YouGov have repeated their poll of 60 Lab/Con marginal seats for Channel 4 (I wrote about the previous survey here). Labour’s share of the vote in these seats has increased by 6 points since the previous poll in early September, while the Conservatives are down 2 points. Whereas the previous YouGov marginal poll translated into a Conservative majority of about 150, this one would equate to a Tory majority of 54.

This is a broadly similar pattern to that which we’ve seen in national polls since the conference season: Labour up around 6 points from the mid-twenties to 30 or so; the Conservatives down a couple of points into the low-40s. The marginal seats seem to have reacted to the banking crisis in pretty much the same way as the country as a whole.

There are some other interesting findings in the poll:

YouGov asked who people thought would make the better Prime Minister “right now IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS” (YouGov’s emphasis!) and found a solid lead for Gordon Brown: 41% to David Cameron’s 27%. However, they then asked who they felt would make the better Prime Minister after the next election and the position reversed, Cameron led Brown by 36% to 26%. While this is a pattern I expected in reality, I’m rather surprised to find it as coming out so explicitly in questioning: people want Brown now, but Cameron once the immediate crisis has passed.

Despite getting credit for his handling of the crisis, it really doesn’t appear to be helping Brown that much in electoral terms. For example, 58% of people said Brown had “shown read leadership in tackling the banking crisis…” but the majority of those people still went on to say ” …but does not deserve to be re-elected Prime Minister at the next election”. Overall 27% thought he had shown real leadership and deserved to be re-elected, 31% thought he had shown real leadership, but didn’t deserve re-election. 27% thought he failed to show any real leadership anyway.

Looking at the practical way forward, 49% of people said the government had to spend the money it did to rescue the banks, with 33% saying it was too generous to the banks (though there is little scope here for the opposition to appeal to that 33%, 53% of people also agreed that the Tories were only pretending to be tough on bankers.) Increasing borrowing “to help families through difficult economic times” however was unpopular. Only 24% agreed, with 49% disagreed – suggesting increased government borrowing will be a hard sell to the public.

YouGov also asked about “Boom and Bust” (topically given today’s PMQs). 39% of people in marginal seats thought the current crisis showed Brown “was wrong to talk about an end to boom and bust”, but 47% said that the present circumstances were extraordinary and Brown couldn’t be blamed. That doesn’t mean he is off the hook entirely though – despite people mostly blaming American banks for the current problems (61% think they are most to blame), 58% think Gordon Brown bears a lot of responsibility.

Finally, these are Labour vs Conservative marginal seats, so how the Liberal Democrats are seen is pretty irrelevant, but all the same there is a question here to warm the cockles of their hearts. Asked to put aside party preferences and say who would be the best Chancellor for Britain right now, Vince Cable narrowly came out on top with 19%, ahead of Alistair Darling on 15% and George Osborne on 12% (54% said don’t know – a reminder that beyond the party leaders, even the most senior political figures aren’t actually that well known).

As a caveat of course, it’s important to remember these views are only representative of people in 60 Labour marginal seats. It’s unlikely people outside these seats have vastly different views, and in terms of electoral politics it may well be these people that matter anyway, but strictly speaking we cannot assume the country thinks the same way as this lot.


MORI’s October poll has topline figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 45%(-7), LAB 30%(+6), LDEM 14%(+2). It was conducted between the 17th and 19th October.

There are huge changes from their last poll which was conducted in mid-September. It is hard to read anything into them though, since that poll was the rather freakish one with Conservatives on 52% and the Lib Dems on 12%. It was a far higher Conservative share than any other poll in September and – as I said at the time – probably a freak.

Still, even putting last month’s poll aside it’s still a very healthy boost for Labour since the summer when MORI had them languishing on 24%, but the Conservative level of support remains in the mid 40s and their lead in double figures. Meanwhile, despite coming back two points from last month’s strange poll, the Lib Dems are still at a comparatively low 14%.


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ICM’s monthly poll

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 42%(nc), LAB 30%(nc), LDEM 21%(+4). Changes are from the last ICM poll, done at the beginning of October right after the Tory party conference.

There is no obvious boost in Labour support, thought the other questions in the poll show that people are positive about Brown’s handling of the crisis – 61% of people think he has done well compared to 33% who think he has done badly. Significantly, the banking crisis has been rumbling along for long enough now that the last ICM poll also asked how Brown was doing, and his rating is up 6 since them. The poll also showed Brown/Darling pretty much neck and neck with Cameron/Osborne on economic competence, 35% to 36%. Note the continued small Conservative lead here when the question asks more generally about economic competence, as opposed to the Labour leads we see when people are asked about handling of the crisis.

The media commentary about the polls seems to me to be switching a bit to “no real boost for Brown”. There doesn’t seem to be an ongoing trend towards Labour anymore, but it is important to note that Labour are still in a significantly better position in the polls than they were in the summer. They had a conference boost, then their handling of the crisis seem to have solidified that into a slightly better polling position. I wouldn’t want to overegg this – they are, after all, still 12 points behind and the boost is probably less than Labour supporters would have hoped – but their position is much healthier than the dire rathings they were getting a few months back.

There is better news for the Lib Dems, up four at a time when they’ve seen some very poor results in other polls. It is somewhat unusual for such a shift to come solely at the expense of “others”, but there goes. I am sure it will boost morale a bit, though as ever, when a poll shows a trend at odds with all the other polls you should treat it with some caution until confirmed by other polls.


More on the ICM poll

The full tables for the ICM poll in the News of the World are now available here. There is absolutely nothing there that could possibly be construed as a voting intention (indeed, judging by the blurb it wasn’t even politically weighted). Move along, nothing to see here.


A YouGov poll for Monday’s Daily Mirror has topline figures – with changes from the last YouGov poll a week ago – of CON 42%(-1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 14%(nc).

The change from the previous poll is not in itself significant, but it is a further narrowing of the Tory lead and, as with ComRes, crosses that symbolic line into a single figure lead. The eight point lead is also the lowest that the Conservatives have registered with any pollster since back in April.

I don’t have dates for the fieldwork, these figures are taken from the PA report, but I believe it was conducted at the same time as the BPIX poll: between Thursday and Saturday.