Is Gordon’s long chase nearly over?
For the whole of the year that David Cameron has been Tory leader there has been one consistent opinion poll finding that has produced a similar outcome whenever it has been asked. To the question of how would you vote if it was Brown’s Labour against Cameron’s Tories and Ming’s Lib Dems the outcome from whichever pollster has asked the question has always been a better position for the Conservatives.
Populus for the monthly Times survey has asked this most often and, unlike other firms, applies “likelihood to vote weightings” which has tended to give higher Tory figures. But as the chart shows the Cameron margin is getting smaller and last month the party was only one point better on this than on the main voting intention question.
As can be seen after rising to a 10% margin in May the gap has been slipping ever since and by last month the Tories were just 4% ahead.
So what’s going to happen this month. Will the poll due tomorrow show a continuing move back to Gordon or will it have stalled?
Certainly other polls, not with this question, have shown Brown doing better. Thus a week ago just about the only thing that people focussed on in the ICM in the News of the World survey was on the 29-25 Brown-Cameron split to the question as to who would be the “best PM”. This seemed to run against most of the other findings in the survey which also saw the Tory lead on the main voting intention question increase from 5 to 8%.
For those trying to bet on and predict election outcomes my view is that the voting intention question with named leaders is a better measure than just asking “who do you think will be best PM”. It is perfectly possibly to answer Brown to the latter and still say you are voting Tory as was evident in last week’s poll. Like with other pollsters the ICM response on this and other non-voting questions also includes the views of a large number of declared non-voters which diminishes any electoral impact.
In a move that might have been helpful to Gordon the Times survey was put back a week this month in order to test reaction to Brown’s Pre-Budget Report. Given the fairly lukewarm response that this has seen then it probably won’t have much of an effect.
Populus is the first of a flood of polls we should see in the final fortnight before the Christmas. To look forward to there’s the regular Guardian survey from ICM, Communicate Research in the Independent, Mori in whichever publication is taking it this month and YouGov in the Daily Telegraph.
Picture source – http://www.davidcameronmp.com/gallery/