24 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 819 41% 33% 19% 7% 8%
20–23 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 798 41% 32% 20% 7% 9%
19–22 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times Online 798 41% 33% 20% 6% 8%
18–21 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 806 40% 33% 20% 7% 7%
17–20 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 836 39% 34% 20% 7% 5%
17–19 Apr 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,163 39% 33% 22% 7% 6%
16–19 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 863 39% 33% 21% 7% 6%
14–17 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 586 40% 31% 21% 8% 9%
10–12 Apr 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,169 39% 33% 22% 7% 6%
1–3 Apr 2005 ICM/Guardian 973 37% 34% 21% 8% 3%
1–3 Apr 2005 Populus/The Times 812 37% 35% 19% 9% 2%
18–20 Mar 2005 ICM/Guardian 716 40% 32% 20% 7% 8%
4–6 Mar 2005 Populus/The Times 831 39% 32% 20% 9% 7%
18–20 Feb 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,013[2] 37% 34% 21% 8% 3%
4–6 Feb 2005 Populus/The Times 814 41% 32% 18% 9% 9%
21–23 Jan 2005 ICM/Guardian 1,000[2] 38% 31% 21% 9% 6%
7–9 Jan 2005 Populus/The Times 848 38% 33% 20% 9% 5%

2004[edit]

Date(s) Conducted Polling Organisation/Client Sample Size Lab Con Lib Dem Others Lead
16–19 Dec 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,002[2] 40% 31% 21% 7% 8%
3–5 Dec 2004 Populus/The Times 826 37% 33% 20% 10% 4%
12–14 Nov 2004 ICM/Guardian 830 38% 30% 22% 10% 8%
22–24 Oct 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,011 37% 31% 23% 9% 6%
21–23 Sep 2004 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 2033 36% 34% 21% 9% 2%
17–19 Sep 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,005 36% 32% 22% 10% 4%
2–5 Sep 2004 Populus/The Times 608 31% 30% 26% 13% 1%
13–15 Aug 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,005 36% 33% 22% 9% 3%
30 Jul – 1 Aug 2004 Populus/The Times 570 32% 32% 24% 12% Tie
16–18 Jul 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,007 35% 30% 25% 10% 5%
2–3 Jul 2004 Populus/The Times 556 33% 29% 24% 14% 4%
18–20 Jun 2004 Ipsos MORI/Financial Times 966 32% 27% 22% 19% 6%
11–13 Jun 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,009 34% 31% 22% 13% 3%
10 Jun 2004 2004 European election
4–6 Jun 2004 Populus/The Times 589 31% 29% 22% 18% 3%
20–23 May 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,001 39% 34% 20% 7% 5%
7–9 May 2004 Populus/The Times 578 32% 36% 22% 10% 4%
16–18 Apr 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,002 38% 33% 22% 6% 5%
10–11 Mar 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,014 37% 35% 21% 7% 2%
5–7 Mar 2004 Populus/The Times 573 36% 34% 22% 8% 2%
20–22 Feb 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,006 36% 34% 21% 8% 2%
6–8 Feb 2004 Populus/The Times 580 36% 31% 25% 8% 5%
16–18 Jan 2004 ICM/Guardian 1,007 39% 34% 20% 7% 5%
2–4 Jan 2004 Populus/The Times 566 40% 35% 18% 7% 5%

2003[edit]

