Is Howard’s campaigning having an impact?
The February ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow shows that Labour’s lead has dropped to 3%. The vote shares with changes on the same poll last month are: LAB 37 (-3) : CON 34 (+3) : LD 21 (n/c).
For the Tories this is the best position with ICM since March last year and suggests that Michael Howard’s high-profile initiatives on crime and immigration are making an impact.
For Labour the poll will be a big disappointment because it is the first full survey since the the party cranked up the campaigning ten days ago with six-stop helicopter tour, the pledge card launch, Labour’s spring conference and Tony Blair’s high profile day on Channel 5.
For the Lib Dems the 21% share will be a great relief as it follows the Populus and NOP surveys earlier in the month which had Charles Kennedy’s party at 18%.
Although a 37-34 split would give Tony Blair a very substantial majority on a uniform national swing they are starting to get into the range where the outcome could be less certain. Using the Martin Baxter calculator with a 2% tactical unwind factor and you get LAB 356: CON 206: LD 54 – a Labour majority of 64.
ICM is probably the most market-sensitive of the pollsters and there is little doubt that this will have a big impact on the spread-betting markets where we expect Labour to drop and the Tories to rise.
Surveying for the ICM poll took place before the announcement of the Tory council tax plan for over-65s. The next major poll should be YouGov in the Telegraph on Friday. The last YG poll had Labour just 1% ahead.
IG Index spread prices: LAB 354-361 : CON 191-198: LDs 68 -72 .
Spreadfair prices: LAB 355.9-360 : CON 191.2-194.7 : LDs 68 -70
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Â© Mike Smithson 2005