New ICM poll has Tories still 4% ahead

New ICM poll has Tories still 4% ahead

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    But 70% of voters say it’s “time for change”

With the Labour Conference due to start in Manchester on Sunday the first of several polls this weekend, ICM for the Guardian, shows little change on the last survey by the pollster last weekend. The party shares are: CON 36%(-1), LAB 32%(-1), LD 22%(+1).

The finding that should really worry Labour is that 70% of those in the survey said they thought is was “time for change”, if there were a general election tomorrow with only 23% agreeing that “continuity is important, stick with Labour”. This is probably the most significant part of the poll and Anthony Wells at UK Polling Report makes this his lead.

Those in the survey were asked how they would vote if a Brown-led Labour was up against a Cameron led Tory party and this had Labour’s support dropping 1% and the Tories moving up the same amount. The figures were CON 37%: LAB 31%: LD ??. The Lib Dem figure is not included in the report. So in the fourteenth successive survey in which this question has been asked the Tory margin has increased when Brown and Cameron are named as party leaders.

In spite of all of this the Tories need shares considerably bigger than 36-37% if they want to be certain of forming the next government. The way that the “seats for votes” calculations work suggest that Labour would still be ahead with a 4% deficit. The Tories need a 9-10% margin to be certain of having a Commons majority. The party will take some comfort from the fact that in the same Guardian ICM survey in September 2005 the shares were CON 31: LAB 40: LD 21 – so a lot of progress has been made

Because ICM is the only interview-based pollster that names the three main parties in its polling question it has tended to record bigger shares for the Lib Dems. Ming’s party will be pleased with today’s 22% which is up on a year ago.

The survey has a lot of Brown-Cameron comparisons with the sample splitting 35-32 that Cameron would “make the best PM”. However those figures were reversed when the question of who would “make the right decisions in difficult circumstances” was asked.

On a series of other measures, as Julian Glover reports, the Tory leader is well ahead. “…He has a 17-point lead over the chancellor as the man who looks most able to work with his colleagues, a 12-point lead as the person who appears to have the most enthusiasm for the job and an eight-point lead as the leader who appears most honest. The Conservative leader has succeeded in persuading voters to warm to him, with 52% saying he has the most pleasant personality, against 17% for Mr Brown…the chancellor is seen as more arrogant, by 36% to 15%, and has a 23-point lead as a man more likely to stab his colleagues in the back.”

Overall the poll is very much what you would expect and won’t have much impact on any betting market.

Mike Smithson

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