Over the weekend we had the first poll of 2015. It was produced by Opinium for the Observer, and put Labour on 33%, one point ahead of the Conservatives on 32%.
It brought to an end a two-week hiatus from polls that was – depending on your point of view – wonderfully refreshing or deeply frustrating.
Now they are back and will continue unabated until the election. So just how many can we expect between now and polling day on 7 May?
Let’s start with the most frequent pollster: YouGov. It produces five polls a week, four for the Sun and one for the Sunday Times. There are 17 full weeks until the election, which adds up to 85 YouGov polls. Assuming the company also publishes a poll on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night of election week, this gives us an overall total of 88 YouGov polls between now and 7 May.
The next most frequent is Populus, which publishes two polls a week, one on a Monday and one on a Friday. With 17 full weeks to go, this gives us a total of 34, plus one on the Monday of election week. That’s an overall total for Populus of 35 polls.
Lord Ashcroft traditionally publishes a poll every Monday. He’s said he will resume this pattern on 12 January, and assuming he continues uninterrupted until the election (which isn’t certain, given we have two bank holiday Mondays between now and 7 May) this adds up to a total of 17 polls.
Opinium produces a fortnightly poll for the Observer, and we’ve already had the first one of 2015. By my calculation we’ve got eight more to come, though there’s always the chance of an extra one the weekend before polling day.
Now we get to the more sporadic and irregular polls.
ICM produces a monthly poll for the Guardian, meaning there are four more to come. The same goes for ComRes, which produces a monthly poll for the Independent on Sunday. ComRes also provides a monthly poll for the weekday edition of the Independent, while Ipsos-Mori does a monthly poll for the Evening Standard. Between them, that adds up to 16 forthcoming polls.
In each of these cases we may get an extra poll in the seven days before the election, but for the sake of consistency I’m not going to include hypotheticals in my grand total.
Survation usually does a monthly poll for the Mail on Sunday, which adds up to another four. It also does polls for the Mirror but these seem to be irregular, so once again I’ve discounted them. The same goes for TNS-BMRB, which publishes occasional polls but could become more regular the nearer we get to 7 May.
I reckon that’s everyone, though I’m happy to stand corrected. Here’s how I’ve added everything up:
That’s a minimum of 168 polls between now and the general election. And there will almost certainly be more. We might get two or three from TNS-BMRB, plus additional polls produced for the week of the election.
The Easter holiday weekend of 3-6 April and Bank Holiday Monday on 4 May might disrupt the publication of some of the more frequent polls, but any net loss to the grand total will be offset by extra polls here and there. I’m sticking with the figure of at least 168 polls between today, 5 January, and election day, 7 May.
That’s 168 chances to feel either elated or dismayed by how the nation appears to think – and 168 chances to be utterly misled about what will actually happen when polling day finally arrives.