Polling is central to modern politics. For governments, it is a means of testing public reaction to policies. More and more nowadays it is done with focus groups to test the popularity or otherwise of policies and pronouncements.
Immigration is an area that is particularly tightly monitored by pollsters,
YouGov’s public opinion trackers (these work by asking a similar group of people the same question repeatedly to gauge the shifts in opinion). The most long
According to YouGov’s latest data, from the 20th March, Immigration and Asylum is the third most selected choice with 32 per cent of people selecting it as a top concern behind the Economy and Health at 59 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. No other issue exceeded 21 per cent.
Looking into the response breakdowns, we find that it is considered of far greater importance to Conservative and Leave voters, both of whom consider it a top issue at around 50 per cent, second only to the Economy.
|Pollster||‘Do you agree that:’||Proportion agreeing||Date|
|YouGov||Immigration has been too high in the past decade||56%||Feb 23|
|FocalData||Immigration is too high||57%||Dec 22|
|Public First||Legal immigration is too high||43%||Feb/Mar 23|
|Opinium||Immigration is too high||55%||Nov 22|
|BMG||Immigration is too high||63%||Dec 22|
There are many polls released (and many that are carried out for private use) on how people feel about immigration levels. As is clear from the above table, polls generally show that a clear majority of voters believe immigration levels to be too high. Regarding the YouGov poll, it is not just that 56 per cent believe immigration to be too high, but just as pertinent is that only 16 per cent believe it is too low, with a further 18 per cent thinking it is just right and 10 per cent being uncertain. This is a trend that can be observed in most immigration-related polling.
For certain voters, immigration is a far greater concern than others. According to YouGov, 79 per cent of Conservative voters agree that immigration is too high. For Leave voters, the total is even higher at 82 per cent. The BMG poll found higher totals still. As such, even if all the polls showed only a plurality, not a majority answering that immigration was too high (as the Public First poll shows), the subject of immigration would remain of major concern to those voters upon whom the Government most relies for support.
Speaking recently to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Matthew Goodwin touched on how different interpretations of ‘controlling’ immigration led to a fall in support for the Conservative Party. To most Leave and Conservative voters, control also meant a reduction in immigration. Yet, some Conservative politicians chose to ignore this, claiming that voters only wanted borders controlled to show that post-Brexit we had regained sovereignty, not to reduce inflows.
At best, this was disingenuous. It is, after all, very difficult to believe that a voter base was motivated to undergo a generation-defining politico-economic shift purely for theoretical reasons.