But does the poll ask the wrong question?
The Guardian’s ICM poll for August is out and has the following shares compared with the last survey from the pollster earlier in the month – CON 44% (- 1): LAB 29% (nc): LD 19% (+3)
So broadly little change except that that the dreadful rating for the Lib Dems from ICM that we saw at the start of August has now been reversed and Clegg’s party is back on 19%.
The big impact of today’s story, though, will be on the ratings of Gordon Brown and David Miliband against David Cameron.
As the paper puts it: “Asked to say which of Cameron and Brown would make the best prime minister, 42% of those polled say Cameron, 21% say Brown and 23% say neither. When voters are asked to choose between Cameron and Miliband, 40% say Cameron, 19% say Miliband and 18% say neither.”
For all that the Guardian is splashing this news this morning these findings tell us next to nothing. This is NOT the “named leader question” which ICM and Populus asked regularly in the months upto Brown’s arrival at Number 10. This sought to establish people’s voting intention with the the different leaders.
I’m very disappointed that the Guardian did not ask their pollster to go back to the earlier format which would have given us, and anxious Labour MPs in marginal seats, some idea of the electoral impact of different leaders.
Back in the Brown build-up days there were several polls which had those responding saying he would be a better PM than Cameron but at the same time showing that Labour would be worse off when the voting intention question was asked.
The reason, of course, is it was a what would you do rather than what do you think question. Also voting intention questions are filtered by the “certainty to vote” findings whereas questions like the one the Guardian thinks is important include the views of those with little or no intention of voting.
A real shame and an opportunity missed. I’m hoping that Populus in the Times at the start of September will do it properly.
Update Just to clarify – the questions comparing Gordon Brown, David Miliband and David Cameron were asked online and involved showing photographs of the men. This was actually a separate poll from the main one which, as per usual, was by phone.