New ICM poll: Do you want the okay-ish news or the bad news?

by Stephen Tall on May 12, 2014

Let’s start with the okay-ish news… ICM, the ‘gold standard’ pollster, has the Lib Dems at 13% in the Guardian’s latest monthly survey. That wouldn’t usually be much to write home about – it is after all 10% lower than the party scored at the last general election – but after a string of polls showing the Lib Dems in single digits, there will be something of a sigh of relief from Great George Street.

icm poll - may 2014

In fact, there’s a second bit of okay-ish news, which I’ll come to in a minute. Let’s first note, though, that ICM show the Tories leading Labour. It’s only a slim lead, 2%, and the fact that both parties’ poll shares combined totals just 64% suggest a distinct lack of enthusiasm for either. But, still, a year from the general election a Tory lead is news. It would have been bigger news but for the fact that just a couple of hours earlier another poll conducted for Lord Ashcroft also showed a 2% Tory lead. For Labour to lose its two-year long poll lead once today might be considered a misfortune, but twice…

Right, that promised second slice of okay-ish news… More people think Nick Clegg is doing a good job (30%) than think Ed Miliband (26%) is doing a good job. Unfortunately 51% think they’re doing a bad job, though that does convert into Clegg enjoying a better (or less worse) net rating than Miliband, -21% compared with -25%. The two most popular politicians, though, are David Cameron and George Osborne. Anyone who’d bought stock in Osborne in September 2012 when (ahem) I recommended doing so would by now be sitting on a healthy profit.

icm poll leadership - may 2014

I can’t put it off any longer. There’s a big sting in the tail for the Lib Dems in the ICM poll… It shows the party languishing in fifth place for the European elections on just 7%, behind the Tories (27%), Ukip (26%), Labour (24%) and the Greens (10%). If this were reflected in the actual result it would be deeply disappointing for the Lib Dems, and would leave the Tories jubilant and Ukip a touch deflated. The only party that might be even more despondent than us would be Labour: trailing in third place would be a disaster for the official opposition.

I have to say, much as I’m inclined to trust ICM on Westminster voting intentions, I’m a little bit dubious about their Euro-polling – as I was last month, when they suggested Labour was massively out in front on 36%, with Ukip well back in third place. Low turn-out elections are hard to measure. It doesn’t ‘feel’ right to me, but we’ll see in less than a fortnight.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.