ICM puts the Tories in majority government territory

ICM puts the Tories in majority government territory

    Cameron’s party back at 40% as he demands a post-Blair election

guardian20061220 border.jpgWith the Tory leader, David Cameron ratcheting up the pressure on Gordon Brown to call an immediate General Election when he becomes leader there’s some good news for his party in the latest poll.

ICM’s monthly survey for the Guardian – by far the longest polling series in the UK – puts the Tories back at the 40% level that they were last at in August. The shares, with changes on the last ICM survey at the end of November are: CON 40 (+1): LAB 32 (+1): LD 18 (-2).

The reported decline in the LD share means that the leading Commons seat calculators – from Martin Baxter and Anthony Wells – put David Cameron’s party very close to or above the levels required for a Commons majority. The Baxter calculation gives a Tory majority of 26 while Wells shows the party would be a few seats short.

    It should be noted that the survey took place in the three days after Tony Blair’s interview with the police in the honours probe and while the row of the arms contract bribery investigation was at full height.

It should also be noted that in recent months, at least, ICM’s methodology has been producing the best figures for the Tories of all the pollsters. The firm has been the pioneer of the technique known as past vote weighting whereby the sample is weighted in accordance with how respondents said they voted in May 2005 allowing for a level of misremembering.

The firm’s formula for dealing with the latter is more favourable to the Tories than Populus which reported last week that the Tory share was down to just 34% – 1% ahead of Labour.

ICM also found a big increase in the number of respondents saying they believed that the Tories will win the next election. In July this was at 19% – this month it is up to 37%. Amongst declared Tory voters two out of three now believe that they are heading for victory.

A question I have not seen ICM put since the General Election was to ask those in the sample what other parties they might support. For Tory voters this came out at Lib Dems 32%: Green 19%: UKIP 14%. With declared Labour voters the figures were Lib Dems 30%: Green 16%: UKIP 9%.

These numbers should further strengthen David Cameron’s position as he seeks to move his party to the centre ground.

Betting latest. Both Labour and the Tories are at 2.45/1 to win Commons majorities at the next election. A hung parliament is favourite at 1.4/1.

Mike Smithson

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