Tory YouGov lead cut to 5%

Tory YouGov lead cut to 5%

    The internet pollster follows the trend of the other firms

With David Cameron due to celebrate his first year as Tory leader in five days time the latest survey by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph reinforces the trends in all the other polls in November bar Mori showing a decline in his party position in relation to Labour. The figures for today’s poll with comparisons on the October survey are: CON 37 (-2): LAB 32 (nc): LD 16 (nc).

So the three firms that take measures to ensure representative samples – YouGov, ICM and Populus – are all in the same ball-park. Today’s YouGov CON-LAB split is exactly the same as that which ICM found last week.

These shares, if repeated at a General Election, would produce a nail-biting finish. Labour would lose its overall majority but even being five points adrift they could still have more MPs than the Tories. Cameron needs a national vote margin of at least 10% for a majority government.

So while all focus is likely to be on the Tories the poll will be disappointing for Labour where Gordon Brown’s heightened profile does not appear to be having much impact and for the Lib Dems who continue to find the internet pollster coming out with lower ratings than those firms that use interviews.

The named leader measure that YouGov uses – a forced choice asking “would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative Government led by Cameron or a Labour Government led by Brown” – also shows a closing of the gap. These are the responses to that question for the past year:-

NOV 2005 CON 37: LAB 46 (LAB +9)
FEB 2006 CON 37: LAB 43 (LAB +6)
JUN 2006 CON 44: LAB 38 (CON +6)
AUG 2006 CON 43: LAB 36 (CON +7)
OCT 2006 CON 46: LAB 33 (CON +13)
NOV 2006 CON 43: LAB 34 (CON +9)

So although the Tories continue to enjoy a healthy margin on this question November has seen the party’s position move backwards. Taking a longer term view, though, the change on a year ago been enormous and provides little comfort for Labour.

    In the run-up and immediate aftermath of the Tory leadership change a year ago I resisted the temptation to come to any conclusions for three months. I think the same caution will be a good policy with the Labour change-over.

A key element in all of this is how the Lib Dems will be seen and here the polls, when taken as a whole, are giving a mixed picture. While ICM’s rating for Ming’s party remained at 22% in November the shares from Communicate Research, Populus and Mori all showed significant moves forward. I think a lot of the difference is down to the methodologies.

As to the betting there seems little point in locking up cash on a General Election that might be three and a half years away. Potential Tory backers, though, might be advised to wait until Gordon has moved in next door because there is likely
to be a Labour bounce resulting in a better Tory price. The question is whether an improved Labour performance will be sustained?

Mike Smithson

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