It’s now less than eight weeks to the General Election. So let’s go compare this past week’s YouGov daily polling with that of eight weeks ago.
|w/e March 13||w/e Jan 16||change|
There’s not been a lot of movement over these months. Labour rose a bit and then fell a bit to end up back where it started. The Lib Dems have recovered a little from what was their low point in mid January. But they’ve now been flatlining for the past month. Ukip was on a temporary post-Christmas high eight weeks back but by the end of January was back at 14%, where it’s remained ever since. This is despite, or perhaps because of, a steady succession of gaffes, policy inconsistencies and the loss of various candidates after assorted racist outbursts.
The SNP retains its post-referendum support and a healthy 15-20 point lead over Labour in Scotland. Indeed, this past week saw the biggest lead this year so far. The Tories’ threat of an SNP influence on government has if anything strengthened support for the SNP in Scotland. Or maybe that was their intention.
The biggest change is found among the Greens and the Tories. There’s been a steady drop in Green support since it peaked at 8% in the third week of January. Since then they’ve lost almost two and a half points. Even more of a disappointment for the Greens is that last week was the first since October when the Lib Dems scored higher than they did in every daily poll.
Meanwhile, the Tory share of the poll has crept up to around 34% and they’ve now been ahead of Labour for three weeks running. No doubt the Tories will be hoping that their media continue to focus on important issues such as the size of Ed’s kitchen or his ability to eat a bacon sandwich rather than worrying us with distracting inconsequentials such as austerity and global warming. Expect another fillip this coming week as they spin the budget remorselessly and avoid any mention of the horrendous cuts and further privatisation they’re planning.
If we want to be gloomy we could extrapolate the polling shifts seen over the past eight weeks to the next eight and predict an election outcome something like this.
|Share of the vote||Seats|
Which means that the only options will be a grand coalition between Tories and Labour (something both have been careful not to rule out) or a minority Labour Government with the support of both SNP and the rump of the Lib Dems, something that has been explicitly ruled out by Vince Cable. But can we trust the Lib Dems to stick to their word?
On the other hand, at the 2010 election there was considerable movement in the polls over the four weeks of the ‘short’ campaign in April/early May. In those weeks the Tories lost 3%, Labour lost 2%, the Lib Dems gained 4%, Ukip and the Greens both lost 1% while the others gained 2½% and doubled their share. These are much larger shifts than those we’ve seen so far this year. So there’s everything still to play for, especially after Easter.