The Tories and Greens are the monthâ€™s winners
In the four and a half years since the general election, thereâ€™ve been four crossovers in the polls, blips excluded. Labour took the lead from the Conservatives in the autumn of 2010, the Tories briefly regained it following the EU Treaty veto at the end of 2011 before Labour recaptured the pole position in February 2012 which theyâ€™ve held since. A year later, UKIP overtook the Lib Dems for third and have since ensconced themselves very firmly there. With four months to go, the January poll average came close to reporting another two crossovers, the figures being:
The rise in the Conservative figure looks dramatic but much of the rise is a bounce-back from a dreadful December score to a level that has been absolutely typical for the Blues for around 18 months now. That said, CCHQ will no doubt be pleased with the reduction in Labourâ€™s lead and that the trend for Labour remains southwards: January was the fourth month in five that saw the Reds in the red. Considering that even after that loss of disillusioned voters, Milibandâ€™s approval ratings remain poor (a net +39 with Labour supporters in the latest Opinium poll, for example, contrasted with +84 for Cameron with Tories), thereâ€™s softness yet in Labourâ€™s support and scope for further losses.
In those same five months that Labourâ€™s shed 2.5%, the Tories have gone from 31.7 to 31.6, so no swing there other than in a technical sense. Instead, itâ€™s the Greens who remain on a charge. Presumably the publicity regarding the Greensâ€™ inclusion (or not) in the debates helped their cause somewhat but the fact is that the Greens were already on a roll before the New Year. Even so, not only is their 7% is another new record but is now within a half point swing of overtaking the Lib Dems into fourth.
As for the Lib Dems, after three monthly increases itâ€™s back to square one and a level which even the famed incumbency bonus will struggle to overcome on a broad basis. That said, the Ashcroft polling suggests that the national polls still arenâ€™t fully picking up local effects, so things may not be quite as bad as the headline numbers suggest.
What none of these national polls pick up of course is the situation in Scotland, where the SNP may be set to win a local landslide victory. As Mike has rightly pointed out many times, under FPTP itâ€™s where you get your votes that matters at least as much as how many you win. Itâ€™s looking entirely feasible that the SNP could have the third largest Westminster delegation despite finishing sixth in votes. By contrast, UKIP (whose own figures are down for the third consecutive month) could easily end up with millions of votes but only a handful of MPs at most. PR anyone?
After last night's CON lead the final YouGov poll of the week has CON 32 LAB 33 LD 9 UKIP 15 GRN 5
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) February 5, 2015