Should gamblers be betting on Labour moving back into the lead?
On November 22nd 2005, just two weeks before David Cameron was crowned as Tory leader Mori was showing Labour with a 42%-32% lead over the Tories. On December 12th, less than a week after the Tory leadership election result, the pollster had a CON-LAB split of 40%-31%. So Cameron’s Mori “bounce” was a staggering 19%.
If the arrival of Gordon as leader and Prime Minister was to have the same impact then based on the latest Mori poll Labour would have a lead of 16% over the Tories in July. Somehow I don’t think that this is going to happen.
Leaving Mori aside I think the novelty of the new occupant of Number 10 and the massive interest in his new programme will block all others out of the news and we should see polling changes of the same magnitude, or even bigger, than Cameron experienced with the other firms.
For the record the final YouGov poll in December 2005 had the Tories 2% ahead compared with a 2% deficit before. ICM saw a change from a 5% Tory deficit to a 1% Tory lead while Populus moved from the Tories being 8% behind to the party being 3% adrift – a “bounce” of 5%.
In July I expect that Populus and ICM will record the biggest changes because these pollsters compute their final figures based on how certain to vote those surveyed say they will be. We have already observed how a large part of recent increases in Labour support are down to a greater likelihood to vote and I would expect that to continue.
YouGov does not include an element of certainty to vote in its final calculation so will probably be showing the smallest moves.
So if Gordon is to be besting Dave then we should be looking for changes in the 4-6% region which could certainly put Labour ahead with a range of pollsters for the first time since April last year.
The question after that is how long will this be sustained? Mori’s 9% Tory lead in December 2005 moved to a 5% deficit within three months. ICM was recording a 4% Tory deficit at about the same time while Populus had Labour two points ahead at the start of April 2006.
Labour’s changing polling fortunes could transform the political environment which gamblers should take into account.
If you want to bet on the Tories for the general election wait until July. If you want to bet on Labour get on now because it’s hard to see anything other than a tightening of the prices.
Currently the best prices on which party will win most seats are 1.36/1 against Labour and 0.75/1 for the Tories.
You can get a smallish credit account almost instantly and you don’t have to stump up money now.