But Brown gets within 3% on the pollster’s forced choice question
Regular visitors here will know that it has long been a pet theory of mine that what drives Tory ratings in the opinion polls is the amount of publicity, good or bad, that the leader, David Cameron, is getting. If he’s out of the headlines and bulletins then his party slips – if not his party moves forward.
Thus after a week where the main political story has been Cameron and the grammar school row today’s YouGov figures with changes on the last survey by the pollster two weeks ago show: CON 39% (+1): LAB 33% (-1): LD 15% (nc). So the Tory gaps increases to 6%.
The fieldwork for today’s May YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph, finished on Thursday while interviewing for the Guardian’s ICM poll ended last Sunday following an intense few days when the Labour succession was dominating the domestic agenda and the Tories were hardly getting a look in.
But the big news for Labour’s leader-elect is that Brown has narrowed the gap from 10% to just 3% when respondents were asked the pollster’s forced choice question of whether they would prefer a Cameron-led Tory government or a Brown-led Labour one.
This is the best outcome for the Chancellor on this question since February 2006 when Labour had a 6% margin.
The Telegraph is putting the big emphasis in its story on the Lib Dems and the leader, Ming Campbell. Certainly YouGov has been the least friendly pollster for the party since the general election. The firm’s 15% share compares with the 21% that ICM recorded last weekend. I think that this is a methodological issue which is driven by the weightings it uses.
Certainly there will be no panic in the Lib Dem camp if the poor ratings are just restricted to YouGov. ICM would be a different matter.
Generally I think that all the polls should be treated with some scepticism until after the party conference season in the autumn. Once Gordon is in Number 10, has settled in and we have gone though the notoriously odd polling period of the conferences we’ll be in a better position to start making predictions about the general election. Certainly nobody should be betting on the basis of any poll at the moment.