The Tories maintain their ICM lead

The Tories maintain their ICM lead

CON 42(nc) LAB 30(nc) LD 20(+2)

Will this ease the Tory jitters?

After a couple of quite disappointing polls for the Tories there’s the monthly Guardian survey by ICM and the only change is a two point jump in the Lib Dem share.

This latest survey means that every single poll during 2009 has had the Tories in 40s and the fact that ICM, regarded by many in the Labour party as the “gold standard”, is not showing any movement between the Tories and Labour will come as a bit of a disappointment at Brown Central.

The ICM guardian series has been carried out for more than a quarter of a century and the pollster has, during that time, been the pioneer in polling innovation. For me each month this is the key survey and now we are almost in the final year before the final possible date for an election it seems opinion is settling down.

My guess is that come election day the final numbers after the votes are counted won’t be too far off what we see in this poll. ICM’s approach generally produces a pretty stable set of numbers each month and the table I published here yesterday gave a sense of the firm’s performance.

But, of course, the margin for the Tories can be quite narrow. A slip back of a couple of points from this position which Labour pick up and we are in hung parliament territory.

One aspect of the poll will provide some straws for Labour to clutch at. According to the paper: “But 9% of Tory voters and 22% of Liberal Democrat voters say they are “more likely to consider voting Labour” if the economy shows clear signs of recovery by then. (2010)”.

What we might be seeing is a subtle change in the media narrative.

Perhaps the most worrying finding for Brown Central was this: ” ICM asked voters which of two opposing thoughts they were more likely to agree with. Just one in four voters, 25%, said “continuity is important; stick with Labour” was closer to their view than “time for a change”. More than two in three, 69%, plumped for “time for a change”. Some 27% of Labour voters chose “time for a change”.

Those are big figures and in line with what we’ve seen from other pollsters. The mood is for change.

The big difference between the Lib Dem shares from MORI and ICM – 14% and 20% – is down to methodology. The actually wording of the voting intention question and the fact that the latter uses past vote weighting. ICM have the form in getting this one right.

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