We’ve now had six weeks of polling since the New Year. In another six weeks nominations will be about to open for the General Election (the nominations week will probably be 1st to 9th of April). It seems a good time to assess what the polls are telling us.
If we’re looking for clear cut trends then the answer is not that much. Movement has been small since Christmas, suggesting fairly stable opinions after the considerable changes seen last year. Those involved a Labour slide, a Lib Dem fall, a Ukip rise, a later Green surge and a jump in SNP support following the Scottish referendum.
Tory support remains stable, fluctuating around the same 32-33% mark they’ve been at now for a year or so. The big unpredictable factor is the potential effect of the massive war chest this hedge-funded party has built up and the effective increase in spending limits quietly steered through by Cameron. Expect a deluge of Tory material over the next three month as they outspend Labour by three to one and try to buy the election.
Over the last three weeks Labour has opened up a slight but growing gap over the Tories. This might imply that being tough on tax dodgers and corporate fat cats’ ample pockets may not have been a bad move for Labour. But will they hold their nerve? And will the voters believe them given their record of 1997-2010 and their promises of more cuts and austerity for the next few years?
Ukip’s support has sunk a little since its high point in the second week of January. But not by much. The Greens also peaked in the third week of January and have fallen back since then. But they seem to have stabilised around 7% and most weeks remain ahead of the fifth party – the Liberal Democrats – who bump along at 7%ish, about 3% lower than where they were last April.
Meanwhile, in Scotland support for the SNP remains very solid and the gap between it and Labour has shown no sign of shrinking since the New Year.