Pollwatch Day 4 #GE2010 – Lib Dems at 20%, Lab 30%, Tories 38% (still)

by Stephen Tall on April 10, 2010

(Actually Saturday is Day 5, so please pretend I remembered to set this live on Friday night as intended).

Three new polls today, all with positive news for the Lib Dems:

    YouGov in the Sun … CON 40%(nc), LAB 30%(-1), LIB DEM 20%(+2)
    Harris in the Daily Mail … CON 37%(nc), LAB 27%(-1), LIB DEM 22%(+2)
    Harris in Metro … CON 37%(nc), LAB 28%(+1), LIB DEM 20%(+1)

All moves are within the margin of error, so it would be rash to read too much into them. But that said, it’s notable that seven of the last 10 polls have shown the Lib Dems at 20% or higher – a good score for the first week of the campaign, and on a par with how the party was performing in 2005.

Think back a few months, and the speculation was that the Lib Dems would be badly squeezed if there were a widespread belief the election result would be close. What we seem to be seeing is that with voters unsure either Labour or the Tories have got what it takes to govern well, people are reassured the Lib Dems are in a strong position.

Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report ‘poll of polls’ remains unchanged:

    Con 38% (n/c), Lab 30% (n/c), Lib Dem 20% (n/c)

Nick Clegg ratings

My Co-Editor Mark Pack noted yesterday the BBC’s Nick Robinson’s error in making assumptions about how the campaign is being judged based not on what the public thinks, but how the Westminster Village sees it. There’s further polling evidence for that in an Angus Reid survey which has (surprise, surprise) been largely ignored by the media as it doesn’t fit their two-party narrative.

Both Nick Clegg and David Cameron have job approval ratings of 45% – though Mr Cameron is considerably more unpopular: 42% disapprove of Dave’s performance (a net +3% approval), while only 26% disapprove of Nick’s performance (a net +19% approval). Gordon Brown’s net approval rating remains a dire -28%.

At least as interesting is the public’s perception of the first week’s campaign by the leaders, and whether their opinion of Nick, and Messrs Brown and Cameron have improved or worsened. Here’s what they found:

  • Nick Clegg: 16% of the public say their opinion of Nick has improved, 7% say it’s worsened (with the rest saying their view’s unchanged, or they’re not sure) – a net ‘momentum score’ of +9%.
  • Gordon Brown: 10% have an improved opinion of Mr Brown, 24% have a worse opinion – a net ‘momentum score’ of -14%.
  • David Cameron: 14% have an improved opinion of Mr Cameron, 20% have a worse opinion – a net ‘momentum score’ of -6%.

So if the public is to be believed (rather than the BBC’s political editor) Nick has enjoyed the best first week of the campaign by some margin. Of course, a lot of this is simply the result of the increased exposure that the media’s legally-enforced more equal treatment of the three main parties allows during the election period – at last the public is getting to hear from Nick Clegg himself, instead of just being told by the media that no-one knows who Nick Clegg is.

The marginals

There was an interesting polling analysis in Friday’s FT.com:

… it is becoming harder to use [vote shares] to predict parties’ seat shares – and it may be even harder this year because of the impact of the expenses scandal on individual constituency contests. Swing (the average of the percentage point fall in one party’s share of the vote and the percentage point rise in the other’s) still happens, but it is no longer quite so uniform. Had it been so in 2005, Labour’s majority would have been just over 100 rather than the 66 it eventually managed.

That said, claims from the Conservatives that they are doing better in marginal constituencies than elsewhere should be treated with a degree of scepticism. After all, they made the same boast in 2005, but in the end the swing in the great majority of their target seats was all but identical to the swing nationally.