by Stephen Tall on November 1, 2008
We tend not to be too poll-obsessed here at LDV – of course we look at them, as do all other politico-geeks, but viewed in isolation no one poll will tell you very much beyond what you want to read into it. Looked at over a reasonable time-span and, if there are enough polls, you can see some trends.
Here, in chronological order, are the results of the ten polls* published in October:
Tories 42%, Labour 30%, Lib Dems 17% – ICM/Guardian (3 Oct)
Tories 45%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 15% – YouGov/Telegraph (4 Oct)
Tories 45%, Labour 30%, Lib Dems 15% – Populus/Times (7 Oct)
Tories 43%, Labour 33%, Lib Dems 14% – YouGov/Sunday Times (12 Oct)
Tories 40%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 16% – ComRes/Independent (19 Oct)
Tories 42%, Labour 34%, Lib Dems 14% – YouGov/Mirror (20 Oct)
Tories 42%, Labour 30%, Lib Dems 21% – ICM/Guardian (21 Oct)
Tories 45%, Labour 30%, Lib Dems 14% – MORI, unpublished (22 Oct)
Tories 39%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 16% – ComRes/Independent (28 Oct)
Tories 42%, Labour 33%, Lib Dems 15% – YouGov/Telegraph (30 Oct)
Which gives us an average rating for the parties in October as follows, compared with September’s averages:
Tories 43% (-1%), Labour 31% (+4%), Lib Dems 16% (-1%)
Well, what a month it’s been – and I’m going to keep this month’s retrospective brief as the polls have been pored over here on LDV enough already:
>> Is there anything more the party can do to turn the polls around? (12 Oct)
>> The polls: what, and who, to believe? (20 Oct)
>> Mike Smithson on why Lib Dem poll ratings vary so much (24 Oct)
>> ICM and the Liberal Democrats (27 Oct)
What’s clear is that the post-credit-crunch Labour bounce-back which began in mid-September has continued into October, with Gordon Brown’s party polling above 30% in every single poll for the first time since February (a fairly astonishing statistic).
Who have they gained from? Well, both the Lib Dems and the Tories have dropped a point in our October ‘poll of polls’, though what’s noticeable is the wide spread of up to 7% – beyond the margin of error – between their respective high and low poll numbers: the Tories range between 39% (ComRes) and 45% (YouGov), while the Lib Dems are between 14% (YouGov) and 21% (ICM). In comparison, Labour’s ratings are pretty stable, ranging 30-34%.
Will Labour’s revival continue? Well, two factors – one short-term, one long-term – might help determine that. First, the result of next Thursday’s Glenrothes by-election in Scotland: if the SNP were to snatch the seat neighbouring Gordon Brown’s then that might trigger a new bout of soul-searching among nervous Labour MPs – and, perhaps as importantly, change the “Brown’s Back” media narrative. Of course, a Labour victory, however slim, will be presented as a boost for the Prime Minister and his party.
The longer-term factor, of course, is the effects of the financial down-turn as recession reality begins to bite. So far, Labour has avoided much of the blame for their part in the British dimension of the global downturn. If the public’s mood changes, the more interesting question will be whether it’s Vince Cable and the Lib Dems or George Osborne and the Tories who are perceived as the best alternative stewards of the economy.
* LDV excludes all BPIX polls – used by the The Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday – as the company has failed to register itself with the British Polling Council, and refuses to publish any of the questions or data on which its headline polling figures are based.