What if leader ratings are more predictive than VI?
I’ve recounted here before how last March I gambled half my entire month’s pension on my strong belief that leader ratings are a better guide to election outcomes than voting intention numbers.
Above is the polling that convinced me. Labour were comfortably ahead of the SNP in the voting intention (VI) polling and with the way seats are distributed look set for a substantial lead on seats in the Holyrood elections six weeks later. That was the way the betting markets saw it as well and Labour were very tight odds-on favourites.
My reading was that for large parts of Scotland’s electorate this was about electing a First Minster and those FM numbers looked absolutely terrible for Scottish Labour. Grey was even rated below the Scottish Tory leader. To my mind an SNP victory on seats was a near certainty and, of course, I won my bets.
But isn’t Miliband’s position the same as Grey’s was in Scotland in March – doing reasonably well on voting intention but unable to make a breakthrough in the leader ratings?
The situation, of course, is not precisely the same. Miliband isn’t seen as poorly as Grey was and Cameron is a long way behind where Salmond was but the red rating numbers are lagging behind.
When people vote there are three interconnecting elements: they are choosing someone to represent them at Westminster/Holyrood; they want to influence who should be PM/FM and there’s the tribal element – going with their traditional allegiance.
The latter is becoming less important as we saw in Scotland. The challenge for Miliband is that being “Labour” might not be enough. He has to look like a credible PM.