Date(s) Conducted Polling Organisation/Client Sample Size Lab Con Lib Dem Others Lead
12–14 Dec 2003 ICM/Guardian[3] 1,001 38% 33% 21% 8% 5%
5–7 Dec 2003 Populus/The Times 557 35% 33% 22% 10% 2%
14–16 Nov 2003 ICM/Guardian[3] 1,002 38% 33% 21% 8% 5%
7–9 Nov 2003 Populus/The Times 554 35% 31% 24% 10% 4%
6 Nov 2003 Michael Howard elected Conservative Party leader
17–19 Oct 2003 ICM/Guardian[3] 1,004 38% 33% 21% 8% 5%
3–5 Oct 2003 Populus/The Times 524 36% 28% 27% 9% 8%
23–25 Sep 2003 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 2306 31% 32% 30% 7% 1%
19–21 Sep 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,002 35% 30% 28% 8% 5%
5–6 Sep 2003 Populus/The Times 511 37% 35% 20% 8% 2%
15–17 Aug 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,001 37% 32% 22% 9% 5%
1–3 Aug 2003 Populus/The Times 564 35% 33% 25% 7% 2%
22–24 Jul 2003 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 2219 34% 37% 22% 7% 3%
18–20 Jul 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,003 36% 34% 22% 9% 2%
20–22 Jun 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,001 38% 34% 21% 7% 4%
13–15 Jun 2003 Populus/The Times 513 36% 34% 21% 9% 2%
16–18 May 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,000 42% 29% 21% 8% 13%
2–4 Mar 2003 Populus/The Times 565 35% 34% 23% 8% 1%
22–24 Apr 2003 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 2390 40% 32% 21% 7% 8%
17–19 Apr 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,000 42% 30% 21% 7% 12%
26–27 Mar 2003 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 2282 40% 33% 20% 7% 7%
19-20 Mar 2003 The 2003 invasion of Iraq begins
10–12 Mar 2003 Populus/The Times 540 42% 29% 22% 7% 13%
14–16 Mar 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,002 38% 32% 24% 6% 6%
7–9 Mar 2003 Populus/The Times 498 34% 34% 24% 8% Tie
14–16 Feb 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,003 39% 31% 22% 8% 8%
7–9 Feb 2003 Populus/The Times 555 35% 34% 25% 6% 1%
28–30 Jan 2003 YouGov/Daily Telegraph 1949 36% 32% 24% 8% 4%
17–19 Jan 2003 ICM/Guardian 1,002 43% 30% 21% 6% 13%
3–5 Jan 2003 Populus/The Times 565 38% 31% 25% 6% 7%

2002[edit]

Date(s) Conducted Polling Organisation/Client Sample Size Lab Con Lib Dem Others Lead
13–15 Dec 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,006 41% 27% 23% 8% 14%
15–17 Nov 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,000 42% 29% 22% 7% 13%
18–20 Oct 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,001 43% 32% 20% 6% 11%
11–13 Oct 2002 Populus/The Times 1,001 42% 30% 21% 6% 12%
20–22 Sep 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,000 39% 34% 20% 7% 5%
5–7 Sep 2002 Populus/The Times 610 39% 33% 21% 6% 6%
23–25 Aug 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,003 41% 32% 21% 6% 9%
26–27 Jul 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,002 42% 33% 20% 4% 9%
21–23 Jun 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,002 42% 32% 20% 7% 10%
17–19 May 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,003 42% 34% 19% 5% 8%
20–21 Apr 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,000 45% 29% 18% 8% 16%
15–17 Mar 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,001 43% 34% 17% 6% 9%
15–17 Feb 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,003 47% 30% 18% 5% 17%
18–20 Jan 2002 ICM/Guardian 1,003 45% 30% 19% 6% 15%

2001[edit]

Date(s) Conducted Polling Organisation/Client Sample Size Lab Con Lib Dem Others Lead
14–16 Dec 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,000 44% 29% 20% 7% 15%
16–18 Nov 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,004 46% 29% 19% 6% 17%
19–20 Oct 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,000 47% 29% 19% 5% 18%
14–16 Sep 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,007 46% 29% 20% 5% 17%
6 Nov 2003 Iain Duncan Smith elected Conservative Party leader
17–19 Aug 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,004 46% 30% 17% 7% 16%
13–14 Jul 2001 ICM/Guardian 1,001 46% 30% 18% 6% 16%
31 May – 1 Jun 2001 Ipsos MORI/The Sunday Telegraph 1,021 50% 27% 17% 6% 23%
7 Jun 2001 2001 Election Results 42.0% 32.7% 18.8% 6.5% 9.3%

References[edit]

  1. ^ Predicting Results UK Polling Report
  2. ^ a b c The number of responses used to calculate the voting intention was not provided; the total number of participants in the poll is therefore listed.
  3. ^ a b c The responses to the questions on voting intention are not included in this document; they have therefore instead been taken from Guardian/ICM polls: every one since 1984.

External links[edit]