Could Populus mark a change in the media narrative?
There are two critical things about a poll – the actual voting intention numbers themselves and how it is reported in the media. It might be recalled that the final YouGov poll of 2008 showing C42-L35-LD14, numbers that are not that much different from today’s Populus poll in the Times, was barely covered by the paper that had spent a substantial sum on the survey.
For at the time the media narrative was still very much with Brown and the only polling that seemed to interest editors was when it supported their broad interpretation of events.
Contrast that with this morning and the full front page treatment that the Times is giving to its Populus poll. The picture of the PM scratching his head above the word “Help” is not going to go down well at Brown Central – and, even worse, might indicate that his second extraordinary media honeymoon is coming to an end.
- For you can only be the “Come-back Kid” for so long before the story moves on. Now that title might be attached to Cameron and if it does it could have big consequences.
Getting good coverage for the return of a double digit poll lead will certainly reinforce the Tory leader as he works out what could be a controversial re-shuffle of his shadow cabinet. If he was planning to bring back Ken, as I believe, then Populus and the way the Times is reporting it will make that task easier.
But what’s the polling set-back going to do to Brown? He appears to be somebody who thrives when things are going well but struggles more than Cameron in the face of adversity. The question now is how he’ll react if the media is a bit less friendly.
Labour strategists will be hoping that the linkages they are trying to develop with Barack Obama will mean that there won’t be a repeat of the “spiral of decline” that dominated everything in the couple of months after the May elections.
I’ll be looking for betting opportunities to reflect the new situation.